The Pros and Cons of Apartments and Houses

Evelyn Long

Apr 7, 2021

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Are you in the market for a new pad? If you’re looking for your first place to call home, you might wonder whether you should opt to buy a home or rent an apartment. 

Both buying and renting have positive and negative aspects. What are the pros and cons of an apartment or house? Consider the 12 factors below before making your choice. 

The Pros of Renting 

Are freedom and flexibility your primary objective? If you value living your life over nesting at this point, renting may represent your best bet.

1. Minimal Maintenance 

When you rent, your landlord holds the ownership interest in your property, making them responsible for keeping it livable. You should know that regions vary in their habitability requirements. For example, while nearly every jurisdiction demands that landlords provide heat, in states like AZ, air conditioning is also required by law. 

However, that doesn’t mean every landlord hops on your demand to fix a creaky door or wobbly toilet seat. You may tackle minor repairs yourself and deduct them from your rent. However, it’s wise to communicate with property management if you opt for this course — you should minimize surprises to keep a cordial relationship. 

2. Flexibility to Move 

Your freedom to move depends on your lease terms. If you sign an agreement lasting a year or more, you may request your landlord include an early termination clause in case you get a killer job offer across the country. Otherwise, you may need to pay a fee or find a replacement tenant. 

If you go month-to-month, a 30-day notice is the only requirement to inform your landlord of your intent to vacate. It’s always courteous to give additional forewarning. If you know you’re heading to grad school in six months, telling your landlord can smooth relationships. 

3. Fewer Qualifications

Buying a house is challenging. You need a solid credit score and a down payment that can take years to save. Renting, conversely, lets you in with a smaller upfront fee that your landlord often refunds at the end of the lease. While you will probably need to undergo a credit check, you can find private residences that are more forgiving of low scores. 

The Cons of Renting

Renting isn’t all freedom and sunshine. Weigh these factors before signing your lease.

1. Impermanence

If your landlord terminates your lease early, you have limited rights to compensation. However, if you are on a month-to-month arrangement, they can sell or foreclose the property any time — leaving you out in the cold. If something occurs that adversely affects your finances during your tenancy, finding suitable replacement housing can prove challenging. 

2. Can’t Modify Structure 

As a tenant, you can’t paint the living room or screen in your balcony without your landlord’s express written permission—relying on verbal agreements can lead to future lawsuits. The one exception occurs if you have a disability. While the ADA requires landlords to permit you to make reasonable accommodations, they might not have to absorb the cost of remodeling if it creates an undue burden. 

3. Higher Monthly Bills 

In some areas, renting can cost you hundreds more monthly than homeownership. As the demand for affordable housing continues to grow, expect rental rates to keep climbing. Your landlord may raise your rent to adjust for inflation. Conversely, a fixed-rate mortgage means your payments never increase. 

The Pros of Buying 

If you’re a fortunate soul who has the option of buying, how do you determine if it’s right for you? Homeownership does come with many perks. 

1. Permanency 

As long as you pay your mortgage, you get to remain in your home. The whims of a landlord can no longer dictate that you must pack up and move if they decide to sell. 

2. Modify to Suit Your Needs

When you own a home, you can go wild at big-box improvement stores. While you may need to check your HOA regulations, in general, you can build a deck, paint your siding, or remodel your kitchen on a whim. 

3. Build Equity

Perhaps the most significant financial perk of homeownership is that you build equity. Your monthly payments develop your ownership interest in the property, not your landlord’s. When it’s time for the kids to go off to college, you could take out a home equity line of credit to finance their education. You can also borrow against your principal if you face financial hardship later in life. 

4. Lower Monthly Payments 

In general, if you plan to stay in your home for several years, buying will save you considerable money over renting. In some areas of high housing demand, the average rent costs far more than a monthly mortgage payment — and your landlord can raise rates. Renting can save money in the short term, but if you don’t like packing your bags, buying rules supreme. 

The Cons of Buying 

Although buying a home offers several advantages, there are substantial pitfalls you must avoid, too. 

1. Must Sell to Move 

If one of your family members falls ill across the country or you get a great job offer, you can’t pack up and leave after giving a 30-day notice. In many cases, unless you can afford two housing payments, you must wait until your home sells to move — a process that can stretch on seemingly endlessly. 

2. Heavy-Duty Maintenance

Did you think you could call the super when your fridge goes on the fritz? As a homeowner, you are solely responsible for the upkeep of your dwelling. If your AC blows on a 110-degree day, you need to fix it or sweat. 

Weigh the Pros and Cons When Deciding Between an Apartment or House

When it comes time to move, deciding between renting an apartment and buying a home can seem daunting. Weigh the pros and cons to make the best decision for you and yours. 

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