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Can You Become Wealthy by Renting?

Posted: 04 Oct 2016 02:05 AM PDT

Here's an interesting piece telling how a single mom and a couple have sworn off home ownership and are better off financially for it (the couple has even gotten "rich"). Some highlights:

  • The single mom says, "Having a mortgage is like paying rent on money that you borrowed anyway -- a very high monthly rental fee."
  • The philosophy of both the mom and the couple seems to be "save the difference between a mortgage and rent and invest it."
  • The mom noted that by renting she can "avoid all the other expenses associated with home ownership."
  • A real estate expert in the video is quoted as saying, "A mortgage forces you to save in a way that most of us can't."
  • The husband says (paraphrase) that, "Buying a house and locking yourself into 25 years of stress is insane."

So let's go through the rationale here. These people are saying:

  • By renting, I can have a lower monthly payment as well as avoid all the expenses associated with home ownership (insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc.).
  • I can take that difference and invest it to grow my net worth.

Sounds reasonable, right? Very similar to "buy term and invest the difference".

Of course, as the real estate agent points out, most people won't execute this strategy. Just like with the "buy term and invest the difference", most people have the discipline of a gnat and "buy term and spend the difference." That said, perhaps they do enjoy life more because they are spending money on things they prefer. Same could be said for the renters above.

My take:

  • I own a home and own it free and clear. It's probably a break-even financial decision at best versus renting. That said, owning a home has several benefits over renting (space, ability to make the place like you want it, separation from neighbors, etc.) and thus we prefer it.
  • We have owned homes that are very nice but are also way less than we could afford. Our home now is about 10% of our net worth.
  • I do like what appears to be a general trend from owning a home to renting because I own rental units. :)
  • I think the "rent and invest the difference" strategy could work as long as the people executing it actually do invest the difference. My guess is that most people can't execute it well and the difference will end up spent and likely unaccounted for.

So, those are my thoughts on the issue. What's your take on it?


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