Home Truths: Buy, Rent … Or Live In A Tent?

If you’re a member of Generation Y, it’s difficult not to feel resentful sometimes when comparing our financial outlook with those of previous generations. The baby-boomers seem to have had it all. Jobs for life, gold-plated pension schemes, big houses in the suburbs. And beautiful grandchildren (like me!). In fact, when I compare my grandfather’s life at 25 to my own life, it’s incredible. He was on his second mortgage, his third car, and had a whole lot more than I do right now. Not that I am poor, just that I don’t (yet) own a property.

So what are my choices? Certainly I have done my share of renting. Sometimes in quite strange and slightly worn out apartments, and now in a pleasant city centre flat, thankfully. Being a tenant is fine – and I’m definitely not alone in renting. In fact a recent survey shows that a large percentage of folk rent because they can’t afford to buy. Interestingly, a significant minority just do it because they enjoy the freedom it offers. I guess it’s partly down to the country you live in. In Germany, for instance, renting is just what people do – with Berlin’s rental market making up an incredible 90% of the property market as a whole

So, renting. Yes, it’s fine for now. Even in my little apartment very far away from Germany. What about buying? Okay, so I looked into this. For a very large home loan deposit outlay plus a sizeable monthly repayment, I can afford a very small place with a postage stamp sized garden in a part of town that is out of the way and surrounded by drab warehouses and industry. Buying is tempting, of course, but I think I need a little time to work on my commitment.

Is there an alternative to buying or renting bricks and mortar? I’ve often thought about finding a “third way” that will help me save loads of money while not having to think too much about my accommodation expenses. In the futuristic sci-fi novel Ready Player One, everyone lives in converted shipping containers piled high up into the sky. I doubt I’d get permission from the local authority to kickstart the container living craze, though. However, I am intrigued by the story of the astrophysics student in England who lived in a tent as a money-saving measure. This Generation Y pioneer may be onto something! But it does look very, very chilly. I think I’ll stay part of Generation Rent for the time being,

So that’s that settled. If you’re renting, be sure to get a good deal. If you put the word out among friends, family and colleagues you may get something for “mate’s rates” and not have the hassle of dealing with an agency. If you do go with an agency though, find out all you can about them before signing up – online reviews are good for ensuring you’re dealing with a company that treats its tenants as well as it can. And pick a part of town to live in that you feel happy in – because regardless of whether you buy, rent or live in a tent, a good living location is always a joy.