5 Tips to Rent Like You Own

Hello! I’m Danielle and I’m a serial renter. I’ve rented four apartments in seven years, only to move again this spring. While many people see homeownership as both a financial milestone and personal rite-of-passage, I am philosophically linked to the many millennials that reject homeownership. In fact, a segment millennials forgo ownership completely, from cars to clothes to technology. Just check out this infographic from Goldman Sachs to see what I mean. The causes are as various as the people making the choice to perpetually rent. Many can’t afford a home. Others are pursing careers and don’t want to be tied down. Whatever the reasons, there are many people who want to buy a house and simply can’t.

Initially, I saw homeownership as a hallmark of stability. After graduating from college, I worked hard to pay off my student debt and first vehicle. Working through the #adulting checklist, I planned to collect a down payment for a house next. Although it took longer than expected (life happens), I did pull together the funds. My husband and I got pre-approved for a mortgage. We visited a few open houses. But, we never took the next step. Each time we’ve selected to rent over buy, it has been the best choice for us.

That said, renting grates everyone’s nerves at times. The plentiful drawbacks leave many renters wishing they could own.


Home lust – it trips all of us apartment dwellers from time to time. It manifests as a feeling of comparison or a subtle discontentment. Below is a list of reasons you may (mistakenly) hate your apartment with their rebuttals.

1. It’s too small: People tend to expand and outgrow the space available. The trick to enjoying a small space is living with less stuff. It won’t feel small when there is a place for everything. Look through your extra stuff and decide if you want it more than the open and airy feeling.

2. It’s temporary: This mental obstruction keeps a lot of people from enjoying their apartment. They feel like it’s not a “forever home.” Therefore the effort to decorate it seems to be wasted. However, I find a freshness comes from moving around. It makes you really consider filling your home with things you like and will take with you, instead of just buying stuff to fill your current space.

3. It’s up stairs without a yard: While I love a yard, not having one doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing all the green. Ideas for porch and indoor gardens are becoming more mainstream.

4. It’s not custom: Just because you don’t have built-in shelving or a pallet accent wall doesn’t mean you can’t make your space reflect your personality. There are a lot of great temporary ideas to decorate apartments without losing your deposit. Personally, I like to line walls with shelves to create a little gallery.

5. It’s cheap-looking: I’ll admit that I’m not fond of the builder-grade fixtures or the white carpet. However, fixating on it doesn’t make it go away. Instead, I find ways to shift the focus away from the cheap elements and move it to the parts I like. For example, I center furniture around the windows as the focus point. This draws my eye to the view instead of the floor.

Fall in Love Again

Quote from Jane Eyre by Charlotte BronteIn general, I believe that dissatisfaction with temporary situations like renting is the idea that you can’t take ownership of the space. Although there are rules, the environment is yours month-by-month or year-by-year. Besides those four walls, everything inside the home and the decisions about how you use it are yours.

Therefore, I find that the more that I care for my apartment, the more I fall in love with it. Cleaning the windows, wiping the counters and cleaning off scuff marks is not a waste. It’s the gift to myself right now because I live there. Below are ways that I make my rental feel like home.

1. Borrow furniture that works “right now”. When a living situation is temporary, it’s not wise to buy a lot of furniture just for the space. However, many people own more furniture than they are currently using. Ask around to see if someone has an item that will work for your space. If you don’t want to buy a small table, borrow one from a friend.

2. Use art that you like. Although the best design takes the dwelling into consideration, you don’t need to decorate around a temporary living situation. If you have art that you like, hang it up- even if it isn’t in the same style as your abode. You’ll enjoy seeing something that you find beautiful.

3. Store whatever doesn’t fit. Temporary situations are more frustrating if you are tripping over misplaced objects. Consider putting extra decor and furniture aside if it doesn’t have a home in your space. This will make you feel more at peace and settled.

4. Build memories in the space. Plan something fun and take pictures of yourself in the space. It won’t feel temporary if you make it into a home. Creating memories while you are living there will mark the apartment as your home for a season of life.

5. Write a list of what you do like. Maybe the small space is easy to keep clean. Perhaps you get good sunlight through your bedroom window. Find the features that you enjoy and elevate them to celebrate them.

Homeownership may not be one of your milestones, now or ever. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t feel at home in your rental. In fact, you may find (like me) an inspiring freedom in leasing a space. Mentally and emotionally, I’ve truly started to enjoy making little temporary homes.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s