To Own Or Rent?

Does Generation Y see homeownership as the same symbol of middle-class success that was so powerful for their parents and grandparents? Or, in an era of tight credit and high unemployment, have they resigned themselves to being tenants? NPR went to where many Millennials live on the Internet — Facebook — and asked for some their thoughts.

The main reason I haven't bought a home yet, and don't plan to (despite being steadily employed), is the aspect of permanency. I'd like to take advantage of these low home prices, but the downside is that reselling it anytime soon is unrealistic. This would mean committing to that house in that city for the foreseeable future, which is incongruous with my goals. — Erin Rose Pfeifer
Boulder, Colo.
My fiancé and I share a similar perspective on this issue, 'Why bother?'. ... Neither of us can find employment outside of restaurant work and retail, respectively. This has shaped our worldview considerably. We squeak by each week, falling behind on something each month and see the virtues of homeownership to be more like weights, that grow very heavy when catastrophe and economic hard times strike. — Joseph Donnelly, 29
Albany, N.Y.
I have decided that home ownership may never happen for me; it seems that the dream of having my own place is now out of reach. I know that even if I find full-time employment (and I will need to get a PhD for that), buying and maintaining a home with my salary would be near impossible, and possibly financially ruinous. — Kate Fischer, 25
San Antonio, Texas
I have my bachelors and my master and I am currently employed at an entry level position. I have several friends who have married and purchased a home together, but very few singles that have a home. I feel that for my modest income, living in the St. Louis area, renting is by far the most economical and secure position. — Adam Voyles
St. Louis, Mo.
I might wake up one morning with no job, with the only prospect halfway across the country doing a dismal job. I might find myself desperate enough to take it. I'm still renting. — Jon Russell, 26
Raleigh, N.C.
When I was growing up, my parents used to extoll the virtues of owning a house — it was only to be viewed as a sure-bet investment and declines in the amount of equity that you had built up were thought of as the remotest possibility, if at all. Renting was a waste of money. ... Since watching housing values implode as I left college/grad school ... I've come to see renting as much more secure than tying myself to a six figure life debt. — Steven Vanderveer, 27
Madison, Wis.
Unfortunately, during my course work in college, the economy took a downturn and work has been hard to find. I'm studying Anthropology, which may not have been the best choice to secure a high paying job, but it's even worse now that funding has dried up for many of our fields of study. I've decided that renting is a much better option. It affords me the freedom to exit a lease if I must to find work, but I've noticed that many rental homes offer rent-to-own if I really want to settle down. — Philip Restall, 26
Orlando, Fla.
Home ownership is out of the question for me. ... As I see it, the money my parents were able to save each month and eventually buy a home with, I pay out towards student loans. ... Owning a home is an 'idea' to me. Something that seems very very very far away. — Jennifer Sylvester, 37
Austin, Texas
When the market crashed in 2008, and housing prices corrected, I lost my job. I have been swinging between unemployment and temporary work for the last four years. Now that houses are actually somewhat affordable again, my generation is having trouble maintaining steady employment and banks are unwilling to loan most people money at reasonable rates. — Hanley Bonynge, 28
Santa Monica, Calif.
Currently my fiancé is still in school and homeownership is several years away. Because of wedding planning, student loans, car payments, a down payment is non-existent right now. In a few years we want to own a home. ... Renting is our only option right now and will be until we are both working and can afford to even start thinking about owning a home. — Kelsey Wegner, 23
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
While I still dream of owning a home, I doubt that will be feasible within the next ten years for a couple of reasons. I do not believe I will make enough money to pay down debts plus have a mortgage and everything else that comes with owning a home. Getting a job is hard enough. Getting a job that allows for a livable wage is harder, much less a job that makes home ownership a reality. — Katherine Locke, 25
Philadelphia, Pa.
I have definitely struggled to decide on whether to rent or buy. At the moment, I am renting, and my roommates are my parents. While I can see how owning a home can bring peace of mind to certain people, I see myself as the type to still have some wanderlust that needs exercising, so I would only commit to owning a home if it made enough financial sense and I felt like I was in the right place. — Adam Rawlings, 24
New Haven, Conn.
We rent and have always rented, but we do dream of home ownership. In some ways, as someone who has never owned a home, I think of the housing meltdown as a good thing: the lower home prices go, the greater possibility that we might someday be able to purchase one. — Amber Hinds, 27
Nantucket, Mass.
I rent currently, but i have a funds available after i finish graduate school. I will buy when i get the chance, the crisis if anything has taught me just to be careful of what you put your signature on. — Tyler Deatley, 22
Norfolk, Va.
I currently live in my mother's basement and work full time at a defense contractor making 40,000 a year. Im ready to live on my own but I really want to find a great deal first. My Realtor and I have just started looking at short sales which is an even more daunting process, but does seem to be a way to get a home at a low if you're willing to sit back and wait to see what the bank takes, which usually takes months and ends with a no. — Gabe Urzua, 26
Salt Lake City, Utah
I think the housing crisis simply magnified or accelerated a tide that was was already forming among "millenials" — that homeownership is another non-essential, traditional commitment that young people seem to be putting off later and later, not unlike marriage and children. — Julie Engebretson, 28
New York, N.Y.
The housing meltdown emphasized what I learned through accounting and economics in college: mortgages are just a way for banks to make money and the government tax incentives biased towards home ownership combined with backing of the unsecuritized mortgage market caused the housing bubble. — A.J. Wilkes, 26
St. Louis, Mo.
Witnessing the effects of the collapse firsthand has definitely effected how I view home ownership today and my prospects of owning versus renting in the future. — Kelsey McNickle, 20
Stockton, Calif.
From the ages of 22 through 25 (during law school), my wife and I rented — first an apartment and then a duplex. At the age of 25, just as I was graduating law school and beginning my career, my wife and I purchased our first home. It was May 2009, which ended up essentially being the bottom of the housing decline in our area of the state. — Matt Fryar, 28
Springdale, Ark.
I've owned my home for 2 1/2 years and I love it. I bought within my means and also have a room mate that helps pay the mortgage. I also have 3 chickens that run around the back yard. — Daniel Atlas, 27
Memphis, Tenn.

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