Just A Simple Girl Living A Simple Life

10 Things I Learned From Renting A House

10 Things I Learned From Renting A House

2017 marks the year that Colby and I will start saving for a down payment on a house. We have an idea of how much we want to save for a down payment, how much house we can afford, and a good idea on what we would like in a house but through renting we learned some things we wouldn’t have previously thought about. When we made the decision to move and rent the house we live in now, we considered it to be our “practice” home. A house that we would learn stuff in and help prepare us for home ownership without all of the financial obligations. We have been here a year and a half now and there are definitely things we have learned that we will take with us when we go to purchase our own home. So here are 10 things I learned from renting this house.

  1. I absolutely despise hardwood floors. I don’t think I can accurately convey just how much I dislike them. Don’t get me wrong, I think hardwood floors are absolutely beautiful but the upkeep on them is ridiculous. No matter what I do or how much I vacuum, sweep, and mop I never feel like my floors are 100% clean. Hardwood also attracts pet hair like crazy and you can see everything so much quicker. You are also limited to what you can use to clean them with and additional upkeep is needed that other floors don’t require. If it wasn’t for renting this house and experiencing hardwood floors first hand I would have had no idea that I did not want them in our own home when we go to buy.
  2. Grass grows faster than you think. You might laugh at this one but I never realized just how fast grass grows! This is the first place we have rented that has had a yard that we were responsible for. This meant we were now responsible for mowing the grass, general yard maintenance and snow removal. We were OK with having to mow the grass but we did not realize how fast grass grows and how often we would actually have to mow. We found ourselves mowing at least once a week, sometimes twice a week and our last mow didn’t happen until well into the Fall. This isn’t a big deal and we obviously still want a yard but just something that took us by surprise.
  3. Mail only gets picked up daily if you have a box by the road. Now I am not sure if this one applies everywhere but it does in the area where we live. The house we rent, and most in this area, have mailboxes that are either on the porch or attached to the side of the house. We were told that mail carriers are only obligated to check for outgoing mail daily if you have a roadside mailbox (meaning they are along the road and can drive up to them). If you have a mailbox on your porch or on your house, mail carriers are not obligated to check for outgoing mail. They only check for outgoing mail if that house has incoming mail that day. Say what?? This might just be our area or maybe I just never knew this growing up but this one took me by surprise. As someone who runs a business online and frequently mails out packages I was a bit taken back by this. It was always my understanding that mail carriers job was to pick up and deliver mail but I guess that is not the case. This is one thing I would have never thought to ask about when purchasing a home but now I know. While the answer won’t be a deterrence in buying that home it is still good information to know.
  4. More bathrooms the merrier. In our 6 years of renting, we have lived in places that have had 1 bathroom as well as 1.5 bathrooms. While we do just fine with only 1 bath there are definitely downsides to it (stomach flu anyone?) and no real upsides.  Most days it works out just fine but sometimes it can be an inconvenience. I can say that, without a doubt, after living with both 1 bath and 1.5 that we will not be buying a home unless it has at least 1.5 bathrooms.
  5. Height matters. When we first looked at this rental one of the things that made us want to move here was the basement. Not only the fact that it had a basement but how large it was. There was ample room for a laundry area, a work bench for all of our tools, storage, and room for a home gym. What we didn’t think about though was the height of the ceilings in the basement and if it was a low bearing ceiling. Big surprise to us, some of our gym equipment barely fit in the basement due to the height of the ceilings. This is something we never would have thought to look into when purchasing a home. Seeing as how we would like a home gym in the house we purchase it might be good to find out if equipment will even fit before buying.
  6. Garden hose + outdoor outlets. This is another one of those things that probably wouldn’t have crossed my mind to look for. Shortly after we moved in and planted a garden we talked about needing to buy a hose…then we started looking around to see if we could even have a hose outside. There was no water spout on the side of the house. Now I am sure there are probably ways to install one (but we rent, so no one is doing that) but it is something we now know to look for when we buy a home. For whatever reason I just assumed all houses had one. Same goes for outdoor outlets.  Our current rental does not have any but man are they handy to have. So yet again something we now know we want in a home and will pay attention for when we buy.
  7. Pay attention to the indoor outlets. In our situation something we learned is that older homes tend to only have 2 prong outlets. This means for a good bit of things you will need to buy the adapters to create 3 prong outlets. Now we know to pay close attention to the outlets in a potential house. If the house only has 2 prong outlets this means it will either require buying lots of adapters or it will need electrical work to rewire the house. Not sure about you, but I do not want to buy a home that needs to be completely rewired.
  8. I absolutely need a fence. While Colby and I would really love a farm with no other houses in sight, realistically we know, for our starter home, that that probably won’t be the case. While we plan to look for a house that has at least another house space difference between ours and our neighbors, one thing I know for sure is, it has to have a fence. While we have neighbors where we rent, we don’t live right on top of each other…we have a good bit of space between us and the next house. But, every time we go out in our yard I can’t help but feel like we have no privacy and the other houses can see what we are doing. Personally, I want to be able to go out in my back yard and relax and not feel like my neighbors are right there. Because we rent this house, I have figured out that if we do happen to have neighbors when we buy, it needs to have a fence already or we will need to put one up.
  9. Check The Drywall…You might be thinking, you want to do what? Why do you want to check the drywall. Well friends, let me tell you about our adventure in installing shelves in our office. When we installed the shelving above my desks we had no issues but the shelves above Colby’s desk were a different story. The drywall was so thin that every time we tried to hang something up, including using anchors, they would pull right out of the wall along with the actual drywall. That is a huge issue if you want to hang stuff up in your home. This issue requires either repairing or installing new drywall. We never would have thought to find out about the drywall in a home (ie. how thick it is, when was it last replaced, etc). While not a huge deal to replace it is a bit of an annoying task and I would like to know about the drywall in a home I might buy.
  10. Neighbors and Noise….When you rent luckily you have the advantage of being able to move if you have trouble with your neighbors or decide you don’t like the area. When you buy a house that really isn’t an option. Which is why we have learned that when we go to buy a home we will visit the area multiple times on different days at different times. We will find out as much as we can about the area, about the house itself, and about our neighbors. We want to know when the most noise occurs, will we get woken up early in the morning by something, is there a ton of traffic, etc. While we haven’t had any real issues with our neighbors there have been some things that would drive me crazy if we had bought this home and not rented. Our one neighbor never uses their driveway and constantly parks their car on the road directly behind our driveway. This makes it incredibly difficult to back out sometimes. Not a huge deal but if I was buying this home it is something I would have wanted to know. There are also a TON of dogs in this neighborhood, which means there is a TON of barking and noise. Another neighbor has two dogs that bark pretty much around the clock and for the first 6 months we lived here, they woke us up around 4am every morning. We also noticed another neighbor LOVES to mow his grass at 7am every single Saturday lol So if you are trying to sleep in, it can be bothersome. Obviously, none of these things are huge issues but they are something I would want to know about if I was purchasing this home.

Alright folks, there you have it. 10 things I learned from renting this house and how we will use that information going forward in purchasing a home. Have you ever rented a house before? If so, did you learn anything from renting that helped in the process of buying a home? I would love to hear from you.

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3 thoughts on “10 Things I Learned From Renting A House”

  • Hi Jamie, I love your blog 🙂 I’m from the U.K and I like hearing about the differences between lifestyles and countries! In the U.K our mail is only delivered to us. If we have outgoing mail, we have to take it to the post office (or a designated drop off point) ourselves!

  • These are things I learned the hard way that can save you a lot of money when house hunting.
    1.Lift up all Rugs! People hide tears, rips, scratches, leaks & even rot with rugs.
    2. Move the shower curtain & rug to check for a leaky shower or tub.
    3. Closely inspect windows. ie. Cracked,loose or broken seals. Rotten wood or bad drywall from a leaky window.
    These are things that can be very expensive depending on the amount of damage. Sometimes you pass on the house or sometimes you can use it as a negotiation in the price. Hoping you lots of luck!

  • Outdoor outlets was something I checked when we looked at houses because of Christmas lights haha. We have a 1963 home so all but outlets that have been replaced they are two prong. You can change them without rewiring the house. We are going to switch a few of ours soon. And with bathrooms 1.5 is a good idea even if you can handle one because of resell. Houses don’t sell well now with just one bathroom. I will say with a family of four even 1.5 was a bit tough when I was a kid and we lived in an older home.

    Other things I have learned not from renting because we never rented but from having older homes, house hunting and having a handy dad and a grandpa that owned a plumbing supply company. Be aware of lead if buying a home pre-1978. If the home is pre-1955 it is very likely to have lead paint after that the number of homes keeps quickly decreasing. We choose to not look at homes built pre-1955 and I’m not sure if I would have looked at pre-1978 without lead testing if we had kids. Lead is also often in tile, pipes, and old tubs.

    Be aware of the industry around you. We had a beautiful home we loved when I was a kid but it was close to a cement plant. My mom ended up with severe asthma and that was one of the things that was causing her problems. It also made mine worse. We had to move because of that and a not well sealed basement (basements are a bad idea in this area because of our type of soil and earthquakes). When looking for our current house my husband and I decided we would not look at homes on that side of town.

    I need a good size kitchen! Our last home had a kitchen that was smaller than most apartment kitchens I’ve seen. I love to cook so I need space in a kitchen. Our current home has a large, well laid out kitchen. It’s amazing!

    We also knew we wanted a small home. Our other home had four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. We don’t need that much space and I hated cleaning it. A better laid out, smaller home is better for us. We don’t have kids but we do both work at home so we needed two offices and one bedroom. We didn’t want two living areas and a dining room was optional for us.

    I think looking at a lot of homes really helped us figure out what we needed. You pretty much always have to compromise on something though. We wanted a fenced yard and this home is only fenced on three size, at least what we need to finish is not shared so that helps. We also wish we had one more hall closet and a pantry but we are finding ways around it.

    Sorry that was so long haha! Just bought a new house last year so it’s still fresh on my mind.

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