Most Renters Think It’s Cheaper Than Buying—Are They Right?

The number of people renting has reached its highest level in 50 years.
A house for rent.

America’s landlords should start popping the cork. The number of people renting has reached its highest level since 1965 and that number won’t be going down anytime soon, according to a new report from Freddie Mac.

In the survey, 36.6% of U.S. households are now renting, and a huge majority of today’s renters—78%—think renting is more affordable than buying. In fact, nearly a quarter of renters claim not have any interest in ever owning a home.

Source: 2018 August The Harris Poll Consumer Omnibus Results Custom Report Created By Freddie Mac

The struggle is real to pay the rent

While the majority of renters surveyed (63%) say they’re satisfied with their experience (presumably none of them live in places like this), it’s not all carefree Hygge living in the world of rentals. The number of renters who had difficulty paying the landlord each month reached 66%, and when that’s broken down by age, it’s millennials aged 28 to 37 who had the most trouble. Of that group, 79% said they struggled to pay the rent sometime over the past two years. To make ends meet, most of renters had to cut back on what’s considered essential spending—think more groceries and the water bill and less having to choose between Netflix and Hulu.

Source: 2018 August The Harris Poll Consumer Omnibus Results Custom Report Created By Freddie Mac

Home ownership comes with some new expenses you didn’t have to worry about as a renter—namely a mortgage payment and homeowners insurance. If renting still makes the most sense financially after factoring in the additional payments of owning a home, there’s still ways to make your rent cheaper, such as taking on a roommate. For example, renting in the notoriously expensive Bay Area gets a little less painful if you are willing to give up some privacy, as shown in the data compiled below.

Live Alone in 1BRCouple in 1BRRoommate in 2BR

Total Rent

$3,500$3,500$4,680

Your Portion of the Rent

$3,500$1,750$2,340

Estimated Household Expenses

$250$250$250

Your Share of Household Expenses

$250$125$125

Your Monthly Housing Costs

$3,750$1,875$2,465

Your Annual Housing Costs

$45,000$22,500$29,580

Annual Savings Compared to Living Alone

n/a$22,500$15,420

It may not be your first choice to have an extra person sharing the shower and kitchen, but it beats having to duck your landlord every time you see them in the hall.

James Ellis

James Ellis is a Staff Writer for ValuePenguin, covering credit, banking, travel and other personal finance topics. He previously wrote for Newsweek, Men's Health, and other nationally-published magazines.

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