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Dodging Social Pressures, Renters Enjoy Flexibility

The housing bust has more people reconsidering the merits of renting, but there are consumers who deliberately choose to rent.

Prashant Jeloka and Meenal Bagla moved to Boston during the housing boom when all of their friends were buying.

"There's a lot of social pressure," Jeloka says. "Everyone seems to think that renting is not as good as buying."

But when the couple sat down to do the numbers, owning didn't add up.

Bagla says they didn't want to spend their weekends mowing a lawn. They wanted to get out and enjoy Boston, and they wanted flexibility.

"If one of us wants to become an entrepreneur or a volunteer and you can't necessarily have an income, I mean, you can't do those things if you've bought a house," Bagla says.

Jeloka adds, "Long term, yeah, it is more expensive to rent, but I'm not willing to think long term yet."

But John and Barbara Horan say long-term renting has paid off for them. They've rented a three-bedroom apartment for the past 40 years.

"I'm comfortable, I feel safe -- there's people upstairs, there's people downstairs," Barbara Horan says. "I feel this is my home, because I've lived here for so long."

Their landlord likes them, and they've always paid below market rent.

John Horan says the money he has saved has gone into travel, retirement savings and college funds for their two sons.

"If I won the Megabucks, she'd probably convince me not to buy a house, but I'd go down the Cape and buy a second home," he adds.

When Jeloka and Bagla play tennis with their homeowner friends, they still get teased for not owning, but it doesn't bother them anymore.

"I am living the American Dream," Jeloka says. "I have a good job, I enjoy the weekends, have friends, good food. That's the American Dream -- what else?"

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