From The Straits Times    |

‘Can We Just Talk?’ is a series which aims to debunk the idea that it’s difficult to talk about money. In this episode, our Senior Features Writer, Cheryl Lai-Lim, sat down with Digital Editor, Cheryl Chan, and Senior Digital Writer, Shazrina Shamsudin, to discuss whether renting is a waste of money.

Is renting a waste of money?

“It does take up a lot of like your expenses, especially if I would consider myself quite young,” says Shaz. “I do I feel like there isn’t a need when you have the luxury […] of staying my parents and we’re on good terms.”

“I’d rather just save up to buy a house, and […] it’s not my focus right now because I do want to still travel – I know right, typically millennial – so live life, you know, go out with my friends and everything.” There are other expenses the money that goes into renting could be channelled into, there may be other priorities in life.

“I don’t think it’s a waste of money at all, especially if you’re gonna prioritize your mental health,” says Cheryl Chan. “I grew up in a very chaotic household.”

While moving to a different home is a common occurrence, with our 2023 What Women Want survey showing 48% of respondents paying rent or mortgage, the financial commitment is a heavy one.

“I also made sure that I could afford it and I had to budget carefully,” says Cheryl Chan. “I made sure I found places that were within the [bounds] of how much I earned.”

Why would people move out?

Privacy. “There were many a lot of us living in the same house, multiple of us sharing the same room, and I think that was okay for the longest time until it just came to a point where I just needed some privacy. I needed my own space and I couldn’t do that while living in the same house.” Cheryl elaborates. “This many adults, cannot live in the same house.”

Finding a space of your own away from a cloistered family isn’t the only possible reason.

“I did actually thought about it last time when I was in a relationship,” says Shaz. “If this progressed even further, I wanted to see how it would be like living with my partner.” That was the only time she considered renting a place.

What’s the process of finding an apartment like?

There are many considerations you need to think about regarding cost, and you might want to request the service of an agent. You may also want to consider living with someone else, as Cheryl did, to help keep costs lower. You should also consider what type of rental home is the right one for you.

How much is too much for rent?

“I think like anything more than 1.2 is already quite expensive,” says Shaz.

“1.2 grand to someone who’s making 15k is […] less than 10% of your pay. So that’s affordable to that person,” says Cheryl. “Whenever I look for an apartment, […] how I kind of divide it out is: I want to save this amount, I want to have this amount of discretionary spending, this amount in non-negotiable spending, and then the remaining is how much I can use for rent.”

What are possible benefits?

“My relationship with my mom improved after I moved out,” says Cheryl Chan. “I think we’re just less in each other’s faces.” Some familial relationships can benefit from some distance, when people only meet when they want to instead of being forced into each other’s orbit.

“Your mindset just completely shifts, which is something that I really did not predict when I moved out,” adds Cheryl. “I really felt like I became a lot more of an adult after I moved out because you are completely responsible for yourself.”

She elaborates: “I feel like I budgeted a lot better after I moved out because I have so many more other expenses to be in charge of, and I felt like I saved a lot more.”

What considerations should I have while renting?

Renting isn’t necessarily a panacea. It brings about its own list of concerns for you to mull over. For example, consider your relationship with your landlord, refurbishing your rented home, or even whether you should get home insurance.

Ultimately, it’s as Cheryl Lai-Lim said to end the discussion. “Renting is very subjective, both of you have different circumstances and priorities right now. Everyone has different perspectives on this.” What’s right for others may not be right for you.