There are a lot of questions to answer when you’re moving long distance—what belongings are you going to take with you? How are you going to pack it all up? Are you going to DIY or hire movers?
Besides figuring out how to pack up and move your entire life, one of the toughest dilemmas facing long distance relocators is whether to rent or buy a home in your new city. Renting can feel like a step backwards if you own your home in your current city, but there are a number of reasons why renting before you buy is ideal. Need convincing? Here are 9 compelling reasons to rent before you buy when moving long distance.
1. You’ll have less to deal with
Selling your home (if you own it, that is) is hard enough without adding a long distance move and the purchase of a new home on top of that. Renting a new place is often a simpler process with fewer legal, logistical, and monetary hurdles to navigate, leaving you with more time to go through the home sale process without rushing or taking a bad deal, as well as pack your belongings and say goodbye to your friends before you leave.
2. You have the option to rent short term
Most leases start with a 12-month commitment. If you don’t want to commit to a full year in your rented home, you can also look for a short-term rental for a month or two, or even stay with a friend while you house hunt and get to know your new locale.
3. More time to get to know your new city
It’s hard to get a sense of your new city when you’re house hunting from another state. Researching the city online can help you get the lay of the land, but cities have weird quirks that you likely won’t get a good feel for no matter how many forums, blogs, and websites you read. The best way to get to know a new town is to spend time there, and sometimes, that means renting before you buy.
Moving also has a way of helping you understand your priorities and what you want to get from where you live. Is there adequate public transit nearby? Is there a lot of traffic? Do you prefer to live close to entertainment or shopping, or would you rather live in a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood? Renting gives you a chance to discover which neighborhoods will work best for you instead of locking you into an area you might not click with or which might not cater to your needs and preferences.
4. You’ll have time to figure out what you need
If you’re moving for work, you may not have a lot of time to think about your new locale and whether it truly meets your needs before you move. Your needs and routines may also change with your relocation—perhaps your favorite grocery store chain is too far away, your commute ends up taking longer than you’d like, or your priorities simply shift and you decide you’d rather live in a quiet neighborhood. Renting before you buy gives you a chance to settle into a new rhythm so that you can find a place that suits your new lifestyle.
5. You can leave if it’s not working out
Sometimes, a long distance move just doesn’t work out, and you end up moving somewhere else. Renting gives you the flexibility to pick up and leave again if things don’t turn out how you’d hoped.
6. Renting is cheaper up front
Buying a home comes with a number of costs, including agent fees, taxes, staging, and more. These costs can add up quickly, and can become a real strain on your budget if you’re moving long distance.
Renting comes with fewer up front fees, leaving you with a little extra wiggle room in your budget. Plus, if you invest in a new house in a neighborhood that you may end up not liking, you could be stuck there if property values decrease and it becomes disadvantageous to sell.
7. You can find a Realtor you trust
Finding a Realtor is one of the most important aspects of finding and buying a new home. If you have a trusted Realtor in your current city, they may be able to recommend someone in your new town. If they can’t, renting gives you time to find someone you trust and can feel confident about.
8. It’s easier to house hunt
It’s much easier to look at homes when you already live in the city you’re house hunting in. You can take your time reviewing listings and viewing houses or resolving any major issues with a potential home, and you always have the option of waiting till your dream home becomes available without compromising your priorities, rushing into a purchase, or expediting the closing process at your own expense.
9. You’ll have time to settle your budget
Despite your meticulous pre-move cost of living calculations, the budget you create may not actually work after you settle in, and you may end up with more or less money in your housing budget than you’d initially anticipated. Renting gives you time to settle your expenses so you can purchase a home at the right price point without overextending yourself.
Drawbacks to Renting
Of course, there are some drawbacks to renting before you buy:
- You’ll have to move again in relatively short order, likely after a year (though the precise timeline is up to you).
- Some rental units don’t allow pets, which can make finding a suitable short term home difficult for pet owners.
- You may not have enough space for all of your stuff, and may need to pay for storage while you wait for your forever home.
- If you rent and buy a home in two different school districts, your kids may have to change schools twice.
It’s ultimately up to you whether you rent or buy when you move long distance. Single adults with no kids or pets and a modest amount of stuff are typically better off renting first, but for families with kids and a 3 bedroom home full of belongings to move, it may make more sense to buy.
Renting offers a number of advantages that will simplify your move and make it easier to settle into your new city.
- You’ll have less to deal with
- You have the option to rent short term
- There will be more time to get to know your new city
- You’ll have time to figure out what you need
- You can leave if it’s not working out
- Renting is cheaper up front
- You can find a Realtor you trust
- It’s easier to house hunt
- You’ll have time to settle your budget
These advantages boil down to two persuasive perks: it’s more flexible, and it’s often just plain easier.
Buying a home is a major financial commitment and one that’s best made with all of the facts. Renting in your new city gives you a chance to get to know your new hometown so you can make an informed choice before you commit and buy a new house, and won’t have to go through the complicated and stressful process of buying a new home on top of selling your old home and organizing your long distance move.