In the game of Financing Retirement, there are two sides of the ledger. I’m dedicating various other posts to the Money In side (IRA’s, 401k’s, pensions, savings, Social Security, home equity, etc.), but the only way to figure out when we have enough in that column is to estimate what we’ll need on the Money Out side. One of the two biggest expenses we anticipate in retirement is our housing.
My husband and I got into home ownership a a little late – three children and ten years into our adventure together. We never really owned a small starter home. We started with three bedrooms, 1-1/2 bathrooms, a large family room, and a big yard in an established family neighborhood.
This is where I digress to speak to younger folks: If you live in the US, don’t own a home, and plan to be in the area where you live for a while, talk to a real estate agent about incentives for first time buyers. Right now, interest rates are low. So far, congress hasn’t taken away the capital gains exemption for home sales or the tax deduction for mortgage interest (which is considerable), and you can sell a house or condo if it becomes too much. But if you are paying rent every month, you will never get a penny of that back.
OK, I’m back. The bottom line is that we do still have a mortgage. One of my retirement tasks is to research places my beloved and I might want (and be able) to live once he doesn’t need to be in commuting distance of his current job. There are a number of facets and parameters to this search, and money is only one of them.
We want a simpler, but still comfortable, quality of life, and for the next ten years or so we still plan to travel whenever we can. We have to decide on the characteristics our new home will have, taking into account a lot of very subjective qualities, like proximity to family, weather climate, and daily routines. For example:
- City, suburbs, or country?
- Proximity of neighbors?
- Proximity of services/recreation?
- New England? Mid Atlantic? Upstate New York? Another part of the US? Another country?
We know we want to be somewhere we can kayak/canoe, walk, easily obtain medical services, find a church, and still visit our grandchildren when we can. We know we want to be able to get into a city occasionally for cultural events, and that we don’t want to be where it’s too hot. We know we’re not ready to share walls with our neighbors. We want a place where we might find part-time work to fund vacations. We think we’d like everything on one floor. A place where my beloved can play in his wood shop and I can play with family history and photo archiving.
We know we don’t want to stay where we are. We’ve moved many times since we married 43 years ago, so we aren’t tied to a single home. This isn’t where our kids grew up, so we aren’t inclined to “retire in place” like many people our age. In fact, our current residence has never completely felt like “home” to us.
So, where to? We’re trying to envision where we want to be 10, 15, and 20 years from now. We’re looking for a place that’s on the upswing, and for that elusive feeling of home. Over the holidays, we’ll be down in Pennsylvania and will be looking at some areas there. We looked around some places in Upstate New York over the Thanksgiving holiday. We have a little time to keep funding for this, but not much.
I’ve been researching the financial climate in various states – income taxes, senior services, costs of living, and things like that. Pennsylvania and New Hampshire get some points there, depending on the community. But that’s a whole other post…
For now, we are champing at the bit, anxious to find our “Golden Pond” – that place that will feel like home, where we can welcome our family, and be self-sufficient for many years to come. It’s out there, and we’re zeroing in on it. We just have to keep looking, because I really believe we’ll know it when we see it.
Soon. Fingers crossed.
Related helpful links:
- What are the best places to live in retirement?
- Should I move to a smaller home?
- 10 Tips for Happy Retirement Living
- What Recent Retirees Wish They Had (or Had Not) Done
- Rambling Retirees Buck Aging-in-Place Trend
- Reverse Mortgages Are Proliferating, but It’s Wise to Proceed with Caution
- Choosing Your Forever Home