Wednesday, December 11, 2013

To own or not to own

We used to be home-owners, and I loved it - though I wasn't exactly in love with the house itself, it was good to own it, especially knowing that our home was purchased outright and we didn't owe anything to anybody. When we went through a period of unemployment, we did not have the pressure of paying off mortgage or rent. 

Later things worked out for our family so that now, we are living in another place, and renting. While I am much happier where we live now, I would love to own a home again someday, even though perhaps owning isn't always better than renting. Being a renter does have its benefits, however, there are also drawbacks:

When your lease comes to an end, you are at the landlord's mercy. Not long ago, our first two-year lease ended, and we didn't renew it until the very last moment, because our landlord kept putting off the signing of another lease. This made me suspect that they are looking for other renters who would be willing to pay more than we do. I also suspect that, had someone like that been found, we would be facing the choice of either paying more rent or looking for a new apartment at a frantic pace.

When there are repairs to be made, not every landlord is as good as another. Basically, so far our experience in this house tells the following: if a repair is needed and our landlord can do it himself (he's a real handyman), he'll do it cheerfully and willingly. If it is something that takes money, such as requires to buy materials or hire a professional, we'll go back and forth and negotiate with him, and eventually pay for it ourselves. We have a contract that states the landlord isn't responsible for malfunctioning air conditioners and other utilities. 

On the other hand, renting does give more flexibility. If there is a temporary financial crisis, we can move in with family at the end of our lease - but if we were paying off a mortgage, things would be far more complicated. We'd have to sell the house, and most likely sell it cheaply because of the pressure to be rid of a mortgage we are no longer able to pay. 

To sum it up, owning the roof above your head is an important part of sustainaible living, but if this comes with taking a huge mortgage upon yourself, the cause is defied by the means. The question is, is it possible to buy a house in Israel without a mortgage? I think it is, if:

a) You won the lottery;
b) You received a large inheritance or
c) You (an average family with an average income) saved money for a few years and have a sum that equals most of the house value, and you are willing to buy a fixer-upper in a cheaper area. 

If you work from home, it doesn't really matter where you live, and you are lucky to be able to snatch up a lovely old house in a remote corner where nobody else wants to live - one man's trash is another man's treasure, so to speak! It can also work if you are willing to undertake a longer commute, or be creative - instead of making the entire way by car and thus wasting a lot of time each day, some people go to the nearest train station, park the car there, and continue to work by train, which makes long-distances commute possible. 

So, there really isn't a single solution for every family,  but I do wish you all affordable housing in good areas and much luck in whatever choice you make. 


Anonymous said...

Growing up I lived in two different houses but I have lived in three different apartments since married. I don't like renting, but we cannot afford to buy a house right now.

Lady Anne said...

We were fortunate enough to find a fixer-upper right before we got married. (Almost 40 years later, we're still fixing-upping.) With a mortgage, you know the monthly payment will stay pretty much the same. We always had the bank handle the taxes and insurance, and if those charges went up, so did the mortgage payment, but as a renter you have NO protection if the landlord decides to raise the rent by leaps and bounds.

Train service in the States is spotty at best, but we have wonderful public bus service in the Baltimore area, and many park-and-ride locations. A lot of people do drive - alone - into the city but our family has always parked the car and taken the bus. Besides saving gasoline, time, and wear and tear on the car and our nerves, we can read on the bus coming and going. It's a lot faster and cheaper than driving and paying a small fortune to park.