Buying vs. Renting: State by State

Homeownership remains at the heart of the American dream. The benefits of homeownership can far outweigh those of renting over the long haul. Owning a piece of the American dream provides a sense of financial security that renting lacks. For instance, a homeowner can tap the equity in their home to reach other financial goals, such as retirement expenses. As a renter in any state, a person can pocket some of the expenses that homeowners face, such as landscaping costs, but at the greater potential cost of leaving less options open years down the road. All in all, most renters associate owning a home with the ultimate ideal, despite having some difficulty affording it.

A recent report by cost information website HowMuch.net reveals the goal is within reach – for some – and most are set on realizing it regardless of cost.

In a side-by-side analysis of monthly housing costs, the slimmest gaps between owning and renting are shown to be in the Rust Belt and the Southeast. Homeownership in West Virginia is the most easily achievable, requiring only $297 above and beyond the cost of renting. A home in Indiana, Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina is also relatively attainable.

If it costs more to own a home than it does to rent, why do more Americans pursue homeownership over renting? The report concludes: The ideal vision of "home" is strong enough to convince over half of all Americans to stretch their budgets in search of the yard with white picket fences. In all, no amount of data can overcome the perfect image of the ideal home.