Author Topic: Big Life Decisions  (Read 11331 times)

whatnot

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Big Life Decisions
« on: January 23, 2013, 03:40:37 PM »
My wife and I are wafflers with big life decisions. We weigh pros and cons endlessly and stress too much. How do other mustachians handle huge life decisions and still sleep well at night? That's my main, philosophical question. If you want to know the impetus, read on.

Our current situation is this...
We're both 34, with 3 kids under 6. We have $540,000 in assets (savings, stocks, mutual fund, 401k, roth, etc). The only possession counted in that amount is our $150,000 house. Our only debt is the $22,500 left on our mortgage. Our expenses are little higher than I'd like ($60,000 range) but a huge chunk of that is child-care that will be going away over the next 4 years. We make a combined $150,000.

We want to get out of our current house. We've out grown it and it's time to move on. We're considering building a new house for $350,000. It's a perfect house for us now and will last us the next 20+ years when we could downsize. But when I see all the extra construction costs, loan closing costs, agent commissions, property taxes, etc. I get an uneasy feeling that we're not doing the right thing.

I'm not really looking for someone to tell me what to do (although, if I'm being an idiot, tell me). But I'm just curious how other people approach things like this and how they reason their way through them.


Another Reader

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5213
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2013, 04:04:15 PM »
Uneasy feelings are common when you don't have all the information needed to make a reasonable decision.  In your shoes, I would gather and assemble all of the financial information about making this purchase.  Then, after discussing this with the spouse, I would list the pros and cons (financial and other) and the alternatives on paper with a capital cost and expense spreadsheet in front of me.  After I had assembled all the data and thought through the pros and cons on paper, I would again sit down with the spouse, and we would decide together what to do.  If we decided to move forward with this or another purchase, I would work out a calendar with the dollar amounts to be spent and when the costs/expenses would be incurred. 

No plan is perfect, but if you get everything you can on paper and work through the financial numbers and the quality of life issues together, you will be in a better position to make a decision you won't regret.

smedleyb

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 434
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2013, 06:48:13 PM »
I want to add that whatever they (GC, builder) say the new house will cost, add 20% to the bill. 

smalllife

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 981
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2013, 06:56:28 PM »
The uneasiness is probably history telling you that generations were raised in homes smaller than the one you have now (statistically likely even though you didn't say the square footage).  Why do you need a new home?  What's wrong with the one you have?  Are there no currently built homes that would work?

The answers to those questions might narrow it down.


whatnot

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2013, 08:13:22 PM »
Thank you for the responses.

@Another - I will sit down and actually write something down. I have all the pros/cons in my head and we talk about them but it would help to see it all on paper.
@smalllife - You are absolutely right. We wouldn't have to move. Our current situation isn't ideal with 3 kids but it's far from impossible. There are myriads of factors. For example, our current home is a cheap starter home. If we stay a few more years we will have to get a new furnace, ac, and water heater. Not a big deal but I know we wouldn't get that money back out if we sell. Schools come into play. I like the school my kids attend now, but the wife and I are from small towns and would rather have our kids in a high school class of 50 rather than 450. And you're right, new construction isn't a must. If we could find the perfect house at the right price, that would be an option as well.

It's not so much this specific decision, I just feel we are very inefficient decision makers overall. We examine the facts ad naseum but in the end it feels like we just go with our gut. I was just curious if the MMM community had any specific ways they approach difficult decisions and kick their ass.

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 47
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2013, 08:24:30 PM »
We have a huge housing decision going the other way, we need to downsize from our big $350,000 house and it's been a huge struggle knowing how low to go (how much money can we afford to bring to closing), and how quickly should we force the sale.  Over the past year I've come to some comfort level with the uncertainty of the situation.  You cannot know in advance a huge amount of information that would greatly affect the decision if you were able to know it.  It can really eat away at you.

I don't think you can block out the uncertainty, I think you need to embrace it.  Picture the house building going poorly, the expenses piling up, the family going through extra stresses, a job being lost.  What bad things can possibly happen?  Now imagine them fully.  And then realize life will go on.  It's bad, but it won't be completely bad.  And you will deal with it and move forward.  Negative visualization has really helped me come to grips with uncertainty, and helped me live in the moment enjoying my blessings while I have them.  There is a difference between negative visualization and worrying, it's important that you understand the difference in order to make negative visualization work for you.  I've got a couple book suggestions if you want them. For philosophical questions I find myself turning to stoicism, it's been a helpful reference for my peace of mind.

For the decision process I highly recommend gathering input from neutral sources of the same frame of mind as yourself.  Friends and family are often more cheerleaders than questioners.  Financial agents often have skin in the game, and aren't likely to have the exact same values you do.  Laying everything out for people you know are going to offer well reasoned advice can be a good way of helping you feel good about the decision, even if you end up going against their suggestions.  You obviously aren't considering something that is likely to bring financial ruin, but it's a big decision so gather the best information and advice you can find before pulling the trigger.  Going with your gut seems to have worked well for you so far, but obviously decisions carry more weight as you add more zeros behind them...  :)  I'm also curious if there is other good advice out there for making important decisions like this, I know it would be helpful to me as well.

NWstubble

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 126
  • Location: Portlandia
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2013, 12:00:25 AM »
I don't think you can block out the uncertainty, I think you need to embrace it.  Picture the house building going poorly, the expenses piling up, the family going through extra stresses, a job being lost.  What bad things can possibly happen?  Now imagine them fully.  And then realize life will go on.  It's bad, but it won't be completely bad.  And you will deal with it and move forward. 

I too tend to over analyze and stress at times. However, something that I realized was leading to this was my tendency towards perfectionism and a fear of failure. The approach James has outlined is exactly what has helped me make faster decisions and have less stress. Indeed, life will go on. For me, having confidence that we will perservere and be successful, even if things don't go exactly as planned has made a big difference.

happy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6404
  • Location: NSW Australia
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2013, 01:10:38 AM »
I make decisions slowly....part of my personality. I've learned to accept it. For big financial decisions I do lots of research, and look at lots of options, pros and cons, pricing etc. I always find that even if I think I know exactly what I want, I refine and improve  on my original thoughts, often substantially. This I guess reinforces my preference to make decisions this way. Once I've chewed it over sufficiently (I know when this is because I kept arriving at the same point no matter which way I come at it), I wait for a good deal and find then I am very decisive very quickly: I don't look left or right: I go for it with some sort of steely inner certainty. I can do spontaneous for smaller things, but big picture moves are always extensively researched.

(From a Mustachian point of view, are you sure you need a bigger new house? Are you interested in building? Will it be fun or a drag/anxiety? Do you really need to spend the time and money? Could you achieve the outcome you desire in a cheaper easier way? disclaimer: 3 years ago pre-MMM I bought a big dream house, now realise its much more than we need and feel a bit foolish).

Kriegsspiel

  • Guest
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2013, 05:48:52 AM »
We wouldn't have to move. Our current situation isn't ideal with 3 kids but it's far from impossible. There are myriads of factors. For example, our current home is a cheap starter home. If we stay a few more years we will have to get a new furnace, ac, and water heater. Not a big deal but I know we wouldn't get that money back out if we sell.

Even if you kept making improvements over the years?  What is acting to keep the price decreasing?

Quote
Schools come into play. I like the school my kids attend now, but the wife and I are from small towns and would rather have our kids in a high school class of 50 rather than 450.

Ugh.  I went to a small school like that, and would much rather have gone to a large school.  More opportunities with extra curriculars, networking and making friends (if your kids are loners, you can be just as alone with 450 people as 50), more sports teams.  Just keep in mind that just because YOU liked a small school, your kids might not.

smalllife

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 981
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2013, 07:44:46 AM »
Why not turn your "starter home" into your forever home?  There's nothing set in stone that says you have to upgrade if at all financially possible.  So far I haven't heard a good reason to move other than life script expectations.   Fix what needs fixing, customize to your preferences, and enjoy what you have without incurring the extra costs of moving.  Send the extra money to the bank.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 08:03:22 AM by smalllife »

tooqk4u22

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2330
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2013, 07:56:23 AM »
If we stay a few more years we will have to get a new furnace, ac, and water heater. Not a big deal but I know we wouldn't get that money back out if we sell.

True that you won't get your money back, at least directly, because houses are expected to have working things - but indirectly it will be partially reflected in the price and or ability to sell in a timely manner.  If they are on their last legs (age matters) then a home inspector will tell them and they will want a concession - and who knows if the next house you buy won't haev a similar situation, unless it is new and then it will be in the price - part of the reason why new homes cost more. 

FWIW - the price of your house is not the full story for this discussion because housing costs vary - $350k could be a 2bed condo or a 4500 sf mcmansion.  what is the size of your house (beds/baths/sf)?

If you really like your area a small addition can be done affordably and add a lot to meet your needs - just don't over-improve.  Keep in mind that existing houses in most areas are below replacement cost. 

Personally, I would love to build new so I could design something that is highly efficient or even net zero and with just enough space for the family but is laid out in a highly effiecient and livable way.  But land in desirable areas that are close to things (i.e. not rural) makes it a costly proposition. 

Schools come into play. I like the school my kids attend now, but the wife and I are from small towns and would rather have our kids in a high school class of 50 rather than 450.

Ugh.  I went to a small school like that, and would much rather have gone to a large school.  More opportunities with extra curriculars, networking and making friends (if your kids are loners, you can be just as alone with 450 people as 50), more sports teams.  Just keep in mind that just because YOU liked a small school, your kids might not.
[/quote]

In addition to resources, flexibility of classes, diversity, etc.


whatnot

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2013, 08:24:01 AM »
Again, thanks for all the responses.

@James - exactly the type of answer I was looking for. Thanks! Negative visualization makes total sense and I think it will be a useful tool. I would love to hear your book recommendations if you don't mind.

@Everyone - Thanks for taking the time. Each response forces me to look at it in another way - always a good thing. I'm not going to respond individually and explain why I think a small school can be better (an interesting topic) or why our current house won't last us forever. A lot of that comes down to our very specific scenario and our personalities. And anything we decide will be because it's best for us. We could care less about what society tells us we should be doing or what our banker says (he says we could live in a $750,000 house, crazy idiot). In the end we will do what's right for us. Thanks for taking the time and helping me figure out what that is.

twinge

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 326
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2013, 08:46:12 AM »
Quote
Ugh.  I went to a small school like that, and would much rather have gone to a large school.  More opportunities with extra curriculars, networking and making friends (if your kids are loners, you can be just as alone with 450 people as 50)

And 450 seems small to me! My graduating class was double that size, and our local high school that my kids will attend has nearly 800 per grade too.  Like tooq says larger school sizes can translate to a lot of opportunities (both my school and my kids' schools offer several college-level math courses after AP calculus and have full classes of students that take them, you can complete an international baccalaureate diploma or take a full range of Advanced Placement courses, there's a wide range of arts and technology courses etc.), and many kids are more likely to find niches will like-minded others that they might not elsewhere.  That said, it was initially overwhelming to be in such an enormous place.  And only the top star athletes make the official teams because there's so much competition. And parents need to be more attentive because there's more you don't know about what goes on in school.

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 47
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2013, 09:25:35 AM »
@James - exactly the type of answer I was looking for. Thanks! Negative visualization makes total sense and I think it will be a useful tool. I would love to hear your book recommendations if you don't mind.

The two books I have most enjoyed on the subject have been A Guide to the Good Life and The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking.  The first is more strictly related to stoicism and has more extensive coverage of negative visualization.  I highly recommend them both though, I'd say they are complimentary.

Good luck sorting out your housing choices, you are in a good spot to be in.

DoubleDown

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2057
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2013, 09:27:23 AM »
This book offers several helpful, specific techniques for decision making and problem solving. It's used by a lot of analytical types. It's not geared, though, towards deeper understanding of anxiety or indecision -- it's just a toolbox of decision-making techniques:

http://www.amazon.com/Thinkers-Toolkit-Powerful-Techniques-Problem/dp/0812928083

Regarding the house purchase, I would carefully examine the reasoning behind upgrading to a house that costs more than 2x the current home. On the surface, that sounds like a huge upgrade. I've bought several new homes over the years as the family expanded, etc., but I've never had an occasion to more than double the cost of a home (including purchasing a newly constructed home)! Maybe an added 10-20%, but NEVER anywhere near double or more!

Christiana

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 173
    • Zatera Ul
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2013, 11:28:29 AM »
I also like to get the pros and cons written out on paper.  But I think it would be best to start with just listing and weighting/prioritizing your goals:  smaller school district, better-fitting house, more harmonious family life, what else?  You haven't said anything about retirement plans--are you working toward early retirement, and how much longer will you and your wife be working?  (Early retirement will be a lot easier if you keep your housing costs low.)  Is there a particular location where you would like to live long-term? 

If you can't renovate your current house to meet your needs, what about renovating a different house?  (Lateral move, then improvement in place.)

We have 3 children about the same age as yours, plus one more on the way, and we are living in a 900 sq ft house.  It took us a lot of downsizing to get here, but we are really better off without all that Stuff.  The introverts in the family are even doing ok with having much less private territory per person.  When our children are in their teens, I would like to live in a house that is not much larger, but in a less-regulated area, and have the children build tiny houses on wheels for themselves as part of their homeschool education and increasing independence.  Then they can take those with them when they move out...leaving us with a house that's not too big for the two of us.  Not that I think this is necessarily what you should do...it's just the solution that we are working toward for ourselves.

twinge

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 326
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2013, 11:55:33 AM »
Quote
Negative visualization makes total sense and I think it will be a useful tool. I would love to hear your book recommendations if you don't mind.

Less rooted in stoic philosophy and more rooted in fairly rigorous empirical studies, Martin Seligman's work in psychology espouses a similar technique: you imagine the worst possible, imagine how you would handle it, estimate its likelihood. (He also suggests that you also imagine wild success, and estimate its likelihood and imagine what is most likely to happen). 

There's a lay account of his approach in Learned Optimism which I know several have talked about here and may have been subject of a MMM post.  For parents, there's also a set of strategies for teaching helping your kids develop a realistic optimistic stance that has been demonstrated to have positive effects at reducing clinical depression/anxiety disorders in youth.

To me, it's not as inspiring and "historical" feeling as reading stoics, but the empirical rigor is a nice element.

Catbert

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1833
  • Location: Southern California
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2013, 12:35:56 PM »
If you have a hard time making decisions, don't build a house from scratch.  There will be literally thousands of decisions (large and small) some of which will have to be made quickly. 

TomTX

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4123
  • Location: Texas
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2013, 04:48:21 PM »

Ugh.  I went to a small school like that, and would much rather have gone to a large school.  More opportunities with extra curriculars, networking and making friends (if your kids are loners, you can be just as alone with 450 people as 50), more sports teams.  Just keep in mind that just because YOU liked a small school, your kids might not.

Yeah, I had several AP classes cancelled out from under me - not enough students signed up. I could have cut some time off college.

NumberJohnny5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 642
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2013, 09:00:33 PM »
There are myriads of factors. For example, our current home is a cheap starter home. If we stay a few more years we will have to get a new furnace, ac, and water heater. Not a big deal but I know we wouldn't get that money back out if we sell. Schools come into play. I like the school my kids attend now, but the wife and I are from small towns and would rather have our kids in a high school class of 50 rather than 450. And you're right, new construction isn't a must. If we could find the perfect house at the right price, that would be an option as well.

What do your kids think about their current school?  Are they eager to go to a smaller school?  I'm thinking maybe there's some parts of this bigger school you personally don't like...higher number of "bad" kids (remember, there's probably a higher number of good kids too), metal detectors all around (bad things can happen in big or small schools, maybe the bigger school has a bigger budget and can afford things like new computers, metal detectors, more books for the library, security guard, nurse, etc.).

Is the main reason you're looking at moving really because of the kids' school?  I don't think it could be because of the condition of the current house ($350,000 house, minus current one's worth of $150,000, equals shelling out a MINIMUM of $200,000; how about paying for the necessary maintenance and investing the rest instead?).  Anyways, if it's the school...I'd want to be 150% positive that it was the right school for your kids before you spend all that time and money (don't forget the stress levels too).  Sometimes we remember things differently, and/or things change.  My son loved the first school he went to (when we were in Fairbanks for a short bit).  When we got back to Tennessee I enrolled him at the same elementary school I had gone to and had fond memories of; we pulled him out after less than a day.  There's no way I'd send him back there unless he absolutely begged to.  Imagine if I had spent a lot of time and money just so he'd go to this wonderful school....

That said...are you looking to move to a very rural area?  Just slap some shipping containers together; if you genuinely run out of space, just buy another container.  I drew up some plans once; basically I'd have a very non-conventional design that'd have these rectangular shipping containers arranged in a square, so there's a big open space in the middle (nice private courtyard).  Would probably be easy to section off again when the kids move out, and rent out separate units.

Edit:  I completely forgot to answer the actual question...how to handle big decisions like these.  I gather all the information I can, and try to make as informed a decision as I can, and know that in the future I'll realize I made the wrong choice (perhaps it's better phrased as "I'll realize I didn't make the most optimal choice").  Hindsight is always 20/20.  When a decision turns out to be wrong, I see if there's anything I can learn from it.  Often I learn of new questions to ask myself...and often I don't learn anything at all (some things you just can't foresee).
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 12:43:57 AM by josetann »

Cook for Good

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Raleigh, NC
    • Cook for Good
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2013, 07:47:57 AM »
I've used the Kepner-Trego decision-analysis model personally, in business, and in volunteer groups with great results for decades. Read the details in The New Rational Manager:

http://www.kepner-tregoe.com/knowledge-center/books/the-new-rational-manager/

For me, the key is breaking down the problem into bites that you and others can look at pretty rationally, then rolling the results back up to see which option suits you best. I particularly like that K-T shows you how to prepare for good news as well as disaster.

In the spreadsheet I use most often, you list your Musts and and evaluate your options to see if they satisfy them, yes or no.

Any options that get all yeses on the musts then get evaluated on a 1-to-10 scale for the Wants, which you've separately ranked 1-to-10 in importance to you. Then you use the power of excel to crank out the scores for each option. If the totals don't match your gut instincts, you can then go back and revisit the rankings of your wants and the scores you've given the options. But you don't have a big, fuzzy, religious argument about which choice is "better."

To take a popular MMM question, where should I live?, you might start with these Musts, stated to trigger yes/no answers:
* I speak the language of at least half the other residents
* it's legal for me to move there
* There are at least two Indian restaurants that I could get to without driving
* A three-bedroom home costs less than 500K.

Your Wants and their scores  might include:
10) good public schools
10) near a redwood forest
9) wide variety of high-quality Indian restaurants nearby
8) lots of accordion music
5) inexpensive housing costs ( price, taxes, utilities, ...)
2) near Aunt Martha
1) moving legally takes a minimum of red tape and hassle

Given your Musts, you are probably able to eliminate wide swaths of the world based on language alone. Who cares about the price of housing in Brasil? This culling saves a lot of research and discussion time.

Next, figure out how to consistently evaluate how well an option meets each want. Maybe you can find an on-line ranking of schools to start, then verify that each of the options also teaches real science. If you can bike to the redwoods, a place gets a 10, day trip gets an 8, long plane ride gets a 1. The scores would be 100, 80, and 10 respectively.

When you look at the totals, you might say, why does moving to Seattle rank over moving to Madison? Now you can start to talk about what you'd rather be near: the redwoods or your aunt.

Once you make and act on your choice, the spreadsheet can help you focus on why you are on your current path and take advantage of the parts you value. If you move to Seattle to be near the redwoods, then go visit the redwoods, especially while you are making new friends. Heck, look for friends who like hiking in the redwoods.

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8019
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2013, 08:14:10 AM »
I've used the Kepner-Trego decision-analysis model personally, in business, and in volunteer groups with great results for decades. Read the details in The New Rational Manager:

http://www.kepner-tregoe.com/knowledge-center/books/the-new-rational-manager/

For me, the key is breaking down the problem into bites that you and others can look at pretty rationally, then rolling the results back up to see which option suits you best. I particularly like that K-T shows you how to prepare for good news as well as disaster.

In the spreadsheet I use most often, you list your Musts and and evaluate your options to see if they satisfy them, yes or no.

Any options that get all yeses on the musts then get evaluated on a 1-to-10 scale for the Wants, which you've separately ranked 1-to-10 in importance to you. Then you use the power of excel to crank out the scores for each option. If the totals don't match your gut instincts, you can then go back and revisit the rankings of your wants and the scores you've given the options. But you don't have a big, fuzzy, religious argument about which choice is "better."

To take a popular MMM question, where should I live?, you might start with these Musts, stated to trigger yes/no answers:
* I speak the language of at least half the other residents
* it's legal for me to move there
* There are at least two Indian restaurants that I could get to without driving
* A three-bedroom home costs less than 500K.

Your Wants and their scores  might include:
10) good public schools
10) near a redwood forest
9) wide variety of high-quality Indian restaurants nearby
8) lots of accordion music
5) inexpensive housing costs ( price, taxes, utilities, ...)
2) near Aunt Martha
1) moving legally takes a minimum of red tape and hassle

Given your Musts, you are probably able to eliminate wide swaths of the world based on language alone. Who cares about the price of housing in Brasil? This culling saves a lot of research and discussion time.

Next, figure out how to consistently evaluate how well an option meets each want. Maybe you can find an on-line ranking of schools to start, then verify that each of the options also teaches real science. If you can bike to the redwoods, a place gets a 10, day trip gets an 8, long plane ride gets a 1. The scores would be 100, 80, and 10 respectively.

When you look at the totals, you might say, why does moving to Seattle rank over moving to Madison? Now you can start to talk about what you'd rather be near: the redwoods or your aunt.

Once you make and act on your choice, the spreadsheet can help you focus on why you are on your current path and take advantage of the parts you value. If you move to Seattle to be near the redwoods, then go visit the redwoods, especially while you are making new friends. Heck, look for friends who like hiking in the redwoods.

I like this.  It's been decades since I used K-T.  I learned it in the military.  It was incredibly useful.

These days I tend to use inertia to make major decisions.  We have now 2 kids in a very small house.  I think about trading up to a slightly bigger one (from 1100 to maybe 1400 sf).  But I'm lazy, so we don't bother. :) 

Hamster

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2013, 11:56:44 AM »
10) good public schools
10) near a redwood forest
9) wide variety of high-quality Indian restaurants nearby
8) lots of accordion music
5) inexpensive housing costs ( price, taxes, utilities, ...)
2) near Aunt Martha
1) moving legally takes a minimum of red tape and hassle

Hey, this list looks just like mine!
In fact, as I type this my kids are studying at our highly-rated local public school, and I'm sitting at the forest amphitheater among the redwoods behind my cheap house, listening to my favorite zydeco band play while aunt Martha gives me a foot massage as we share takeout samosas. Livin' the dream...

p.s. I do make her wash her hands between the foot massaging and touching the samosas.

tmac

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 472
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2013, 12:05:13 PM »
I've been doing a version of the above suggestion while trying to figure out where to move. We know the state, but not the town. I want a house in a good school district, within 30 minutes of my parents, with affordable housing and a diverse community, and in a walkable/bikeable area. I pulled data from the following:

1. Walkscore.com
2. SchoolDigger.com
3. Google Maps
4. Zillow.com

And put it into a spreadsheet. My formula weighted the school ranking heavily, but included distance, walk score, and the number of houses under a housing purchase price cap, and less critically, the population numbers and any notes I come across about quality of life features (rail trails, lakes, community resources, etc.). I came up with a pretty clear list of where we should be looking.

decisionprof

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 19
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2013, 12:17:12 PM »
Hi - getting in to this discussion kind of late, but I posted something about this same topic a month or so ago (making better/more informed decisions).  I have my doctorate in Educational Leadership but the focus of my dissertation was decision analysis.  I was trying to determine ways I could share what I learned to help people make better decisions (choosing a college - buying a house - taking a new job - buying a car, etc.) I like the suggestions you were given but I have another process you can follow as well.  It is similar to the one mentioned but I think this may go more in-depth in terms of analysis (yet it is not that technical either).  Let me know if you are interested in learning more.

whatnot

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2013, 01:15:03 PM »
@decisionprof - Absolutely, share here or PM me!

Hamster

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 623
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2013, 01:54:14 PM »
@decisionprof - I'd love to hear your thoughts as well. Since so much of mustachinaism has to do with making good decisions, I think a separate post based on your expertise would be great.

decisionprof

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 19
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2013, 03:47:10 PM »
Thanks - I agree that making good decisions is a huge part of mustachianism!  I would love to take on a few "cases" to see if I can really help people in making important (and often "hugely" financial) decisions.  We are just starting our own "college decision" experiment using this decision analysis process with my daughter who is a junior in high school.  We also used this process last year to purchase multiple rental properties and for me to change jobs after 20+ years (and everything is working out great so far!)

whatnot - not sure what your timeline is - or if you are interested in sharing with readers

This could be fun and I think the "cascading" effect (what we called it in our "focus group" research) of others comments could benefit a lot of people who are interested.

Still thinking about how this might work on a forum like this.  I'm pretty new to the blog/posting, etc.  (been a bit busy with the doctorate and other major life changes the last two years)...so any suggestions would be appreciated.


whatnot

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2013, 09:42:01 PM »
@decisionprof - Sorry for the slow response. Been gone all day. I'm down with participating. We've officially decided to put the process on hold for a least a year, but I would still be interested in your approach. Just let me know what to do :)

Cook for Good

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Raleigh, NC
    • Cook for Good
Re: Big Life Decisions
« Reply #29 on: January 28, 2013, 06:50:19 AM »
@decisionprof - yes, please share better or alternate decision-making methods. I'd like to see your reading list or example tools as well as some case studies.