It’s hard to deny it: Austin is an awesome place to call Home, Sweet Home. 🏠
But for tech professionals, is it the smartest move to buy a House, Sweet House?
Maybe you’ve just come from selling a house in Cali. It only makes sense to use that money to buy a new house in Austin, right? After all, costs seem low in comparison. The Austin housing market is booming. Real estate here is looking mighty nice right now.
I’m here to advise you to slow your roll. For many people—tech professionals in particular—renting may be the way to go.
Why? Most of the reasons on this list relate to one simple equation:
More Cash = More Freedom
We’ll dig into that in more detail. First, let’s look at some pitfalls to homeownership that sometimes get neglected...
1. SURPRISE! HOUSE COSTS WILL SURPRISE YOU
Buying a house saddles you with much more than a monthly mortgage. There's property taxes and insurance premiums, and either could go up at any time. There's furnishing, maintenance and upkeep.
No matter how ready you think you are, when you face something like tree roots bursting into your sewer line... That literally stinks. And it’s a drain—the financial, physical, and mental kind—you don’t need.
Here are some other eye-opening numbers for you: Research by Zillow and Thumbtack found the average U.S. house faced about $9,400 in hidden costs per year.
For houses in Austin, that number is $12,457.
$9,727 in "necessary" costs (taxes, insurance, and utility bills) plus $2,730 in maintenance costs. That's the 9th highest of all cities in the study. (1)
Meanwhile, monthly rents in Austin haven't risen as sharply as real estate prices have. You can get a lot more house for your money by renting, and you know how much you’ll be paying throughout the year.
Plus, being able to call a landlord to take care of that plumbing disaster? Priceless.
2. RENTING LEAVES YOU MORE CASH FOR MORE FLEXIBILITY
But if you rent and save that cash, you’ll not only be in a better position to take the equity. You’ll also have the flexibility to be more strategic and profitable with what you do with it.
Here’s one example:
3. HOUSES HAVE GRAVITY
One thing I’ve learned about tech professionals is they love a challenge. New problems to solve, new mountains to climb. Bring it on.
But that also means you might be drawn to what seems like a dream job at first, only to start feeling bored when things get stale or easy or repetitive. That can mean more job changes—and location changes—than other professions.
And that’s fine! I won’t be offended if you have to leave this great city. I support you in your next challenge. 🙌
But if your new dream job calls out to you from San Fran or Seattle or New York or wherever and you already have a house here in Austin, you may find that house holding you back. It becomes an albatross around your neck, one so big it has its own gravitational pull, keeping you from launching off to the job you really want.
And let’s keep it real: the tech industry can be brutal. Big company-wide layoffs can send you into an escape pod whether you’re ready to leave or not. Having a cash cushion available by not putting it into a house can make a huge difference in easing the stress.
4. MORE FREEDOM FOR JOURNEYING AND LEARNING
The sky’s the limit on what you can do with the extra cash and extra freedom that comes with renting. That’s the best part about freedom!
But here are a couple ways that renting may offer an extra-enticing advantage. One is if you want to literally take to the skies! ✈️
Whether it’s to visit family or just explore the wild world out there, many of the tech professionals I work with love to have a large travel budget! Instead of putting a whole bunch of cash into one very stationary house, you can spend it on roaming the world as you wish.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about what might be happening to your house or yard or plumbing while you’re away.