A Place to Call Home: Renting vs Buying

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A few weeks ago, I got a call from my landlord. He informed me that he is going to sell the badass loft I’ve been living in for the past three and a half years. The truth is I’ve outgrown it, but it has by far been my favorite place I’ve ever lived. And it’s the longest I’ve ever stayed in one place since I was 10 years old. I’m sad to go, but at the same time, I’m excited for something new. I’ve shared a bit of my home search on Instagram, but there’s so much more to it than the bits and pieces I’ve posted.

Renting vs Buying in Atlanta

The first thing I’m facing is renting vs. buying. I’ve been a renter my whole life; well, since I was 18 at least. When I went off to college, my parents told me good luck, and that was it. I used student loans and many jobs to pay my way through college. By the time I was done, I was $40,000 in student debt. I’ve been digging myself out of that hole since, leaving me in no position to buy. Until now. I felt like everything was aligning perfectly: flexibility on move date, the state of the housing market here in Atlanta, mortgage rates vs rental rates, and finally feeling like I want to stay put. But it’s not that simple.

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Cute furniture, huh? Check out my full living room makeover here!

 
Although I have excellent credit, no debt, and a good amount of savings and assets, I don’t look as great on paper since I’m self-employed. I’m sure many people can relate, and I know getting a mortgage isn’t easy for anyone, but I had absolutely no idea it was this complicated. So now I’m back to square one weighing the pros and cons of renting vs buying in Atlanta.

One thing I noticed is that with the current market, renting in Atlanta is extremely expensive. Ryan and I need at least 1,200sqft, preferably more, and we haven’t been able to find that for under around $2250/mo. – a rate that will only increase each year as all apartment complexes raise rent as much as legally allowed. We can afford it, but that’s not the point. It’s a ridiculous amount of money to spend when monthly payments for a mortgage of $400,000 are about the same price. That purchase price could get us so much more space and we’d be building equity instead of paying someone else’s mortgage.

For the first time in my life, I feel ok making a commitment of this magnitude. I’ve never had the desire to buy because I wanted to be able to pick up and leave at any moment with no strings attached. But after having experienced being in one place for so long, I actually like it much more than I ever thought I would. It’s a great feeling to be able to put down an address with confidence that it won’t be changing soon.

The one thing that is more important to me than anything, though, is the financial aspect. It’s important for me to explore all my options. If I were to find a good-sized rental for a great price, it might be the right move to buy me some more time to search for the perfect purchase. But I could also stumble upon a home for sale with tremendous value tomorrow and to be able to take advantage of this buyer’s market we’re currently experiencing in Atlanta would be a dream come true. There’s so much to think about in renting vs buying in Atlanta and while this phase of the process isn’t easy, I think it will definitely be worth it in the long run – whether I buy now or not.

I’m new to all this, and I could use all the advice I can get. Please weigh in on this major life event in the comments!

Are you a renter or a homeowner?

Photos by Ryan Carpenter.