My husband and I moved to our current apartment 10 years ago. At the time, we naively thought we would be here for one year. Then my husband began his combined M.A./Ph.D. program, and a few years after that, we had our son. The years began to stretch out. My goal was to move closer to family by the time my son was 5, but with the addition of our daughter a year and a half ago, my husband’s schooling took a back burner. We had hoped to be out of this area by this summer, but once again, that is not going to happen. My husband is painfully close to completing his Ph.D., so we are truly hoping we can move past this stage in our lives in the next year.

Meanwhile, I had to call our landlords to renew our lease, again.

We have been in this apartment building for 10 years now. The first three years were in the smaller one bedroom apartment while the rest of the time was in the much larger (more expensive) two bedroom apartment. A quick tally of 10 years’ of rent equals approximately $100,560 paid in rent.

Many people would consider that wasted money and argue that we should have bought a house in this area long ago. Yes, the equity would have been nice, but believe it or not, I am glad we haven’t undertaken home ownership yet.

When we first moved here, my husband was not working, and I only earned a salary in the low $30s. Couple that with my student loan and credit card debt that I accrued while in and out of grad school, and we were lucky to pay the rent. My income improved dramatically within four years, and we didn’t have much trouble living off of my income while my husband went to grad school. Perhaps we could have bought a house then, but we would have had very little money to put down and very little in the way of an emergency fund.

That $100,560 that we have paid out in rent over 10 years averages out to $838 a month. Sure, it is quite a sum, but it is no where near what a home loan payment would cost on a monthly basis. But then there is the property tax to add in, the heating (which we do not have to pay now), the repairs, the insurance (which would be much more than our smaller renter’s policy now), the upkeep, etc.

Some people may argue that we have been throwing money away on rent these last 10 years. I would argue that we have not. Not owning a home and having the related expenses has afforded me the chance to take a leave of absence when my second child was born and to be off work again now that our third child has been born. It has given us the chance to build up a five month emergency fund.

We will own a home someday, hopefully in the next 5 years. But when we buy that home, I want to make sure that we can afford it and all of the related expenses. I want to have both a healthy down payment and a healthy emergency fund so owning a home will be a blessing and not a curse.

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