Renting has long been considered a stepping-stone of sorts between your childhood home and buying your first house, but the statistics show that this is beginning to change.
According to the Joint Center For Housing Studies of Harvard University, the renter share of all U.S. households climbed from 31 percent in 2004 to 35 percent in 2012. Between 2001 and 2011, 24 percent of households with members over the age of 70 transitioned from homeownership to renting.
There are a number of reasons some people favor renting over owning, but for those who have owned a home for a majority of their adult lives the idea of renting may seem a little intimidating. If you are among this group of retirees and empty nesters considering a change, here are some benefits and additional considerations that might be helpful.
Less maintenance: When you make the switch to renting, it’s often the case that duties such as landscaping upkeep, appliance repairs and routine maintenance fall under the responsibility of your new landlord or management company. Aside from the reduced physical effort, you may also enjoy the added benefit of minimizing unexpected household costs from your budget.
Flexibility: Although rental terms often mean signing a six- to 12-month lease, renters may appreciate the freedom of knowing that they can pick up and move once their lease term has ended. Whether this means moving to a new city, building or simply a different floor plan, you have more freedom to try something new.
Downsizing: In the age of decluttering, the idea of clearing out decades of possessions and beginning to simplify your life may be appealing to some. Owning fewer things means there is less to take care of, which may free up time for yourself as well as your children and loved ones.
Location: When the possibility of renting is on the table, a whole new set of options may be available to you when choosing your next place to call home. If you are interested in being within walking distance of your favorite restaurants and shops or want easier access to transportation and your daily errands, renting (and potentially downsizing) may provide a greater variety of options within your desired neighborhood than seeking a home available for purchase.
Amenities: Another key benefit of renting can be the varied amenities available in an apartment community. From fitness centers and dog parks to clubhouses and rooftop pools, many newer apartment communities offer top-notch luxuries you might not otherwise have available to you without paying for them individually. While many apartment communities do charge an amenity fee, it is often far less cumbersome than the combination of gym fees and country club dues. Plus, the convenience of having these items within walking distance cannot be overlooked.
Additionally, a common concern about apartment living is the lack of space available for entertaining guests in your home. When you choose an apartment community that offers amenity spaces such as a clubhouse or outdoor grilling station, you have the option to comfortably host guests in these spaces.
Less control: With the convenience of being relieved of many household duties also comes the reality that you may not have control over choices such as paint colors, appliances and cosmetic features even after you’ve moved in. Each apartment community is different, so be sure to ask before making any changes to help avoid associated charges upon move-out. Before making a decision to move into a particular apartment, you may want to consider how comfortable you are with living in your new space as-is.
Pets: Homeowners typically enjoy the freedom to decide upon how many and what type of pets they’d like to have in their home. There are many pet-friendly apartment communities, but some have restrictions regarding the number of pets you can have, which breeds they accept or the maximum weight allowed. It’s a good idea to ask about pets during your initial search so you know exactly what is allowed and what the associated fees may be.
Parking: Another luxury that homeowners often take for granted is the convenience of off-street parking. While many apartment communities offer parking for residents, not all do. If parking is essential, remember to include this in your initial search, and then follow up by inquiring about the parking options available and any associated costs.
Community: When it comes to apartment living, there are a number of ways in which a community may exist. Many newer buildings that include amenity spaces, such as party rooms or pools, host events that allow residents to get to know one another. If you are interested in forming relationships with your neighbors, seek out a community that hosts social events. If you prefer to keep to yourself and enjoy peace and quiet at home, you may want to consider a community with fewer amenity spaces.
Outdoor space: Depending on where you are looking to live, apartment living may mean sacrificing private outdoor space to call your own. If having some personal space outdoors is important to you, consider garden-style or townhouse-style apartment communities that offer a private patio or balcony space. If you aren’t as concerned with having private space, focus your search on apartment communities that offer outdoor amenities such as a pool, grilling area or recreation space that you can enjoy along with your neighbors.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, homeownership among 55- to 64-year-olds has decreased since 2010, from 79.2 percent in 2010 to 74.9 percent in 2016. With the possibility of offering flexibility, freedom and increased amenities, you may want to consider if renting in retirement is right for you.