There are a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that if I owned this apartment instead of merely renting it I’d have to pay someone to repair the air-conditioner instead of being able to call maintenance, as I did, and tell them “it’s broke, come fix it.” Another reason is the fact that once you own something, you are responsible for either looking after it or getting rid of it. Especially nowadays getting rid of unwanted real estate isn’t easy. Even foreclosure is a long, drawn-out process involving tedious things like paperwork and talking to legal departments. I am thankful that I have nothing more to worry about disposing when I move than some crappy, beat-up furniture and old books, and I plan to keep it that way.
And apparently Florence King anticipated this years ago:
[H]er theory is that Americans are encouraged to tie themselves to home ownership because that way they’ll be so preoccupied with the constant maintenance the family homestead needs that they won’t have any time to give the government any trouble. Or as she puts it: “Being a home owner transforms him from a thinking reed into a tinkering, puttering, dull, distracted, small-minded bore, and that’s just the kind of citizenry the government wants.” Governments want power, and one of the easiest ways of getting it is to get the people you want power from in debt to you.
I could argue that I was a dull, distracted, small-minded bore when I lived in the CrappiFlats for all those years, but I can’t deny that I had a hell of a lot less debt back then.
Francis W. Porretto has already weighed in on the financial advantages, or lack thereof, of buying a house, so I’ll direct you his way rather than repeat them here.