As you are establishing your new life in Canada, sooner or later you will ask yourself: “Should I keep renting a place or should I finally be buying my first home in Canada?” Just like with everything in life, both options have pros and cons and your decision will most likely depend on your particular situation and your needs.
- Learn More about the Scotiabank Program for newcomers, and how it can get you started before you arrive in Canada.
Pros and cons of renting and buying
Pros of purchasing a home:
- Owning provides a long-term benefit of equity and security.
- Appreciated value over time as well as potential profit when you decide to sell it.
- Purchased house becomes your legal property. This results in greater freedom as you do not have to deal with rules, established by a Landlord.
- You can change the property the way your heart desires (renovating, landscaping, décor changes, etc.)
- If you are a homeowner who makes the payments on time, your credit profile and credit history will look great.
Cons of purchasing a home:
- Big financial responsibility which includes regular house maintenance and bond repayments.
- Additional costs to being a homeowner which includes insurance, taxes and maintenance expenses.
- There is always a risk of not making any profit when you sell your house because of uncontrollable factors like high interest rates or even recession.
- Limited mobility comparing to a situation when you rent on a short-term basis and all you need is to give a month notice instead of selling your home.
Pros of renting a house
- Greater flexibility than when you own a house. This is perfect for those who might face sudden changes such as a job relocation.
- You might be able to afford to rent a place in an area where you can not afford to buy it.
- It is easier to move out for a person who is renting, rather than for the homeowner as there is no need of finding someone to take over the lease, or looking for a buyer to buy the property as this is not your responsibility.
- Lower additional cost. All you need as a tenant is the insurance that will cover the contents of the home, whereas there are much more additional expenses when you own it.
Cons of renting a house
- You are strapped by the rules of the lease agreement, which includes the limitations to renovate the property.
- You can not make any changes to a property you are renting unless you have a consent of the landlord.
- Renting does not offer return on investment or wealth creation as the property will never legally belongs to the tenant.
- No guarantee that your lease will be renewed after it expires.
Personally I was rushing into buying a home in Canada as I believe that it is better to pay money towards my own equity. Don’t get me wrong, I did my share of renting a home in Canada and didn’t have any bad experiences. However, even renting as an immigrant in Canada, I never enjoyed the lack of freedom and stability.
Buying a home is going to be your largest investment in life, so you have to consider many things prior to making that decision. I started with evaluating my current financial situation, my current and future needs, the location and the type of housing what would work best for me and estimating my financial responsibilities that come with purchasing a house. The most important thing for me was to establish credit in Canada from the moment I arrived.
After I made this decision, I got pre-approved for the mortgage so I knew what I could afford. During the whole process you will need documents confirming:
- Your finances, such as confirmation of your down payment, bank account number and transit number for payments, list of assets and liabilities and your Pre-Approved Mortgage Certificate, if you have it.
- Your employment, such as an employment letter from your current employer and confirmation of your income.
- Information about the house you are buying, such as condo fees and property tax estimates (outlined on the real estate listing), heating costs, your lawyer's name, phone number, postal code and address, full address of property, which includes postal code and legal description, a copy of the real estate listing, a copy of the accepted Purchase and Sale Agreement.
For a new immigrant, the biggest difficulty might be the credit history as you may not have a credit history that Canadian banks recognize. You can take the first step before you even arrive in Canada by opening an account before you arrive. You can learn more about how to do this here.