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"I used to have a mortgage, now I'm a renter and I've never been happier".

The great Australian dream is over for startled Sydneysiders who have done all the right things – gotten a job, saved a deposit, browsed through homes on websites – only to watch in horror as housing prices continued to climb at the same time as wages hardly moved an inch.

That mean Sydney house price has taken one step closer to mimicking the New York property market where majority of resident are renters, not buyers.

Happy days fellow renters.

And Sydney is merely the epicentre of “rentnado” with a HILDA report prediction that by next year less than half of Australians will be home owners.

Meantime the rental market is experiencing the “softest conditions on record” according to CoreLogic’s January Rent Review which found that none of the capital city markets have experienced rental growth over the past 12 months and in fact, growth is at its lowest level on record.

That’s party due to an increase in cashed up property investors being the only ones able to afford to buy homes anymore, with the intention to rent them out for the long-term.

Just last month Sydney and Melbourne were named in the top five most unaffordable cities in the world to buy a house. Property prices continue to surge higher and higher so those of us who aren’t at least ten years into a mortgage don’t have much of a chance of ever getting a look in.

And that’s just fine by me. Rather than look at it as something I am missing out on, I look at not “owning” a house as something I am free from. I’m free from a crippling, life altering, nerve wracking. choice limiting mortgage. I’m a happy renter, a rare breed of person who chooses to rent, even though I am in a position to buy a home.

I just can’t stand the thought of having a massive debt and seeing a huge portion of my weekly income go towards repayments, even it it means I get to be a home owner.

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I’m a happy renter, a rare breed of person that chooses to rent even though I am in a position to buy a home. Image: iStock
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I’d rather remain debt-free, rent for a reasonable amount of money each week and have plenty of cash left over to enjoy life. Instead of investing in property I invest in my children.

Sure, renting can be a little bit annoying. Condition reports, inspections, finding roommates and having to ask for permission to change anything at all. One of my leases stated that cutting boards are to be used at all times in the kitchen (what do they think we are, animals?) and some landlords are pretty annoying.

A friend of mine decided to do some minor renovations to her rental home only to do such a good job that the landlord put the rent up!

Jo Abi and kids in QLD
“I really love having money in the bank and not stressing about mortgage repayments.” Jo and her kids. Image supplied.
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Still, I prefer it. I don’t have to worry about crippling debt, interest-rate increases, mortgage-stress and the idea of being burdened with repayments until I’m ready to retire.

The rental agent takes care of all repairs and I just live my life.

It’s not that I don’t want to own my own home. If I had the money to buy a home outright, of course I would. It’s the mortgage part I can’t stomach. Deposits and stamp duty and repayments and council rates and all the other expenses that come with bank-enabled-home-ownership aren’t for me.

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Plus I really love having decent money in the back.

My husband and I once crunched the numbers and discovered that even if we did buy a home near our children’s school we’d struggle to have enough money left for the school fees. We could forget about all of their extra-curricular activities , holidays and trips to the movies. We’d be just like all of our friends, stretched down to the very last dollar.

No thanks.

Sydney_houses_real estate
Just last month Sydney and Melbourne were named in the top five most unaffordable cities in the world to buy a house in. Image: iStock

My parents used to regularly try and convince us to buy a home. To them “rent money is dead money” and the fact this catch-phrase has been used in so many ads by financial institutions just gives it more weight in their minds. If someone says it on the TV or radio, it must be true (as far as my parents are concerned).

They’ll never understand and why should they? Home ownership was more affordable for them, and they were taught that it was more secure than renting. Also landlords have a bad reputation, often ending up in the same category as step parents and used drug dealers. You hardly ever meet them these days. That’s what rental agents are for and they tend to communicate via email, aside from the occasional inspection.

As long as I pay my rent and water bill on time I am left alone. Also, just because I don’t own the property I live in, doesn’t mean it isn’t my home. It is very much my home and I have made many happy memories in all of my rental properties.

I’m allowed to have a dog and a cat in my rental home. Most homes in family areas allow that now. The home is older so I don’t have to freak out over every scuff mark my children leave on the walls and if we do need to move, well, then we’ll move. There are lots of rental properties available in my area because investment properties are seen as an excellent investment so if I have to move I’ll just move onto the next one.

I am completely debt-free. It is an amazing feeling.

Sometimes I wish I owned my own home. I imagine renovating and digging a garden and never having to move again, but I don’t wish for it so much that I want to sign my name next to a huge amount of debt. Remaining debt-free is incredibly important to me. The only real power we have over our lives is managing our debt levels.

I learned that the hard way.

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