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I'm not convinced that you can't own your own home and still retire early nor am I convinced that you could afford more during retirement if you rented. I think an awful lot depends on each individual's circumstances and that we can't just use a broad brush to say which is 'best' for anyone. I look at my parents. They bought their house back in the early 1950's as new construction, paid the mortgage, and now own it free and clear. They have been retired since 1981, and have gone back and forth from their house up north to one in Florida since then. It costs them taxes and insurance for both houses and together they only cost around $500 a month for all costs except utilities, but those are generally separate even if you rent. If they had rented all these years instead, they would not be able to afford their retirement lifestyle because rents are more than that in either place let alone if they had to pay in both places at the same time to ensure they had somewhere to live. Now, I grant that they never did any investing so only live on their pension but that is because they are children of the Depression and neither of them trust the market. Imagine what they could do, though, if they had invested.

I also think that the basic assumption on this thread is that your dream house has to cost some exorbitant amount of money with an associated exorbitant debt. That's a choice that people make, but it doesn't have to be the only one. We just moved into our dream house which cost almost twice the one we sold and moved out of. But we have been saving for this house for a while and used the equity from the old house as well as from a piece of rental property so that our total monthly payments are still around 20% of our gross. So even having our dream house and being able to put the kids through college, we still expect to be able to retire in our early 50's. That's not as early as most of the folks who are already retired on this board, but it's early enough for us. And if we keep saving at the rate we are, we should be able to bring that in by a couple of years if we like.

I guess the point of all this rambling is that no one solution is 'best' but that you need to look at all the alternatives available to you and see how they are affected by your particular circumstances. The only answer you need is the one that's right for you. It doesn't matter much if it's not right for someone else.
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