As a relocation consultant with clients from all parts of the world, one question that I often get is “should I rent or buy in the San Francisco Bay Area?” While this question may not have been common a decade ago, today’s market realities give Bay Area newcomers more pause for thought these days. Whether you choose to rent or buy, the Bay Area housing market is one of the most expensive in the world, and there are many factors that affect your decision beyond the math. If you plan to reside here for at least four years, it may make more sense to buy but, depending on the season you enter the market and availability of housing stock for sale, it may make more sense to rent for a while. Those decisions are best made with an experienced, local, and neutral perspective designed to keep your best interest at the heart of the equation.
As Bay Area rents continue to rise, numerous articles and websites have opined on this subject, discussing multiple factors like price-to-rent ratios and the tax benefits of buying a home. There are numerous authoritative resources to help you here, so do your research. By all means, understanding the math should be your first step to see if buying pencils out versus renting. However, it definitely shouldn’t be the only thing you consider.
When the Math Isn’t Enough
If you can afford to buy, and the math points to buying as the cheaper option, it doesn’t mean you automatically should. Choosing where we live is a decision that affects every single aspect of our lives, and opting to buy a home is one of the most expensive decisions most people will ever make. Raw numbers are not always enough - what matters most is feeling comfortable with your home, community, and yes, the price you pay for it. Here is where a relocation service such as Move Bay Area - one that advocates for you and your family with a no-pressure approach - can be an invaluable resource for you.
How Rent or Buy Tours in the San Francisco Bay Area can help you.
An on-the-ground look inside homes for rent and sale in your cities of interest is the best way to quickly understand the real estate market in the Bay Area and what your lifestyle would look like should you choose to rent vs. buying a home. Most real estate agents specialize in selling homes in particular pockets of the Bay Area and do not show rental options since they are incentivized to sell homes by their pay structure.
Here is what you can expect to gain from such a tour if you’re weighing buying vs renting: