Dear Liz: I’m 55 and single with no dependents. I have about $250,000 invested. I rent an apartment in Los Angeles. I work in sales, which I can do anywhere. Would I be better off buying a house for about $150,000 now (somewhere in the middle of the country), thus reducing my living expenses (property tax and insurance will cost much less than rent) and leaving me with about $100,000 left for retirement, or just continuing to invest the entire $250,000 for retirement?
Answer: Moving to a less costly part of the country is a time-honored way to make your money stretch further in retirement. It also can help you save more for retirement if you dramatically lower your living expenses.
What you don’t want to do, though, is incur all the expenses of moving and buying a new home only to discover you hate where you’re living. Do substantial research and visit your targeted communities at different times of year before you commit.
Also, tying up 60% of your portfolio in a single, illiquid asset such as a home is risky. You may well be better off moving to a cheaper area and continuing to rent until you’ve built up a bigger nest egg.