Why I Rent: A Response to “Renters Rebel Against Cult of Home Ownership”

“Many a man who pays rent all his life owns his own home; and many a family has successfully saved for a home only to find itself at last with nothing but a house.”
– Bruce Barton
 

Sunday, the Calgary Herald published an article entitled “Renters Rebel Against the Cult of Home Ownership.”  They interviewed a few people who are renting and their reasons for doing so: money, location, etc.  I thought it was a good article which showed in a well-thought-out manner renting does have it’s merits.

Then I read the comments.

Comment boards are always hard for me – they are full of self-righteous, self-important blowhards who believe their opinion is the only one and everyone else is stupid. (Case in point, one commenter mentioned REIT, then proceeded to explain what it meant “for the dimmer ones”.) Well, I must be dim, for I had no iedea what it meant.

Soapbox: Just because a person has not yet learned something does not make them dim.  If they refuse to learn, perhaps.  Off soapbox.

Yes, the comments were/are disheartening, and while I writing this in response to them, it’s not because of them.

Many people seem to agree areas with a high tenant population means drugs are a significant problem.  The Northeast is always used as an example, because people can’t  believe this can happen right beside them. 

I live in the Northeast (just barely).  I live in a rough area, where sure, there are drug deals.  But I’ve also lived in the Northwest and I was waiting for a bus outside Northland Mall when I heard a barrage of bullets which ended a man’s life.

Drugs.

In the Northwest.

It. Happens.

I’ve lived in Calgary for almost 10 years.  Aside from 1 year of dorm living, I’ve rented.  I’ve lived in the communities of Brentwood, Bowness, Highland/Greenwood and now Thorncliffe. They’ve each had their issues.

Brentwood:

  • On multiple occasions have had men walk in, assuming my suite was a Chinese Barber Shop
  • Had flooding
  • Landlords just wet-vac’d the carpets and left the underlay to mould
  • Let the next tenants move in before I had moved out, then refused to pay me back my damage deposit because I didn’t (read: couldn’t) clean

Bowness:

  • People peeing off stoops
  • Domestic disturbances
  • Smell of rotten milk
  • Drug dealer right behind our place driving his ridiculously loud motorcycle at all hours of the day and night

Highland/Greenwood:

  • Prostitute claiming they’ve been raped coming to my door
  • Domestic disturbances
  • 2 years of ant infestation
  • 5 months without heat (while outside temperatures hovered around -40)

Thorncliffe:

  • Crummy neighbourhood
  • Nice neighbours
  • Secure building
  • Underground, heated parking
  • Professionally managed
  • HEAT

Everywhere I’ve lived, there has been some crazy occurances, but while where I live now may be considered “the Hood”, I actually like it.  From my grunge neighbour who’s a little spacy, to the guy with the pug I pass (and converse with) sometimes in the hall.  Everyone needs a key to get in, so it’s the safest I’ve ever felt.  It’s professionally managed, so if something goes wrong, I know it’ll get fixed.

Here’s some reasons why I love renting:

  • I hate mowing the lawn
  • I hate shovelling snow
  • I know nothing about home repair
  • Land tax? No thank you

I know there’s a lot of you saying I’m throwing away my money every month and not getting anything from it, but so what?  I don’t want to be rich.

I am so tired of the NIMBYism (Not In My BackYard) argument that accompanies renting vs. owning.  People, unless you live on the moon, it’s in your backyard.  “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”  I know I need to be careful, so I am.  Isn’t that better than holding your head in the clouds and refusing to think it could happen to you?

And being careful is different than  living scared.  I still say “hi” to that spaced out guy.  I don’t walk around constantly looking over my shoulder.  Sure, guns are scary, but I’m not a drug dealer.  I have nothing to fear.  Sure, there’s the fact innocent bystanders can get hurt, but I have a better chance of getting smucked in a car accident than shot with a bullet. 

Instead of wishing we didn’t have the problems acquainted with renters, why don’t we set up systems to help them?  Accessible rehabilitation centres, logistical solutions to their “bad lifestyle”, a touch of humanity.

Also, instead of renting out basements and other secondary suites, why doesn’t the City develop more apartment complexes?  Build up, not out.

I’m not saying I have the answers, but isn’t discourse better than this barely contained contempt for those who can’t afford what we think they should, or live the life we think they should?

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