Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Squalid Den of Equity-Building Vermin

Living my lifestyle has different prices for different people. If I owned my house, I'd be saving about $1,000 per month (the difference between my landlord's mortgage payment and what I pay as rent). Now, some of that difference is the cost of maintenance, but not all of it; buying a home isn't merely an arbitrage decision.

Let's assume half the difference is savings. This means I could live exactly as I live now on $6,000 less* each year. So if we see two neighbors in comparably-priced homes, the renter should be richer than the owner. But it's not the owners who drag a neighborhood down, it's the renters. Why is this?

I don't think it's just an equity issue. You can build equity while still leaving appliances to rust on the lawn and conducting your relationship business on the front sidewalk. But if you found out renters were moving in next door, you wouldn't think, "Sweet, some higher-income folks are just what this neighborhood needs!"

* = I wanted to write "six thousand fewer dollars," but since the "$6,000" is read as "six thousand dollars," I was then stuck with the awkward construct "six thousand dollars fewer." I made my grammatical peace with what I wrote by telling myself the object of the preposition is implied to be "income," so now it all checks out. Like how "three fewer cups of milk" and "three cups less milk" are both correct.

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