You may think that buying is better than renting; after all, owning a home is considered one of life's great achievements. However, renting offers flexibility and freedom that buying does not.
Deciding the right time to take the leap onto the property ladder hinges hugely on where you are in life and what you plan to do in the future, but there are plenty of other points you need to consider too.
The stability factor
The most appealing aspect of buying a house is being able to put down roots and take ownership of a property that is yours to live in as you please.
Buying a house means some stability and security you would not be able to get if you were renting, as the owner could decide to sell the property.
Investing rather than spending
Instead of paying rent every month to a landlord - money you will never see again - you are investing that money in your future.
You can build equity instead, so that at the end of the mortgage term you will be able to live rent and mortgage free.
Long-term cost-effective living
Buying a home rather than renting one can work out more cost-effective if you get the right mortgage deal, especially over If you intend to live somewhere long-term.
Renting over a long period means that the price of renting will rise with inflation, costing you more over time. However, your mortgage interest payments should reduce as the amount you owe decreases.
Living by your own rules
Buying a house can give you the independence and privacy that renting is unlikely ever to allow you.
When you have a house of your own, you will no longer be subjected to regular checks by a landlord to make sure everything is still in good condition, and you can live by your own rules, rather than the landlord's or letting agent's:
You can have pets if you like
You can paint the walls any colour you like
You can choose how you decorate the house
You can choose your own furnishings
You can do what you like with the garden
Financially, owning a house can provide you with useful benefits such as being able to take out secured loans if you need to, or simply being considered more stable by a potential lender.
This gives you greater flexibility in terms of the financial products you may have access to.
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Flexibility and freedom
If you only plan to stay in an area for a short period of time, renting is the most cost-effective thing to do.
If you own your home and need to move elsewhere, it can take a long time to get the wheels in motion to sell or rent out your property. If you rent, you could move without financial consequences as soon as your notice period is over.
Moving to a smaller home while finances are tight is also much easier if you rent, whereas you could end up stuck with mortgage repayments you cannot afford if you own the property.
No repairs or maintenance costs
While buying a house gives you responsibility for the upkeep and maintenance for that property, renting means you will not have to arrange and pay for:
White goods and furniture can be expensive to replace or repair, and if you are renting this is the landlord's responsibility, not yours.
Any wear to the building itself such as the roof or walls are covered by the landlord too, unless you cause the damage.
Buildings insurance is also covered by the landlord, so you only generally have to worry about insuring your own possessions with contents insurance. However, some landlords state that you have to insure their fixtures and fittings as well as your own goods.
Easy to budget
An unfixed monthly mortgage payment can fluctuate depending on interest rates. Even if you are tied into a deal, interest rates could increase, meaning higher payments once your current deal ends.
When you rent you pay out a fixed monthly amount with no interest and no additional fees. While your rent can go up over time at your landlord's discretion, the fact that it is fixed means you can budget accordingly and know exactly what you will be spending month by month.
Less initial expense
Renting a property often requires an initial deposit at the beginning of the renting term, perhaps 6 weeks to 2 months of rent up-front.
While this can sometimes be a difficult lump sum payment to grapple with, it pales in comparison with the huge expense of buying a house:
A deposit of a percentage of the purchase value
Mortgage set-up fees
Although missing rental payments has consequences, these pale in comparison to falling behind on your mortgage.
If you bought a house, your finances took a turn for the worse and you struggled to keep up your mortgage payments, your home could be repossessed.