Buy or Rent : Which option is right for you? | Vistoo

Buy or Rent : Which option is right for you?

Two story house with garage

For many Canadians in 2024, deciding whether to buy or rent a home is a major financial dilemma. The costs, benefits, and overall pros and cons of buying versus renting can be complex to weigh.

With rising interest rates and housing costs in many parts of the country, the rent vs buy decision involves careful financial planning more than ever. This article provides an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of both options in the current market. Key differences in costs, lifestyle factors, investment benefits, and more will be outlined. Whether you're looking to relocate, buy your first home, downsize as a retiree, or simply want to evaluate if renting or owning is better for your current stage in life, this article aims to inform and empower your housing decisions in 2024.

Advantages of Renting

Renting provides several key advantages compared to buying a home, especially when it comes to flexibility and financial commitment.

Flexibility to move

One of the biggest perks of renting is the ability to relocate without being tied down to a property you own. Renters can typically move at the end of their lease with proper notice, while homeowners need to go through the lengthy process of selling their home before moving. This makes renting ideal if you may need to relocate for a new job or other life changes in the next few years.

Lower financial commitment

Renting also requires less money upfront and lower monthly costs than owning in many housing markets. While buying requires a large down payment, closing costs and other upfront fees, renters may only need to pay the first month's rent plus a security deposit to move in. Monthly rent is also often cheaper than monthly mortgage and homeownership costs. This lighter financial load frees up renters' cash flow for other goals and expenses.

Ideal for short-term stays

Renting tends to make the most financial sense if you expect to live in an area for a short period, a few years, for example. The costs of buying and selling a home mean homeowners often need to own a home for at least 5-7 years to break even on their purchase. If you foresee moving within the next 3 years due to job changes, expanding your family or other major life events, renting likely provides the most cost-effective housing option over a brief stay.

Advantages of Buying

Owning your own home has some key advantages compared to renting. The most notable are:

Building equity

One of the biggest pros of homeownership is the ability to build equity over time. As you pay down your mortgage, you gain more ownership stake in your home. This equity can allow you to tap into your home value for major expenses through products such as home equity loans or home equity lines of credit. The equity could also provide you with a nice chunk of change when you eventually sell the property. With renting, your monthly housing payments go straight into the landlord’s pocket, with no long-term ownership.

Freedom to customize

As the owner, you have the freedom to make renovations and customize the property to your liking. This allows you to paint the walls your favorite color, upgrade appliances or fixtures, finish the basement, and make other improvements to create your dream home. As a renter, you would need approval from your landlord for any changes.

Buying makes sense long-term

If you plan on living in the same home for more than 5 years, buying often provides better long-term savings compared to renting the same property. While renting provides more flexibility, buying allows you to lock in your housing costs for the duration of your mortgage. Once the mortgage is paid off, you can live rent-free aside from property taxes and maintenance. Rent prices tend to go up year after year, so buying provides more housing cost stability.

Disadvantages of Renting

One key disadvantage of renting is the limited ability to customize and personalize your living space. As a renter, you may be restricted in the changes and renovations you can make to the property. Painting walls, installing permanent fixtures, and other major updates likely require approval from the landlord. If you envision putting your own creative stamp on your home, renting can feel limiting.

Renting also does not build equity like owning property potentially can. The monthly rent payments mostly go towards the landlord's mortgage and expenses, rather than owning a tangible asset. Renters miss out on the long-term investment value of property ownership. Unless you invest the money saved on rent elsewhere, you may end up "throwing away" money on rent each month without gaining an asset.

Disadvantages of Buying

Owning a home comes with major long-term financial responsibilities that renters don't take on. As a homeowner, you are responsible for all maintenance costs and repairs. This includes everything from leaky roofs to broken appliances to updating old systems like plumbing and electrical. These maintenance and repair costs can really add up over the years.

In addition to maintenance, owners must pay property taxes, home insurance, and mortgage interest. These costs are generally higher than rent each month. As a renter, you are shielded from fluctuating property taxes and unexpected repair bills.

The financial responsibility of homeownership also reduces flexibility. It's much harder for owners to relocate for a new job or move to a new city on short notice. There are realtor fees, closing costs, and other expenses associated with buying and selling a home that make mobility less feasible.

Overall, buying a home means accepting the risks and responsibilities that come with owning a property long-term. Before purchasing, think carefully about whether you can handle the higher monthly costs and sudden repair expenses that often come with being a homeowner.

Choosing Based on Your Lifestyle

Family toasting drinks

When deciding between buying and renting, it's important to think about your current lifestyle and future goals. Here are some key factors to consider:


If you may need to relocate for work or other reasons in the next few years, renting likely makes more sense. Homeowners often need to sell when moving, which incurs substantial transaction costs. Renters simply wait for their lease to end and move. Renting ensures mobility and flexibility.

Financial goals

First-time home buyers often go over their budgets to buy property. While ownership builds equity, it also limits disposable income. Renters aren't locked into a mortgage and can more freely pursue other financial goals like paying off student loans, taking vacations, or saving up a nest egg.

Settling down

If you plan on staying put in one place for the long haul, buying can make sense. Homeowners can customize their living space and recoup the costs over time by building home equity. Renters may tire of restrictions around pets, renovations, etc. Those looking to plant roots in a community tend to lean toward buying.

Household changes

Changes in household size can impact the rent versus buy decision. Growing families often need more space and so will lean toward home ownership. Conversely, empty nesters who are downsizing may prefer the simplicity of renting. Consider your current and future household needs.

The ideal choice depends on your unique situation. Think about your lifestyle plans objectively. And run the numbers comparing rent costs, mortgage payments, and other expenses in your desired locations. This will provide greater clarity on whether your lifestyle is currently better matched to renting or buying.

Cost Comparison: Fixed Expenses of Renting vs. Buying

When deciding between renting and buying, it's important to understand the differences in fixed costs associated with each option. Here is a comparative overview:


  • Rent payment - This is usually paid monthly and represents the largest recurring cost. Rent can vary substantially based on location, size, amenities, etc.
  • Renter's insurance - Typically costs $15-$30 per month to protect personal property in a rental unit.
  • Utility bills - Renters pay for electricity, heat, internet, etc. unless included in rent.
  • Maintenance fees - Some rentals charge additional monthly fees for building upkeep.
  • Parking fees - If not included, parking spots can add $50-$150 monthly.
  • Rental application fees - One-time cost when applying to rent a new unit, around $50.


  • Mortgage payment - The monthly amount paid to the lender, including principal and interest.
  • Property taxes - Annual taxes levied on the property, paid monthly via mortgage.
  • Home insurance - Typically $30-$100 per month depending on factors like location and age of home.
  • Utility bills - Owners cover electricity, heat, internet, etc.
  • Maintenance fees (condo) - Monthly fees for shared building upkeep, around $200-$700.
  • Renovations - Upgrades and repairs are an owner's responsibility; these expenses can be unpredictable.
  • Property maintenance - Upkeep like lawn care, snow removal that a landlord would cover.
  • Moving fees - Costs of moving between owned properties that renters don't incur.


Focus on Regions and Neighborhoods

Residential neighbourhood

When deciding whether to rent or buy, it's important to look at specific regions and neighborhoods in Canada to find areas that are more affordable. Here are some of the most budget-friendly places to consider for renting and buying in 2024:

Affordable rental markets

  • Trois-Rivières, QC - With average monthly rents around $850 for a 1-bedroom, Trois-Rivières is one of the most affordable cities for renters in Canada. The city offers scenic views along the St. Lawrence River and a historic downtown.

Renting in Trois-Rivières

  • Moncton, NB - Popular with students and young professionals, Moncton has average monthly rents of $900-1000. The Petitcodiac River cuts through the city, providing natural trails and green spaces.
  • Saskatoon, SK - The largest city in Saskatchewan, Saskatoon provides reasonably priced rental options ranging from $900-1200 per month. The South Saskatchewan River and ample parkland create an outdoor-friendly environment.

Top affordable housing markets

  • St. John's, NL - With a median house price around $260,000, St. John's offers an affordable entry point for homebuyers. As the provincial capital, it provides amenities along with colorful row houses and ocean views.
  • Sherbrooke, QC - Home prices in Sherbrooke average just over $275,000, making it one of Quebec's most affordable cities to purchase property. It provides access to nature areas like Lac des Nations.

Sherbrooke House Listings

  • Saguenay, QC - Overlooking the Saguenay River, this scenic city has median home prices around $175,000. The cost of living is low, and it's close to ski hills and provincial parks.

Houses for sale in Saguenay

Whether you are looking for an affordable rental or entry-level home, these areas offer budget-friendly options across Canada. The links above provide more details on renting and buying in specific neighborhoods and cities.

Buy or Rent in 2024: What's the Best Choice?

In 2024, Canadians are navigating a housing market influenced by recent interest rate trends and a shifting economic landscape. The Bank of Canada's benchmark interest rate hikes over the past two years have led to significant changes in the affordability of both buying and renting. High interest rates have sidelined many potential buyers, especially millennials and inhabitants in regions like British Columbia and Quebec. As of late 2023 and early 2024, the housing market remains fairly sluggish, with expectations of a gradual increase in home prices over the second half of the year.

For those contemplating buying or renting in 2024, it's crucial to consider the potential for interest rate cuts, which could spur a modest uptick in housing market activity later in the year. This change may influence the cost-effectiveness of buying a home compared to renting. Additionally, the overall economic situation, including employment trends and the state of the labor market, should be taken into account.

Renting continues to offer flexibility and a lower financial commitment, particularly appealing in uncertain economic times. However, the possibility of falling interest rates might make buying a more attractive long-term investment for those planning to stay in one place for an extended period. As they say, there's no bad time to buy real estate, especially if it aligns with long-term personal and financial goals.

Ultimately, the decision to buy or rent in 2024 will depend on individual financial situations, lifestyle choices, and expectations of future market trends. Canadians should stay informed about the evolving housing market and economic conditions to make a decision that aligns with their personal and financial goals.