One of the biggest decisions consumers are faced with is determining whether they should buy a house or rent an apartment. There are pros and cons to buying versus renting, of course, and it’s the type of long-term, life-changing decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, there is a third option: renting a house. While many people think of renting as being associated only with apartments, depending on your wants and needs, a house rental might also be an option. If you’re considering renting a house, here are five things to keep in mind to help you better evaluate the pros and cons.
1. Consider the size. In addition to being larger than an apartment, a house typically comes with a yard and/or a garage. If you have a large family, pets or numerous vehicles that you need to park, extra space is the best amenity that you can have. At the same time, more outdoor space can often mean more general upkeep. When you rent a house, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn and landscaping are probably going to be your responsibility.
2. Compare the cost of utilities. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for about 56 percent of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. Once you begin to factor in other utilities like electricity, water and garbage removal, the utility bills for a house rental are going to be far higher than that of an apartment. In fact, it’s not uncommon to find an apartment that comes with heat and electricity included. Talk to the landlord about the previous tenant’s utility bills during the winter and summer months and try to get your hands on the actual billing statements to be sure the cost of utilities is in your budget.
3. Don’t confuse insurance coverage. Just because you’re renting a house, it doesn’t mean you need homeowners insurance. Renters insurance is typically less expensive than homeowners insurance, and it can be coupled with an auto policy for about a few dollars more a month. Renters insurance covers things like personal property protection, reimbursed living expenses, liability protection and guest medical protection.
4. Privacy. It doesn’t matter how small the house is or how close the neighbors are, you’re going to have more peace and quiet in a rental house than in an apartment. In an apartment building, there are often many people living side by side in close quarters. Depending on your neighbors, shared walls can result in all types of excessive noise. If you rent a house, you won’t have to worry about the guy who likes to play music at 2 in the morning.
5. You still don’t have to pay property taxes. Whether it’s a house or an apartment, whenever you rent a dwelling, you’re not responsible for property taxes. Taxes are only the responsibility of the homeowner.
There are numerous differences between renting a house and renting an apartment. Depending on your budget and family situation, these five tips for renters will help you better weigh the pros and cons.