Deciding whether or not you should continue renting or if you should begin searching for a home to buy is a major decision. Depending on where you live, rent may be more expensive than the mortgage for a home. If you’re planning on growing your family, you might prefer to buy a house. Maybe you want to make a long term investment or build equity or perhaps you prefer moving every few years. Renting or buying depends on your individual lifestyle, but there are a few broad categories to take into consideration that can help guide your decision.

Can you afford a house?

The biggest deciding factor is whether or not you can actually afford purchasing a home. While many people view renting as throwing money away, there are times it can be useful, especially if you aren’t financially capable of paying a mortgage, taxes, and all the additional fees that come with setting up a house and being a homeowner. Use this mortgage calculator to help figure out your monthly payment and whether or not you can afford to purchase a home or what your price range should be. If you do not have sufficient money for a down payment or know you can cover all the costs that go along with owning your own home, continue renting and saving up until you are more financially secure.

How much room do you need?

Generally, apartments are smaller than full homes, so it’s important to consider how much room you think you’ll need over the next few years. If you have children or are planning on having them soon, a home might be the better option for your family, since it provides more space for you and your possessions. If you want to have pets, a home is often a better option because apartments are pretty strict about what kind of pets you’re allowed to keep. If you prefer to live a minimalist lifestyle and live alone, an apartment may be better for you personally.

Are you staying in the area?

Another very important factor is whether or not you’re planning on remaining in the same area over the upcoming years. If you like to travel around a lot and cannot imagine yourself settling down anywhere specific, an apartment is likely the best arrangement for you. Most apartment leases are never more than a year and you have a lot more flexibility to move to another city, state, or even country without much hassle. When you own a home, you have to either sell it or secure enough income to take care of it while you’re gone and living somewhere else. However, if you’re happy with where you’re living and plan on spending the rest of your life there, a home is a great long term investment that helps you put roots down in the community.