As I gain momentum in coming to the close of my college career, the future has been heavy on my mind. There are many things to think about, finances, starting a career, and finding a place of my own.
In a recent conversation with my mom about all of the above, we stumbled onto the topic of getting my own place. And that’s when she made one thing very clear: renting was not an option.
What? That’s literally all I could think internally. What did she mean not rent an apartment? How else was I going to live on my own? Did she expect me to start a mortgage straight of college? Ha! That doesn’t even sound reasonable.
But after many hard-learned lessons, I’ve learned to always listen to anything my mom has to say so I asked her what the alternative to renting would be and the answer was simple; owning.
Or working towards it anyway. I had already planned to fork out the $600-800 dollars a month on an apartment of my own as a steppingstone to save up enough money to put down on a home. But my mom broke it down to me like this; the money that I would spend renting an apartment, I could use to own one of my own.
The mortgage for a condominium or loft is a little over the base for a rented apartment. So, if I redirect rent to condo payments, I’ll be working towards owning my property by the time I’m in my thirties, and not just having a down payment. And then, after completing the full ownership of my place I’ll really have the financial room to work on owning a home.
Wow. I thought. This is genius. So why don’t we, as black people, talk about home ownership more often or at all? The only time I remember having conversations about black home ownership growing up was with my mom and Lawrence Fishbourne during one of the iconic “Boyz in the Hood” scenes. These discussions were never had among friends or extended family. And now that I think about it, very few of them were living in homes that either they or their parents owned.
So here's the tea. If you are making enough money to live in your own apartment, meet additional needs, and have disposable income, you should definitely not be renting. The only time renting should be the choice, and the only time it's financially savvy, is to split the costs with one or several roommates. This way, you're cutting down the cost of a living to a fraction of what you would pay just being on your own, which gives you financial leeway to save. However, you must still be careful with this especially living with one or two roommates. Make sure to do your research and fact check that your rent portion is in no way comparable to a condo payment.
As Black people, we must step outside of our financial boxes and get back to thinking in the exclusive terms of ownership. I understand that life circumstances spin out of control and make us feel inevitably boxed in i.e. children, student loans, general debt, car payments, emergencies etc.
But the bottom line is, life circumstances will never stop presenting challenges, and we have got to be just as consistent with a plan to own our own. Having a place, land, property that belongs to you and no one but you should be a goal for every African-American. Period. Because once you own your own, it is an imperishable asset that can continue to increase in value, a financial and mental cornerstone of wealth, and most importantly better than any forty acres and a mule that could've been given to us.
Princess-Zenita is a writer, reader, hiker, traveler, and aspiring chocolate Carrie Bradshaw. When she's not cooking up something for DDS you can usually find her working on her personal blog.