Let’s look at renting versus owning, shall we?
When you rent, whether in an apartment complex, or a single family home, it’s yours only for the duration of your lease. The lease is usually boilerplate, which means that the terms are the same ones they use all the time and are not open to negotiation, especially the rent. Every aspect of your life in your rental is subject to someone else’s terms, and the rent increases each year, sometimes significantly, just because you have been bestowed the honor of getting to stay. When you move out, you have to leave it cleaner and in better condition than you got it in or risk losing a portion of your security deposit (or all of it). If your air conditioner isn’t blowing out cold air (a really big deal in Tampa for most of the year) you are completely at someone else’s mercy to have it fixed — when they come; what they do; whether they even do anything at all; and if they make a mess, you get to clean it up. You have zero control over whether it is ever repaired or repaired properly. When we rented a house when we first moved to the Tampa area, we were prohibited from hiring our own vendors for repairs, even at our own expense. When I rented in New York City, the air conditioner in my bedroom, which had no other source of ventilation (no windows), broke. Management kept sending someone to “fix” it, which usually didn’t do anything at all. The air conditioner wasn’t reparable, but they were certainly not about to spend the money to replace it, at least while I was living there. Nothing like coming home from a long, hard day’s work, and the second you walk in the door, you know – the air conditioner is still not working.
If you rent in an large complex, you may have access to a nice pool or gym. Again, there are rules that you must abide by as a condition of using these amenities. And when you finally move out, you leave with only what you came with. You have no equity in renting.
When you own your home, you have much more responsibility, no question, but you gain stability and control. As a homeowner, you are responsible for maintaining your own home (unless you buy brand new – then there’s a short warranty period for most things in the house). You are usually responsible for caring for your own lawn, your own landscaping, pretty much everything that is on your property. If the air conditioning breaks, you have to hire someone to repair it. However, you control the vendor selection and get to make an appointment that works with your schedule. You don’t have to pay for the repair until it is actually completed to your satisfaction. Any upgrades or changes to the home are yours to keep. You also build equity in your home by making your mortgage payments (on time, in full, hopefully). The federal government encourages home ownership by allowing tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes. These deductions exist only for home owners and not for renters. While property taxes may increase from one year to the next, your fixed-rate mortgage’s principal and interest payment remains stable for the life of the loan.
Home ownership — responsibility, on the one hand, stability and control on the other.