The Best Way to Pick an Apartment? Try a Decision Matrix


“We knew we had to act fast. It scored a 238 — that’s two deviations up” from the other listings, which ranged from 180 to 215, Mr. Falkovich said. “If we took the math seriously, we knew we might not see another place like this.”

Among the apartment’s attractions: It was in a building with a doorman and an elevator. Also, they were told, it was 1,400 square feet. They have come to suspect, however, that the square footage they were given includes a rickety outdoor terrace they’re barred from using unless they pay to have it fixed.

But they do have an extra bedroom, which makes it easy to entertain out-of-town guests.

“It’s a huge service to people we know, friends or friends of friends coming through New York, who would otherwise have to pay $200 a night for an Airbnb,” Mr. Falkovich said. “And we get to hang out with cool people.”

They arrived in September, offloading the majority of their old Ikea furniture to incoming students, who were happy to take it off their hands. To furnish the new apartment, they divvied up items to research, then brought each other lists with the top contenders and the pros and cons for each.

The apartment does have a few drawbacks. It scored low on lighting, because some rooms don’t have ceiling lights. And there is a no-pet policy, but they make do with a stuffed octopus and animal-themed art.

Overall, however, they are convinced that using a decision matrix served them well, allowing them to see the best option clearly, without getting hung up on minor details.

“It was really much nicer than the other places we saw,” Ms. Lawry of their new apartment.

“When I tell people about the matrix, their intuition is that I’m outsourcing my heart,” Mr. Falkovich said. “But my heart is confused. I need to put my desires in a more organized structure. Goal factoring and decision matrices help you realize what’s missing and what you care about.”


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