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  • Writer's pictureBespoke Financial Advice

The #1 Secret Weapon for Mastering Rent vs. Buy Decisions

Making the decision whether to rent or buy a property can be a daunting task. The financial implications and long-term commitments involved often leave you feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. However, there is a simple calculation that can serve as your secret weapon in this decision-making process. By considering the total non-recoverable costs associated with both renting and homeownership, you can gain clarity and make an informed choice. In this article, we will explore this calculation in detail and provide you with the tools to navigate the rent vs. buy dilemma.

The Calculation: Home Value × 5.5% ÷ 12 = Your Answer!

The secret weapon in the rent vs. buy decision is a calculation that compares the estimated costs of renting and buying a property. To determine whether renting is a financially sensible decision, you need to find a rental amount lower than the answer derived from the calculation. Let’s break down the calculation step by step:

  1. Home Value: Begin by determining the value of the property you are considering. For example, let’s say the property is valued at €500,000.

  2. 5.5%: Multiply the home value by 5.5%. This percentage represents the total non-recoverable costs associated with homeownership, including property taxes, maintenance costs, and the cost of capital. In this case, the result is €27,500.

  3. ÷ 12: Divide the previous result by 12 to obtain the estimated monthly cost. In this example, the estimated cost would be €2,292 per month.

If you can find a rental property that costs less than €2,292 per month, renting may be the more financially sensible option. This calculation provides a clear benchmark to guide your decision-making process.

Understanding the 5.5% Rule

You might be wondering where the 5.5% figure comes from and why we don’t simply compare mortgage payments to rent payments. The 5.5% rule takes into account the total non-recoverable costs associated with homeownership, which extend beyond mortgage payments. These costs include property taxes, maintenance expenses, and the cost of capital. By comparing the total non-recoverable costs of renting to homeownership, you gain a more accurate understanding of the financial implications involved.

To put it simply, when deciding between renting and buying, you need to compare the total costs of each option. Renting involves paying monthly rent, while homeownership entails additional expenses such as property taxes, maintenance costs, and the opportunity cost of tying up your capital in property. The 5.5% rule encapsulates these costs, providing a comprehensive perspective on the financial aspect of the rent vs. buy decision.

Adjusting the 5.5% Rule

While the 5.5% rule serves as a useful guideline, it may need adjustments based on individual circumstances. Factors such as asset allocation, tax rates, and prevailing mortgage rates can impact the calculation. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when adjusting the 5.5% rule:

  1. Asset Allocation: If you have a more conservative portfolio or are purchasing the property in cash, a lower percentage may be more appropriate. For example, a rule closer to 4% could be used.

  2. Taxation: If your investments are subject to taxation, consider the impact on the opportunity cost of tying up your capital in property. Higher tax rates may warrant a downward adjustment of the 5.5% rule.

  3. Mortgage Rates: If you have a fixed-rate mortgage locked in, it may affect the calculation. Higher mortgage rates could increase the estimated non-recoverable costs associated with homeownership.

It’s crucial to consider these factors and tailor the 5.5% rule to your specific circumstances. While the rule provides a helpful starting point, personalising it ensures a more accurate reflection of the financial implications involved in the rent vs. buy decision.

Opportunity Cost: A Key Consideration

When evaluating the financial aspects of homeownership, it’s essential to consider the concept of opportunity cost. Opportunity cost refers to the potential returns or benefits that could be gained by choosing an alternative option. In the context of the rent vs. buy decision, investing in the stock market represents an alternative use of your capital.

When you buy a property, a significant portion of your cash gets tied up in real estate. This means that the money is no longer available for other purposes, such as investing in the stock market. The difference in expected returns between property and stocks represents an opportunity cost that homeowners bear. By factoring in this cost, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the financial implications of homeownership.

The opportunity cost of investing in stocks varies based on factors such as asset allocation and taxation. These factors can influence the expected returns and, consequently, the opportunity cost associated with homeownership. It’s essential to consider these variables when making the decision between renting and buying.

When evaluating the rent vs. buy decision, it’s crucial to acknowledge that a financially sensible decision may not always align with your emotions or personal preferences. While the calculation provides a solid framework for understanding the financial implications, emotional factors should also be taken into account.

For example, many individuals find comfort in paying off their debt and owning a property outright. This emotional satisfaction is known as a “gut feeling” or a common money script. However, it’s important to weigh the emotional benefits against the potential wealth creation opportunities lost by tying up your capital in property. By incorporating both financial and emotional considerations, you can make a more holistic and informed decision.


The rent vs. buy decision is a significant financial consideration that requires careful analysis and consideration of various factors. By using the secret weapon calculation of home value × 5.5% ÷ 12, you can gain clarity and make an informed decision. Remember to adjust the calculation based on individual circumstances and consider the opportunity cost of tying up your capital in property. Lastly, strike a balance between financial and emotional considerations to make a decision that aligns with your goals and preferences. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently navigate the rent vs. buy dilemma and make a choice that suits your needs.

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