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If You Don't Have Kids, Is It Still Worth Buying a Home?

Being childfree is wild. An awful lot of people take it personally when you’ve opted out of parenthood — even though it has nothing to do with them. As such, if you’re entering the housing market as a buyer and you’re not buying a house for a nuclear family (two parents plus 2.5 kids, looking for that white picket fence), you might get some raised eyebrows or downright rudeness.

How dare you get a mortgage and buy a home as a childfree person? You’re obviously supposed to keep renting a tiny apartment forever — right?

Well, no. Here’s why it absolutely makes financial sense to buy a house (if you want to), regardless of whether you have kids.

Rents rise — a fixed-rate mortgage payment doesn’t

Let’s clear this up right off: Renting is not “throwing money away.” You’re paying for a place to live, and saving money in the process. Research from The Motley Fool Ascent found that in 2019, homeowners paid more than $8,600 more than renters on their housing costs.

That said, it can be frustrating to see your rent rise over time, and buying a home is a way to combat rising housing costs. If you buy with a fixed mortgage rate (or refinance from an adjustable rate to a fixed one later), you’re effectively locking in your monthly mortgage payment, and it’ll stay the same for the life of the loan. In an unpredictable world, knowing that your housing payment won’t rise can provide reassurance, whether you have kids or not.

Renting with pets can be expensive and difficult

OK, so you don’t have human children — but you might have beloved pets. Finding an acceptable rental that allows pets can be difficult; you’ll often face additional costs in the form of an extra deposit (that may or may not be refundable when you move out) and even monthly “pet rent.”

More: Check out our picks for the best mortgage lenders

My three cats are a major impetus for me to be buying a home this year. Despite me pleading with them to get paying jobs, they remain freeloaders — so I’d be paying their rent for them if we moved to a place that required this. Instead, I’m buying us a house, and I intend to make the kinds of improvements that will enhance their lives, like building a catio and installing cat shelves. I wouldn’t be allowed to do this as a renter.

Buying a home can grow your net worth

Finally, I feel hard-pressed to bring up a persistent myth I’ve encountered in the many years since I decided not to have kids. A lot of people assume that just because childfree folks don’t pay an average of more than $310,000 to raise a child to 17, we must be rich. You heard it here, folks — not having kids is no guarantee of wealth.

Childfree people are still beholden to the rhythms of the economy at large, low-paying jobs, and other financial obligations, like caring for elderly or disabled relatives. The wealth we do have is in time and flexibility — if we want to take on a side hustle, go back to school, or focus on other ways to improve our financial standing, we often have more ability to do so than someone responsible for kids.

That said, one good way to increase your net worth over time is by purchasing an asset that will grow in value. At its core, that’s what buying a house is, with a few caveats. It’s a mistake to consider buying as an “investment” in the traditional sense, because you’ll also dump a ton of money into your home over the years you own it. And it’s not a guarantee that your home will eventually be worth a lot more than you paid for it — you stand a good chance, though, especially if you maintain it and perhaps improve it over time.

As you make your payments, you’ll build equity in your home, and eventually will own it free and clear. People without kids deserve the chance to build wealth through homeownership, just like parents do.

If you’re like me, and planning to buy a house for yourself, rather than for kids now or in the future, you’re doing just fine. You too can benefit from the perks of homeownership — so go forth and conquer.

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