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3: Analyze Your Decisions

Should I Stay or Should I Go?


As you enter retirement, will you still owe a mortgage on your home? Will you need income from the sale of your home? After raising your family, will you have more space in your home than you need? Will you want to live near other retirees with similar interests?

What will you do? Your answer will depend on a number of considerations.

If you sell your primary residence to purchase a less expensive home or condo after living in your home for at least two of the last five years, you are allowed up to $250,000 of capital gain tax-free for singles or up to $500,000 for married couples.

Considerations for Downsizing

If you have more space than you need, you may consider downsizing, which could mean less overall maintenance and cost. Downsizing to a smaller home lets you enjoy normal aspects associated with owning a home:

  • Gardening or yard work
  • Making changes to your landscape
  • Making permanent changes to your living space
  • Doing your own maintenance

Considerations for a Retirement Community or Condominium

The prevalence of worry-free living in retirement communities, condos or other rental situations has made it so that retirees are second-guessing staying in their homes.

These options also have the benefit of giving you little or no maintenance responsibilities. Social benefits of these communities can offer retirees options for getting involved with others who have similar interests. But expensive homeowners association fees and costs of supplementary activities can increase the cost of living in these communities.

Considerations for Moving Somewhere Less Expensive

After retirement, you may decide that you should move to a less expensive area of the country. Doing so may actually let you get more home than you currently have, while still having money left over for your retirement spending. State and local taxes will affect this decision, as will issues of family proximity and weather/climate. Additionally, you will need to rebuild your social, medical and care provider networks.


Identify Your Housing Criteria

Take a few minutes to think about the elements of your retirement home. This is just to get a clear sense of your ideal situation. Use SAM’s Housing Plan Worksheet to help you begin thinking about what needs you have to accommodate in your retired living space.

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