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Is Renting Really Such a Bad Idea?

Renters are more likely to face social and economic pressures than homeowners, according to a new survey by Apartment List [1].

The survey [2] found that 30% of Americans, which included renters and homeowners, believed that there was a negative stigma against renters. The survey indicated that this stigma was born out of:

The "renter stigma," the survey indicated, was correlated to age as well as where renters tend to live. In fact, 33% of 18-29-year-olds believed that renter stigma existed, compared to 23% percent of those over 60.

Also, over 35% of people residing in dense urban cores of large cities observed renter stigma, compared to less than 25% of those living in non-metro areas, according to the survey. Renter stigma was also fueled by societal perceptions of homeownership being equaled to success.

In fact, 86% of respondents said they believed homeownership was important for personal success and 87% said it was important for financial security. Eighty-two percent of homeowners believe that owning their home is saving them money in the long run, while 62% of renters believe that by renting, they are losing money.

Apartmentlist.com said that these perceptions remained despite "a growing body of academic research suggesting that many renters today actually have a wealth-building advantage over homeowners."

Interestingly, the survey revealed that homeowners, more than renters were likely to believe in the renter stigma, making it one of the key reasons to own a home. "Among homeowners, those who buck conventional wisdom and say they are losing money by not renting are actually the most likely to believe renter stigma exists. Fifty-five percent of these homeowners perceive a stigma against renting, more than any other group surveyed," the survey said.

On the other hand, it indicated that these homeowners could represent those who were willing to pay a premium just to avoid renting and the stigma associated with it or they could be people who were unsatisfied with homeownership and now saw the perception of renting as unduly negative.

The belief in renter stigma was highest among the group of renters who experienced some level of emotional stress whenever rent was due. The survey found that many renters made financial and emotional sacrifices to afford their housing costs in the absence of affordable housing options. Some of these short-term sacrifices included withdrawing money from personal savings, putting less money away for retirement, or taking on additional credit card debt.