John Bullis: Rent or own? Stay or go?

Especially older adults have a choice to consider, rent or own a home? Like most questions, it gets answered with more questions.

Do you want to stay in your home in retirement, or do you want to move? If you stay, what will it cost for property taxes, insurance, maintenance, repairs and utilities? Will that total housing cost be easy or difficult to pay on the retirement income?

What would it currently cost to rent instead and what increase in rent can you expect in the future? It might be better to let the landlord worry about the roof, plumbing, etc.

But you may not want to sign a long lease (several years). But what if the owner decides to sell it? Will the new owner be easy or difficult to deal with?

Do you really want to move to be close to relatives, or would you miss your friends here too much? Can you be happy in a different home, maybe in a different state?

If you own the home now, with no mortgage, that’s great. You could consider staying and using some of the equity for living expenses by getting a reverse mortgage. But will the costs of doing the reverse mortgage be more than you want to pay or leave to the kids?

Do you want or need to “downsize” — get a smaller home with less yard to take care of?

How much can you sell the home for now as compared to three years from now? What will the smaller place really cost? Can you fit your favorite antiques, furniture, toys, etc. in the smaller place?

For many seniors, it is really a question of rent or own? Inflation is low right now, but what if it increases in the future?

The decision is extremely difficult and depends on your individual circumstances, goals, desires, financial situation and expectations.

Maybe talking with family and friends can help you evaluate the different choices. Maybe they have some information that will help you make a good decision.

We don’t like “rush” decisions on this type of question. Maybe you could do a list of the benefits and possible problems of the various options and then sleep on it for a few days. It is not good to be frustrated and confused, but even worse is to make a snap decision and regret it for years to come. I guess that is why most of us postpone changing from our current situation.

Did you hear? “The three answers to prayer are “Yes,” “No,” and “Not now.”

John Bullis is a certified public accountant, personal financial specialist and certified senior adviser who has served Carson City for 45 years. He is founder emeritus of Bullis and Company CPAs.


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