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How to Find an Affordable Retirement

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

Millions of baby boomers are going to be looking for an affordable retirement in the next few years. In most cases they haven’t save enough for retirement, although sometimes bad luck or some type of emergency might keep them from having enough money to maintain the standard of living they have become accustomed to. Whatever your situation, retirement age will come. The options are to get creative and make the best of it, or to accept a reduced lifestyle and blame someone else for it. Assuming Topretirements readers are positive people, this article will provide some ideas on how you can overcome your lack of funds and achieve an affordable, but quality retirement lifestyle. We will also list some places where you can live in style and on a budget.

With some good planning and dose of creativity it is very possible to find a retirement lifestyle that is exciting, fulfilling – and affordable. The best way to find that lifestyle is to start thinking about what resources (money and skills) you do have, what you enjoy doing, and where you want to live. With planning, research, and elbow grease you should be able to pull it off.

A Sampler of Affordable Retirement Lifestyles
This is a list of some interesting affordable retirement lifestyles. It is by no means comprehensive, it is only constrained by your imagination. Some might seem a little out there – but heh, when in a jam sometimes you have to think outside of the box!

House sitting, swapping, or renting. This tactic is particularly effective if you live in a place that is seasonally desirable. By moving out for the high season you can add to your cash flow. Or by house swapping or sitting you can take vacations at reduced cost. There are websites to facilitate this lifestyle, just search on Google.
Open up a business you can run from home. Affluent, busy people need services and will pay handsomely if you can deliver. Shopping services and handyman repair are 2 ideas – but your own skills and interests will give you more ideas. Community colleges offer skill training – consider taking a course in computer repair and become the village geek. Or take a course in healthcare and be sure to find part-time work. In affluent areas people always need someone reliable to take care of their pets when they travel, and they will pay for the privilege. Start thinking now about how you can make some money on a part-time basis, so that you can live a richer lifestyle.
Live in an RV or boat. Sell your home and try the mobile lifestyle. You can do it full-time or for part of the year for much less than all the costs associated with a home.
Provide a service ferrying boats, cars, or RVs. Wealthy people need to get their toys to their seasonal destinations – you can do the driving – and get paid for it.
Become an RV technician. All those RVs and expensive toys needs maintenance. Go to school and learn how to fix them; then travel with the fleet and have an income source. Likewise many RV parks and state parks need seasonal workers who can fix things or perform essential services for money or barter.
Cohousing. Although some shared housing arrangements are at the luxury end, pooling your housing with like-minded people or living in a co-op can offer a low cost way to share expenses.
Work part-time. Find a job and the additional income might make the difference between a so-so lifestyle and a nicer one. You can usually trade work at a golf course, tennis complex, nature center, or ski resort for free recreation – or you might find a position where you either get paid or work for tips.
The expatriate lifestyle. Move to Mexico, Costa Rica, or South America. Housing and other expenses like healthcare can be much cheaper than in the U.S.

Here are some other suggestions that might help you achieve a more affordable lifestyle:

Move away from the coasts. The interior of the country (midwest and south) is generally much cheaper to live in then along any coast or mountain area. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t many wonderful places inland – like great college towns, tourist areas, and historical areas.
Look for a low-tax environment. Some states such as Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida, and Texas are known for lower taxes. Look for a state with lower property taxes and no income tax. But many states with state income taxes are still a tax bargain for retirees because of two critical factors: the state doesn’t tax social security income, and/or it doesn’t tax pension income. Some states offer big exemptions (on income and/or property taxes) to people over 65. See our article on Tax-Friendly States for more information.
Downsize. Sell your expensive home and car and downsize. Take the extra money and invest it.
Buy in a manufactured home community. Manufactured homes, which are built in a factory and final-assembled on site, can offer a high level of quality at a much lower price than stick-built homes
Buy a resale, short sale, or foreclosed home. Sure, these options are a lot more work and sometimes carry more risk. But if want a higher quality of life and don’t have the money; your time, patience, and hard work can be the grease that eases you into a higher quality of life.

To find more affordable places to retire we suggest you use our Retirement Ranger which will allow you to search for communities based on cost of living and 7 other factors such as region and January temperature.

Best Affordable Places to Retire
Usually the most affordable options are found in those parts of the country where real estate prices and the cost of living is low – the Midwest, the South, and areas away from the coasts. But it is always surprising to discover how it’s possible to find affordable living options in even some of the ritziest areas in the world, if you are willing to reduce your expectations about your neighborhood or the size of your home.

We used our Retirement Ranger to search on affordable towns with that are also above average in cultural interest. Here is just a partial list of the interesting and affordable towns it suggested. Use this free tool to generate your own custom list:
Aiken, SC
Bowling Green, KY
Branson, MO
Delaware, OH
Fort Myers, FL
Huntsville, AL
Iowa City, IA
Phoenix, AZ
Mesa, AZ
Columbia, MO
Eureka Springs, AR
Gainesville, FL
Greenville, SC
Harrisburg, PA
Tampa, FL
Pensacola, FL

Your Comments. What tactics do you think work for finding an affordable retirement. Use the Comments section below to give your opinion.

See Also:
11 Affordable Towns on the Waterfront
How to Retire in Style and on a Budget Website

Posted by John Brady on July 27th, 2010


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