Brian Hollar, at his apartment complex in Arlington, Va., says that renting has made it easier to save, job-hop, travel, and pursue a doctorate and a law degree. Keith Lane/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
I'm featured in an article in today's Christian Science Monitor on why it's often better to rent than to own:
Brian Hollar of Arlington, Va., has never owned a home. That's one big reason, he says, why he's been able to travel extensively, go back to school after more than a decade of work, and not worry about retirement.See more of my posts on renting, living in small spaces, and simplicity.
For years, Mr. Hollar poured 20 percent of his pretax earnings into his 401(k) because he wasn't burdened by interest payments, property taxes, or maintenance bills. He dared to switch jobs several times to pursue higher pay at little-known, unestablished firms because he had no housing commitment to tie him down. Now his 401(k) is in the six figures, and he's comfortably taking years off to pursue a PhD.
"Renting can be just as financially sound of a decision as owning a home, and in many cases, it's more financially sound," he says.
Hollar belongs to a growing demographic group: renters. Pressed by layoffs and imploding mortgages, home-ownership rates have been dropping steadily since peaking at 69.4 percent in 2004. Today, with ownership rates at 67.2 percent and sliding, the number of tenant families has grown by 3.6 million and represents nearly a third of households.
As renting gets more common, renters and financial advisers are exploring how it can help grow wealth. The key, they say, is to make good use of its flexibility.