I invite you to consider that CPI is not a good metric by inflation. To be frank, it's worthless. It doesn't include housing and I'd be happy to expand on that, but it has been covered at length in the "inflation/deflation, interest rates, and the fed" thread.
I bought for $600k in 2017 and now Zillow says $930k. That is pretty good, but not uncommon over the last few years.
I would add another difference to the equation:
- Renting takes less time, involves fewer headaches. You bug the landlord for things.
- Ownership takes more time, and costs maintenance, but it also presents you with the opportunity to improve your home and build wealth through home improvement.
- If you want to build a business, work hard at a job, or otherwise occupy yourself, you might be happier renting.
- If you can get by with your job, have a little free time, and want to add something fun and lucrative, improving a home can be very worthwhile. My experience is that friends, church members, neighbors, etc all enjoy talking shop around homes and improvements. I've built a network like this and it is enjoyable to me. Not for everyone.
Also, I believe you forgot the mortgage interest tax deduction? Renters don't get that.
My last thought is just that you have no idea in what direction the economy might present landlords with a huge opportunity. Interest rates could plummet, lowering your payment. Rents could skyrocket, in which case landlords do very well. Appreciation/inflation could take off, in which case your low-interest rate debt becomes worth less, or even worthless. If you are renting, none of these scenarios benefit you.
You could benefit from the S&P growing though if you invest more there or elsewhere.