Stretch Your Retirement Savings by Moving
CNBC Senior Commodities Correspondent & Personal Finance Correspondent
What's one of the biggest steps you can take to increase your nest egg? Move!
It may feel like a monumental step and may involve a bit of heavy lifting—unless you pay someone else to do it—but moving to a less expensive part of the country can significantly stretch your retirement savings.
Just ask Noreen Booth. The 69-year-old widow from northern New Jersey made that leap last year, selling her 50-year-old split level in the Northeast for $561,700.
Booth bought a spacious, contemporary home outside of Charlotte for just over a third of that price. "The biggest benefit is the house itself," Booth says. (Watch her story in the video below.)
But the cost of living is the real financial boon. It costs about 37 percent less to live in Charlotte than in northern New Jersey. "The chances are that wherever you live, you could immediately compound your retirement savings and lifestyle if you are willing to move," says certified financial planner Tim Maurer, author of The Financial Crossroads.
"When you take a lifetime of savings, pension, Social Security, and real estate from one area to another, you could reasonably go from barely making it financially to being quite comfortable."
Log onto bestplaces.net for a zip code-by-zip code estimate of the cost of living in various areas versus the national average; retirementliving.com can help you gauge taxes you'll pay in different locations.
More and more seniors are looking to move—to downsize their homes and their lifestyles, and ultimately be able to save and spend more over their lifetime. "The financial reason frequently drives the truck," says Susan Devaney, whose team at Movin' Mavins helped Booth sell her New Jersey home.
"People are living well into their 90s. It's not what they were expecting," says Devaney.
Maurer doesn't advise seniors to move if they don't have to or don't want to move. "But if nothing is holding you back, or you're in financial trouble," he says, "a move can positively leverage your financial standing."