Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Happy Renter

There are many positives about renting a flat. (Therearetherearethereare.) There are!

As I repeat this mantra, I am rocking slowly backwards and forwards while humming a rousing anthem. Once again, to boost my spirits, and strengthen my resolve: there are many positives.

When horrible neighbours move in, or monstrous, ugly, buildings block a once clear view of the misty mountains in the distance, then we can get the hell out, sharpish. Being able to move quickly on a whim is very liberating. One months notice in writing is all it takes, and with one bound, I am free. No chain, if you’re lucky, and a whole new environment, organised in weeks.

Despite the sloth of landlords, management companies and agencies, all fighting shy of repairs, it’s nice not to have that responsibility. Dealing with repairmen (and they usually are men) is a bane of modern life, and it can really get you down. Being called ‘love’ is hardly a hanging offence, but being swindled, fobbed off and treated like an idiot is certainly irksome. For most tenants, it’s just not their problem.

The vagaries of the property market have a different effect. In fact the cyclical boom/bust cycle can sometimes work to our advantage. In a crashing market bourgeois dinner party chatter turns from massive increases in value towards the shameful burden of negative equity, we usually have more security and choice. Owners are unable to liquidise their assets. At this stage in the slump, they should be learning to swallow their pride, and nurture, value, even treasure reliable tenants, at least until the bust ends, when they can revert to type. Unless they go bankrupt, or suddenly sell up (best not think about that.)

Tenants can be bold. We can take risks, live life with a sense of adventure. Renters can take a leap of faith, embarking on career changes that our home owning brethren are loathe to undertake, as we don’t have to sell up, or let our homes, or worry when we are away (except about our stored belongings.) I listen to my home owning friends speak wistfully of plans to travel, downsize or study. These tales of perfectly reasonable dreams usually end with the refrain: “…but then, I’ve got the mortgage.” Property can be a ball and chain.

Some people like not having to own furniture and other fittings. If you are moving around, or broke, or just not interested in homemaking, then having someone responsible for maintenance and furniture is a massive plus.

In truth, nobody really owns a house; it’s a notion, an idea. You can pass property on to your children; that’s if you haven’t sold it to pay for care in your old age. Some of my friends have made a deal with the security devils. Mortgage versus freedom: perhaps only the poor and landless can afford a sense of liberation, and adventure.

Isn’t renting great, though? No; I’m really, really really happy to be tenant. (You don’t believe me, do you?)


Sue said...

Yes, I do. I am a renter in Spain and I love having the freedom of choice!

Love your blog :)

RenterGirl said...

Thanks for reading!

DrGaz said...

Can you really pass property on? Even if you don't sell it to pay for care, surely inheritance tax will spoil everything? If that's the case, then this is another point that reinforces what you said about nobody really owning a house.

Bloody great blog as always!

Anonymous said...

I "own" a house in as much as I've "owned" several after the first mortgage taken out years ago for a 25 year period. Ignoring the ups and downs of the housing market (and specifically that abstract idea of "value"), I have monthly outgoings around the same as renting the same property. In twelve years, however, I should "own" my house outright. That's well ahead of retirement. And that should be quite liberating.

Although most people wouldn't see this as the end of the process and develop ambitions for bigger and better houses. I don't think I will. I reckon I'll just be able to travel more. Until then, I'm pretty much in the same boat as anyone paying to live in a home: renter or owner. And for the duration, it's good that we can identify the advantages of our respective choices.

Anonymous said...

wiat for the downturn to get going and you'll be bloody relieved you're on a months notice.There's two houses opposite my workstation that have been on sale for two years.

Prices what they were in 2006!!!!(sorry three years now)

If only they played poker.

RenterGirl said...

Well, I have to confess, there is a measure of irony in what I wrote, or at least making the most of a situation I can't currently alter. There are positives. But also, quite a lot of negatives to renting. Esepcially if you wnat a home to stay in, and do not consider your home an investment. Thanks for reading!