More Americans are renting than at any time since at least 1965: In 2016, more than a third of households rented their homes, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. Rising home prices, staggering student loan debt and lack of a down payment are some of the reasons why more people are renting. But there are non-financial reasons, too – young people are waiting longer to get married and start a family, many in the vast Baby Boomer generation are downsizing or relocating, and other people simply enjoy the benefits of renting. Renting, after all, offers flexibility (financial and career), low maintenance costs, little cash outlay, access to community amenities and no market risk – meaning, you’re not going to lose money on your rental if the real estate market tanks.
Many rental communities offer a growing number of amenities to entice and retain renters. Other key factors to consider when searching for the ideal rental property include location, commute, conveniences and whether or not pets are permitted (remember: service dogs are always allowed). Once you decide on a property, you’ll sign a lease – a document that defines your legal rights and responsibilities. If you have roommates, decide who will be responsible for what – financially speaking and in regard to housework – to avoid unnecessary trouble down the road.
Renting may be a good option if you aren’t up for the responsibility of homeownership and a mortgage, if you’ll be living in an area temporarily or if you just want the added flexibility. While renting may not be as large a commitment as owning (financial and otherwise), it can still be a daunting process – especially if you’ve never rented before. To help you get started, here’s a quick look at renting, including who should consider renting, the benefits of renting, the rental process and trading rent for a mortgage.