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Own vs RentLee and I recently made a big move from Milwaukee to Sheboygan. Sheboygan is really only an hour away, but any move is a big move when you think about all the work and decisions that go into it. Especially when finding a new home. Where do you even start? Our search turned into a monotonous mess - have I looked at this one already? I know this is too expensive, but doesn't it look cool? Rent? Buy?

After getting lost and hopeless in the housing market, Lee and I decided to take a step back and create a game plan. Lee, ever the numbers guy, decided we should make a decision matrix. Using a decision matrix made us to realize what we wanted in our new home and narrow the results to finding our dream home.

Using a decision matrix made us to realize what we wanted in our new home and narrow the results to finding our dream home.

If you are stuck in the same dilemma we were in, or just have a big decision to make, this process could be the key to finding your answer. 

1. Make a list of the things you want in a home

Then rank them individually 1-10 on importance. Here’s an example: 

Near outdoor recreation - 6

Outdoor space - 9

Multiple bedrooms - 2

Storage space - 7

Decent size kitchen - 4

Curb appeal- 6

Able to stay long term (longevity) - 6

2. Contrast your housing options

Use your categories from above and rank them 1-10 again on how likely they would happen at each type of housing option.

Item and score Apartment Duplex Buy
Recreation (6) 3 5 7
Outdoor space (9) 2 6 10
Bedrooms 2+ (2) 3 4 10
Storage (7) 3 6 10
Large kitchen (4) 3 6 8
Curb appeal (6) 4 4 7
Longevity (6) 2 4 10

Your numbers and list will look different based on where you live, what you can spend, and what you look for in a home.

3.  Multiply your original values by your new values for each category

So for recreation and apartment you would do 3*6, this creates a weighted score for that option. Next you add up your weighted scores to find totals under each option. This is what it would look like.

Item and score Apartment Duplex Buy
Recreation (6) 3*6= 18 7*6= 42 7*6= 42
Outdoor space (9) 2*9= 18 9*9= 81 10*9= 90
Bedrooms 2+ (2) 3*2= 6 4*2 = 8 8*2 = 16
Storage (7) 3*7= 21 6*7= 42 10*7= 70
Large kitchen (4) 3*4= 15 6*4= 24 7*4= 28
Curb Appeal (6) 4*6 = 24 6*6 = 36 5*6= 30
Longevity (6) 2*6 = 12 6*6= 36 10*6= 60
Total 114 269 336

Highest total wins, so in this scenario, buying would be the best decision. When Lee and I went through this process, we found that renting a duplex would be the best option for us. We then stalked craigslist for new openings. When we found a good match (maybe two weeks later) we pounced. The next day the listing was taken down, we were the first to see the duplex, and we got it!

Maybe we were a little lucky getting the house we did, but I also think that using this decision matrix made it happen. We didn’t settle for a sub-par place because we got sick of looking, but learned what we wanted and stuck to it and finally got it.