Sixty-three percent of millennial homeowners regret having bought a house, according to a new survey, and they cited unexpected maintenance and hidden costs as their biggest pain points — and I can totally relate, since my girlfriend and I recently recently moved into our first house.
Admittedly, we didn’t actually buy this house — we’re renting it from my girlfriend’s grandmother — but we still have to pay for things that we didn’t have to while living in an apartment. For example, we just spent $500 to have an electrician fix some outlets — something that previously would have been taken care of by our property management company. We also recently had someone come check out some outdoor mold, and he quoted us $3,500 to take care of it. (Needless to say, we decided to leave the mold alone and pray that it doesn’t kill us.)
Now, don’t get me wrong: I certainly don’t regret moving into this house; however, I now understand why the costs of being a homeowner might convince someone to rethink their purchase. Plus, the amount of time — oh God, the time — homeowners spend doing stuff around the house can be incredibly taxing. “People need to account for their time when comparing renting and buying,” commenter StorkSlayer writes in a Reddit thread about this recent survey. “I spent way too many evenings and weekends dealing with house shit when I owned.”
On top of that, when you consider that millennials are workaholics, taking care of a house becomes even more difficult, as another redditor notes in the same thread. “I don’t regret buying my home, but I work so much that I wish I could properly take care of it,” scarletphantom writes (sic). “It’s not a mess, but the landscaping, garden, odds and ends — they all need to be redone, and I don’t have the time or patience for it.”
Did I mention that my life as a new pseudo-homeowner is stressful? If I haven’t made that clear enough, I’m going to take you through all of the hidden costs of being a homeowner — according to data from the 2011 and 2013 American Housing Surveys — so you can feel better about living in a tiny-ass apartment.
Unlike renting, where the landlord typically pays for at least some utilities, homeowners have to pay for ALL the utilities, including water and trash. Of course, these costs vary widely depending on where you live — the South, for instance, sees the highest electricity costs, since higher temperatures require more air conditioning — but according to the surveys, they range from $282 to $385 a month.
Conventional wisdom says that annual repair costs (think fixing some Goddamn outlets or ridding yourself of some Goddamn mold) usually come out to at least one percent of the total price of your home. For example, yearly repair costs for a $350,000 home will probably add up to at least $3,500. Obviously, this rule has its limitations, and major repairs — like replacing the roof or painting the exterior — can cost much, much more.
Unlike repairs, maintenance (like cleaning the chimney or maintaining the lawn) prevents future problems, and according to the same housing surveys, these costs can range from $25 to $83 per month.
Property taxes, which are billed twice a year, vary greatly across the U.S. and change frequently. For instance, the current average property tax rate in L.A. is about 0.8 percent, which means you could expect to pay approximately $4,000 a year on a $500,000 home. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the current average property tax is about two percent, which means you could pay a whopping $10,000 annually on that same $500,000 home. If you want to know how much you might pay in property taxes in your area, check out this property tax calculator.
Needless to say, where you live drastically affects the total cost of owning a home. Case in point: These surveys show that in San Jose, California, you can expect to pay an average of $2,430 a month, but in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the monthly costs of owning a home are $796.
Worse yet, the price of homes (and mortgage rates) are increasing, which has made it cheaper to rent a home than buy and own one. As a result, recent research from Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University found that renting — and then investing the money you save by renting — is now a bigger moneymaker than owning a home and building equity.
So there you have it. Doesn’t your small, dingy apartment feel a bit nicer now?