When Is It Smarter To Rent Than Buy?

There are many benefits to owning a home, but that doesn't mean it's always the best option. There are plenty of scenarios in which renting a home is a better idea than buying one. If you know you'll only be in an area for a short amount of time or your job is unstable, that's obviously an ideal time to rent. But when else should you sign a lease instead of a mortgage contract? Here are four other times that it's smart to look for houses for rent:

1. You don't know the area

Maybe you do have the money for a down payment, or you've even already owned a home. But if you're moving to an area that you're not familiar with, it's smart to rent first. That way, you can get to know the community and different neighborhoods, experience all the different seasons, and figure out the freeways and grocery stores. Once you spend a few months in a rental home in your new community, you'll have a much better idea of where you want your home to be. 

2. You don't want to fix things yourself

People say a house is a money pit for a reason. When something breaks or wears out and needs to be replaced, you can't just take care of it with a simple phone call to the landlord because you are your own landlord! If you cringe at the thought of maintaining a yard or calling plumbers, or if a mortgage payment would make it hard for you to have extra money for those kinds of repairs, then maybe renting is perfect for you right now.

3. You have a lot of debt

If you already have a lot of credit card debt or student loans, you might want to work on paying those off first before saving for a house. Interest on credit card debt builds up especially fast and will affect will credit score. If you have a poor credit score, you may not qualify for loans or get stuck with a much higher interest rate on your mortgage. It's in your best interest to spend some time improving your credit score before you try to buy a house—and paying rent on time every month can help with that.

4. You would be unhappy

Even if none of the other reasons apply to you, you're not wasting money on rent if that helps you be in the location you love and want to stay in. If the house you could afford is far enough away that you'd have a miserable commute or not live near friends or your favorite spots in the city, then it might not be worth it for you. Only you can make the call. If you have a higher quality of life living in your rental home, then it doesn't matter what anybody else says. 

If renting is the smarter decision for you right now, then check out some houses for rent in your area and contact landlords for more information.