5 Reasons Renting Trumps Owning (As Told by a Former Renter)

To [poorly] paraphrase that old commercial for bald guys, “I’m not just an editor for a multifamily publication, I’m also a renter.” Or, at least I was. Recently, I bought a house. So, bye bye, renting, at least for the foreseeable future, and, hello, bright pink walls if I so choose (not that my husband would necessarily go for that, but he’s the only hurdle), growing equity (fingers crossed) and lingering guilt about ordering a $4.30 carmel macchiato when I have mortgage payments to make (totally worth it though).

And, though I was, and am, focused on the positives of owning, the whole stressful process of buying a house has made me really appreciate what I had as a renter.

Since you’re all multifamily professionals, I know I’m totally preaching to the choir about how awesome apartments are. But, like Joni Mitchell says, “don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” So it’s worth a reminder from someone who’s on the outside peeking in (but not, like, in a creepy way), how good renters have it. Be sure to let your prospective renters know.

Pictured: Not my new house.

Reasons Renting Trumps Owning

You don’t have to fix your own toilet. Toilet broken, or any other maintenance issue? In an apartment, maintenance workers will fix this. If you own, well, good luck with that plunger. [As property managers, make sure you have a great system in place so that your renters can easily make their requests and get service updates, whether it be an online portal or whatever system you have in place.]

You’re usually closer to the action. Oftentimes, apartments are located in cities, and are located near restaurants, entertainment and public transportation. Some even boast how walkable they are to appeal to renters. If you buy, you could be near these things. You can also be located right in the middle of nowhere. And when you move in, there’s not even a helpful packet filled with take-out menus. How are you supposed to know which is the good Chinese place? Trial and error, I guess. Or, like Yelp, or something. But still, kind of irritating. [Property managers, what’s around you could be just as appealing to potential renters as the actual apartments!]

Bad neighbors come…and go. Everyone has had to deal with bad neighbors. But if you own, you’re probably stuck with them. And what if they have equally obnoxious guests? Too bad, so sad. In a rental, leases run out and people move. It’s less permanent. Plus, if they want to have guests or sublet, they usually have to go through the property manager or leasing office. Property managers could also intervene if there is a noise complaint or other dispute. [Property managers, keeping the peace between residents can make a better apartment environment for everyone.]

There’s usually access to amenities. With some exceptions in some condos and some town houses, many times, once you buy, you typically forgo a lot of amenities. Personally, I’m saying goodbye to a gym, swimming pool, playground, shuttle to public transportation, dry cleaning pick up, and someone to sign for my packages. I’m going to really miss those swings. [Property managers, keep your amenities updated and make sure they’re in demand. They’re a big draw for renters!]

Things don’t go bump in the night. There’s a reason that Friday the 13th is super freaky, but Jason Takes Manhattan is a joke. Well, there are many reasons. Anyway, it’s totally scarier being alone out in the suburbs than in a high-rise apartment with tons of other people around. (And, yes, I know Friday the 13th took place in a camp, but those bunks are similar to houses. Whatever. Use Halloween as an example instead. Nerd.) [Property managers, make safety a priority for your residents by making sure outdoor areas are well-lit, etc.]

What did I miss? What else makes multifamily awesome?

-Jessica Fiur, Senior Editor