While many renters eagerly anticipate the day they can close on a home that's all their own, plenty of homeowners would likely caution renters about not taking the plunge unless they're fully aware of all the highs and lows that come with it. In fact, Clever Real Estate reported earlier this year that 82% of millennial homeowners had at least one regret about their first home purchase. So we asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to get honest about their own "I should've just stuck to renting moments," and they didn't hold back. These were the most striking homeowner realities I read.
And if you're a homeowner with your own regrets to share — let's be real, you probably have them — you can do so in the comments at the end of this post.
1. "Homeowners associations are predatory. For a renter, it was never fun to get that dreaded 'You'll pay $500 more next year if you re-sign your lease' letter in the mail, but at least you had the option to up and move with relative ease. In our townhouse community's HOA, it's not uncommon for us to get hit with expensive assessments for work that 'needs to be done' in the community...but unlike getting hit with a higher rent and being able to find a new home, we're stuck here as the owners, paying for all of this."
2. "I think for me it was the realization that I’m not quite as handy as I thought, and I don’t have the time to do the regular maintenance that needs to be done. Either way, I end up biting the bullet and calling in a pro, and here’s what I’ve learned about that: Take the amount that you think it should cost you, triple it, add $1,000, and you’ll be in the ballpark. So yeah, it was a lot nicer when the landlord took care of that stuff."
3. "Tree removal. I felt like I was in an episode of some aspirational HGTV show when we closed on our idyllic cabin in the woods. Then one day, we realized the aging trees that surrounded our cabin could quite literally fall at any time. The first $4,000 payment to remove a mature tree nearly sent me to an early grave, but the second and third tree removals, for a total of $12,000, which we'll never see back, will be the expense that kills me."
4. "I regretted my purchase as soon as the property tax bill came. Oh boy, I was prepared for renovations and appliance replacements, but the property taxes in our area are roughly what we expect to spend next year when we replace our furnace! Granted, we live in a nice area and want to support that, but taxes are already taken out of our paychecks — then we have to spend even more on property taxes..."
—Anonymous, 28, Illinois
5. "Trash! My god, trash. We went from renting in a densely populated city to buying in the same city, and as a renter, I never thought twice about taking my trash or recycling down to our dumpster, which our super took care of putting out on the street and organizing. For me as a mom of three, trash removal is a nightmare now. The rules are complicated in our urban neighborhood, and I'm the only one in our household who takes the time to do it right; to prove it, I have the fines from my husband's attempts."
6. "About three years after moving in, we found out that not only was our house built with faulty pipes, but we had also missed the window for a class action suit to replace them. Over 35 years, we spent tens of thousands of dollars on leaks, repairs, and restoration. I now live in an amazing apartment in a world-famous historic building (that someone else takes care of) and am selling that miserable money pit — couldn't be happier or more grateful!"
7. "Being a long-term renter in the Northeast, I never really thought about the havoc that winter wreaks on a home. Clearly, I took a lot of my landlord's regular maintenance for granted, because I'm sick of what I now have to do each winter to 'prevent' my pipes from freezing up and potentially bursting. New heat tape and insulation every year. Draining all the pipes if we ever take a weekend trip in freezing weather. And every time we see our temps hit 0 degrees or below (here in upstate New York, it's not uncommon), I'm hit with a wave of anxiety that our pipes will somehow manage to burst, costing us thousands of dollars in repairs. So far, I miss the peace of mind that came with renting — especially when winter rolls around."
8. "After my ex finally talked me into buying a house with her, literally one month in, in January, the furnace shat the bed, and we had to buy a brand-new one. We got the cheapest we could — $2,000, since this was in 2010 — but it was also the least efficient, which meant it was more expensive to heat our 2,000-square-foot house in the long run. It was exactly the kind of nightmare scenario I had always feared. I've since moved back to renting, as it provides more possibilities in regards to location. Even though it's more expensive, it's worth it not to have to climb on a roof, into a crawlspace, or into the corners of an attic."
9. "I will run for the hills the next time I see 'lovingly restored by a caring owner' in the description of any real estate listing. He was well intentioned, I'll give him that — but you can't renovate an entire house on good intentions alone. Every last slab of drywall cracks and separates every winter due to faulty installation; we had our inspection in the summer, so we were totally unprepared. Without any sort of liner under the shower, we quickly realized we were flooding our basement daily. We've fixed so many of these issues over the past couple of years, but I would've saved $20,000 renting, at the very least."
10. "I have owned my house since 2018, and every year I have owned, I have had a big-ticket expense. Replacing the hot-water heater, mitigating kitchen mold, fixing a second-floor bathroom leak, replacing the electrical box, and replacing the refrigerator. It is never-ending, and you have to address the issues as they come up."
11. "My husband and I bought our first house in 2009, and three days later we were hit with the Christmas Eve snowpocalypse. Our fence was blown apart, our pipes froze, and all of the recovery was an unexpected expense, even with homeowner's insurance. A few years later, we were hit by one of the largest and most destructive tornadoes in history. After rebuilding, including fiasco after fiasco with insurance and contractors, we sold our home, moved into an apartment in an area out of the 'danger zone,' and breathed a sigh of relief that every issue was on the landlord to sort out."
12. "I was misinformed about home equity and how it works. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I thought that you'd see every dollar back on the repairs and upgrades you do to your home, and I couldn't have been more wrong. We put around $100,000 into our first home over the course of 10 or so years. We sold it at a $25,000 loss, even though the cost of property in our neighborhood skyrocketed over those 10 years."
13. "When I discovered the mice infestation two weeks after closing — that the inspector 'somehow missed.' I saw signs as soon as I moved in, then I started to hear them in the walls at night. They got bolder and started to come out during the day right in front of me. I wanted to burn the house down. I had the house treated, I do pest control every three months, and I got a cat, so I haven’t seen them in a long time."
14. "As someone living paycheck to paycheck who somehow managed to snag an affordable home many years ago, I can't tell you how hard it still is to budget properly as a non-rich homeowner. I miss the days of renting when, even though I was effectively throwing my savings into the trash each month, I knew exactly what life would cost me. Now it's anyone's guess: Some months I pay nothing in regular maintenance, and other times I'm taking out a $10,000 loan to pay for new floors after a catastrophic leak."
—Rachel, 49, Louisiana
15. "I bought a house built in the '70s in 2019. As with a lot of houses that had popcorn ceilings, the previous owners had just put drywall over it. I wanted to take it down and properly remove the popcorn, but when I did, the actual ceilings were covered in black mold — I’m talking several hundred square feet. It turns out the roof had been done terribly and was just pouring water for years. I had to pay for a new roof, mold remediation, and asbestos abatement in my first month as a homeowner. I really wanted to hit 'undo' at that point."
16. "I regretted not renting as soon as I bought my house. I thought my ex and I would be together forever. I had other plans to further my career by advancing my education and thought he would step up. He stepped out — and now I’ve been stuck in the same house by myself without being able to further my own career because all my money is spent covering the cost of homeownership. I was young and stupid. But hey, my dogs have a nice backyard!"
—Anonymous, 36, Florida
17. "After a horrible townwide flood our first year in our home, I find myself frequently sick to my stomach thinking about how bad weather will get in the coming years...and how we'll be throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain should we ever need to leave for good. Who's going to buy a $400,000 house in an area that floods twice a year?"
18. "We bought a newly built condo but soon afterward found out that we could hear every step the family that lives beneath us makes. They have two little super-loud, misbehaving kids. I can't really stand it, and all the noise is making me sick — but we can't just up and leave or break our lease."
19. "Honestly, the first two years of owning had me asking what the hell I had gotten myself into. The previous owners did nothing and were very lazy. The microwave outlet was installed incorrectly, so that busted, and the water heater gave out during a blizzard and the coldest week of the year, of course. The siding was rotted, and the chimney hadn't been cleaned in probably 10 years, so we smoked out the street, and it was a MESS. It was a two-year, $15,000 mess for a lot of little things that just added up, and one right after the other — no breaks in between all the breaking, smoking, chipping, clanging, and flooding."
20. "We bought a beautiful home of our dreams. One night, not long after we moved in, I got home from work at 1 a.m. in a torrential downpour to find a waterfall coming in from behind our mantel, down the front of our fireplace, and across our beautiful wood floors. My husband got into the attic, to find towels rolled up where the water was leaking from the chimney flashing. Obviously, the previous owner knew about the issue but never fixed it."
—Anonymous, 36, Illinois
21. "All the pests: mice, bugs, even squirrels! The worst was waking up to a bat flying around the house and having to call my father-in-law to rescue us. We did call pest control, but because the house is older, the fixes we needed to make to help reduce the problem were way out of our budget, and still are. I guess I just always took for granted living in decent apartments that had other people helping to manage them."
22. "We bought the house we had already rented for 12 years, so we were very familiar with it and felt like we knew what we were getting into. But we also had an amazing landlady who never raised our rent. With a mortgage, we're paying double what it cost us to rent. We joke, 'Same house, twice the price!' That's with a great deal, too; our landlady didn't want to go through the hassle of updating it and listing it. Even buying at a big discount, we're paying so much more now, and we haven't quite seen how that will affect us long-term. It definitely makes me nervous."
23. "Most days, I love my little bungalow, and my mortgage is just under $700 a month. It's cheaper than pretty much any rent you can find nowadays. My biggest issue comes down to my neighbor, a woman in her 50s who lives with her adult brother and sister in the same age range. You would think my property belonged to her. She complains about everything; most recently it was because I walked down my driveway and stepped on her grass, I cut her vines that had grown into my yard and destroyed the fence, and visitors locked their cars with a 'beep.' She even called the city on me when I repaired the side of my garage. When buying, you never know who your neighbors are, and she talked a good game the first year. I'm trying to find a way to save to put a privacy fence in."
24. "Moving from apartment renters to house owners, we were totally unprepared for the additional costs beyond mortgage payments and property tax. On paper, those were about what we were paying in rent, so we thought it would be doable to own. But upkeep, unplanned repairs, heating, and electricity...it adds up, and now we're so house-poor. Our quality of life has gone down so much. I still don’t know if it was the right call. I guess time will tell."
25. "I never wanted to buy a house; my in-laws pushed the issue and my wife insisted. This year, she finally realized why I wanted to continue renting: The plumbing on the side of the house busted and cost $5,000 to fix. Three weeks later, a pipe under the house busted. Insurance refused to cover that, and it cost us $20,000 to fix. Two months later, in the middle of Houston, with above-100-degree temperatures, the AC went out. We spent $9,000 to replace that. I calculated how much we have spent on this damn house, and financially, we would've been better off renting."
26. "Lawn care and landscaping make me never want to own another stand-alone house again. Our landlord took care of everything in our previous house, and I took that for granted. I feel like my weekends exist for landscaping now, and landscaping alone."
"And before anyone leaves a snarky comment telling me to rip up my lawn and plant 'native plants' instead, I've tried. Our HOA won't let us, and also...do you realize how expensive that is to install?!"
—George, New Jersey
27. "The cost of water. When my family and I rented in a city, water was always included in the cost of my rent, so it's not really something I ever thought about. Now, with how expensive our water bill is, you'd think we were filling and draining an Olympic-size pool every single day."
28. "When we bought a new-construction home, I had no clue about taxes, escrow, or any of it. The first year we were there, the taxes were based on essentially empty lots, and so our mortgage payment was very affordable. The second year, property taxes went way up because there were homes there now, and we didn't have nearly enough in escrow, so our mortgage payment had to increase to make up for the deficiency and ensure there'd be enough for year 3. It essentially doubled, and if we didn't have savings, we wouldn't have made it."
29. "You lose so much freedom to explore when you're tied to one house, one mortgage. Our friends all became 'digital nomads' in the pandemic, traveling to tons of cities across the US whenever they felt like it. We could be doing that if we weren't tied down to our 'dream home,' and sometimes I wonder if we made a big mistake settling down with one home before we were fully ready to."
30. "I love having a house payment that's reasonable compared with the rents in my area (which have gotten ridiculous), but I do miss the ability to contact the landlord and say, 'This is broken, can you fix it?' Now when something breaks, I am the one responsible for fixing it, like when our hot-water heater burst open on a random Tuesday. Sometimes, renting doesn't sound so bad, but there is no equity in renting."
31. And finally, "My dad had cancer, and I moved him to the town I was living in. We had separate apartments, but as he was getting sicker, I decided to buy a house with two apartments in it so I could keep an eye on my dad but we would still have our own space. It was a fantastic deal, and I was excited to finally own a home! The weekend I got the keys to the house, my boyfriend was over helping to tear up the old carpet out of my basement apartment, and he discovered black mold — deadly for not only my dad but anyone else coming into the house. Well, the black mold was so bad, I had to rebuild the apartment from scratch! I had to live upstairs with my very sick father for months while my apartment was being rebuilt."
"The bill was up to almost $100,000, and I was only making $40,000 a year as a radio announcer. That $100,000 only got me about 80% of the renovation. I still did not have flooring or trim, but I finally moved back into my downstairs apartment. A few weeks later, I found that my dad had passed away in his apartment. Yes, he had cancer, but I can't help but convince myself that my mold-infested house contributed to his death. I hated that house and sold it during the pandemic for barely any of what I put into it. People say I’m stupid for selling it, as I would be making a mint from the renovated rental, but I don’t care one bit! It held nothing but negative memories for me, and I’m so much happier not owning it."
—Christa, 53, Ontario
If you're a homeowner, what's something you really miss about renting? Or, on the flip side: What's something unexpectedly great about owning a home that you wouldn't otherwise get as a renter? Tell me about it in the comments below or through this anonymous form.
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.