Take this quote from a 2003 study by Robert Dietz, professor of economics at Ohio State University, titled “The Social Consequences of Home Ownership ” [.PDF, 180kb]: “You are happier and more satisfied with your life[,] your children are better educated and less likely to get into trouble[,] your daughters are less likely to become pregnant as teenagers[,] you vote more often and are more active in your community[,] you are more likely to recycle and less likely to get mugged.” (I added in some comma’s and the emphasis was mine) Doesn’t that add a little wrinkle into the rent vs. buy question?
Essentially, what it comes down to is that homeowners feel more vested in a community than renters do. I didn’t really care who my neighbors were when I rented because I was probably moving in a year, not so with my neighbors now. I’m more likely to be active in my community now because I know I’ll be here for a while. I’ll be more active in the political process because those decisions will now have lasting effects on my life and my finances.
On a personal note, I know of friends who own row homes in the city who have gone to town hearings on construction permits for roof decks. A rule is that if you construct a deck, it can’t block the “view” of your neighbors and anyone can challenge your permit for that reason. If you rented, you don’t care if a deck blocks your view. If you own it, you certainly do care because you don’t want to see another deck in the way of your view of the cityscape, you want to see the cityscape!
(Photo: paytonc )