Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Charlottesville, VA

April 28, 2020

Renting vs. Buying as a Single Woman.

     Today's blog post is a fun one, and hopefully it will be an informative one as well! One of my best friends, Ciera, is joining me to co-write this today. Every now and then on the blog I enjoy having friends help me write posts on a subject that they know a lot about, and Ciera was the perfect pick for this subject.

    I met Ciera during freshman orientation at the college that I went to freshman year, which was now almost eight (!!) years ago. Even though I transferred colleges sophomore year, we remained good friends for the rest of undergrad. Ciera moved to Charlotte after she got her first job, and we lived together as roommates for our first year post-grad. Upon the end of our year-long apartment lease, I moved to Vermont in April 2017 for my first radio job and began a lease on a one bedroom apartment. Ciera meanwhile stayed in Charlotte and bought her first HOUSE at the ripe age of 22! I was so excited that she closed on it just before I moved, so I was able to see it with her before I left for Vermont. 

     Since we parted ways as roommates three years ago, I've gone on to live in two more apartments here in Virginia, and have remained content as a renter during my 20s. Ciera ended up successfully selling her first home in Charlotte, and bought a new one in Texas when her job transferred here there in 2018. Renting has 100% been the right choice for my lifestyle since college, and buying has been 100% right for Ciera and her lifestyle. What we have in common is both of us are 25, four-ish years out of college, and single (Ciera has a boyfriend but I mean single in terms of not being married). Yet our living situations are very different.

    I'm going to share what I think are a few of the pros and cons for renting as a single 20-something, and then Ciera will share some pros and cons that she's experienced with home ownership. It can be tough as a single woman to have to figure out decisions for your housing and future on your own- we both know that firsthand! When you're married or in a serious live-in relationship, making a choice on housing is completely different as you most likely have two full-time incomes, with two people to take on the responsibility of whatever type of home you choose. It's very different when you're a single adult, which is why I wanted to write this blog post.




Renting:
    You already know who I am so I'm not going to introduce myself! 😉But I will give you a background on my thoughts towards why I've chosen to rent in my adult life, and what I see myself doing in the future. When I graduated college, I felt I had no other options other than to rent an apartment with a roommate (who happened to be Ciera). I absolutely didn't want to move back home to Maine with my parents, and at the time I graduated college my only income was from part time retail and nannying jobs, so buying a home was also 100% out. From the second I moved into my first apartment, I loved it! I had always lived in the dorms every year of college, so this was a whole new world to me.
     Having a career in radio meant that I knew I'd be moving around a bit in my 20s while I established myself, and I also wanted to pay off my student loans before my 25th birthday. For me, it's never been a question that renting is the right choice for my lifestyle in my 20s. I've always said that if I'm still single at my 30th birthday, I might revaluate my finances and where I'm living to see if I want to embark on buying something on my own, but as long as I'm in my 20s I'm fairly certain that's not for me. For my lifestyle, the renting perks way outweigh buying!

Pros of renting as a single woman:

1. Freedom to move around: While I don't enjoy the actual physical act of moving (you'd have to be some special kind of crazy to enjoy packing up dozens of boxes?), I do love moving in general. I love the thrill of getting to move somewhere totally new. I do love it here in Charlottesville and I hope to be here for more years. But with that said, I wouldn't turn down a new job in another city or state if that right opportunity ever arose. Or if a special relationship lead me to want to move! I've lived in four states so far, and could definitely see it being more in my lifetime. Renting makes it so easy to move! Sure, you have your lease to think about, but if you choose not to renew it then you're free to go! Easy peasy. Selling a house (not to mention packing up an entire house vs.  an apartment) makes large moves that much more difficult, and while I'm single in my 20s I wouldn't want to worry about that hassle.

2. Put money into other more relevant pursuits: As much as I'd like to be married, I will say that being a single woman in my mid 20s has a lot of perks. I am free to go out as much as I want to, say yes to all sorts of fun experiences, and I can prioritize my love of travel. Personally, at this life stage I'd much rather be saying yes to more travel and fun experiences with friends every year to exciting places than saving most of my spending money for a down payment or closing costs.

3. Community amenities and easy maintenance: This might honestly be my favorite thing of all! I love the amenities that come with being a renter. Having a pool is definitely my favorite perk! I spend most weekday afternoons in the summer stretched out on a lounge-chair or sitting in the shallow end with a good book or magazine. Apartment complexes also often have their own gym on-site, and other perks like resident events. I also love the fact that maintenance is included in rent! I am not very handy when it comes to fixing household issues, so I love the fact that it's very easy for me to call someone else to take care of that (plus that's free and included with rent!). Yard maintenance is also something that interests me about 0%- I'm glad when I'm in my 20s that I don't have to spend weekends cleaning my gutters or mowing the lawn... or spending money to pay someone else to do that.

Cons of renting as a single woman: 

1. Less freedom in living space: Having a landlord and housing community rules means that you don't have as much freedom with the design of your living space as you might like. Or even if you do have the freedom to do certain things (like some landlords do allow you to paint or apply temporary wallpaper), you might not want to invest the money and time into that if your apartment is more of a temporary living space. Apartment living means you usually make do with what you have!

2. Rent increases and other fees: Unlike a mortgage, rent does usually increase each year. 2-3% seems to be standard... but sometimes it's more then that. My first Charlottesville apartment would've raised my rent a whopping 11%  for another lease, which is what lead me to move across town and into a different apartment last September!

3. Neighbor issues: I've been very fortunate to never deal with this in Vermont or Virginia, but neighbor issues can be a big problem in apartment living. In the Charlotte apartment that I lived in with Ciera, we had the noisiest neighbors on earth living above us. I swear from the sounds of it that they had like 8-10 people crammed into their two bedroom place. They had really odd work and living hours and would make so much noise at all hours of the night. The worst of it was always over my bedroom, and I was frequently woken up by it.  

Buying:
     Hello all! My name is Ciera Buchanan. My first “big girl job” after college graduation was working as an office manager for a new home builder in Charlotte, North Carolina. Owning a home in my early 20s was not something I thought was possible for me until I began to get more familiar with the industry. A little after my one year anniversary of working for the company, I purchased my first new home at the age of 22. A year and a half later, I transferred to the company corporate office in The Woodlands, Texas and purchased my second new home at the age of 23 after selling my first home for a nice profit. Homeownership is one of my greatest passions, and I am excited to share some of the knowledge I have learned during my four years in the industry and three years of being a homeowner!

Pros of homeownership as a single woman:

1). Building Equity. For me, I am big on long term investments. In Charlotte, the average cost of renting a one bedroom apartment was $1,000 a month. Over a typical one year lease, that’s $12,000. If I was to rent for five years, that’s $60,000, none of which I could ever hope to get back—that’s money in my landlords pocket! However, when I own my own home, I am building equity. I highly doubt I could ever go back to renting.

2). No More Raising Rent. Rent is pretty much guaranteed to increase year over year. However, when you own a home, your principal and interest portion of your mortgage is guaranteed to never change over the course of the loan, which is typically 30 years.

3). Independence. Having personally attended hundreds of closings, I can say with certainty that the day you purchase your first home will be one of the top five moments of your life. Owning your own home is part of the American dream. You can personalize your home any way you want so it reflects your unique personality; you can finally have big gatherings that you couldn’t have at your apartment because you finally have enough space and parking. Also, owning a home as a single woman has done WONDERS for my confidence in my dating life and shows men that I take myself seriously so they should too.

Cons of homeownership as a single woman:

1). Capital Gains Tax. My biggest obstacle to overcome before initially purchasing my first home was that I was scared that buying a home meant I had to stay in the same city for a set number of years. My coworkers, all real estate agents, said that houses are sold every day, which helped to ease my fear and take the jump. Of course, a year and a half into owning my first home, I had to pack up, sell my home, and move out of state, which was not something I ever saw happening at the time of my home purchase. Since I lived in the home less than two years, I had to pay capital gains tax on the profit I made from my home. So, my advice would be to not purchase a home until you are fairly certain you can stay in the same place at least two years. Also do some research into the resale values of the neighborhood. Make sure your property value will increase and make you a profit in case you have to sell the home quickly.

2). Taxes and Homeowners Insurance. While the principal and interest portion of your payment is guaranteed to never change, the property taxes and homeowners insurance portion of your mortgage payment CAN change. For me, the biggest debacle of owning my second home has been the property taxes. For 2019, I had a $4,000 escrow shortage due to my mortgage company incorrectly calculating my property taxes. This resulted in my mortgage payment increasing $300. Since I bought new construction, the taxes were being calculated based on the raw land, not the land with the structure. For new construction, be sure to be mindful of how much is needed for your escrow. After this situation, my next home would probably be a resale home where I could see the trend of the property taxes.

3). Responsibility. When you are a renter and something breaks—the AC, faucet, etc.—you call your landlord and they fix it. However, when you are a homeowner, you are solely responsible for maintaining the property. I always make sure to have a hefty savings account because, since I live in Texas, I know that my AC is more likely to need replacing sooner rather than later, among other reasons. I wouldn’t recommend becoming a homeowner unless you can commit to having some extra cash on hand in case of emergency.

     Overall, homeownership has been a great joy, and I highly recommend to everyone to get out of renting as soon as you can! You will never regret investing in yourself and your future.


     A big thanks to Ciera for helping me write today's post! I'd love to hear in the comments about what you chose to do for housing while you are/were single. Did you rent for years? Buy right away? I'd love to hear!


     God Bless,


      xoxo Annaliese 
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5 comments

  1. This is such a great resource of a post!! In my 20's I was definitely not ready for the responsibility of home-ownership, i was a renter all the way! (for many of the same reasons as you!) Now I'm embarking on the home-owner journey and it comes with a lot of joy but a lot of work too! Thankful for my time as a renter for sure!

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  2. Yup for me I was single in my 20's and 30's so for a good long while renting worked for me. I was able to travel and the apartments I lived in were in great locations.
    By the end of my 30's I was READY to own a home . . . and now we are so so happy we do(live in SoCal and our mortgage is less than many rents).

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  3. oh . . . one more comment . . . I liked renting from small landlords NOT a big company. Perhaps there were less amenities but I liked a small tri-plex over a massive complex and rent didn't go up as quickly.

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  4. I love this post! I would love to be a home-owner someday but I love to see differnet approaches.

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  5. This is such great insight! Renting was a better option for me before I got married. Now that i'm married owning a house has been a great decision.

    ReplyDelete

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