10 Things You Should Rent Instead of Buy
People have been renting cars, wedding tents and folding chairs for decades. Renting dresses is now a regular practice for women who love high fashion. But online companies as well as independent entrepreneurs are steadily increasing the array of things consumers can rent instead of buy. Most often the rental period is flexible and renting will save money.
There are a variety of reasons to rent a tool, instrument or fabulous dress instead of paying the purchase price. You may need to use it only once. Or perhaps you don’t want to be limited to just one type of circular saw or strapless maxi dress.
And, often it makes sense to rent something once or twice, even if you do end up buying so you end up with something you love.
Then there’s also the lure of reducing the clutter in your home and the trash in landfills. The more products are rented and reused, the less they are bought and discarded. “Reduce new” is a growing catchphrase, and renting is a way to achieve it.
10 Things You Can Rent Instead of Buy
1. A Coffin From a Funeral Home
This is an item that most definitely is used only once. With the average casket carrying a retail price of $2,000 up to $10,000, casket rentals can be a big money saver. Most funeral homes will rent a casket for about $1,000, but salespeople don’t always tell you that when they are trying to sell one. So you might need to come right out and ask your funeral director for particular rental options.
When a customer rents the casket for a loved one, a wooden box actually holds the body in the interior of the casket, which looks much more elegant at a funeral service. The interior box is lowered into the ground and the casket can be rented again.
2. Baby Gear for Traveling Light
Renting baby equipment whether from a hotel, local agency or big company can save money and stress. Harried parents don’t have to worry about traveling with their own jogging stroller, high chair and crib. And folks hosting young guests don’t have to run out and spend big bucks on supplies they will never use again.
Call ahead when you travel and you’ll find many hotels will rent baby supplies. If you’re staying in a private home or Airbnb, a Google search will find local agencies that rent baby and toddler gear.
BabyQuip, a “Shark Tank” favorite, has a network of gig-economy folks who go through an extensive training program, background checks and safety checks to qualify. They rent out cribs, car seats, strollers, toys and more.
Prices for products vary from city to city in more than 700 markets across the country. An average street stroller costs $8 a day, safety gates are $2 a day, and a Pack n’ Play with mattress and bottom sheet costs $8 a day.
Each entrepreneur renting their products sets their prices. Delivery costs seem to vary the most from $20 to $100.
Baby’s Away has its own collection of baby supplies in more than 100 cities. Strollers average $7 a day, safety gates $3 a day and a Pack n’ Play $7 a day.
3. Power Tools
It’s common practice to rent a carpet cleaner from a local Home Depot or Lowe’s, but many consumers don’t know you can rent lots of other power tools as well.
If you’re going to use that tile saw only once, then that’s an obvious thing to rent. Even tools you use once a year on home improvement projects won’t stay in good condition, so it also makes sense to rent them.
Home Depot and Lowe’s have a wide selection of tools — which can be prohibitively expensive to purchase — that are always ready to go and come with expert advice on how to use them.
Renting is less expensive than paying the purchase price and saves on the maintenance costs and repair costs of tools.
“When you rent a tool they are always in good shape, clean and ready to use. No hoses are broken, nothing needs to be replaced or refilled,” said Rob Littke, a builder and handyman in St. Petersburg, Florida. “You never get to a job site and find out it doesn’t work.”
Prices vary based on availability and store location.
At a Home Depot in Durham, North Carolina, a cordless paint sprayer costs $25 for four hours or $36 for the day, while a pressure washer is $58 for four hours or $83 per day.
Got a library card? Many libraries loan out more than books. Check whether your local branch has a tool lending library where you can borrow basic tools.
4. Pickup Truck for Quick Jobs
It makes more sense to rent a truck instead of hiring a moving company to haul your furniture or paying the additional cost to get a couch or bed delivered. Plus you can hit up your truck-owning friends only so many times.
Pickup truck rentals at Home Depot are $19 for 75 minutes, $129 a day or $903 a week.
Lowe’s charges $19 for 90 minutes or $119 all day.
Ready to cash in on the rental economy? If you live in a busy city, rent out a parking space in your driveway or garage and earn good money.
5. Camping Gear and Other Sports Equipment
Renting sports equipment is an economical choice for families with children involved in high-end sports. Seasonal sports items like skis and golf clubs can be a costly investment for equipment that is used only a few months out of the year.
Try Friendwitha.com, a peer-to-peer platform for renting sports equipment. You can find folding bikes, snowboards, tennis rackets and more in locations across the country.
Ready to explore the great outdoors? First consider whether it makes the most sense to rent camping gear vs. owning it.
Outdoors outfitter REI rents camping and sports gear in addition to selling it at its palatial stores. Offerings include equipment for camping, downhill skiing, cycling and paddling. The store’s website advises customers to call their local store to see what it rents because not all locations have the same rental inventory.
REI is a co-op, meaning customers can pay a one-time fee of $20 to have a small ownership stake, which comes with benefits. You don’t have to be a member to rent, but when weighing expenses it may be more affordable to pay the $20 to join and get reduced rental fees.
For example, to rent backcountry skis from the store in Asheville, North Carolina, members pay $16 the first night and $10 for subsequent nights, while nonmembers pay $25 the first night and $15 for subsequent nights plus a $100 to $200 deposit.
6. Musical Instruments
Whether for a child learning an instrument at school or an adult taking up a new hobby, it’s a good idea to start out renting that trumpet, flute or electric guitar. If it’s not going to be a longtime endeavor, you haven’t shelled out as much extra money.
Many local music stores rent instruments, and there’s also an online clearing house, Musicarts.com. Rental fees on instruments can often be applied as your down payment or put toward continuing payments if you end up buying.
7. Designer Dresses, Work Attire and Casual Clothes
Clothing rentals have become so popular, you can now pay a monthly fee to have a high-quality wardrobe delivered to your door regularly. Most clothing rental services also offer accessories such as handbags and jewelry, too.
Rent the Runway is one of the best-known clothing rental companies, offering women the chance to wear designer clothes for a fraction of the dollars to buy them. From a one-sleeve Badgley Mischka floral that sells for $800 to a $1,400 Red Valentino embroidered full-length gown, the formal options are plentiful, along with attire for work, weekends, clubbing and outdoor activities. Rent the Runway offers eight items a month for $144, 12 for $193 or 16 for $235.
Nuuly is another popular clothing rental site, with a few more casual and lower-priced items that would cost $120 to $300 or more to buy. It’s owned by URBN, the parent company of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Renters pay $88 a month for six items.
Armoire makes styling suggestions based on answers to a consumer questionnaire. You can rent four items a month for $69 or seven for $89.
Also check out local, independent shops. For example, at Valhalla in Tampa, Florida, clients pay $49 a month for unlimited access to the store’s 6,000 items of clothing.
8. Men’s Clothing for Special Occasions and Beyond
Men also like the chance to wear expensive threads they can’t afford on a regular basis.
Taelor is a subscription service including styling support for men. Subscribers pay $88 a month for two shipments, each with four items of clothing. According to Taelor, each box contains $800 worth of clothes.
A business born during the pandemic, Tiny Earth Toys is a subscription service that delivers high-quality toys to families each month. Since children often tire of their toys quickly, and their abilities change rapidly when they are younger, regularly changing the lineup is smart.
Tiny Earth employs two early childhood educators who help select wooden toys such as stacking rings, puzzles and wooden people, trees, bridges and trucks. All are “open ended,” meaning the children can manipulate them in their own way for a variety of activities.
Tiny Earth charges $35 a month for five sustainable wood toys. For $48, you’ll receive five to eight wooden toys a month, and for $65 a month, you get 10 toys a month. Play on!
Again, whether you want a knockout bag for a special occasion or to add some variety to your rotation on a monthly basis, renting could be the way to go.
Bag Borrow or Steal is one of several ways you can rent a designer purse. Customers can rent a bag for one month with free shipping. Choices include a small Gucci disco bag for $125, a quilted Chanel tote for $400 a month and a Prada envelope bag with a gold chain for $100 a month. If you were to buy these items, they’d run from $1,000 to $5,000.
Other handbag rental sites include Luxury Fashion Rentals, which has similar prices and policies. Bag Romance offers a great feature of showing the retail price of bags for rent. For example, a black Chanel clutch that rents for $500 a month sells for $4,600 at a store.
Just as Amazon.com is the clearing house to buy almost anything, there are several sites where you can rent just about anything.
RentItToday.com offers access to rental companies across the globe to make it easy to rent anything from beach tents and mobility scooters to computers and camera lenses.
Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer and editor in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is author of “Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps & Lessons Learned.”