We live in a house provided by my husband’s job. Do we save — or a buy a

My spouse and I are in our 50s and live in very nice housing provided by his job. We were late to saving as we both worked for nonprofits and teaching jobs for many years, and have two special-needs children. We have no debt.

We are now both making relatively decent money and are saving aggressively for retirement — maxing out 401(k) and 403(b) contributions to the tune of $30,000 each per year, putting in the most allowed into our Roth IRAs, adding funds to our investment accounts handled by our financial adviser.

In all, we are saving a little over 40% of our income each year, and sometimes as much as 50%. 

We have one child in college, but 529 funds cover the expenses. We have a second child in a privately-paid special-education school for the next three years, which is our largest expense.

We aren’t completely sure where we will want to live when we retire in the next 15 or so years, but we will need to live somewhere!

Would it be wise to continue to sock away cash into retirement funds and investments — with the plan of figuring out where to live (buy or rent) when we retire? Or should we try to buy now, since housing will never get cheaper? 

Two side points: 1) We could not afford to buy in the area where we work so anything we buy would be a vacation home somewhere else. 2) We were landlords once and do not have the stomach for it, so buying something and renting it out is not in the cards.

Thank you for any perspective you can give!

Living Free for Now

See: Reverse mortgage, sell the house or Medicaid? How can my parents pay for long-term care?

Have a question about your own retirement savings? Email us at

Dear Reader, 

You have multiple advantages here: the first is time, since you seem to have a lot of it to make your decisions, the second is motivation to be financially secure for your retirement, and the third is free, high-quality housing, which frees up your incomes for other big expenses like education and planning for the future.

Many people are unable to save a lot for retirement in their younger years, and it takes a lot of work to prioritize that when the funds finally become available. 

Although you do have time on your side, and as wonderful it is that you are stashing as much as you can into retirement accounts, it is important to have savings outside of those accounts.

You can always borrow for a home purchase, or an education, but not for your retirement, so don’t give up those lofty retirement contributions completely. 

You never know what could happen, and you may find that you…

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