Homeowner v. Renter

Homeownership:  could refinance to a 10/1 ARM mortgage with a $1450/mo. payment.

Renting:  could rent a nice 1+1 apartment in downtown Santa Monica for the low $2000s.  Say, $2300/mo.  This is $800 “more.”

But at my townhouse, HOA fees are $300/mo.

Property taxes are about $600/mo.

Homeowners’ insurance, maybe less than $100/mo.

Home maintenance:  hard to predict, maybe $150/mo.

Anyway, the add-ons to homeownership are at least $1000/mo.  The “true” cost of homeownership, even with a refinanced mortgage with a $1450/mo. payment, would be $2500/mo. or more.  I could rent a nice 1+1 apartment in downtown SM for about the same price, maybe a bit less.

Apartment advantages:

*  no mortgage debt, no risk of going underwater if the market continues to fall

*  free up home equity, maybe $300K optimistically?

*  live in a more central, walkable, fun and hip location

*  live much closer to the beach and ocean

*  be able to move somewhere else more easily

*  with a smaller space, I would need less stuff, reducing clutter and making housecleaning easier

*  more interesting neighbors, with turnover?

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