Retirement can be the best years of your life, without question. But there’s more to retirement than a permanent holiday from work. Unless you retired very young, there are very real implications of aging as you make real estate decisions. Don’t let pride, sentimentalism or inertia get in the way of good financial sense and health planning.

Here are four housing pitfalls that many retirees make and how to navigate each with grace and wisdom.

1. Staying Too Large, Too Long

Plenty of empty nesters get sentimental about the house where they raised their children. Some simply refuse to move out of pride and stubbornness (“What am I, an old person? I’m only __!”). But bigger houses are cost more money, more time and more effort.

If it has more than two bedrooms, you probably don’t need a house that size. You don’t need to wait until your last child graduates college (or high school, for that matter). Sell it now, and downsize to a single-story house or condo (more on stairs later).

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Retiring is exciting, but most retirees are woefully unprepared for all the changes. Excluding the question of “How much do I need to retire?”, there are still a long list of daunting questions and tasks to tackle before making the retirement leap.
1. Reassess Your Real Estate
While we have an entire article about common real estate pitfalls for retirees, here are a few quick points. First, many retirees spend far longer than they should in the larger, costlier, higher-maintenance homes where they raised their children. When your children leave the nest, consider downsizing to a less expensive, low- or no-maintenance apartment or condominium. The financial savings can be invested where it can earn you extra income each month, and while that high-maintenance house may be in good condition now, waiting until you are unhealthy before selling means letting the maintenance slip, and a lower sales price. Lastly, consider locations within easy walking or biking distance to amenities you’ll often use, such as groceries, restaurants and entertainment.

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For several decades politicians, pundits and public policy experts have debated whether Social Security and Medicare are sufficient to keep retirees solvent in the years to come, in conjunction with citizens’ own retirement plans and savings. Is the sky falling?

The sky may not fall down, but it won’t be sunny and breezy, either. Here are a few misconceptions about Americans’ retirement status… and why they are dangerous.

Myth: Most Americans Have Pensions

The statistic often floated is that 78% of Americans have access to a pension plan. But access and participation are not the same thing, and while most public sector employees do participate in a taxpayer-funded pension plan, only 48% of private sector employees participate in a pension plan.

Myth: Most Americans Have a 401(k) or IRA

According to a study by the National Institute on Retirement Security, a shocking 45% of American adults have no retirement savings at all. Another survey by Bankrate found that 36% of Americans have no

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