Here's a real example.
I'm renting. I love the area we're in. There are other areas where we would enjoy living as well that are exactly the same.
I'm paying under $3K a month for rent. It's a large condo, 3BR 2Bath, wonderful area, 4 pools 4 hot tubs, awesome view, great location, great & quiet neighbors, great community.
Renting other places around here are similar priced, many are a few hundred $ more for now, but still in range.
We'd like to buy a house in our current area, or another area we like, and pretty much keep our current standard of living as we are in this condo, but in house form.
If we did that, the minimum mortgage payment we're looking at MINIMUM is $6.5K, that is with dumping a bunch of cash as a down payment... note that the $6.5K does not include insurance, PMI, taxes, closing costs, etc.
So you see, renting and owning a home is not the same thing. Just because I choose to rent, doesn't mean that I automatically will rent the same kind of house that I would want to buy. So it's just not logical to me to compare them like that. Typically, you rent to save money. Sure, I could rent a house for $8K a month, but wtf would I do that? I'd rather buy! Except, I don't want to buy, because I need the freedom to be mobile and choose where to live and not be stuck... I don't want to throw all my money into a house and live paycheck to paycheck and be forced to sell at the next higher bubble than is currently to make anything.
Yeah, we could move to a cheaper area, but we don't want to. There's no point because we just don't want to give up what makes us live happy and looking forward to the next day/weekend/time off, etc.
I'd rather keep renting, and saving money, and investing money, that I'm not throwing into a house that I may or may not get back plus more later, if life works out perfectly for home ownership. I'm very likely to move as well, need that freedom, while saving! We can't time our life according to the house, we need our housing to work for us.