Ask Paul: I'm renting in my 50s - should I buy a property?


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Dear Paul,

I am in my early 50s and a single mother of two adult children in their early 20s, one of whom has disabilities.

I am working in the public service and have just about $120,000 in superannuation. I have around $50,000 in savings. I don't have other assets or investments.

ask paul clitheroe renting in my 50s should i buy property single mum

I am still renting but have been pre-approved for a $650,000 mortgage.

I am worried about the financial stress that I could face during my retirement.

Do you think owning a property that has potential to appreciate in value would be a good decision?

I have been considering investing in shares, hoping to have access to some extra money in 15 or 20 years.

But I am not sure how much I will have to invest and if I have enough money now in order to see a meaningful outcome in 20 years. - Anna

Good question, Anna. After some thought, I am taking a deep breath and going to encourage you to buy a home with that pre-approved loan.

In the public service you will have pretty good job security and you have quite a number of years of work in front of you.

You super is a great way to build your wealth while you work, and topping that up with extra contributions should be an effective strategy for you.

In a decade or so, you could use that super to help clear your mortgage and as an income stream. Unlike shares, a home is not counted in the assets test for an aged pension.

I reckon home ownership is the best plan for less financial stress in retirement. I'd make an effort to buy your own home, build your super, and have an aged pension to top things up.

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Paul Clitheroe AM is founder and editorial adviser of Money magazine. He is one of Australia's leading financial voices, responsible for bringing financial insight to Australians through personal finance books, the Money TV show, and this publication, which he established in 1999. Paul is the chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and is chairman of InvestSMART Financial Services. He is the chair of Financial Literacy at Macquarie University where he is also a Professor with the School of Business and Economics. Ask Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section. View our disclaimer.
Money magazine
April 27, 2022 9.19am


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Sally Hart
April 29, 2022 7.57am

How with only $50,000 deposit can you get pre-approval for $650,000.

Both me and my partner are in our mid 50's, no assets accept a vehicle I own outright and $50'000 in savings, he has $150,000 in Super & I have $120,000 and we have no debts and both have full-time employment. We really want to own property but thought in your 50's it would be difficult.

Money magazine
April 29, 2022 10.12am

Hi Sally,

Thanks for your comment.

It's not clear from what you've written whether or not you've applied for a home loan, but a mortgage broker may be helpful given your circumstances.

Also, here's an earlier question Paul Clitheroe answered on buying a home later in life.

Good luck!