Move to a Cheaper Locale

Downsizing to a smaller place, particularly after the kids are launched, is a common way to lower housing costs and stay close to family. If you live in a highly appreciated home, selling can free up large sums that can be used to wipe out debt, add to a nest egg or pay future long-term-care costs. (Married couples can protect up to $500,000 in profit from the sale of a house from capital gains tax; singles can shelter half that amount.)

But for a move to become a financial game changer and significantly lower living costs, consider putting down roots in a state where housing and living expenses are cheaper.

For example, housing costs in San Diego are 173% higher than in Galveston, Texas, according to Bestplaces.net. Moving to a state that gives retirees a big tax break can free up money for a higher standard of living in retirement.

MONEY TIP: 

Before moving from Barnhart to a new zip code, do some field research. Take an extended vacation to experience day-to-day living in the new neighborhood you’re considering (you may be able to rent a place via Airbnb or VRBO). Visit in the off-season to see if the weather agrees with you. And meet up with a local real estate agent for a lowdown on the area.