I received this comment on my Renters Are Not Losers post:
You are so dumb it hurts. Have fun pissing your money away paying your landlord’s mortgage
I’m not bothered by comments like this on a personal level, but it serves to remind us how some people view and/or treat renters. My recommendation to you when you come across these haters — Do your own research and ignore the noise!
I researched thoroughly before deciding to sell my house in favor of renting an apartment. Believe me, making that leap is scary, and we wanted to be sure we were making the right decision. Every person I know that made this change (and there have been many that contacted me through this blog to discuss it), did their own similar research.
The rent vs. buy decision is wholly unique to each individual. It’s dependent on the series of events throughout your life that molded your views and values. It’s dependent on the location you live in, the size of your family, number of pets, your lifestyle preferences, personal priorities, and life goals. Change any of those things, and renting may not be the best answer.
The Time Factor
Something the rent haters typically overlook is the Time aspect. Most are so focused on money that they completely overlook the other differences. Quite simply (and hopefully quite obviously) a house will take more time to care for than an apartment.
In my last post we discussed the financial comparisons of renting vs. owning. After that post went live, I got this comment from Angela in our Facebook group,
I think there should also be a column that estimates TIME involved in both ventures … The difference can be pretty astounding!
Angela voiced the thoughts that were bouncing around in my head as I wrote the money comparison post. I asked Angela for some help in identifying the different activities that added up to time savings, and this was her response:
Between cleaning time for a larger place, maintenance, researching/scheduling repairpersons, budgeting for repairs, etc., I honestly have no idea how much more time it actually took. But I will say that living in an apartment, I have SO much more free time it’s unreal!
The time savings is difficult to quantify. It’s more of a “you’ll-notice-the-difference-after-you-sell-your-house-and-move-into-an-apartment” kind of thing.
Here are some examples where I noticed time savings in a rental apartment:
- Cleaning takes less time: Tidying and cleaning to receive guests takes 15-30 minutes.
- No honey-do (aka home improvement) list: The time savings on this is huge.
- Maintenance: Now maintenance tasks are handled by text or with a quick popping in the office vs. researching the fix, going to the home improvement store, applying the fix. The time savings on maintenance alone is huge.
- Scheduling Maintenance: This category is for the non-do-it-yourselfers. In a house, you’ll find yourself spending extra time scheduling fixes, upkeep, and maintenance people for various things that need tending to. The time for all those phone calls and emails add up.
- Yard Work: None in an apartment. In a house, you either do it yourself, which take a couple hours every weekend, or you hire someone to do it. It’s either a time impact or a financial impact. Even if you hire someone, they don’t typically include the extras like re-mulching the shrubs and flowerbeds, planting annuals, or trimming trees.
- Pool: Not everyone has a pool, and it’s certainly considered a luxury item, but they are pretty common in Florida. A pool requires a lot of time to care for, and even if you pay someone to clean it once a week, you still have in-between cleaning to do. And at some point it will require some maintenance work as pipes leak, pumps go out, filter and chlorinator seals need to be replaced. All this is done for you in an apartment.
Likely there are more areas where time savings are felt, but this list covers the major areas. If you are currently a homeowner, jot down the time you spend doing activities throughout the month. Then estimate how much time those same tasks will take in a smaller apartment.
Time Savings – The Numbers
To help quantify the time savings, I created the following chart. This is a rough estimate of time spent on common tasks in a house vs. an apartment. In all likelihood the house numbers are actually a bit low, as almost every repair or improvement requires a trip to the home improvement store and that easily takes an hour or more.
Renting instead of buying could net you an extra year of free-time over a lifetime. Even if your time saving is only two hours per month, that still adds up to 60 days over the course of 60 years. What could you do with all that extra free time?
I recommend you plug in your own actual numbers instead of relying on these estimates. As you perform home related maintenance, upkeep, and cleaning tasks, write down how much time you spend. Then plug the numbers into the chart and see how things shake out.
The spreadsheet is available online through Google Sheets or you can download the Excel file. The spreadsheet contains the Time Comparison worksheet, Financial Comparison worksheet, and a worksheet to calculate investment income if you choose to invest some of your financial savings.
Have you recently downsized from a house to an apartment? What time savings have you noticed? Share your experiences in the comments section below.