May 29, 2019 — We are grateful to Brigitta for suggesting this article on the pitfalls to look out for when buying a home in the Southwest. Here is what she wrote a while back:
“I’ve been receiving your newsletter for a couple of years. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article about the differences in building practices in different areas of the country. By that, I mean as someone who has lived my entire life on the east coast, I am quite familiar with how homes are/were built going back to the 1700s when my area was settled. I’m also familiar with the types of “pests” and environmental issues, i.e., radon, asbestos, buried oil tanks (for heating) that that NJ homeowners look for. Now, I am interested in purchasing a home in AZ and I realize I don’t know ANYTHING about typical building practices- pro/con, types of homes that one might want to stay away from or might WANT to consider, pests typical to the area, environmental issues, etc as I do about the east coast. ”
Thanks Brigitta! It is such a good question we will expand this “pitfalls” article to the Southeast and Florida as well the Southwest, since these are the most common places for retirees to be moving to, and where they tend to lack buying experience. As always, we are hoping for additional Member Comments to make sure we address all the important risks to worry about.
The desert and mountains present inherently different hazards to those found in the Southeast. The Southwest’s powerful sun and high temperatures present other differences. This first section will discuss the home buying hazards that can exist in the Southwest. Although many problems in a home can be corrected if you spend money and time, but it is always nice to find a property that doesn’t need work.
Flooding is possible in the Southwest, especially in areas of low elevation and along large rivers. Geological hazards, including avalanches, earthquakes, landslides, and rockfalls, also occur throughout the Southwest, especially where there is rugged, mountainous terrain. FEMA maps can help alert you to those areas.
May 25, 2019 — The Democratic lead House of Representatives passed a bill this week, the Secure Act of 2019, that would make major changes to 401(k) plans. If it goes into law those changes could have a very positive effect on retirees and people who hope to retire someday. Since neither the Senate nor Pres. Trump seem to have any major objections, the bill seems to have a very good chance of becoming a reality.
The law has come into being as a reaction to a number of factors including a recognition of the growing importance of 401(k) plans, as well as the increasing longevity of Americans dependent on those plans for their financial security. Here are some of the many changes in the Secure Act of 2019, which passed by a whopping 417-3 margin:
Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) not required until age 72 (currently required at age 70 and 1/2)
Granting companies with 401k plans permission to offer annuities as an investment option
Employers must disclose on 401(k) statements the amount of sustainable monthly income the employee’s balance would support
Part time workers would be allowed to participate in 401(k) plans
Unaffiliated companies could band together to offer 401(k) plans
May 22, 2019 — An interesting new book by Joseph Coughlin, founder of the AgeLab, pinpoints the many contradictions marketers face when targeting the senior market. In The Longevity Economy”, Coughlin finds that while builders build out housing inventory intended for baby boomers, the market is constrained. That is because eighty-seven per cent of retirement-age people want to stay where they live now – the homes where they experienced the three ‘M’s: marriage, mortgage, and memories.
Coughlin says the problem with that preferenced is that they can’t continue to live there. “Not when the model is a two-story house with a bedroom and the bathroom upstairs. If we can solve the stairs problem, we won’t need new housing.”
Part of the issue is that we are living longer than ever, and our coping skills don’t always keep up. Coughlin says that having simple answers to two questions can determine whether you’re going to age well in place:
“Who’s going to change the light bulb, and how are you going to get an ice-cream cone?”
It might seem a little silly, but it does get at the problem. If you can find solutions to problems like those, you will be all set for a comfortable old age. If you can’t, problems await you!
A New Yorker article that reviews Coughlin’s book, “Can We Live Longer But Stay Younger”, points out many other contradictions that AgeLab has found while trying to help aging baby boomers. Marketers often find a solution to a problem, but can’t sell it. AgeLab studies find many products that could make life easy for us, but it they have a tinge of “senior” to them, they will languish on the shelf.
Comments: How are you going to solve the problems of who is going to change the lightbulb and how are you going to get an ice cream? Some day we will all face these problems. What kind of housing are you going to choose to prepare for what lies ahead?
May 21, 2019 — Possibly you are one of those baby boomers who can’t wait to retire and do all the things that your job wouldn’t let you do. If so, here is our list of 10 great places to retire where you can go, go, go from dawn to sunset, and maybe not even quit then!
By active we mean all kinds of things, not just sports. Your best retirement town might be in the mountains, where hiking and skiing is available in your backyard. It might be at the beach, where you can swim, sail, fish, or surf. Or maybe a vibrant community where you can catch a concert or play, get dealt into a bridge game, or find volunteer work – just about any day of the week. We gave extra points on this list for towns and cities that are walkable and have good biking, since we don’t consider riding around in our car active living. One thing is certain, it staying busy is your thing, there is a retirement town where you can be very happy.
Here is our 2019 list of the best places for an active retirement. We concentrated more on mid-sized towns and cities since just about every big city offers opportunities to stay active.
Madison, WI. The city boasts a 30-mile web of paved trails that are lit, snowplowed, and biked year-round. Beautiful lakes surround this walkable town. The University of Wisconsin and all its attractions. You can be busy all year round in Madison, a great place to retire.
May 14, 2019 — The government isn’t quite ready to slap warning signs on retirement contracts like it did on cigarette packages, but maybe it should. The Wall St. Journal recently reported on several studies showing that delaying retirement can improve your longevity. While most people look forward to pursuing their hobbies, traveling, and spending more time with the grandchildren, there are some downsides. Many folks watch too much TV, don’t exercise, and lack the mental stimulation to keep them sharp. The studies seem to find that policies that encourage people to keep working result in fewer health problems and longer lives.
According to a WSJ article, “The Case Against Early Retirement”, researchers for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, using an idea from a Dutch study, “concluded that delaying retirement reduced the five-year mortality risk for men in their early 60s by 32%”. Women experienced less of a mortality risk. The study in Holland used a series of increasing incentives to get workers to stay on the job longer.
May 11, 2019 — The National Association of Home Buyers (NAHB) reports that the market continues to be strong for 55+ homebuyers and renters. While many baby boomers will not be moving soon, there is a significant segment that is seeking a change in their living arrangements. “Overall, demand for homes in 55+ communities remain strong as more buyers and renters in that market search for simpler living arrangements,” said Karen Schroeder, chair of NAHB’s 55+ Housing Industry Council and vice president of Mayberry Homes in East Lansing, Mich. “However, there are still headwinds that are impacting the market, such as rising construction costs and a lack of skilled labor.”
Elsewhere, the Urbanland.uli.org site has an interesting article (referred to us by our own “Nomadic pilot”) that outlines the complexity of the 55+ homebuying landscape. There are many threads to the market. Many experts predicted there would be a mass selloff of suburban homes as aging boomers moved out, either to 55+ communities or urban apartments. While that has happened to some extent, there are still millions of boomers who continue to live where they always have.
Comments? What do you think is going to happen in the retirement housing market? Are you planning on changing where you live and the type of home, or are you staying where you live now? Please add your Comments below.
May 8, 2019 — Chances are you aren’t looking for the most expensive place to retire. Most people are looking for the opposite, a 55+ or active community where they can retire and stretch their savings and social security into a comfortable retirement. But just for fun, here’s a look at where we might retire if we were to suddenly join the ranks of the 1%. Which one would you pick?
We looked around in researching this article and were amazed at how little good information there is on the ritziest places to retire. 55places.com had an article on the topic, but the communities on its list barely approached the mid-range of pricing. The same can be said for a very similar list put out by ThinkAdvisor.com. Our list is by no means complete, but we think it is a lot better. If you know of a super-expensive retirement community, please suggest it in the Comments section below.
May 4, 2019 — Were you born before Jan. 2, 1954? Are you married? Not already claiming a Social Security retirement benefit?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, time is running out on a very valuable Social Security claiming strategy, the Restricted Benefit option. In brief, this option allows you (or your spouse) to collect a spousal Social Security benefit while preserving the right to collect on your own benefit later. If you turn 66 this year, now is the time to think about taking it.
The key point for eligibility to take the Restricted Benefit is being born before Jan. 2, 1954. If you were born after that date, the term “deemed filing” applies to you when you apply for Social Security retirement benefits, and you are not eligible for the Restricted Benefit option.
In addition to your birth date, the two additional questions we asked at the beginning also apply. Are you married? If you are not, it doesn’t work because you have no spouse to claim a spousal benefit on. If you are already receiving Social Security benefits, it is too late to reverse that decision. So you answered yes to all three questions – great – the Restricted Benefit might be for you.