Why You’re Not Throwing Money Away on Rent

As millennials age, we're getting anxious about a whole new set of milestones we are or aren't on track to hit. Whether it's finding a partner, finding a career path, or even just finding a place to live within our means, there's never a shortage of finger-wagging from our elders about how we're wasting time and money. The next time someone gets on your case about not owning property, however, you finally have some data to back up your side.

Economists from Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, and the University of Wyoming have just released a study reexamining whether home ownership creates wealth in this day and age. The underlying assumption is that your property will increase in value, and that you can always bring in extra income by renting it out. But this research found that property appreciates in a far less significant way than anticipated. The real path to wealth lies in — drum roll — playing the stock market.

The study assumes that any money you'd use on a down payment creates wealth when you invest it instead; using that cash for consumer goods and services is described as "the least desirable option." This all may not sound like much of a solution in the short term, but stocks and bonds are not actually as scary as you might think. In fact, property gains value largely because of stock market performance, rather than separate from it. Ultimately, the researchers conclude that owning property is better in the long run, but mostly because it encourages saving behavior.

"The American Dream is alive and well, but in need of revision," said Florida Atlantic University's Ken Johnson in a press release. If nothing else, it's the right snappy comeback to help you change the subject.