The Big Move: I’m close to retirement and I own 2 homes. If I sell my primary home, I’ll get $100K. My plan is to rent a place for $1,400. Is that a good idea?

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Dear MarketWatch,

I am a year and a half away from retiring. I own a home in Illinois and a modest vacation home in Wisconsin. I would like to sell my primary home, and save several hundred dollars per month. I would end up with $100,000 cash from the sale.

I would like to rent a townhouse or condo in the same area. My plan is to downsize and rent a 2-bedroom house for $1,400. When I retire and possibly downsize and rent, my vacation home will be used as an Airbnb

Is that a sound idea? 



The Big Move’ is a MarketWatch column looking at the ins and outs of real estate, from navigating the search for a new home to applying for a mortgage.

Do you have a question about buying or selling a home? Do you want to know where your next move should be? Email Aarthi Swaminathan at

Dear Homeowner,

First of all, congratulations — you’re almost at the retirement finish line, and with two homes to boot! 

Downsizing is definitely something worth considering. With this rental market going bananas, however, it may be a better idea to put it off. 

Consider the fact that rents are going up steadily across the country. Over the first five months of this year alone, rents have increased by 3.9%, according to Apartment List.

Check out this crazy chart, which shows how rents have changed year-over-year, from

“You’re likely to live another 20 years. Your rent will go up steadily over this time. Instead of growing wealth from real estate, you’ll be further exposed to inflation,” B. Scott Sadler, founder and president of Atlanta-based Boardwalk Capital Management, told me. “You’re only reducing your expenses by a few hundred dollars per month, net of taxes. I wouldn’t sell and rent.”

In any case, “real estate is a wealth-builder long term,” he added.

Even if we hit a recession, and even with higher mortgage rates, home prices won’t drop for a sustained period of time. Check out this chart from the St. Louis Fed, which shows you that in the long-ish run, houses will only appreciate further.

“‘Short-term trends shouldn’t drive your long-term decisions.’”

— B. Scott Sadler, founder and president of Atlanta-based Boardwalk Capital Management

“Short-term trends shouldn’t drive your long-term decisions,” Sadler said. “I don’t think that people should be quick to sell their home… Close off rooms if it’s too big. Turn grass into natural areas if the maintenance is too much. Rent a room to a nurse, teacher or college student if you’d like to defray some of the mortgage.”

Renting a spare room out can recoup some of the savings you’d be making by moving to a smaller rental unit.

But your idea about renting your vacation home on Airbnb is a solid one. 

Airbnb owners have made a killing over the last few months as millions of Americans resumed their vacation plans after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Short-term rental demand has shown very little signs of weakness, AirDNA said in a recent blog post. New bookings topped 17.1 million nights in May, which were up 2.6% as compared to last year. Demand is up year-over-year by 17.9%, and up over 26.1% from pre-pandemic 2019.

In other words, you’re gonna be minting money from that Airbnb. Stay put for now, and enjoy the security of being a homeowner.

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