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America’s housing dilemma, rent or own? Do what works for you

Buying almost anything today is expensive because of the current supply and demand. Prices are too high on everything. Inflation is going through the roof.

Speaking of a roof, everyone needs one over their heads. A place to live is a common need and growing dilemma.

An elderly friend says she has had other elderly friends ask if they could move in with her? Her response is always, “I don’t want anyone else living with me,” and she seems very happy.

Having to move in with family or a friend is less than ideal and is usually a strain on all involved. Sometimes it happens. Typically, the shortest possible tenure of the residency is better for all.

Renting is popular. Millions are renting apartments and houses. The average rent in the U.S. is $784 per month. Thirtyfive percent of Americans rent. They pay just a little less than homeowners each year for their rent, maintenance costs, and renters insurance which averages $9,477.

Renting seems like a good plan because you shouldn’t have to worry about maintenance. Remember, everybody is short staffed these days and you may wait a while before someone shows up to fix your leaky toilet. Renters routinely complain about having to beg the property owner to do maintenance. Rent is not a secure way to live. Rent costs usually increase. The owners want to make more money.

Senior citizens rent apartments not far from where I live. They started out paying $550 for an apartment that included all the utilities. Most of them were thrilled. A lady who lives there now says they have increased the rent to $850 and she expects another increase this year. She moved out of her house that was paid for to live the so called “carefree” senior apartment life. It’s not turning out to be carefree.

Apartment owners set the rules. They might not allow pets or even children. You won’t be able to play your radio loud and there will be limitations on what you can do to the rental property. Plus, an apartment owner can decide they want to use your apartment for something or someone else and ask you to leave. This might be improbable, but it’s possible and who needs this kind of life insecurity?

Buying a house is expensive and this may not be for you today. New three-bedroom houses are selling for over $400,000 in a nearby Indiana neighborhood. Down the street a neighbor put his house up for sale asking $250,000 and there was a bidding war from others who wanted the property. The sellers reported they made much more than their asking price.

You don’t have to pay a king’s ransom for a house. Years ago, I bought a four-bedroom house for $80,000 with no money down on a land contract. The interest rate was 10 percent but it was mine and when I sold it, I made $10,000 on the deal.

A modest house on a small piece of dirt can become your castle. You can work on it along the way. Overhaul the bathrooms, the kitchen and do some painting. You can redo the floors but all in your time and on your schedule. You just need a place where you can stay warm, dry, and rest. Owning your own house is not cheap. Paying for it, maintenance and property taxes all have to be considered, but at least it’s yours. If you want, you can have a pet, kids, or loud music. You can sleep in peace.

If you are renting, you are not alone. Most of us have rented at one time or another. I lived in an apartment for over four years. You do what works for you at this time in your life.

January 25, 2022