I think the case here is clear. Each one can be the better option, but it depends on the circumstances. I believe that a person should only buy a home if:
1) The housing market is either low, or in the middle, not high
2) They are okay with all the bullshit that comes with owning a home (taxes, maintenance, lawncare, insurance, a mortgage)
3) They can put 20% down on the home
4) They plan to live in the area for at least 5 years
5) They have a stable career
If you can’t answer yes to the above 5 questions then I think you’re better off renting. Yes renting is throwing money away, but consider the mortgage on a home, you often end up paying almost double the price of the home by the time you finish off that mortgage (a $250k home often ends up totaling $400k in payments to the bank when it’s all said and done).
Consider point #1 for a moment. A home could fluctuate from $300k all the way to $600k. The real estate market goes in a 8-12 year cycle of pricing, like clockwork. If you bought a home at $300k then congrats you will end up paying less for the home than it’s worth and could even sell it at a profit later. If you pay $450k you did fine, you’ll pay what the home is worth and maybe in time you can later sell it for a profit. But if you paid $600k then you got fucked, you overpaid for the home, it may go down in value and you may have to wait 20 years to sell the home at a profit. So, it’s worth waiting to time the market and buy at the right time!
In the long run you will come out ahead financially by buying a home, but only if you play the housing game just right. If you play the housing game wrong, those extra thousands you end up paying are really gonna fuck you in the long run.