Own-ward Bound?

Prior to the real estate bust, cost and mobility made renting a house a better deal than owning. But the equation is changing

Illustration by Kyle T. Webster for TIME

Four years ago, Michael Choe appeared in the pages of this magazine for doing something spectacular: choosing to be a renter. At a time when real estate riches were Topic A ("Home $weet Home," read the TIME cover line), the engineer, from Sacramento, Calif., decided to sell his house and move with his wife and baby boy into a rental. "Compared to owning, rent is cheap," he said back then.

Exceedingly smart move. Since the summer of 2005, house prices in Sacramento have plummeted by half. Choe and his family — which now includes a second son...

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