I've become quite a fan of the Get Rich Slowly blog recently. It's a pretty shrewd read and is far more personable (not to mention less repetitive) than The Motley Fool. It is a slight shame from my perspective that it is so American-centred (or should that be "centered"?), but some lessons are universal.
One such entry that was definitely for an American readership was the one on property renting/buying. While an interesting read it appeared that the American market is skewed towards renting, because it looks like renters don't pay property taxes. Over here renters still have to pay Council Tax themselves - there goes that advantage!
I'm pleased to have bought. Most of my friends have bought. The one friend I can think of who is still renting is paying a reasonable price, but I wouldn't say he is getting a lot for his money.
And yet there does seem to be a groundswell of people who think that owning is a peculiar British obsession. Never mind the fact that you're not held ransom to a landlord's whim to raise the rent (especially if you're on a fixed-rate mortgage), for me the big thing about getting a mortgage is the fact that one day that expense will stop. As a friend of mine said a long time ago, "Why pay someone else's mortgage when you can pay your own instead?" At the very worst I'll have my current mortgage paid off shortly after my 48th birthday (I want it to be paid off sooner).
Let's stop all the talk about houses as investments in opposition to shares. Houses are homes, and I'd sooner be owning mine and doing pretty much what I want with it.
There are downsides (that'll be the boiler again!) but on the whole I'm happy that I bought my home nine years ago. It isn't a decision I regret.