Downsizing: Should I Rent or Buy in Retirement

You’ve probably heard your whole life how owning a home is better than renting. But when it comes to downsizing for retirement, you might have heard wrong. There are a lot of reasons why renting might be a great choice in retirement--even if you've been a homeowner for decades:

Four good reasons to rent

Flexibility vs. stability:

If you’ve owned a home for most of your adult life, renting might feel a little unstable to you. But maybe that instability is just flexibility in disguise. Don’t like your neighborhood anymore? Pick up and leave when your lease is over. If your health starts to deteriorate and you need to move into a home with accessibility accommodations , you can make that move a lot easier if you’re renting than if you’re buying.

Renting can be a great opportunity if you’re not sure where you want to retire. Spend a year or two in the city, then move to the mountains for a bit before you try beach living. Not only do you get a chance to see where you’ll really be happy, you’ll also be able to spend your retirement traveling and exploring. You can always buy a house once you decide where you really want to live. And when that time comes, you won’t have to wait until your house sells to make a move on your dream home.


One big upside of renting is that you’re not responsible for your own maintenance and repairs. That can be fantastic if you’d rather be spending that time watching your granddaughter’s soccer game. But if fixing up your home gives you a sense of accomplishment, how comfortable will you be when your landlord wants you to call a plumber instead of letting you tackle those leaky pipes yourself?


In a lot of areas buying is cheaper than renting (our rent or buy calculator can help you figure out if your area falls in this category. But don’t forget to factor in your :homeowners insurance, taxes, repair costs, and other home expenses into that budget. And if you decide to rent, remember, your rental rates can increase when you renew your lease. And what about your pets? A new landlord might not want to rent to people with pets or you might need to pay an extra fee or deposit for your furbabies.


If you own a home you can customize your upgrades to meet your needs--and you can use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to pay for it. But if you’re renting, you might be more limited on where you can live if you need accessibility accommodations.

Just remember, both choices are legitimate options for retirement. The important thing is to enjoy it!