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Money Fix: Reducing housing costs in retirement

Housing-related expenses can make the difference between struggling

Housing-related expenses can make the difference between struggling and enjoying your remaining years. Photo Credit: iStock

Home is where the heart is, but it's also the place where retirees can bust their budgets.

Reining in housing-related expenses can make the difference between struggling and enjoying your remaining years. Here's how to keep your home more haven than headache.

Downsize. "Housing tends to be retirees' biggest expense, and the savings from downsizing compound. Moving to a more modest house means lower mortgage payments, real estate taxes, utility bills and maintenance costs," says Benjamin Sullivan of Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Scarsdale.

Pay off your mortgage before retirement. "This will reduce your monthly expenses," says Scott Sanders, managing partner of Sanders Thaler Viola & Katz, in Jericho.

If you're several years away from retirement, refinance, as interest rates remain low. Look to cut the term as well, says Dave Hardin of Hardin Financial Group in Troy, Michigan.

Share costs. Roommates aren't just for college kids. If you don't want a roomie all the time, take advantage of services like Airbnb. Rent a room to travelers or others looking for a short-term stay, suggests Paula Brancato of Northwestern Mutual in Manhattan.

Relocate. Say goodbye to the Northeast. "Move south or west where you can get a house for significantly less money, no mortgage and lower real estate taxes. You might even end up with cash in the bank to shore up your retirement funds," says David McKelvey, partner at Friedman LLP in Uniondale.

Investigate discounts. "Contact utility companies and ask about budget plans or senior discounts," says Leslie Tayne, a Melville attorney specializing in financial issues.

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