Rent before you decide to buy

Renting an apartment need not necessarily require that you live in some high-rise in an inner-city. There are low-density apartment buildings, duplexes, and even cottages you can rent.

Additionally, you might look into renting a room in a home. Especially in college towns that are plentiful with such options, homes can be rented by students where, instead of living in a dormitory, four or five inhabit a two-storey home.

The point is, renting need not necessarily confine you to a cookie-cutter apartment among hundreds in a building out of some generic neighbourhood.

There are luxury apartments, cheap apartments, residential rental options, and more. And renting makes a lot more sense than owning early on.

If you own a property, you’ve got to have home owner’s insurance as well as Home Owners Association (HOA) fees.

It also becomes necessary that you effect regular maintenance as a means of keeping the property value constant. Landscaping as well becomes necessary, and you’ve got neighbours to contend with.

Avoiding easy mistakes

If you’ve moved into a home and mortgaged it without having rented previously, you may overlook some key features of the residence that a seasoned renter wouldn’t.

Also, if you’ve rented before, you’ve had a chance to deal with problems in terms of plumbing, electrical issues, internet issues, ventilation, heating, cooling, and all the rest.

Dealing with such issues in a rental property helps you know what you actually have a handle on, and what you need to learn. Plus, there’s a financial angle to consider in terms of repairs and regular rent payment.

If you can’t pay the rent on a regular basis, you may have to tread water until you’re evicted.

It’s pretty painful to be evicted by a bank because you can’t afford a mortgage. It’s better to be evicted from an apartment; even though that isn’t good either.

The point is that through rental, you are able to encounter, in microcosm, the difficulties that will come with residential ownership.

You’re able to look at financial costs, repair costs, neighbour issues, and associated services.

Understanding what you’re up against in rental situations prepares you to not only handle the same when you own a property, but to look out for warning signs or red flags that would be invisible to you otherwise.

Research and being selective

Finding the right apartment will require you to do a little searching, and you should do so with these provisos in mind.

Don’t stop at the first apartment you like, look at five – minimum. You’ll have the same considerations when buying a home, only more so.

A residence that you pay off will generally involve your being there for between ten years and the rest of your life. So choose carefully.

Keep this in mind when you’re seeking the right apartment. You might look at listings of apartments available online to help you get an idea of which solutions best fit your needs.

With rental properties, you’ve got an eject button – moving when your lease is up. It’s a lot harder to get out of a mortgage. So if you have yet to live in a residence that you own, or are paying into as a means of building equity, it does make sense to go the apartment route first.

The only real downside is that you can’t build equity nearly so well in an apartment; you’re basically paying into a black hole.

But you can learn what you’ll need to know through an apartment, and that can prepare you to make a more informed purchase when it’s time to buy a home.

This article first appeared in

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