I only pay $600 a month to rent a place I love, but I know I won't be home until I buy a house of my own

  • Laura Dunn has beenrenting happily for the 10 years she’s lived in South Florida. Currently, she rents a room in a single-family home in a nice neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale.
  • Sheloves renting for many reasons, such as lower monthly costs, zero maintenance costs, and the freedom to live wherever she wants for however long as she wants.
  • But even though she only pays $600 a month for rent, she still plans tobuy a house with higher costs in the next five years because she wants to feel like she’s really home.
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I’ve been renting for about a decade, and even though I have somewhat special circumstances as a renter in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, I’m convinced that I’ve been making the right choice for the last 10 years.

I am a 35-year-old woman who lives in a single-family home with one other adult in her mid-thirties. We are fortunate enough to reside in a safe, non-HOA neighborhood that’s close to a major highway, several nice shopping areas, and the beach; I pay her (the homeowner) $600 a month. We live seven miles from Port Everglades, three miles from Fort Lauderdale Beach, and one minute from I-95 (a well-known highway), which is nice when I want to go to Miami, only 30 minutes away.

According to the most recentAmerican Community Survey, the median monthly housing cost for renter-occupied housing units in Florida is $1,077, so I’m particularly lucky to pay just $600 in rent for one room in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house. My home comes with a pool, and I don’t pay for any utilities or internet.

These ideal circumstances are thanks to my landlord being a generous human being … and my maid of honor. She and I have known each other for about 10 years, which is why I pay far less for housing than the average Floridian. I’ve also been able to move in and out of her house when I’ve needed to, which brings me to one of my favorite reasons for renting: career flexibility.

The first time I lived with my roommate/maid of honor was five years ago. It was a great situation, but one I was able to easily move out of for the sake of a new job located an hour away in Palm Beach Gardens. (Two years ago, I left that job and was able to move back into my friend’s home for the job I’m in now, as a magazine editor in the superyacht industry.)

Renting is less stressful

As a 35-year-old millennial,renting has been the perfect way of life for me. It has allowed me to be spontaneous and do things like move away on short notice for a better job opportunity — which led to meeting my fiancé (can you see why I love the autonomy that renting gives me?). Renting has also shielded me from having to do things like be the one to pay for a broken water heater or call the exterminator when I had a bug problem. But I won’t be a renter forever.

Why I will soon trade in my renter status

Though I’ve loved this way of life for more than a decade, I’m about to enter a new era. When I get married in March 2020, I will once again be moving an hour north to Palm Beach county in order to live with my husband. At first, we will live the carefree lifestyle of renters, but only as a means to an end. If all goes according to plan, we will save up enough money to buy a house within the next five years.

Though I would have been content renting for the rest of my life, my fiancé and I have decided that we want to become homeowners in the next five years for a couple of reasons: to make a permanent home for our future children; to give our German Shepherd a nice backyard to run around in; and to make someplace ours — we both grew up living in the same houses for decades (I was in Illinois and he was in Florida) and loved that way of life.

As for how we’re going to make our home-ownership dream come true, I’m honestly not sure yet. For the moment, we’re focusing on our wedding and finding a place to rent for a few years. After the wedding takes place, we’ll save between $1,000 and $1,200 each month to put towards a house. When we find the right place, we’ll do our best to put at least 20% down. We’ll also save to have a cushion to fall on when things inevitably go wrong.

On the question of renting vs. buying, I don’t have a solid opinion. For me, there’s no right or wrong answer. I grew up living in the same house for 18 years, and it was a dream childhood. But I have also lived the easygoing life of a renter and it’s been an ideal scenario for me. The key thing to do is to understand your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle so you can make the best decision.

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