I’ve been a renter since I left my parents home at the age of nineteen. My Aunt Jeri rented her apartment in Syracuse before moving back to the reservation. She had nothing to show for paying forty years of rent, and she upbraids me for renting from time to time.
When I ask friends who own houses and condos what they pay monthly on their mortgages, it’s always a fraction of my rent. I know I’m making fiscally unsound choices, but try coming up with a 10% deposit on a house, or 30% deposit on a condo (chuckleheads with homes have prevented me from getting one of my own because of their stupid choices; Florida homeowners tried to use condos as income-generating second properties during the housing boom, then defaulted on their loans in droves, so banks require 30% of the selling price to buy a condo; 10% on what a condo costs is feasible, but when I learned banks want 30%, I stopped saving; if I had 30% of what a condo costs, I’d use it for 10% down on a house; now for the end of a sentence interrupted so long ago, you forgot the beginning) on a bookseller’s salary.
There’s freedom in renting. If the air conditioning breaks, you call the landlord and he or she has it fixed. If a hurricane destroys your apartment, you rent another that’s still standing. If the roof leaks… well, never mind.
As a renter, you can bob and weave. I’ve experienced Miami in the peripherals of Kendall, the very heart, and now the Spanish garden that is Coral Gables. I’ve always wanted to know what it feels like to wake up, take a walk, and do yoga on the beach. I haven’t made it to Miami Beach yet, but who knows what could happen down the road?
Renting also comes with a number of perks. You get the voyeuristic, felonious thrill of opening mail for people who aren’t you. You get to play detective with carpet stains. You get to find layers of paint around electrical outlets and speculate on the previous tenant’s design choices.
You also get neighbors living in much closer proximity than with a house, folks with whom you’re not obligated to actually speak. Get into a volume war with every sound system in your complex, because at least your music doesn’t suck. Hack into your neighbor’s wireless internet connection without worrying about the signal strength, and do it guilt-free. Masturbate to the sound of your neighbors fucking and imagine they are gorgeous supermodels because you’ll never have to see them.
Oh, it’s a glamorous life, my friends. But please, home owners, don’t be jealous. After all, you get to fix your own plumbing problems.