Owning a home is often considered the American dream — and it's an expensive one. Homeowners in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., pay from 33% to 93% more for housing each month than do renters living in the same state, according to a new NerdWallet analysis.
But many homeowners reap benefits that you can't get from renting, such as financial security and stability, tax deductions and a vehicle for retirement savings.
While renting can't offer those long-term financial benefits, it's cheaper to rent on a month-to-month basis, the analysis found. If you're wondering how to save money for a down payment, renting can help you build that nest egg — but in extremely expensive or competitive markets, renting might be better for the long haul.
To determine the monthly homeownership premium — the additional cost of owning instead of renting, expressed as a percentage — NerdWallet compared 2015 American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau for the median gross rent and median homeownership cost in each state and Washington, D.C. Median gross rent includes the costs of monthly rent and utilities for all kinds of rental properties, and median homeownership cost includes monthly mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance and utilities.
This comparison doesn't include the down payment required to buy a home, which is traditionally 20% of the home price for conventional mortgages, but is lower for FHA or VA loans.
Owning is more expensive everywhere. Across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., it costs more each month to own a home than to rent. The median cost people pay nationwide to own a home is 54% more than the median cost to rent each month.
The smallest difference is still a third more to own. The state where the premium to own a home is lowest is Florida, where it costs a median of 33% more to own than to rent. The states with the next lowest premiums are Colorado (40%) and Arizona (41%).
In some states, the cost of owning far eclipses renting. In New Jersey, the state with the highest homeownership premium, the median monthly cost of owning is nearly double that of renting (93%). The next most expensive places to own are Rhode Island, where the median homeownership cost is 84% higher than renting, and Connecticut, where owners pay a median of 82% more than renters each month for housing.
Here's how much more it costs to own vs. rent each month in Virginia – 48%.