Owning a Home: What's the Point?

Another day, another drop in new home sales. Another week, another rise in delinquent mortgages. Wake up, American paupers: the American dream of home ownership is dumb.

Admittedly, this is not a new idea. We had a whole national economic collapse over this very issue! Still, any time you get around a group of people of "a certain age" and "a certain income" (30something, making enough money not to qualify for food stamps), talk will inevitably turn to "buying a place" in order to "stop throwing money away on rent" and "get some space for the kids." (We hate your kids also, but that is a separate topic.)

Purchasing a home is fundamentally an economic decision. Economics is a rational science. Let's put aside emotion and sentimentality and take a hard but fair look at the pluses and minuses of buying rather than renting.

The Pluses:

  • More space to spread out your growing pile of bills.
  • You get the satisfaction of paying to fix every little thing that breaks, not asking a "landlord" for a handout.
  • A debt that will take you 30 years to pay off, just like a real adult.
  • Don't have to worry about pesky "freedom" any more.
  • Maybe when you die, your kids will make a little money selling it, or not.
  • You can paint it.

Now, The Minuses:

  • Recent economic history.
  • You can't afford it.
  • Shit is a hassle.
Fortunately, beleaguered, non-wealthy Americans, there is an answer to this quandary: a new arrangement called "renting," in which you agree to pay a sum of money to someone in exchange for being allowed to live in an apartment for a fixed period of time. Something breaks? They fix it! You get tired of the place, or have a sudden change in economic fortunes? You simply leave! Want a bigger place? Want a smaller place? Want a place in a different location, or with a different layout, or with different neighbors? Just go get one! It's not like you're tied down by some humongous loan that will take over your life, haha! That would be crazy.

Buying a home is for old people, with stable incomes, who don't have anywhere better to go, because they've decided to exchange life's sense of possibility and wonder for "a lawn." A lawn, people. Sometimes not even that. Sometimes just the idea of moving up to a place with a lawn, later in life.

Lawns are not worth it.

[Photo via Vagabond Shutterbug/Flickr]