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  • Writer's pictureNeil Joseph

Is It Wise to Have a Mortgage in Retirement?

Mortgage in Retirement

As part of financial planning, especially for those eyeing retirement in the next decade or so, a crucial question arises: Should one carry a mortgage into their golden years, or prioritize paying it off before retiring?

Traditionally, the aspiration has been to enter retirement debt-free, yet today's financial landscape complicates this ideal. Let's explore this dilemma from two opposing viewpoints: the risks associated with retiring with a mortgage without adequate savings and planning, and the benefits when coupled with a solid investment strategy and portfolio.

When is it Not Advisable:
Retiring with a mortgage and inadequate savings or alternate sources of income can pose significant challenges to financial stability. Here's why:

  1. Limited Income: Retirees typically face a fixed income, often lower than their pre-retirement earnings, making it challenging to meet living expenses, including mortgage payments—especially during times of inflation or unexpected expenses.

  2. Peace of Mind: The burden of monthly mortgage payments can induce stress and uncertainty, particularly for those seeking stability in retirement.

  3. Limited Savings/Investments: Inadequate retirement savings or underperforming investments can amplify financial strain, jeopardizing homeownership in the face of unexpected expenses or economic downturns.

  4. Constrained Lifestyle: Commitments to mortgage payments can restrict lifestyle choices, potentially curtailing travel, leisure activities, or healthcare expenses.

  5. Risk of Loss: Inability to meet mortgage obligations increases the risk of losing their home, particularly alarming for retirees with limited savings or unstable income sources.

  6. Lack of Access to Alternatives: The option of a Reverse Mortgage may not be accessible or adequate if homeowners lack sufficient equity in their home or fail to meet minimum income requirements

  7. Limited Options: With the recent surge in property prices, downsizing or relocating to another city may not yield sufficient returns to make it a viable alternative.

When is it Advisable:

On the flip side, retaining a mortgage into retirement can be a strategic move when coupled with a robust investment and cashflow-generating portfolio. Here's why:

  1. Financial Flexibility: By allocating surplus cash to investments with higher returns than mortgage costs, overall returns can potentially be enhanced, providing financial flexibility and growth opportunities.

  2. Asset Diversification: Rather than locking funds in home equity, retirees can diversify their investment portfolio across various asset classes. This diversification not only reduces risk but also has the potential to increase overall returns.

  3. Long-Term Growth: Investing in income-generating assets such as stocks or rental properties can generate a steady cash flow. Over time, this cash flow can increasingly offset mortgage payments while simultaneously building long-term wealth.

Is there a Better Way?

For those who maintain a disciplined approach to investing and are comfortable with carrying debt into retirement, an alternative strategy worth considering is the loan conversion technique known as the Smith Manoeuvre. This method involves leveraging the equity in your home to invest in income-producing assets, effectively converting non-deductible mortgage debt into tax-deductible investment debt. By implementing this strategy under the guidance of a financial advisor, retirees can potentially optimize their investment returns and accelerate wealth accumulation while maintaining a manageable level of debt.


For those lacking adequate savings or investments, a mortgage can pose a burden, potentially jeopardizing financial security. In such cases, focusing on mortgage repayment before retirement and exploring downsizing or alternative financial solutions like Reverse Mortgage is prudent.

Conversely, with a well-structured investment strategy and substantial net worth, a mortgage can facilitate wealth accumulation and financial flexibility in retirement. Consulting a financial advisor for personalized guidance is essential to weigh risks and benefits aligning with long-term goals.

Ultimately, the acceptability of a mortgage in retirement rests on one's unique financial situation, risk tolerance and preparedness.


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