How to Make a Big Life Decision: Why we Chose to Rent vs. Buy

As you probably know, Corey and I are moving our family from California, back to our home state of Ohio.

I will continue to elaborate on the move and all of the details as they come.  For the background story, feel free to read my post titled "When Life Doesn't Go My Way," but for now, I'd like to talk about our decision making process when determining whether to rent or buy.

Previously when we lived in Ohio, we owned our home. It was nice knowing that our mortgage was going toward something rather than "being thrown away" each month on a rental. We got a decent deal on our home because we bought it as a foreclosure. This really worked out for us when we decided to unexpectedly move cross-country eight months after we bought our house. Thankfully, we were able to sell it for a decent amount more than we bought it for and we came out on top.

When we moved to California, we quickly realized the market is a lot different than Ohio. Homes are way more expensive, and it's definitely more of a renters market out here. With our financial status and uncertainty of decent areas to live, we decided to rent for a few years until we determined where we'd stay.

Now, there are many financial pro's and cons when it comes to renting vs buying, and I'm not going to get into all of that here, because for us, finances were not the only factor. I am going to explain how we decided what our next move would be, and hopefully if you are in a similar situation or in the midst of really any big life decision and are continuing to go back and forth, this will help you.

How we determined whether to rent or buy our next home:


There are many emotions that can go into a move. Finances are involved, comfort and security are involved, and if I'm being completely honest, status is involved as well.

That's why it's important to determine your why. It's so easy to get caught up in the idea of "Keeping Up with the Joneses," but if your goals go beyond status, it's important to not lose sight of that.

It's also easy to have a microscopic view about money, but if other factors are important to you, it's important to weigh those as well.

That's why we decided to list our "why," and go from there.

Here is what we determined:

Our Why:

1.) We want to spend more time with our kids/family. 
3.) We want to rest and live slower paced for a bit. 
4.) We want to pay off debt. 

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when determining your why?

Why are you moving in the first place?
Are you ready to find a home to grow your family in?
Is status important to you?
Are you looking to have a less financially demanding situation?
Are you wanting to get planted?
What do your next 5-10 years look like?

So on to step two...


Scenario 1: Buy a House/Fixer Upper:

Does this option support reason #1?

1.) We want to spend more time with our kids/family.

Kind of, however we are aware that along with home ownership (especially a fixer upper) comes house repairs, yard work, and increased time on housework depending on size of the house. Although there may be extra space to entertain, weekends would likely be spent on home repairs/upkeep, and while we are not opposed to these things, this option may end up sucking more of our time and money than we would like.

Does this option support reason #2?

2.) We want to rest and live slower paced.

Most likely not due to increased demand for home renovations/repairs.

Does this option support reason #3?

3.) We want to pay off debt.

While we could likely pay off debt (depending on the size of out mortgage) overall, this would increase our debt total, and the majority of the debt payoff would not be until the future (if and when we successfully sell the house.) Again, buying might make us a chunk of money 5 years from now when we decide to sell, but that's not our only goal. It's not solely about finances, so it was important for us to really get to the bottom of why we are making the move in the first place.

Fixer upper- Even if we did end up coming out making money in the end, reason 3 would not be accomplished here. A fixer upper would likely tempt us to make improvements on the weekends and off hours, pour extra money into the home, and take time away from what we want our focus to be in this next season.

Scenario 2: Renting a house

Does this option support reason #1?

1.) We want to spend more time with our kids/family.

Previously, Corey and I were not fond of the idea of renting, however the thought of adding any amount to our debt right now seems daunting. For that reason alone, we have been highly considering it. If you consider reason number 1 again, renting sounds even better because any major home repairs would not suck our immediate time or money.

Does this option support reason #2?

2.) We want to rest and live slower paced.

More so than scenario 1.

Does this option support reason #3?

3.) We want to pay off debt.

Yes. Renting a home would not add to our debt, and while it's not a long-term solution, finding the right monthly rent could really help us focus on paying off the debt.

Scenario 3: Renting an apartment

Does this option support reason #1?

1.) We want to spend more time with our kids/family.

Yes! While a smaller apartment might not provide the amount of space we need to entertain family within our home, this option would absolutely provide us optimal time to go out and spend with our kids/family. If you read my post "Don't Let Your Stuff Steal You Peace," you will know that over the last year, I have really been focusing on eliminating unnecessary "stuff" from our lives. I am finding that the less stuff we have, the more time we have because we have less to clean and less to worry about! An apartment would encourage us to continue living this way by providing less space to collect that unnecessary "stuff."

Our family is not about the "stuff," we are all about getting out and walking or hiking, and the more time we have to do this, the better. So yes, an apartment completely supports this option. No yard to keep up, minimal stuff to keep up, fewer square feet to keep clean! Living this way will give us the peace to know that our homefront is in order and taken care of so that we can be ready to go out and love on and serve those around us.

Does this option support reason #2?

2.) We want to rest.

Our thought process for a small apartment is to make it as cozy as possible with as little upkeep as possible so that our demands at home are minimal to provide optimal time for rest.

Also, see above.

Does this option support reason #3?

3.) We want to pay off debt.

Yes. Renting an apartment would not add to our debt. Also, an apartment equals less space, which equals smaller utility bills, and a smaller space would discourage us from buying unneeded things, and an overall smaller overhead!


All of that being said, one of our very last ideas (the apartment) became one of our very favorite ideas as it met each of our criteria. We are so excited to enter into a season of a more simplistic home life so that we can go out into the world and focus on those around us, our church, our kids, and pay off debt in the meantime.

Our rationale may not be right for you, and that's okay! The point of this post is to help you go through each option and weigh them against your "why" regardless of what big decision you are making.

Are you in the process of a season change, or a big move? Are you struggling to figure out what the right decision is?

I'd encourage you to take some time and really sit down and write down the goals you would like to achieve by making this decision.

Why are you making this decision in the first place?
Is it money, space, time?
Do you just need a fresh start?
Do you need to take it back to the basics like us?

At the end of the day, you have to do what's best for you and your family whether others agree or not.

We promise to keep you updated on our journey of apartment living!

Also, check out our YouTube Video "Rent vs. Buying."

Subscribe to stay in the loop and check out our Youtube Video "Renting Vs. Buying" to hear more!


  1. I love how you made a list! I'm a visual person, so that's exactly how I approach things as well.

    Best wishes for your move!

  2. Like your detailed list. Looking forward on your post update with the new place.

  3. These are great tips. My husband and I moved on a whim when I found out I was pregnant with our first child. It was exciting, but didn't work out like we hoped. But now we learned from our mistakes and will love to try again down the road.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I'd be so interested to read a post about what your mistakes were, because it's always helpful to get insight from others!

  4. In planning our upcoming move, we have really been considering renting vs. buying. This gave me some great food for thought! Thank you for sharing!!

    1. Absolutely!! There is no concrete way to do it. At the end of the day, you have to figure out what's best for you and your family and go with that! Good luck!