Rent or Buy: US Counties Offering the Better Choice

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Homeownership may be a lodgepole of the American dream, but over the past several years it has become more difficult to realize. Home prices are rising at around 6% annually across the country, and with the rising prices come larger down payments and larger monthly payments.

Maybe buying a house is not all it’s cracked up to be? There are several important issues to consider before you decide whether to get into the housing market: how much money do you make compared to your expenses; what are your long-term plans and financial goals; and, most important, where do you want to buy.

The experts at Realtor.com did some number-crunching to figure out where it makes more sense to rent than to buy. The researchers looked at annual median costs of renting compared to the annual median costs of owning a home, including mortgage payments, taxes and insurance costs in 500 of the country’s largest counties. Then it weighed the median incomes for each county to calculate whether renting or buying was the better option.

The calculations don’t factor in the costs of down payments or annual maintenance nor do they include home appreciation.

Here are the five U.S. counties where it makes more sense to rent.

Manhattan (New York City)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,915
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $10,700
> Median home sales price: $2.19 million

Santa Barbara County (California)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,958
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $6,500
> Median home sales price: $888,000

Kings County (Brooklyn, New York)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,915
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $4,400
> Median home sales price: $874,000

Monterey County (California)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,666
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $4,500
> Median home sales price: $889,000

Suffolk County (Boston, Massachusetts)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,895
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $3,400
> Median home sales price: $782,000

Here are the five U.S. counties where buying a home is the better choice.

Baltimore County (Maryland)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,443
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $900
> Median home sales price: $257,000

Clayton County (Atlanta, Georgia)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,185
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $660
> Median home sales price: $130,000

Schuylkill County (Pennsylvania)
> Median monthly rental cost: $847
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $390
> Median home sales price: $71,000

Cumberland County (New Jersey)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,271
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $840
> Median home sales price: $130,000

Wayne County (Detroit, Michigan)
> Median monthly rental cost: $1,008
> Median monthly cost of ownership: $630
> Median home sales price: $86,000

Visit the Realtor.com website for more information and details.