Visualization Explores the Rent vs. Buy Debate


The rent v. buy debate is one that has become increasingly thought provoking as more and more families are renting. Several decades ago, when one graduated from college, they got a job and usually didn’t leave the job. This meant they could buy a house for their family and feel secure that they wouldn’t have to move due to job loss or transfer. Renting was only for the single and/or the financially unstable.
However, as time continued, it became more common for families to be transferred or layed off. Today it is not uncommon for a middle age person to start a new career. Most people will hold several positions throughout their lives. Renting is easier to handle when moving and so it is more ideal until they feel stable. Also, with the increase in the number of wants and ability to put their hands on their wants, peoples financial stability has been rocked and so many who would purchase a home can’t because of this.
Factoring in this, and many more aspects of the rent v. buy debate, it is interesting to view the infographic Andy Kirk of information aesthetics discovered. This infographic shares an overall rent v. buy grade for a number of United States cities based on affordability. This number is created factoring a number of criteria including the list price, the rent price and the number of foreclosures, and several more pieces of information.
This infographic would be interesting to study in an economics class. I have seen a 9th grade Civics in Economics class role play for a number of weeks to get an understanding of the cost of living. Students chose certain things, such as their vehicle, while they pulled cards daily that could be good or bad. For instance, one student, who happened to choose a vehicle that required tires nearly as tall as he was, did not have lady luck on his side because twice he had to replace all four tires. They also had to factor in employment, food, living, and other costs of living. It would be interesting to give students an opportunity to rent or buy a home, studying this infographic and justifying their decision. Also using this infographic they can choose where to live, and using this information the teacher can simulate some who are having trouble in the job market and others who were very lucky. Ask students to discuss this with siblings, parents, and grandparents. People from different generations have different views on the subject, and it would be helpful if the students discussed reasons to rent or to buy with people who have experienced things differently.

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