Moving to a New City: Should You Rent Before Buying a House?
You've made the major decision to move to a new city that you don't know very much about. You are excited about your transition, but have to figure out the right place to live. Should you rent before you buy?
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There's no one answer to this common question, so I'm breaking down both sides to help you find your answer.
WHAT'S YOUR TIME FRAME FOR MOVING?
If you're being relocated for a job, your employer may need you to move within a few months - not a lot of time to get to know an area. Being crunched for time may mean taking a breath and renting is your best bet.
Planning a move well in advance? Then you'll have more time to get to know your new city. Visit there multiple times, explore the area on weekdays and weekends to get a feel for your commute, different seasons, and talk to lots of locals.
Do your online research on home prices, neighborhood safety, distance from places you know you'll frequent. If you have the time to do all this and a neighborhood or area emerges as one that you really like, you'll feel more confident about the choice to buy a house.
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR JOB?
If you're starting a new job with a new company or feeling antsy in your current career path, you are probably going to want to rent until that situation solidifies.
On the other hand, if you're moving with an employer you already know and like - then buying is an easier choice because you're not as worried about having to find new employment in the near future.
DO YOU HAVE KIDS?
With school-aged kids, you don't want to have to rent for a year - then move elsewhere and have to switch schools. There are rental options in good school districts, although they can be difficult to find in the Tampa Bay area - especially if you're looking for a large enough house for the family. Landlords may also restrict pets based on size or breed.
If you aren't worried about school zones or small living spaces, then renting could be the right choice. Living among so many people could also be a great way to make new friends.
WHAT DO YOUR FINANCES LOOK LIKE?
If you can't qualify for a mortgage or want to save more money for a down payment, then renting is the easy decision. However, if you do have money to put down and you can qualify for a loan - consider interest rates and home prices in the area you're looking at.
ARE YOU AN EXPERIENCED HOMEOWNER?
If you've been a homeowner for a while, being a renter may be a bit uncomfortable - even if it's temporary. You don't want to ask permission to change your living space. Or you could want a break from the responsibilities of ownership and can make a comfortable home for yourself while learning about your new city.
DO YOU HAVE A RELOCATION PACKAGE?
I've worked with many clients who move with very generous relocation packages from their employers that pay for moving expenses and closing costs if they purchase a home. Those packages often have an expiration date. Being offered thousands of dollars toward a home is enticing, and you may not want to lose those benefits if they expire while you're living in a rental.
In that situation, you could rent for a shorter period of time or try to negotiate different terms of your relocation package with your employer.
Whether you decide to rent or buy when moving to a new city is a very personal decision. Consult an experienced real estate professional if you do choose to buy - they can help with local knowledge and hopefully cut down on stress.
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Melanie is a Tampa Bay area Realtor with Smith & Associates. She loves Tampa Bay area area, houses, and helping clients buy and sell real estate. She can be reached at 813-368-6084 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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