Renting has become a defining trait of our modern generation, and a constant topic of newspaper articles, a constructed division between them and us, buyers and renters.
The cornerstone of Baby Boomers and Generation X followed the pivotal regime of college, marriage, house, baby. This systematic protocol seeped into their meaning of life, of happiness. If you could make a mortgage, a marriage and some kids work, you could do it all.
Now, when young people buy a house, it is often met with a wide-eyed expression or a worried dip of the lips.
It’s either extremely impressive or a terrible idea. Buying a house is something to aspire toward in your late thirties or forties, and when achieved, it is no longer met with a knowing nod, or a relieved exhale, it’s considered rather monumental.
How did that cultural switch happen?
You could say it’s down to lifestyle shift, collective anxiety or the economy. I believe it’s a combination of everything and more.
It’s confusing enough to follow the mantras of “you do you” in a world that is both referred to as our oyster (a saying I can’t seem to understand’s modern relevance) whilst simultaneously being bombarded by so many subliminal signals and advertisements that it is a miracle we’re able to make any decision by free will at all.
I used to reject the idea of owning a house, thinking of it as a contract that would tie me down to a place (how on earth could one decide where place that should be?) with far too many variables (what if it was a terrible mistake? What if the house turned out to be rather rotten, or cost a bomb in fixing up? Or what if the neighbourhood that seemed angelic turned grotty and became dangerous?).
Too many factors involved with buying, too much potential for error and regret.
No, I decided. I would rent forever.
But now, I’ve grown up and seen the light. Renting is quite the pain, and comes with it’s own string of downsides.
So many so, that I’ve finally begun to fantasise about buying a house, perhaps one on wheels that I can transport (the nice kind), one that I can nest in and really make my own, buy Egyptian cotton sheets for and some John Roche wine glasses that will sit hidden away in a cabinet not to be touched even for the highest kind of visitors (exception: The Queen. Monica Geller taught me well).
Yet, I’m in the process of a move as we speak. A long one at that. One in which the dates don’t quite match up and there’s a horrible month long in-between of living in an Air B’n’b (though it’s a nice one – it’s not home).
It’s day three of half settling and half packed up in this Air B’n’b and I’ve already wasted a lot of time opening suitcases to find individual items, having forgotten where I’ve packed everything a mere few days ago.
It got me thinking, and I counted; I’ve moved about twenty times in my entire life. Is that a lot? Or is that completely normal?
I’ve narrowed it down to bad luck. I seem to be a little unlucky regarding flats and leases – I’m always the last tenant to move into a place before the landlord decides to sell or to move themselves in. Maybe I’m a touch cursed.
Or maybe the renters market is overwhelmed. Air B’n’b’s are taking over, meaning rent prices are being cranked up yearly and while I disdain the increase in market value due to tourists, I am partial to an Air B’n’b myself.
As One Broke Gal, I can assure that living in Air B’n’b’s and moving about is not budget friendly. Taxi’s to move luggage, on-the-go meals to save unpacking too early and so on.
And ironically, it’s this broke frame of mind that got me to this place to begin with. Though obtaining a mortgage and saving for a deposit on a dream home seem far fetched concept now, renting is equally as expensive. Realistically, more expensive in the long run.
And it’s exhausting. The restlessness of it, the settling and unsettling of yourself.
But what is the definition of a home?
Noun “The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.”
Hmm, I’m not sure a lot of people that do not consider themselves home-less, can identify with this terminology.
Is a home just a place you sleep? a place where you’re belongings are?
Adjective “Relating to the place where one lives.”
A tad more relatable.
When we rent a home, it feels a little more like a business transaction. Each month we send our hard-earned money to someone, in order to maintain living there. Yet, should they decide, they can make us leave when they want.
Let’s have a look at the definition for rent:
Noun “a tenant’s regular payment to a landlord for the use of property or land”
The omission of anything homely is a unfavourable, yet, to be expected.
However, to my surprise, a study carried out by The Telegraph showed that renters are generally happier. Though more of their monthly income went toward household expenses than homeowners, they were generally listed being happier.
The study found that renters had a better work-life balance and listed relaxing at home as something that makes them the happiest, whereas homeowners listed travel as their key source of happiness.
Perhaps the monthly arrears to our landlord, makes us really connect with our home that we pay to live in, rather than desperately trying to pay off a mortgage that the bank holds over us.
Maybe having a simple sum of money to pay each month is less anxiety fuelling than worrying about paying off a great sum of money over half a lifetime.
With our ever-changing world and lifestyles, it’s difficult to say which is better; renting or buying. Neither seem to suit broke gals, but eventually, I’m sure, I’ll hit the sweet spot.