Homeownership and retirement don't always mesh. Here's why you might consider renting as a senior instead.
Though owning a home has long been hailed as the American Dream, that's not necessarily the case when it comes to retirement. Since 1990, homeownership has declined among 55-64 year-olds, and experts expect this trend to continue in the coming years.
Before you prepare to live out your senior years as a homeowner, here are a few reasons to consider renting instead.
1. Your housing costs will be fixed
The problem with homeownership is that even in the absence of a mortgage payment, you still face countless unknown costs. Your property taxes, for example, could go up significantly if you have a year when your home is reassessed. Similarly, as your home ages, your regular maintenance costs could easily go from manageable to downright astronomical.
There are repairs to consider -- problems that aren't expected, but rather pop up suddenly and constitute a huge financial burden. Do you really want to deal with those when you're on a fixed income?
When you rent a home, you're locked into the same monthly payment regardless of whether the roof starts to leak or the heater needs repairs. If the local lawn service raises its rates one year to cut the grass, that's not your problem. Of course, the downside of renting is that your landlord could raise your monthly payments once your lease expires -- but if that happens, you could always find a new home or try to negotiate.
2. Owning may not help much from a tax perspective
One benefit of being a homeowner is getting to deduct the interest on your mortgage, thus saving you money on taxes. But if you're coming into retirement mortgage-free, which is the case for the majority of homeowners 65 and over, then that benefit no longer exists.
3. You'll get more flexibility
The beauty of being retired is not being tied to a job, or that job's location. This means that if you want to pick up and move to a state with warmer weather or get closer to your grandchildren, you're free to do so -- provided your home isn't holding you back.
As a renter, you have the option to leave your home once your lease ends, or, in many cases, break your lease prematurely with a reasonable bit of notice. Selling a home, by contrast, could take months, and there are numerous expenses you might encounter along the way. You may therefore be better off unloading your home prior to retirement and buying yourself that added leeway later in life.
Now this isn't to say that renting a home in retirement is always the right move. But, it pays to think about the benefits of renting at a time in your life when you're no longer bringing home a steady paycheck.