Renting vs. Buying Snow Equipment: What to Consider

Reader Contribution by Kayla Matthews
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Your decision to rent or buy snow equipment depends on your unique set of circumstances. Requirements and limitations change from homestead to homestead.

Some homesteaders see the appeal in renting their snow equipment, whether it’s due to budgetary restraints or the maintenance costs associated with buying. Other homesteaders purchase their snow equipment, choosing to commit despite the expenses involved in owning and operating this type of specialized machinery.

Whether you rent or buy, you should know some of the advantages and disadvantages of each option. As you browse skid steers, track loaders, generators and other equipment, it’s essential to understand what that kind of investment entails. There’s a substantial sum of money involved, and it’s vital to take a look at all the elements as you move forward.

Here’s a look at three of those components to consider as you decide to rent or buy.

1. Climate and Length of Use

One of the leading factors that will determine your decision to rent or purchase is the length of time you’ll need the equipment. Depending on your region’s climate, you may find that snow doesn’t present a serious issue.

Other homesteaders in colder areas of the country might have to handle snow on a frequent basis, and a skid steer, for example, can clear more snow over eight hours than a truck is capable of over 20 hours.

It’s often more financially responsible to rent equipment when you only need it intermittently over the winter season. For example, the cost to rent a skid steer for a day’s work usually falls between $150 to $500, depending on the company. Otherwise, purchasing the equipment costs between $15,000 and $50,000.

While the cost for a skid steer seems high, you should consider purchasing if you intend to use the machinery daily. More than that, when you’re not operating your skid steer for snow removal purposes, it has applications elsewhere on your property. The functionality of the equipment is important to evaluate.

2. Financial Limitations

You might have uses for a skid steer or track loader on your property, but if you’re working within the limitations of a strict budget, purchasing one may seem unrealistic. To reference the numbers above, many homesteaders can’t afford to pay $15,000 for snow equipment they’ll only operate during a fraction of the year.

When reviewing your options, you’ll find renting your snow equipment is often far more cost-effective than buying. You’ll save money on transportation and maintenance expenses, free up capital and credit and meet short-term needs, gaining access to modern equipment without jeopardizing your funds.

That said, purchasing has distinct advantages. Rental payments can accumulate and surpass the initial cost of the machinery, defeating the purpose of renting skid steers and track loaders. If you intend to employ your equipment over a long period, it could prove more prudent to purchase.

3. Storage Capacity

As a homesteader, you likely have other equipment you employ to manage your property. To keep it in working condition, you need to store it in a safe, dry place where it won’t rust or sustain damage from the elements. Your space is limited, and by extension, valuable to conserve for new additions to inventory.

Depending on your available storage capacity, you might have to pursue short-term rentals instead of buying outright because you don’t have room for more equipment. Skid steers and track loaders are large and require a considerable amount of space, and sometimes, that space isn’t free.

As you review your options, keep your storage capacity in mind. You might have enough to accommodate a new skid steer, but if you’re lacking, you can still buy other equipment. Smaller, comparatively inexpensive machinery like snow blowers require less room, with average models costing anywhere from $99 to $1,100.

The Right Decision

As you assess your climate, budget and available storage space, you’ll have the information you need to determine the best course of action.

Whether you choose to rent your snow equipment or commit to buying, you can feel confident you’ve made the right decision.

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