Why it’s ok not to buy a house

Rent is dead money, right? Not always. While most research indicates owning a home is financially more beneficial, there are so many varying factors it’s not definitive. If renters invest their money and are disciplined the same as if they owned a home, it works out pretty even. As with everything, it comes down to timing as to which is the better option.

Research from the Reserve Bank indicates it’s an even call when you compare rent vs buying. Economists, Dominic Crowley and Shuyun May Li, did a research paper more recently analysing the past few decades then also doing some future projections. In most cases, buying was more favourable but it completely depended on the timing.

With rent you pay your set amount each week or month, leaving the rest of the expenses to the landlord. You’re then free to invest your money as you wish. With property, you need your deposit, stamp duty, conveyancing fees, insurance, council rates and maintenance. If anything goes wrong with your property you have to foot the bill, which reduces the amount of disposable income you have for investing.

Of course, we need to remember all of the above is based on past performance and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. Always get professional financial advice and make decisions based on your personal circumstances.

So what options are there aside from owning a home?

Shares

Scott Pape, author of The Barefoot Investor, discusses investing in shares over property in his book and even broke down a comparison of his mum’s money here. Had she invested in shares she would have been over $90,000 better off.

And while shares have often been thought of as more a male domain due to the investing greats such as Warren Buffet, more and more women are investing in shares to secure their lifestyle in retirement or help pay for their children’s education. With groups meeting around the country to discuss shares, you can learn about it with others who are doing it and have the experience.

Angie Ellis is one woman who has chosen to invest in shares this way. As a qualified accountant and previous owner of a company, as well as a mother of three, she loves it and the groups. Some of her best investments have come from brands and products she loves, such as Lovisa. She purchased shares after a little research. “The stores were always packed and I would go into them and ask the shop assistants how they found working there,” she says.

Saving And Super

Some Australians prefer to keep their cash where they can see it in savings accounts or their super. Since one of the risks for many renters is they will retire without a home they own, this can suit some people. The returns are typically lower, with bank interest rates lower than they have been in a long time. However, for those who are risk averse and don’t want to be locked into a property, ensuring they are maximising their superannuation and saving their money is a great start.

One of the benefits of property has been the forced savings. Since you have to pay the mortgage, it is like being forced to save. Placing money into superannuation provides forced savings, though you will not be able to access it until retirement age. If you’re salary sacrificing it, you get tax benefits too.

Business

With it being easier than ever to start a company, run a business and have access to the resources you need to be successful, more young Australians are turning to business over property. Jane Lu, founder of ShowPo which turned over $30 million in 2017, placing her on the Young Rich List started her company when she was $60,000 in debt!

With a background in the corporate sector, she knew she didn’t want to continue down that path. She started ShowPo (her second company after her first failed) and worked hard to get to where she is now.

Kathleen Estoesta of Studio Ester, told Domain.com.au “Having my own business was something I’ve always aspired to,” Ms Estoesta said. “So it made more sense that I invest in that as a future, rather than own a property.”

She said owning a home was no longer an achievable goal for many, especially on a single income. “But for those people who are concerned with it, they should really be asking themselves why? Is it attributed to measuring success? … If you’re looking for a financial investment, buying a property isn’t the only option out there.”

Whatever you decide to do, it’s ok! Speak with a professional financial advisor, work out the life you want and if it doesn’t include property, invest in what works for you.