Real Estate

If You Cant Afford to Retire…Move

August 8, 2009

According to Warren Bland, PhD, an award-winning author and geographer at Cal State, people have a great option. It's called "equity-take" that is, the difference in cost of comparable housing between your present community and the more affordable one to which you could move. So, if you are willing to make that move, you can pocket a good chunk of money instead of delaying your retirement.
Consider the person hailing from Buffalo, NY, where the average upper middle class home sells for around $250,000. In Thomasville, Georgia, one of the most desirable retirement places in the Atlantic Southeast, many attractive single-family residences in beautiful neighborhoods are selling for around $140,000. This means that you could net about $100,000 (assuming your mortgage is paid off) by relocating from snowy Buffalo to sunny southern Georgia, and increase your annual net income by $5,000 by investing in, for example, tax-free municipal bonds at 5 % annual interest.
People living in expensive metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, Chicago and Toronto are in an even better position to use "equity take" to their advantage. The average price of upper middle class housing exceeds $1million in Manhattan, $700,000 in Los Angeles and the SF Bay Area, and is around $500,000 in Boston and Toronto. In contrast, home prices in many highly desirable cities and towns, suitable for retirement and located in all parts of the country, are more likely to be in the $150,000 to $300,000 range. Even a relocation from Manhattan to Boca Raton, Florida (one of Bland's "top ten" retirement picks), could leave you with an equity-take of $500,000. Investing that windfall in tax-free municipal bonds at 5 % annual interest, will increase your annual income by $25,000. As Bland says, "You can buy a lot of wine, gourmet food and entertainment with that kind of money"!

Barbara Kimmel is an award-winning book publisher, publishing consultant and publicist. She is the publisher of Warren Bland's book, Retire in Style 60 Outstanding Places Across the USA and Canada. Books are available through all major bookstores, or