Renter Life

Can’t paint your walls? Don’t have access to your own thermostat? Welcome renter friends!

This is the place where renters, whether short-term or long-term, can come to share their renting wins and woes, tips for making a rental feel homey, strategies for lifelong renting, ways to find great cheap rentals or negotiate rent, and anything else that springs up in our cute little noggins.

Come introduce yourself! Maybe say how long you’ve been renting and why and what your future plans are? IDK, let’s just chat!


Oops I already painted my walls


Hello! I’ve rented in Chicago for about 7 years. Have experienced several neighborhoods as my job changed–Humboldt Park, Ukrainian Village, and now Logan. I’ve been lucky that most of my landlords have a single property they maintain well and are quick to make repairs. Overall it’s been a good experience.


  • Easy to relocate when job changes happened, which was frequently in my 20s
  • Have avoided paying out of pocket for repairs like a broken water heater, new roof, servicing old appliances
  • Enjoyed trying out new neighborhoods and exploring the city a little more because of that. Multiple neighborhoods feel like home!
  • I like decorating my living space, and starting over with a “clean slate” every few years can be a fun challenge


  • At the whims of the market, and rents never seem to go down! :thinking:
  • In Chicago, you’re almost always sharing walls/floors/ceilings with other renters you do not choose. In my current place, I share a backyard and a basement storage/laundry area with renters on the second floor
  • Can’t make any permanent big changes to indoor or outdoor spaces, or if I did get permission, would have to likely undo them before moving out/lose out on benefits/my investment once I move
  • Paying an annoying annual pet fee at the moment. Having pets limits which landlords will rent to me
  • That old adage that you’re not building equity
  • Moving sucks big time
  • Uncertainty. Any landlord could decide at any point to sell the building I live in, and it’d be out of my control whether or not I got to stay. This factor is looming larger in my mind as we consider starting a family

I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting but those are the big ones that stick out to me right now. Chicago’s also a city where the “line” between renting and buying is kind of fuzzy. It’s not an obvious choice, at least not to me.


The “selling the building thing” happened to me and I had three weeks to find a place! (It was a bit more complicated than that and was really just the property mgmt corp severing their contract w the property owner and that voided my lease). But also, I have heard of sooo many friends and friends of friends losing apartments to sales over the past covid years. I think owners got scared of uncertainty and eviction moratoriums and also the real estate market generally doing things like sell sell sell (?)


That would be SO stressful, I’m sorry that happened to you! In the past I have gone for larger buildings to avoid things like that–probably more rare when there are 6+ units or something like that–but this time I’m in a two-flat, which is essentially a house that has been split into two units–and it’s in a highly gentrifying area where housing prices have rocketed up in the past 15 years. That plus COVID/general seller’s market right now…who knows! It would suck to be priced out of a convenient location for my job. We really like our current apartment and hope to be here for a while.


It was actually an amazing situation because it was overpriced, I hated it and my roommate, that was where I saw The Roach that struck the fear of God into me, and THEN I ended up in my current place which is cheaper and where I am alone in a super awesome place in the best few blocks of the best neighborhood in the city. And yeah this building definitely isn’t going to be sold anytime soon. The company managing here does several massive buildings throughout the neighborhood. They probably have over 1,000 units.


This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Lifelong renter except when we owned a condo (which ended very badly for us) for about 7 years.

Our owning experience was bad, and up until the pandemic I was OK with renting. But having our building sold out from under us - when Boyfriend had been laid off and out of work for 6 months and my job was at risk, though the layoff ended up not taking me - was terrifying. There seems to be a real trend in Chicago for buildings to be for sale, I know a few people who’ve been caught in this. Eviction moratoriums don’t apply to owner-occupied buildings (as in, when your lease is over, an owner can choose to not renew you and move in).

I’m starting to crave more stability and I am SUPER tired of being told what to do in my own living space. I just turned 50, Boyfriend is older… and it’s like, is this something we want to continue dealing with as we age? Building owners, who are younger than us (I know this shouldn’t matter… but, yeah, it frustrates me), telling us what to do, telling us that we can’t compost any more, restricting my use of the backyard when the previous owner didn’t, making us let repair people in for nonessential work when it didn’t feel safe to do so because covid, to name a few things that have happened since our building changed hands.

How’s that going to feel when we’re 60? 70? Older? How is it going to feel at that age if/when our building gets sold and we have to move? This is twice now that we’ve dealt with a building sale, though we didn’t get kicked out either time. How sustainable are rent increases as we age?

We’re strongly considering leaving Chicago but our preferred location seems to have the same thing happening. I look at house for sale listings there (not that we plan to immediately buy, if at all!) and see a lot of “tenant occupied BUT HEY THEIR LEASE IS UP IN 2 MONTHS AND YOU CAN KICK THEM OUT THERE AND MAKE IT YOUR OWN” or “tenant occupied BUT WAY UNDER MARKET, YOU CAN TOTALLY RAISE RENT BY A LOT HERE.”

That being said… our building has had a ton of issues inside and out, and right now our dishwasher is broken and it’s nice that we don’t have to pay for any of that. I have serious concerns about being able to afford house maintenance. And I don’t think I want a condo again because that does not solve the “being told what to do” issue; I was going to get fined for having a few pots of veggies and herbs on my deck when we lived there, there were rules about when we could do laundry, we got slapped with a huge special assessment, etc.

I am just not sure we can afford homeownership in general, especially not a house. We certainly don’t have a down payment. I really don’t know what to do going forward. Going to keep renting for now though.


Howdy! I’ve been a renter for 15 years and have lived in lots of cities in the :us:. If anyone would like advice on renting/landlords/roommates or finding rentals in nontraditional ways or moving I can probably be of service!

I currently live in Philadelphia and while my plan was to buy, I’m re-thinking that. I always felt like buying was essential to being financially stable but I’m no longer sure that’s the case, especially since I’ve been able to build so much wealth while renting. So, here are some reasons I might end up being a forever renter:

  1. My city is filled with nice rentals. I don’t think I’ll run out of affordable rentals or be priced out any time soon.

  2. It is way easier and cheaper to find an accessible rental apartment than a place to buy. Most places for sale here have like a million stairs while most rental apartments are single floor.

  3. I’m starting to think mobility is a benefit to renting. The economy and climate are hard to predict and we’re a single income household. I kind of like the idea that if things go to shit here we can up and move without much fuss.

  4. I’m not convinced buying would save me any money. IF I buy it will be an apartment because accessibility. This means I will have condo fees in addition to a mortgage, so I’ll never really have free housing. Plus I’ll have to pay all the homeowner stuff for repairs and things. In the city I’m in now I wouldn’t save money buying a comparable place to what I’m renting.

  5. I think my desire to own was mostly emotional. I didn’t realize it at all, but I think I bought into the script that stable people buy and people who rent are basically not doing as well.

  6. I really love my rental. For most of my adult life I’ve rented in pretty low-end places and I didn’t realize a lot of what I disliked about “renting” was actually stuff I disliked about “low-end renting”. Now that I can pay $2k a month in rent in MCOL area, uh, renting is pretty sweet.

  7. Low maintenance. I feel like if we ever buy a place my husband’s entire life will become maintenance. I don’t want that for him! I like how if stuff breaks or isn’t perfect we don’t care that much because it’s not ours.

So yeah, that’s where my head’s at right now. I waffle a lot on this so it’s nice to have a spot to think through it.


Thought of another downside–I’ve never experienced top-of-the-line, or even close to “new,” appliances or finishes, particularly kitchens and bathrooms. My current dishwasher doesn’t fit our large plates, which as far as I know are standard size plates! :laughing:


This is exactly how I feel about our current place! It was a little harder when I was a single person but with a joint income I can afford much better rentals and be pickier and still find what I want.


I’ve been a renter since college, and probably lived in about 16 places since then. I move almost every year, and the longest I’ve stayed in a place was 2.5 years at my last place in Colorado. For the longest time I had been slowly saving to buy my omg very own house and then Covid happened and the market is insane and I just don’t believe in spending $300K plus on a tiny rancher in an area where houses were $120K just 3 years ago. Sooooo I’m going to spend $300K on med school instead :joy: :tired_face: and hopefully maybe make enough money by 40 to buy my own house wherever I want then.

I would say Pros for me to renting are:

  • easy to relocate, and short term living if a situation is terrible
  • sometimes meet really cool people/landlords, if living in a roommate situation
  • never worrying about anything that is broken (I have had REALLY good luck with this, though)
  • fairly cheap, fixed living expenses, with no surprises
  • generally have never had rent raised on me more than $50
  • almost always have things like internet/utilities included (I do a lot of “rent a room in a house” deals)
  • usually live in a very small place, so I never accumulate much stuff at all.


  • I just really want my own house, with a kitchen I love and a backyard to garden in.
  • sometimes landlords really suck and you are locked into a one year lease
  • sometimes people you move in with suck and are scary/bad people
  • sharing spaces, less privacy, sometimes sharing walls.
  • moving a lot, which sucks
  • Not being able to change things about a place, or hang many things on the walls, etc
  • no pets. I have rarely rented anywhere that allowed pets and that is OK but I can’t wait to have a dog in my own house.

I have found all of my rentals exclusively on craigslist. I’ve only lived in one apartment complex and mostly rented casitas, bedrooms in houses, and tiny single family homes. Once I lived in a big house with 5 friends and it was amazing and terrible all at the same time. Now I prefer 1 bedroom casitas, but I actually just moved in with my landlady from my last casita and just have a bedroom and share a house. It’s actually great because the house is big and I have a ton of freedom to use it as I wish. I am extremely spoiled and have never paid more than $650 a month for rent…even though it has gone up SO much in CO and AZ, I find if you really dig, and are willing to compromise on some things (and are single, with no pets, and not a lot of stuff) it’s not too hard to find.


I remember as a young kid visiting family friends who lived in rental apartments or townhouses thinking their lives were so glamorous and urbane compared to our boring house life (and accompanying creepy 1930s horror movie basement). Also I totally can’t wait to live in a super high end rental. There’s a building around the corner from me that has two separate koi ponds in their courtyard :smiley_cat: Although actually, at this point I don’t know if I’m person A: who rents a less glamorous but very large old house or person B: who rents a very glamorous but still constrained apartment with amenities


I really like our place too - and it is way below market for what we have. Which made it all the harder when it looked like it was going to get taken away. Fortunately the buyer who wanted to turn the building into a SFH ended up not making an offer.


I feel this deeply. I would redo basically everything about our current kitchen if I owned. It wouldn’t even take that much money or work to make a big difference!


My parents didn’t buy a house until I was 16, so I grew up in rentals. Since I moved out (except for a 5 months job hunting stint when I moved back in with my parents) I’ve rented. I think that makes ~90% of the time I’ve been alive been in a rental?

I also like that I’m not tied to a particular geographic area. I think I like even more that if my job changes by 1-3 towns I could theoretically move to make the commute better (although moving really really sucks. Since graduating college I’ve only lived in two rentals). I also like that I can ignore issues with the building that might be really bad long term, because it’s not my investment!

I’m starting to struggle with the fact that I can’t/it doesn’t make sense to make long term changes that would make the house more comfortable. I’d love to rip up the driveway and replace it with those bricks that grass can grow through, seriously improve the insulation and get more energy efficient windows. I’d also like to plant a tree and fruit bushes and asparagus, but if we leave with 3 years then that stuff won’t even be established and it will have been kind of a waste.

I definitely think of buying a house as “the one and only place you’ll ever live again” which means I don’t want to buy in the Boston area, since I eventually want to go back to Maine.


And solar panels! I want solar panels but it’s not my roof.


I don’t know how realistic this is, but part of me worries–what if I buy, and then change careers or something happens and I lose my job/income, and I’m not able to simply move out at the end of a lease and find a cheaper place?


I have a whole plan for my one day kitchen. Double wall ovens, 6 burner gas range, giant island and a French door fridge. Oh and a giant sink where I can leave dishes for too many days without noticing :joy:

Oh! And big deep drawers instead of cabinets…whose idea was lower level cabinets anyway? Do people actually live in bodies that are capable of bending and reaching into the back of those things? Anyway, my friends I’m staying with right now have these giant drawers for all of their pots/pans/tupperware/cooking things and they are so great.


If you build that kitchen I’ll rent from you! :rofl: