Maybe I should be adding to this topic, http://toledotalk.com/cgi-bin/tt.pl/article/3664/50_Tips_for_Frugal_Living, but I thought it might be more eye-catching to do it this way.
I got to thinking, or day-dreaming, this afternoon. I cannot remember whether the topic on All Things Considered got me thinking about this, or something I got off of Swampbubbles. Anyways, this link, http://calculatedrisk.blogspot.com/2008/10/report-almost-half-of-nevada-homeowners.html, shows pretty much the same information. The reporter stated that from a overpass you could see literally thousands of homes that were under water (the house is worth less than the mortgage). One expert estimated that 17,-18,000,000 homes were underwater nationwide. That brings me to something I want to explore: are most people who are employees in northwest Ohio better off renting homes rather than buying them.
Now if you own your own business (large or small) and plan to stay in the area I think it makes sense to buy a home if you feel so inclined. But if you are in a career where you are likely to move then why would you pin yourself down that way? Health care is being held up as a growing field (although one expert pointed out that most of these new jobs pay quite a bit less than manufacturing jobs). If these new jobs pay less then maybe this is one reason not to buy a home since you may not be able to afford the prices in nice neighborhoods.
Here are some links about underwater areas: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Nevada-Michigan-Florida-lead-apf-13428994.html, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/10/30/financial/f175914D50.DTL, and http://www.housingwire.com/2008/10/31/76-million-borrowers-underwater-on-mortgages-study/.
Likewise, if you are in manufacturing, and work for a company in this area that may move for various reasons (taxes are too high, or they cannot milk the local governmental structures for more giveaways) then you may have to consider whether you want to take a chance on buying a home. If you are pretty sure you can find a position of comparable remuneration then by all means get that house, but if you are not sure then I would say rent so you can follow the company when they decide to pull up stakes (if they will let you follow them).
Of course, maybe I have this wrong. I would not want to own a home if I was an associate of a company that was moving because of this: it would be easier to go along. Unless you are one of those lucky few whose employer will help you with the moving, help you sell your home while you are looking for a new one, and even buy it if no one else will in a certain length of time so you can put it toward your new home. But I imagine that there are few readers of this that are in that enviable position. For most of us when we are offered the chance to go West or South, or wherever, we face the excruciating prospect of trying to get some fool to buy our house, and we may not even be there to plead its virtues.
But is the future one where we roam from city to city (if we are wage slaves) until we can retire to a home that we can finally buy? Or is it something else?