James Altucher is Right, Retirees Shouldn’t Own A Home

Actually, I don’t know if he is right but he may have a point. If you are unfamiliar with James he is an investor turned investment writer turned lifestyle guru turned social media star. James and I overlapped and if I am remembering right, had a little bit of interaction at The Street.com (both alumni of the site). James was also kind enough to mention my blog in one of his earlier books. Our paths cross every so often on social media, he seems to like a lot of my pictures on Instagram as an example.


The tone of James’ writing is to take positions on issues that are very contrarian like not going to college, quitting your job today and not buying a house. He also doesn’t believe in renting, he stays in some combination of Airbnbs, hotels and maybe with friends too. He explains his reasoning very articulately. The things he writes about in the outlandish idea category are not for me but I believe there is tremendous value in reading someone with very different ideas from your own, you either learn to think about your beliefs differently or they can solidify your beliefs.

Last week we went on a road trip to New Mexico (we live in Northern Arizona) and as is often the case when we travel we stayed at Airbnbs.  We spent one night in a tiny town near Gallup that cost $99 plus a $25 cleaning fee and three nights in Santa Fe for $108 per night plus a $50 cleaning fee.


While sitting in the husband zone of some store my wife was looking through it occurred to me that James has a point with how he lives, not necessarily the solution but an interesting point. Staying in an Airbnb you don’t pay for utilities and you don’t fix anything. How much do you spend per day on your house; mortgage, taxes, utilities, repairs? There will be circumstances where the numbers of transitioning from an expensive city mortgage to smaller/cheaper AIRBNB cities could make economic sense. Business Insider reports the average mortgage payment in San Francisco is $3600 and then add on everything else compared to $109/night in Santa Fe.

I don’t read everything James writes so I don’t know if he puts in these terms but his idea makes it much easier to figure out a daily allowance; $109 for an Airbnb, $30 for food, $3 for a cell phone, $X for health insurance, $7 for gas for your car and $2 for insurance as examples.


What does that add up to and yes, I realize the list is a simplification but house expenses are off the table in this scenario. You could spend that $200 (or whatever) per day until your money runs out and that will work for some people, factor in Social Security which averages about $1200 per month or $2400 when each partner has their own benefit which works out to $80 per day or maybe 40% of the approximately $200 which makes any nest egg last longer. Next, layer in how much you might be able to earn in a day net of taxes or any other deductions. A part time income of $15,000 (so no hit to Social Security for earning too much would be about $40 per day now has a draw down from the portfolio of $80. Someone earning a full-time income can probably easy cover the $200 daily nut.

It is interesting because it is such a foreign way of thinking, too foreign for me but could makes some peoples’ lives easier including James’.

I write about these off the wall ideas, some more off the wall than other, because aside from being fun and interesting, the manner in which people will retire must change as a financial reality.


  1. Are you going to do your own cleaning? Or did you think that’s an unnecessary expense? Cleaning twice a week adds $400 to the bill, which takes you awfully close to $3600/month. Also, you have nothing when you leave an Airbnb, you have probably more than you started with when you sell your residence. Airbnb is about not paying taxes that other short term rentals like hotels have to pay. (“Your margin is my opportunity “, in this case the margin is hotel tax). This will eventually get equalized and the Airbnb will be $119.00/night, exactly equal to your mortgage payment.

    • Sorry I may not be following you. I specifically cite the cleaning fees we paid most recently. A cleaning fee is only for leaving, not during the stay. We own an Airbnb and charge $80 for the cleaning. We have stayed at many airbnbs and the cleaning fee has never been anywhere close to $400. The most we’ve ever paid is probably about $100.

      • You stayed for 3 days & paid a $50 cleaning fee. If you stayed for a month, how often would you pay the cleaning fee?

        • The unit is cleaned when you check out, one fee.

  2. It’s an interesting concept but a couple of thoughts come to mind. One is that perhaps in early retirement a semi-nomadic AirBnB lifestyle might be enjoyable but I question how long that situation is desirable. Another is that you assume that a retiree is carrying a high mortgage. While that might be true for more retirees now than it has been in the past, I would still think that a majority of people nearing retirement are not carrying a $3,600/mo mortgage. But perhaps your point is more for this subset of retirees that need to think in more untraditional terms because of their current financial condition.

    • Your right of course about younger retirees but there are plenty of people who are very fit at 75. I don’t think I so much assume a higher mortgage as to mean if you have a higher mortgage.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing