The first apartment I rented was a 3.5 bedroom 1 bath first floor flat in Milwaukee, WI with two friends. It was senior year and we were excited to finally be out of the dorms and into our own place. Luckily heat was included and with the absurdly low monthly rent of $400 split three ways finances were not an issue. That first apartment really spoiled me.
Once I graduated from college I moved back home to Boston and luckily Mom had not turned my bedroom into a fantasy grandchild nursery as she had threatened (that came a few years later – thanks Sis!) After 6 months of living at home I figured out I really needed a plan. I was not making a lot of money and since I had gone to college out of state I was not really close to old high school friends anymore. Affording an apartment on my own was not feasible and rooming with strangers did not really appeal. So I did something really stupid (or really smart) – I purchased a condo at an FDIC auction. It was a small two bedroom one bath unit within easy walking distance of two subway stations. It cost $25,767 (auction remember) and because of my low salary I qualified for a no money down FDIC 30 year mortgage at 8%. I spent $800 replacing the old brown shag carpeting, painting the walls, and steam cleaning the bath and kitchen. When I moved in two doors in the building had eviction notices tacked on them and the first floor front unit was selling homemade Brazilian hooch out of their window (cars would pull up onto the sidewalk like the window was a drive-thru. I lived in that condo for five years.
In the summer of 2015 I was finally making a nice amount of money and while the condo building and neighborhood had come a long way, I was ready for a bigger place and more importantly an off-street parking spot for my car (the only downside of the neighborhood revitalization was how scarce the on-street parking spots became). I could not afford to buy a new place since I did not have cash for a down payment and was unwilling to sell or remove equity from my condo to trade up so I moved out, rented out my condo and rented an apartment myself. I lived in the apartment for 4 years while I saved money to buy a house.
To save money, I had roommates in the apartment. One roommate was a nightmare but the other two were ok. I did a lot of traveling those years for work so living in an apartment was great. I did not have to worry about lawn care or shoveling. It was nice to know that if something broke it was the landlord that had to pay to fix it and not me. But the only way all of this was justifiable to me was with the roommate and frankly as the years passed and being now in my 30’s I really wanted to own a home. I managed to save $80,000 during those four years of renting. About a year and a half ago I purchased my house and used that $80,000 as a down payment (a little more than 20% down).
So here I am the owner of my house and my condo. Owning can be more expensive than renting, but for me there is something about being able to call something “mine” that is deeply satisfying. Renting was convenient, but owning is the route I have chosen.