And We're Renting a Home - picture of keys being held out with house in background

And……We’re Renting a Home

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Well, we’re probably renting.

The other day, I wrote about two houses that I thought we could buy.  We liked both of them reasonably well and they both fit into the high end of our housing budget.  However, when we went back to visit each of them one last time, we found problems.  First off, the water heater or furnace in house #1 was leaking something and an entire wall in the garage was somewhat wetThat can’t be good.  On top of that, nothing looked quite as nice as it did the first time that we saw the home.

It was kind’ve like seeing a stripper in the daylight, if you’ve ever experienced such a thing.  Basically, without the black light, this home looked slightly dirty and unkempt.  Ahem. 

We really loved the extra space that we found in house #2.  But again, we found things that we weren’t so happy about.  For instance, we found a cherry tree spitting fruit all over the back yard and deck and we promised ourselves NO FRUIT TREES.  We also found that all the windows were painted shut (WTF?) and that the screened in back porch had holes all over the place.

But, those things could be fixed….for a price.  So, to see if the houses were priced realistically, I had my realtor pull of the comparable sold homes in the neighborhood.  What we found was that both houses were very overpriced, especially house #2.  Other houses that were approximately the same size and condition had sold for as low as $180,000 in the same neighborhood since March 1, 2013.  Since they had an asking price of $209,000, we thought that they had lost their damn minds.  Yikes.

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Of course, we could’ve tried to negotiate, but the house had only been on the market for six days at that point.  And, we really doubted that the sellers would be willing to come down 30K after only being on the market for a week.  So, we took it as a sign that we should not buy that home…and we left.

Some Good News…..Finally

Since we have to move by November 1st and we haven’t found a home to buy, we obviously need to rent for a while.  Fortunately, Greg is friends with someone who happens to have a vacant rental home about ten minutes away from Greg’s new job.  It’s a 1,200 s.f. 3 bedroom/1.5 bathroom home on 2 acres and it looks fairly nice from the outside.  And, he’s going to rent it to us for only $700 per month!  Why?  I don’t know…but I’m not going to ask!  It also has a full basement where we can store some of our oversized furniture.  And, what’s even more amazing is that we don’t have to sign a lease and we can rent month-to-month until we find a house to buy.  All things considered, this situation is truly a godsend for our situation.  However, there are a few things that I’m not thrilled about.

  • Problem #1: The rental home doesn’t currently have a refrigerator.  And since we sold our refrigerator with our current home, neither do we.  So, we either need to buy a refrigerator or rent one.  We would like to buy a used one.  However, we don’t have any way to move it.  So, in the next week or so, I’m going to look for temporary refrigeration options.  The worst case scenario is that we’ll buy the cheapeast new fridge that we can find and put it in the garage of our new home when we finally find a permanent place.
  • Problem #2: The home is too rural to get wifi through any of the local providers.  Obviously, this is a problem.  However, I learned that I can buy my own mobile wifi hotspot and bring it with me to the home.  According to someone who once lived in the home, Verizon does have coverage in the area.  Unfortunately, this option is somewhat expensive.  The mobile hotspot itself is $49 and the monthly service fee will be around $100 for all of the data that we use.  And, even worse than that, I have to sign a two-year contract for the deal.  Fortunately, I can cancel the contract at any time for a $175 cancellation fee.  It’s not ideal but I definitely won’t need a mobile hotspot for two years!  (I’m also looking into other wifi options….I’ll keep you posted!)

Regardless, even though there are a few added inconveniences, it will be worth it.  We’re only paying $700 per month for rent so we can afford to rent a fridge and pay a ridiculous amount of money for wifi.  And since apartments that size rent for at least $1,100 per month and we’d have to sign a lease, renting this home is a much better deal.  Plus, the rental home has a garage (unlike most apartments) and call me a diva but I DO NOT want to scrape ice off of my minivan all winter.

I also think that living in a smaller home might be fun.  I’ve always wondered if we could get by with much less space and this will give us the opportunity to “try before we buy.”  Maybe we’ll find that we enjoy living in a smaller space or maybe we’ll find that we hate it. Regardless, I’m sure that we’ll learn something from the experience.

I truly think that renting a home for the short-term is the right decision for our family.  And, although it will be a pain to move twice, renting keeps us from buying a house that we don’t really love.  And, in my opinion, that would be the worst mistake of all.

What do you think?  Would you rent temporarily if you were me?  Or, would you try to find a home that you could be happy with?

Oh, and make sure to check out today’s staff post at Frugal Travel Guy.  Sharing and commenting gets you super bonus points!

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89 Comments

  1. Sounds like the best possible outcome of an annoying situation!

    As for moving the fridge – if there’s a home depot nearby they often have trucks that you can rent by the hour with beds that would be plenty big enough to move a fridge. Our local one is $19 for the first 75 minutes, which as long as you’re organized (and the CL seller isn’t insanely far away) can be enough time to pickup and drop off a fridge and get the truck back to home depot.

    1. The problem isn’t getting a truck. The problem is actually moving it! Greg and I have both hurt ourselves moving big furniture in the past and we don’t do it anymore. And, I don’t want to ask people we know to come over and potentially hurt themselves moving our stuff either. I need delivery!

      1. Lowe’s has a special right now.
        10% off major appliances $399 or more, plus free next day delivery!
        Check if your local lowe’s store has it. They should.

  2. Renting seems like the best option so that you won’t have to hurry on that home purchase. One of the benefits of this government shutdown is that with the uncertainty interest rates are heading lower. It might be under 4% when you buy the house you want.

    1. Yes, I definitely don’t want to hurry in our home purchase.
      I seriously hope that interest rates stay low until we buy. We’ll do a 15 year and they were at 3.625% last week. I can live with that.

  3. 2 acres?! That’s awesome. What a steal for the rental. Seems like the decision was handed to you. All wrapped in a pretty bow. The best of a not so great situation. Hooray.

  4. It looks like Mrs. Pop beat me to the rent-a-truck possibility. I’ll second her good idea; buy a used fridge’ and rent a truck advice.

    And kudos on renting a home. There are around 1000 good reasons to rent rather than buy. And this comes from a guy who is very proud of having his home paid off. I just know that from a financial & career standpoint I’d have been better off renting and thus more mobile.

    1. We will definitely be buying in the near future….BUT we’re not buying until we find exactly what we want. Our house sold in only 13 days so that left little time to find anything!!!

  5. Honestly, I love the approach you guys are taking here. It’s certainly far from ideal, but it makes much more sense than rushing into a purchase on a house you’re not sure you really want. This is an annoying situation that could last for months. Buying a house you don’t like is an annoying situation that could last for years, or have big negative final consequences. Plus, yeah, $700 a month is ridiculous.

  6. This sounds like a great decision to me. It’s easy to get purchase-home fever, especially when you are facing a moving deadline. Renting a home for several months will allow you to find exactly what you are looking for. And it sounds like you are getting a great deal despite the few minor inconveniences.

    1. Yes, exactly. And, we can keep house shopping until the perfect house shows up. Then we can pounce on it! Someone is going to be really surprised when their house sells in one day!

  7. Amber @ Steps to Save says:

    Sounds like you are in for a new adventure! I actually prefer smaller houses for many reasons. I can get things done quickly and my children are easy to find! 🙂

    Sounds like the deal on rent will help you in getting the internet/refrigerator. Glad everything is working out. Hope you have a wonderful weekend~

    1. Thanks Amber!

      Not sure how I’ll feel about a 1,200 s.f. house. We’ll see!

  8. Wow $700 a month is an absolutely ridiculous deal! No WiFi is killer, especially for your job, but it sounds like you have that figured out. I think you guys made the right choice!

    1. Thanks DC!

      Yeah, I think the wifi situation with Verizon will work out fine. Then I’ll just pay the $175 and cancel it.

  9. Yeah, I would totally rent especially for $700 a month and month to month. That makes actually finding a house less stressful. I think I would do that if I ever move again.

    1. I think it will be great aside from the fact that we have to move twice!

  10. I would definitely temporarily rent. Good luck with it all, it sounds like it might be challenging, but it will be worth it to find the right house! So there is no high speed internet in the area at all? I know you said wifi, but do you just mean like cable and dsl internet? If so, that stinks considering your job is online, but you’ll make it work!

    Good luck Greg and Holly!

    1. No! None of the providers offer any kind of internet where we’re moving. It’s just on the edge of the boonies!
      The only one is Verizon with their mobile hotspot.

  11. I would do the same as well. You don’t want to rush the purchase and then hating a home you just bought!

    1. I really want to find the perfect home so we don’t have to move again. This sucks!

  12. Sounds like renting will be a great option that will let you save a good deal of money (even with the refrigerator and wifi costs). Hopefully you can pad your savings more and have that much more to put towards your new home when the time comes.

    1. Oh, I’m sure our down payment will keep growing. With such low living expenses, we are sure to save a ton!

  13. I think you guys made the right decision. You can’t beat the price, it’s not an apartment, and it gives you more time to find something that’ll fit closer to what you want. I’d hate the wifi option, but at least there is a way out of it once you do buy.

    1. Yeah, the wifi issue is the only problem. But, at least I can get a hotspot!

  14. This sounds like a really good option! It’s very generous of your friend to rent to you for only $700/month. The wifi cost is a small price to pay for such a good rental. How long do you think you’ll be there in the rental? Will you continue to shop for homes?

    1. Yes. As soon as find a home we want, we’re going to buy it.

  15. I feel like I am the only one commenting without my own blog. Oh well. Anyway…two acres in the country for $700.00? That is hard to come by!! I think you made the right choice by not rushing into it. I live in a very rural area in Ohio (aren’t you in Indiana?) and most folks in the boonies use satellite internet (ComWavz or Watch Communications is one of them). It is pretty good! I actually use the Verizon Mifi, only because it is only $20.00 a month and cheaper than cable internet for me. Using a mifi means that you can’t use Netflix though. And I hate scraping the ice in the winter!! It sucks.

    1. I know. And, the 2 acres are beautiful looking. Part of it is flat and open and the rest is wooded. We just stopped by once to check it out but it looked heavenly. And, as if that wasn’t cute enough, there are actually horses across the street. I LOVE HORSES!

  16. I think this is a brilliant decision for a number of reasons! First, you absolutely don’t want to rush into buying a house you don’t love. Second, I suspect you’re going to find that this smaller space is enough and it helps your frugal mindset. Third, at $700 per month, it almost certainly is a better financial move than buying a house (that’s for now and forever essentially).
    If you want a great read on why a house is not an “investment” as everyone likes to suggest, here’s one of my favorite posts of all time:
    http://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/05/29/why-your-house-is-a-terrible-investment/

    1. I don’t necessarily think of my home as an investment but I don’t want to rent for the long-term. I like to paint, replace carpet, etc. Plus, I love owning my own home.

      We also own two rental homes ourselves so it makes zero sense for us to rent!

      But, renting for the short-term ends up being a great deal for us. This way, we can take our time as we look for our “forever home.”

  17. Alicia @ Financial Diffraction says:

    That’s a great price for renting 1200 square feet, especially with the land (and possible calmness) associated with more outdoor space. Good luck with the house hunt.

  18. That’s almost as good as running into your old boss at Walmart who just happens to have a house up for rent! We have a half size fridge in our garage, and I love it. I can buy stuff on sale and freeze it and Jim can keep his beer out there. Renting is always a compromise, but it will buy you time to find a house you love and make lots of great stories.

    1. I hope so.
      I know….it’s super weird that we know someone with a vacant rental…and it’s only ten minutes away from Greg’s new job. The stars are aligning for us or something.

  19. Sounds like you are handling this well. I would rent was well. I wouldn’t want to be forced into a purchase that I didn’t really like. I loved the stripper analogy. Quality stuff there!

  20. There’s nothing wrong with temporarily renting. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s a necessary maneuver based on what you’ve described. It sounds like you guys are making wise decisions here. Not rushing to buy a house, temporarily renting (and a good deal to boot), your husband starting a new job that’s a good gig. I’m sure you’ll be all settled in nicely before too long.

  21. So, I think it’s great your not rushing it, and are going to rent while you find your perfect house. Makes me realize we shouldn’t rush the home buying process until we find a good deal and a nice home.

  22. It took over nine months to close on our house (short sale, then a foreclosure) and towards the end we did something similar and rented a room in a friend of a friend’s house. It was way out in the east Valley but, for the short time we were there, it worked out ($350 per month, utilities included, month to month).

    There’s a part of me that’s hoping you end up liking a smaller house. The first home we put an offer in on was pretty big by our standards (nearly 2000 square feet) but over time we ended up liking smaller & smaller places, and ended up with our 1275 square foot home. You might like a tiny place. 🙂

    1. We too ended up liking a smaller house. We actually moved from 1200 sf to 390 sf condo but finally ended up buying at 850sf house now that we have a family. Our house is laid out very efficiently so we are able to get full utilization from all parts. Plus, it only take a few minutes to clean.

    2. Honestly, I think that 1200 s.f. will be a little tight for us in the long-term since we have two kids and I need to have a home office. But, I don’t think we need the nearly 2400 s.f. that we currently have either. I’d like to find something somewhere in the middle, maybe 1800 s.f.-2000 s.f. I really think that could work for us.

  23. How long did you spend when you bought your two previous rental houses? Did you look at lots of rental homes before you purchased them? Were they ones you lived in then decided not to sell? We are in the market for a few rental homes at the moment but are running into the same thing you are with your ‘dream’ home meaning that they all seem to have little (or major) issues that we can’t decide if we want to deal with. We’ll keep our eyes out. When we purchased our house it was only on the market for a few days because we knew almost exactly what we wanted so when it came up we pounced.

    1. One of our rentals is our first “starter home.” It’s about 1200 s.f. with an open floor plan…and it’s really nice. The other rental is just one that we bought. It was a 3bedroom/1bath with about 1,000 s.f. and we bought it for 85K. And, I’m SO glad we got it because we were told that there were several offers on the first day it went on the market.

  24. It sounds like a good move to me! Everything happens for a reason right? And hey, the price is right for the rent! I’m sure something good will come of it and you’ll find the house that’s perfect for you all!

  25. “And, he’s going to rent it to us for only $700 per month!” – Welcome to my world…that’s what I pay for my 1 bedroom so ya got a great deal 🙂

    And while renting it is not the ideal situation for your family, at least it takes the burden away for a while and you won’t be making any quick decisions that you may end up regretting later.

    If you haven’t already, check out the blog “Rethinking The Dream”…who knows, you may come to love renting as a more permanent living situation!

    Take care and best of luck to you all.

    Lyle

    1. I don’t think we’re meant to be long-term renters but I do think it will be great in the short-term!

  26. LOL at the stripper during daylight… I’ve had similar encounters way back in the day after a night of clubbing and seeing the person I was digging in broad daylight looking way different than in the darkened club. It sounds like the best solution for the time being, especially for the price. Hope the move goes well!

  27. While not ideal, I think you’re making the right decision. Buying a home you don’t really like rarely works out, especially since you guys were looking at this home purchase being a place where you stayed for many years. Since you need the internet access for your job, I would assume you’d at least be able to take part of the cost as a business expense too. 🙂 Oddly, enough in California, many apartment rentals do not include a refrigerator, so you can always find them pretty cheap here, although people who move here from other states often find it strange!

    1. Yes, I can write off part of the internet as a business expense…BUT it’s still very expensive considering I’m paying about $35 per month right now!

  28. My Wealth Desire says:

    If I were in you side I will prepare permanent home. I don’t like hassle to move and move again. For me it is stressful and costly.

    1. I would have loved not to move twice. Believe me!

    1. I wouldn’t mind doing that if it weren’t a rental home. I don’t want to stick a satellite dish up on his new roof!

  29. good decision! It’s always better to give yourself time and with the option that you got, I would too if I were in your position!

    1. I hope that it works out the way that I want it to. I would much rather rent temporarily vs. buying a house I’m unsure of.

  30. There is no real harm in waiting for a few months other than the risk of interest raates increasing.

    1. I know…I’m not thrilled about that prospect BUT the good news is that we shouldn’t be borrowing a lot.

  31. Renting a house sounds like a good plan! Not having a fridge or wifi is definitely an inconvenience, hopefully you’ll be able to find good alternatives. I like that you’re looking at it as somewhat of an experiment to see if you can get by living in a smaller space. You may learn a thing or two about what you want in a house by living in this one! $700 is such a great price, too.

    1. I hope so. I have wondered for a while if we could get by in a small ranch home. This is our chance to find out!

  32. That’s a good question. I hate the process of moving, but if it saves you more in the long run and it’s a situation where you won’t feel rushed into buying a new home it sounds like a great opportunity. And just remember you’re ol’ friend here in Cali who has a crappy one bedroom apt. who pays $1450 a month in rent. 🙂 700 for a house! Wow!

    1. I know! I think he’s giving us a good deal on it since he knows us.

  33. Sounds like a good situation honestly. Then you have no real rush to find a perfect home for your family and your decision making will be a lot more clear.

  34. I’m glad you found a place, even if it’s not in home ownership. Looks like you are getting a great deal on rent, even if internet is going to be more expensive. At least you’ll be able to come out ahead.

  35. First, love the comment about “stripper in daylight” …. very funny 🙂

    Congratulations on finding the rental home for a steal. You might find living with less/smaller living space is doable. We clutter our lives with “stuff”. The price we pay to hold/house our stuff is ridiculous. IMO, having more outdoor space is more important than indoor space. I love spending time outdoors playing with the children, entertaining friends or laying in a hammock or lounge chair reading a good book.

    Check Craigslist for a refrigerator. I found people who refurbish and deliver used appliances.

    Good luck to you and I hope you find your dream home!

  36. I think it’s actually a sweet deal. You don’t have to rush into taking just any home, until you are really pleased with it and know it’s a good choice. Until then you have where to life and the rent price is indeed very good.

  37. Do you have a smartphone? You can use them as routers, chosing “share connection” in the settings. If you are on an unlimited data plan with your phone it can be worth it.

    1. I thought of that but my phone is very basic. It doesn’t allow that option. Greg’s phone does but he’s gone all day while I work.

  38. I think that this was the best thing to do: there’s no need to rush the “get a house” process just to buy it and not be satisfied with it for the future. Although you’ll have to move again soon, at least you managed to get a great price on that house.

  39. I think it is best for you to rent right now IMO. You do not want to buy a house quickly that you do not like. I am pretty sure you guys do not want to move again anytime soon unless things change so getting a place you both love is very important.

  40. I think this is a good option, you don’t want to rush into buying a house that isn’t just right. It is a big decision so now you won’t feel rushed in making it. It is just temporary so you guys will be fine with space.

  41. Seems like an awesome choice!!! It will suck to move twice but we’re pretty much doing the same thing – moving home with free rent for a while before we move again in May

  42. We bought our used fridge through a little independent used appliance store. They had completely free delivery, and since they were small, we got a discount because I offered them cash instead of credit card. We found ours on Yelp; not sure if there’s any in your area (we live in Los Angeles), but it’s worth a shot. It was incredibly cheap!

  43. Sounds like you made the right decision and can I say good for you! Congrats on the new home. Looking forward to more updates as you start arranging and decorating.

  44. If the rental costs is less than what your mortgage/taxes/insurance/repairs/maintenance etc. would be then I’d rent 100% (and I own a real estate company!)

    Plus, I feel like your idea of moving into a smaller home will have it’s benefits.
    A. see if you can even do it like you mentioned.
    B. it will probably help you shed some ‘things’ that won’t fit (better if you decide to move into that bigger home — you’ll probably shed even more).

    I own my home, but I don’t agree with it unless your Total costs can be significantly lower than renting (and I don’t count equity as a plus, it’s only icing on a cake…) — James Altucher has some good posts about this that I can probably find if anyone is interested…

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