The development and expansion of the sharing economy has created a new way to enjoy life, often more flexible and less burdened by long-term financial commitments. Tech has only helped promote and facilitate collaborative consumption and bring it up to unprecedented levels. From transportation to consumer goods, services and property — everything can now be rented and used without owning.

Whether you want to escape the hassles associated with ownership, benefit from a less cluttered home environment or commit to a more sustainable use of resources, here are the top 10 things to rent or borrow instead of buying.

1. Recreational vehicles

Shared cars, bikes and rentable electric scooters as of late are now a common sight in nearly every city across the US. But have you considered renting your way into your dream vacation? Recreational vehicles have emerged as the new, “cool” way of traveling. But it’s also true that they are expensive to buy and it’s rather hard to deal with maintenance and repairs. Before deciding whether the RV lifestyle is a fit for you and making a big investment, you should give it a try by renting one for a few getaways to see how it feels. This way, you can even test different types and sizes of RVs. If it turns out it’s something that you and your family truly enjoy, you obviously have the option of buying one, too.

2. Clothing

We’re not talking about your regular clothes, but outfits for special occasions. Renting wedding dresses or tuxedos are well-known services that people are using for decades. However, you now have many other choices for renting expensive designer clothing to wear when you want to impress, for only a small fraction of the buying costs. Not to mention you also get to enjoy a variety of styles and brands, depending on occasion and personal preference, and you’re not stuck with the same outfits for years.

Online platforms like Rent the Runaway offer memberships for a monthly fee, and you can enjoy several designer outfits each month, depending on the plan you selected. The clothes you pick online are delivered to you in only a couple of days, and services like dry cleaning or minor repairs are also included. In other words, you’re enjoying the clothes while skipping all the maintenance that comes with owning them. Of course, if you really love an outfit, you also have the option of buying it.

3. Books

Book lovers know the thrill of buying a new book and inhaling that enticing paper and fresh ink aroma all too well. However, you should think twice before buying more books than you already have. Not only can books be quite expensive, they also take up a lot of space in your home and can be quite heavy – any book owner that has moved knows that all too well. Besides the multitude of public libraries that are readily available in all cities and towns around the country, there are also online platforms that provide you free access to millions of books. Check out sources such as Open Library, Project Gutenberg, or the Online Books Page and get on with your reading — without spending money or having to organize your books on shelves.

4. Storage space

A lot of people tend to rent or even buy a new home based not only on their family’s needs, but also based on how much stuff they own. You don’t have to pay for extra housing just to fit all of your possessions. Instead, you can simply rent a self storage unit that allows you flexibility — you can rent month to month, as needed, and you can pick between a huge variety of unit sizes.

A small 5×5 locker is ideal for keeping things like out of season clothing, decorations, sport equipment, or some tools. A large 10×30 storage unit, on the other hand, can hold all the furniture from a large house, or two vehicles. All you need to do is determine how much space you actually need and rent a suitable unit. Another advantage is that you can get a climate-controlled storage unit, ideal for storing delicate items such as antiques, collectibles, artwork and so on. Below, you can check out the costs and the availability of climate-controlled self storage in some of the country’s major cities:

5. Games and toys

Children always want new toys, or new games, but end up playing just a couple of times with most of them. To avoid cluttering your home with toys and spending hundreds of dollars on them, you can search online for services that allow you to rent the toys for a determined period, like, for example, Toy Library or Green Pinata Toys. For a monthly fee, you get toys delivered to your house. Your kids get to play with them for as long as they want, and you can also buy the ones that children get attached to. Once the toys are returned, you get a new set of toys delivered to your home.

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You could also search local online parent groups in your area — in some cases, parents are willing to exchange toys, temporarily or for good. This means your child gets to try new toys all the time, without you spending a dime, and at the same time, finding a purpose for the ones your kid is no longer using.

6. Sporting equipment

Sports equipment can be quite expensive — and there’s always the risk you’re not going to use it at its full potential. If you’re a passionate skier, golfer, climber, fisherman and so on, and you’re practicing your sport on a daily basis, it obviously pays off to own your equipment. However, if you’re just starting with a new sport, or you want to purchase some equipment to use at home, it may be wiser to start by renting it.

There are many options for renting such equipment — usually, sport-oriented destinations also provide equipment rental services, whether you need skis, a bike, a canoe, or other items. You could also browse online groups dedicated to your sport to find equipment for rent. Certain companies lease their equipment, while online platforms such as REI Co-op rent out a wide variety of sport gear.

7. Pools

Yes, you read that right, you can now enjoy a private pool without actually owning one — the online platform Swimply allows you to find local private pools that are available for renting by the hour. It’s more relaxing and intimate than going to a public pool, and you don’t have to worry about all the expenses and hassle of maintaining it.

8. Holiday homes

The emergence of home sharing platforms such as Airbnb made owning a holiday home so last decade. On one hand, it’s nice to have a special place where your family can gather year after year, but, on the other hand, maintaining a second home is quite expensive. Not to mention that you are also vacationing at the same spot — regardless of how beautiful it is, you might want some variation after a while. Home sharing platforms offer you the same type of privacy you would have in your own home, and you can book a new place or return over and over again to the one that you love.

9. Pets

Maybe your schedule or the amount of space you have at home don’t allow you to own a pet full time. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the company of pets for certain amounts of time. Many non-profit organizations focused on animals need foster homes for the pets — a person that can take care of a dog, cat, or other animal until it finds its forever family. There are also companies like Dog Vacay that put pet owners needing a sitter in contact with pet lovers. The pet’s parents can have their vacation in peace, while you get to enjoy time with a cute dog without making a long-term commitment.

10. Power tools

Power tools are sometimes large and expensive, and you don’t really use them that often. You might have the opportunity to use a pressure washer or a chainsaw maybe once every year, at most. It doesn’t really pay off to buy such tools when many home improvement chain stores like the Home Depot or Lowe’s are renting them.

Are there other things you’ve recently enjoyed without owning? Let us know in the comments!


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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