Renting a house: Preparing to own
Even without the mortgage interest deduction, there are perks of single-family home renting
I jumped in my car with my go-to travel supplies—large pink lemonade, sunflower seeds, a luggage bag and printed-out Mapquest directions. (Yes, that tells you how long ago it was.) I was all set to visit my childhood friend’s place a few hours away from my Chicago apartment. When I arrived in another state, I expected to park in front of a multi-unit to hang out with her and her son. Instead, I circled the block a few times, wondering why this bungalow had her address on it. Surely she wasn’t living in a multi-room house with just one kid—a child who was barely old enough to start elementary school.
“What made you get this big house for the two of you?” I asked.
She explained the process of Section 8 housing vouchers to me. In my naive mind, I always assumed Section 8 housing was in sketchy neighborhoods. This was just a quiet block. I didn’t even see any other kids around, but I did notice a few people quietly hanging out on their porches and neatly mowed grass everywhere.
“I don’t get it,” I continued. “Why didn’t you just get an apartment or something? It’s just you two. This is a lot of house to maintain.”
“Shamontiel, just because I’m not married and don’t have a boyfriend does not mean I can’t enjoy having a house,” she responded.
From the look on her face, I knew this conversation needed to cease immediately. I zipped my lips, even after I found out a friend was living in her home—rent free. This was yet another reason I didn’t understand a single woman renting (or buying) a home; there would be more people trying to leech off of the property and now she had too much room to claim she couldn’t let them move in.
More than a decade later and after a lot of growing up on my part, I realized I was the one who was wrong in this situation (except for the mooching friend). My childhood friend renting a single-family home made absolute sense. It prepared her for understanding whether home ownership was worth it in the long run.