Susan Fornoff's piece on Oct. 20 on the joys of renting - a direct insult to the American Dream in some circles - drew numerous reader reactions. Right On! said many on SFGate, sharing their own pleasurable experiences. But there were also some detractors, along with alternative recommendations. To see all the SFGate comments, and to link to Fornoff's first-person story, go to sfgate.com/ZBIO.
This is precisely what I did - sold my house in 2006, invested the money, and got a nice rental. With my limited income (by Bay Area standards), I could not afford another home where I'd like to live, in Alameda, but I could have bought in a less expensive area. I'd rather live in a place I love, near the water, in a beautiful, old-fashioned community.
- Dorothy Morrison, 55, Alameda
Good for you that you've traded down and now have a situation that works for you. But guess what? You still benefited from all that hardship over only six years of owning and you've got a nice big pile of cash to sit on. And that's a hell of a lot more than what most renters, who haven't had the opportunity to own, have going for them. Count your blessings.
-- Michelle Nguyen, 29, Union City
You mentioned you are going to move in five years for a "slower, cheaper life" (i.e, reap the profits of your investment and move to greener pastures). As a native Californian, I have become all too familiar with this sad reality of our state. To own a home is to be a member of a community and to contribute to your neighborhood (not just hole up in between workdays). The problem is, so few people see their home in this light. And in the Bay Area, especially, the driving factor hasn't been finding a "home" so much as finding a cash cow to then move on to greener pastures. I challenge folks to think about what owning a home (and renting for that matter) actually means, and that perhaps the commitment to community should hold as much weight in one's decisions as the bank account.
- Josie Baker, 41, San Francisco
I am about to retire and I am planning to sell my house and my rental house in a few years because I want mobility and I already made enough equity. I checked the rent prices versus the sales prices at several highly desirable places such as Santa Monica, Hawaii, Paris, Hong Kong, and New York and discovered it is better to rent. For those who need to buy to invest for the future, I suggest the cheaper suburbs and do the long commute, which was my choice and I did OK.
- Victor Chan, 56, Vallejo
My brother and his wife were able to live in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on one income while she finished college because they lived in a 30-foot sailboat and paid only dock fees. Mooring off the dock and traveling back and forth in a dingy is even cheaper - practically free. They even had a landline telephone and Internet connection after running the wires underwater through PVC. They have a small solar panel generating the electricity they need. Recently they traded up for a larger, newer boat. They are debt-free, work odd jobs, pursuing their interests and learning skills instead of chasing a paycheck. For outdoors/nature types like them, nothing could be more perfect.
- Tristesse Gaian, 35, Sacramento
My first home was purchased for $32,500 in 1973. That home is worth $600,000 now. No renter has ever made out long-term financially for renting. Not to mention the $500,000 we get to keep "free of taxes," thanks to Uncle Sam.
- Paul Merriwether, 60, Oakland
We sold back in June '05, put our money in CDs and moved up to Sonoma, where we rent a nice three-bedroom home for $1,500 a month. I work from home and my wife found a new job close by, so it has worked out well for us. We are saving close to $2,000 a month over living in Redwood City, and renting is nice without all the maintenance, taxes and being tied down to a specific location. We had been homeowners since '76, so it is a new experience for us, but now we are thinking that in a few years we might move to the islands and rent for a few years and then move again to South America.
- Ronald Caldwell, 61, Sonoma