house_webAmanda Pilley  |  If you know that you’re going to be living in one place for at least the next five years, and you are in a position financially that you can swing it, then you should buy a house and here’s why:

It can cost less than renting: This may not be true everywhere, but I’d say it certainly is where we live.  Even though it seems counter-intuitive, often owning your own home can actually be much more affordable than renting.  Rentals in Southeast Alaska are definitely a commodity, which is why landlords can put such a high premium on them.  Case in point, not too long ago my husband and I were renting a 1-bedroom apartment for the same amount that our friends were paying every month on the mortgage of their 3-bedroom house set on a ½ acre.  There’s no mistaking who was getting the better deal.

Your monthly payments can be fixed: This is something that most first-time homebuyers may not have considered.  When you agree to a rental lease, unless it is written into the contract, there is no guarantee that your rent will not get raised by your landlord.  Landlords have to consider the yearly rising demand for housing as well as rising inflation.  To compensate for this, the burden often falls back on their renters to foot the bill.

On the other hand, if you buy a house with a fixed-rate mortgage (a payment that doesn’t change for the life of the loan), then your payments will remain both predictable and stable.  Even better, as time goes by, because your mortgage won’t be affected by interest or rising inflation, the value of the dollars you’re paying with becomes cheaper and cheaper, allowing for more of that hard-earned money to be put toward other uses.

Buying is a good long-term investment: Most experts agree that real estate is a safe, steady, long-term investment featuring rising values and dropping debt.  Generally speaking, what this means is that a house will typically increase in value over time due to inflation and other factors, with the rate of return increasing the longer the property is held.  Many people choose to buy a house as a way of increasing their net worth.

You can build equity: Equity is the portion of property that is actually owned.  That is, the difference between the current market value of the property and the amount still owed on the mortgage.  Paying mortgage payments is a little like paying yourself because you are forcing yourself to save by investing in an asset over time.  Essentially, a home is a vehicle for forced savings.  Due to appreciation and rising inflation, home owners often find that they’ve accumulated significant equity as time goes by.  Sometimes, they find that they’ve accumulated enough equity to transition to a second, better home.  Note: you can’t build equity if you’re a renter.

You will have a place of your own: This is, perhaps, the best reason of all to buy a house.  You know you can live in it indefinitely.  You don’t have to worry that the landlord will raise your rent or give you notice unexpectedly.  You’ll have the freedom to paint the walls any color you like, blast your music at midnight, or basically do whatever you please whenever you want to. Owning a home will give you a sense of security.  You’ll have a place to raise a family and also establish yourself in a community.  It is something that can be passed down to your children.  Home ownership will provide you with a sense of independence and freedom.

If you’ve been considering buying, but have been put off by the thought of spending more money than you’re spending on rent right now, it may be worth shopping around to see what you can qualify for.  You might be surprised at what is available to you and buying a house may actually save you more money than renting in the long run. On top of that, right now interest rates on housing prices are at an historic low, which means you could potentially buy a house with as little as 3-4% interest rate.  Once you procure a property for yourself then you’ll be putting your time, money, and sweat into an investment that is yours and that will benefit you, instead of putting money into a landlords pocket.  While there is no doubt that there are many financial benefits to owning your own home, the satisfaction of a having a place you can call your own truly is priceless.

Amanda has lived in Southeast Alaska for most of her adult life and recently moved back to Juneau for the third time. She is a graduate of Albertson College of Idaho with a degree in Creative Writing. To reach Amanda, please feel free to email her at