In my younger years, before I had enough capital, renting was a wise if not the only choice, especially since it was less expensive than paying for property maintenance, mortgage, taxes and insurance. For the long term however,  investing in real estate has been a wise choice, building equity and leveraging ownership through wise use of credit and rental income. The exception is the market crash in 2006. If I had a time machine, I'd go back and sell all real estate in 2005, rent till 2010 and then buy back in at the bottom. Though I did not do this, my assets rebounded in value and the use/ income paid the carry costs through the downturn. Generally, you sell and rent if you are betting against the market, conversely, you buy and hold if you are betting on an increasing market. When comparing real estate to stocks or other investments, consider that real property is a tangible asset with potential for rental income, industry, agriculture, forestry, water and mineral rights.