1. Affordable housing
Housing is the biggest factor in most Americans' budgets, by far. In retirement, especially, if you can eliminate a mortgage payment or rent, you can keep your housing costs from changing while your income is fixed.
Inflation, the time-honored enemy of retirees, may not be much right now but that could change. U.S. home prices nationwide (including foreclosures and bank repossessions) rose 6.7 percent between March 2015 and 2016, according to this Housing Wire report.
Renting a home in retirement is tempting, and for good reason: In many markets, renting still is cheaper than buying a home. (Money Talks News' Karla Bowsher writes that renting is cheaper than owning for retirees — but only if they don't care about leaving a home to their heirs.)
Renting buys retirees the flexibility to move on a whim. It's a more carefree life, with no expense or labor for home and yard upkeep. Leaky faucet? Just call the landlady. Let her deal with it.
But the flip side of that flexibility is a big downside: instability. Landlords may hike your rent at will or give notice that you must leave because they want to move into the home, for instance, or decide to sell it.
Median rents rose more than 6 percent from 2007 to 2015, Rentonomics finds, from U.S. Census Bureau data. Increases may slow and prices may even stagnate, as after the Great Recession. But to be safe, renters should be ready for increases in costs.
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