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Since they met in 1986, Cathy Walsh and her husband have every so often given some thought to buying a house.

And then the feeling passes. These contented renters in Edmonton see too much upside to living without the responsibilities of home ownership. “Our whole life is freedom,” Ms. Walsh, 54, said in an interview. “We have a lifestyle where we wake up on Saturday morning and it’s like, what do you want to do? Let’s leave town. So we’ll leave town without a care or worry.”

Renting is widely viewed in Canada as a second-best way to live compared to owning a home. But with house prices soaring and interest rates expected to rise, more people are going to be long-term renters.

Ms. Walsh and her husband, Michael, rent because they choose to do so. They live with a pair of cats in a 1,200-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment on the 14th floor of a 15-storey building with a view of the city’s downtown. “We make it our home, even though we know full well it’s a rental property,” she said.

The story of Ms. Walsh and her husband isn’t a renting fairy tale. The couple has had to deal with noisy neighbours, crime and repair projects in their building and wonky ventilation that briefly directed a neighbour’s cigarette smoke into their unit. They also have to use a common laundry on the main floor of their building.

We should also be clear about a couple of other points – the rent Ms. Walsh and her husband pay is cheap by Vancouver or Toronto standards at $1,609 a month, plus $35 for parking. Also, they have no children. Ms. Walsh said that if they did, she and her husband, 60, would likely own a home.

Overall, Mr. Walsh and her husband say they have a nice life as renters. It’s a message she wanted to get across when responding to a recent edition of the Carrick on Money newsletter that asked for renters to tell their stories and complete a survey. “I have to tell you that when I read your column, I’m always looking for people like us in your stories and it never happens,” Ms. Walsh said when we spoke by phone recently.

The results of our renter survey will be presented in January. Many of the people who have reached out so far have had bad experiences as renters that are based on various combinations of expensive monthly costs, foul living conditions and heartless landlords.

The other side of renting is where the Walshes live. Ms. Walsh said her building is in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona neighbourhood, which she describes as quirky and vibrant. When the couple leaves town, it’s often to visit Vancouver Island or a cabin they rent near Tête Jaune Cache, B.C.

In addition to the freedom to come and go without worrying about maintenance issues such as lawn-cutting and snow-shovelling or mail piling up, Ms. Walsh likes the financial predictability of renting.

“We don’t have to pay for a plumber when we have a plumbing problem,” she said. “We have the maintenance guy come in and fix it.”

A downside of renting is all the guff you have to listen to from owners, and Ms. Walsh has heard her fair share from family members and friends. The comments that sting the most are those made by friends who in casual conversation dismiss certain people as “just renters.”

The big reason why owners look down on renters is that they don’t build equity through the years. One of the ways to get around this as a renter is to invest the money you save on ownership costs such as property taxes, maintenance and improvements.

Ms. Walsh said she and her husband live modestly, save well and have filled their tax-free savings accounts and registered retirement savings plan. She has a pension at work, her husband doesn’t. Overall, she feels 100 per cent ready for retirement, even if she and her husband haven’t quite kept up with the dramatic equity gains of some homeowners.

“My husband and I sort of have a slow and steady mindset, where we’re just constantly putting away money every month in our savings and watching that grow,” she said.

The times when Ms. Walsh and her husband thought about buying a home usually came after friends bought a house or comments from family members about renting. They’ve actually looked at places, but always pull back from buying because of the extra costs.

Happy as they are with renting, they’re not preachy about it. “There’s no right or wrong thing,” Ms. Walsh said. “You have to do what’s right for you and your family.”

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