Becoming a Proud Golden Girl

Guest post by Bonnie Moore

Bonnie Moore 2014It’s called the Golden Girls Lifestyle and it is shared housing for mature adults! This movement has received extensive national media coverage and has been embraced as a major addition to the aging-in-place conversation for the baby boomer population.

People across the country are looking for answers because housing cost are too high for retirees. People are lonely when kids grow up and the spouse is no longer around. Many struggle financially. Shared housing seems to be a great answer.

“FIND THE RIGHT PERSON” is at the top of the list when you decide on this adventure. But, who is right for you? How do you know? Start with, “Who am I, and what is important to me?” When you know these answers, you know who you are looking for!

Deal Breakers

Start by considering common issues. Deal-breakers are different for everyone, and you may have some issues that aren’t on this list:

Does she/he smoke? Is it OK with you if the person is an outside smoker?

Will she/he bring a pet? Sometimes pets don’t like to move, and they let you know. Bringing in a new pet is a “two-fer!”

Are there cultural or lifestyle differences that will become too difficult? I encourage diversity, but sometimes you can live next door to someone but not in the same house. For instance, are there significant differences in religious practices, eating habits, hobbies, political interests, working hours, and a bunch of other things that are important for a comfortable living situation? You have to decide what works for you, and then talk about it.

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

Other considerations

Age Differences. Look for a roommate that is within ten years of your age, and don’t go beyond twenty years on either side. With too much of a difference, you will notice the age nuances and it will frustrate you!

Cleanliness factors. Most women are accustomed to housework and will keep a place in good shape. Some women, however, really need things to be back in their places immediately, every spot wiped off the counter, and the floor swept daily. If this is you, find someone like you. If this is not you, same advice.

Can you get along with her personality? Are you fairly assertive and outgoing? Are you quiet and bookish? How would you assess the personality of a potential roommate? Can you sense an “angry” factor beneath the surface? How would you assess the “honesty factor”?

Interviewing a potential roommate is a lot like a job interview. She will tell you what you want to hear. It is your job to listen below the surface and hear danger signals. Trust your intuition. Selecting a GOOD roommate takes patience, but it can be done. You also learn a great deal about yourself and you learn to develop assertiveness!

Once you identify the factors that are important to you, start advertising and talking to your friends. Print up a flyer and pass it out at your church or community groups, developing a listing on some of the major roommate sites, including Golden Girls Network, and keep talking about it! Don’t be afraid to interview a number of people before making a decision.

Most of all, start developing your written house agreements and a written lease. Even if you decide to rent on a month-to-month basis, you need it in writing. Don’t take anything for granted…get those details down in writing. Be positive and forthright, and decide what is important to you.

About the Author:

Six years ago, Bonnie Moore divorced and was living in a large five-bedroom home that had just been remodeled. She didn’t want to leave her dream home, but she couldn’t afford to stay, so she started looking for roommates and found friends!

People started asking her what it was like to live with a bunch of women, and she went into business helping others achieve financial security and companionship as mature adults. She developed a registry called Golden Girls Network where mature adults can register either as a homeowner or as a housemate and can search other people who have registered and connect for the purpose of becoming roommates.

She also wrote a book called How to Start a Golden Girls Home and teaches a conference call workshop using this book.

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Housing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing—Why You Can’t Afford Not To Read It

Guest post by Andrew Hallam, author of The Global Expatriate’s Guide to Investing

If you have a financial advisor, odds are high that he or she has a dirty little secret. Most of your investment costs are hidden. And the more you pay in investment fees, the less you make. In fact, investment fees are a bigger drain on many people’s wealth than income taxes. Getting them under control can mean one of two things:

1. Retiring a heck of a lot sooner
Or
2. Enjoying a lot more money in retirement

I wrote The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing to increase your odds of both.

Let me introduce myself. I was financially free at 38. I wrote a bestselling book in 2011 at the age of 41. It’s called Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School. Now my wife and I enjoy an early retirement lifestyle. We’re currently in Lake Chapala, Mexico. That doesn’t mean, however, that we lay around in hammocks drinking margaritas. I enjoy writing, including a finance column for The Globe and Mail.

So let’s get back to that dirty little secret. You probably pay too much money in investment fees. The more you pay, the more your financial advisor earns. Most advisors are keen to boost their salaries and commissions. Their salesmanship, however, gets deducted from your bottom line.

Open up to new possibilities abroad

If you asked Warren Buffett how to invest, he would tell you to invest in low cost index funds. These are cheap products. They put more money in your pockets. But they line your advisor’s pockets with less. Economic Nobel Prize winners William F. Sharpe, Paul Samuelson, Daniel Kahneman, Merton Miller and Robert Merton all agree. Harvard’s endowment fund manager, Jack Meyer, says “The investment business is a giant scam. It deletes billions of dollars every year in transaction costs and fees…You should simply hold index funds.” Yale University’s endowment fund manager, David Swensen, says the U.S. government should stop the mutual fund industry’s exploitation of individual investors.

In the eyes of most financial advisors, these financial wizards are total party poopers. My book shows you how to hire the right kind of financial advisor. This person would build you a portfolio of low cost index funds. It also shows how to build such portfolios on your own.

Let’s assume you’re 40 years old. You invest $10,000 into a low cost index fund. If the markets average 8 percent, your money would grow to roughly $81,573 after 30 years. Investors paying 2 percent more in annual fees would likely earn just $48,268. Those north of 50 may wonder why this matters to them. It does. And it matters a lot. Most 50 year olds, for example, hope to live happy healthy lives into their 80s. If you’re living off your investments, you won’t be spending it all at once. You’ll be selling part of your money each year, while the remainder (you hope!) continues to grow. This is how you can combat the rising costs of living.

I wrote The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing for an expatriate audience. But if you’re residing in your home country, you’ll still find it useful. It’s the only book in the world that shows exactly how to invest, regardless of where you live, and regardless of nationality. It’s also the only book showing you how to build low cost portfolios of index funds using three different cutting edge strategies. One of them, you’ll find, has been remarkably stable. It has averaged slightly more than 9 percent a year since 1971. Its worst year was 1981. It dropped just 4.1 percent. During the crash of 2008, it lost less than 1 percent.

Yeah, I’m gushing about this book. But I know you’ll find it helpful.

Best of all, it gets that dirty little secret out.

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Legal Matters | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Questions on Retirement Facilities Overseas

I was looking at the QA section of your website. I didn’t look at every link. But, at some point do you discuss the inevitable outcome that eventually you won’t be able to travel any more at a certain age. Do you have any plans? Will you return to America permanently? Or will you choose one place overseas? Do you have concerns about having to stay in a retirement facility overseas?

Was there any country you’d label as your “favorite?”
Thanks,
Marsha

Hi Marsha,

Thanks for taking the time to write. You have a great question!

Billy and I still debate returning to the States full time. Once we turn 65 we will have medicare, but the expenses of long term care are just off the charts. Other countries who serve the expat population are aware of this and are building long term facilities to fill the need. You can read about a couple of them here:

Continuous Care options
Alicia’s Convalescent Complex
Care Facilities in Mexico

Also, it should be noted that general care — whether it’s medical or just care around the home like gardeners and maids, someone to do the shopping and cooking, is far more affordable overseas than it is in the States. So if it gets to the point where one must have assistance in one’s own home, this would be more affordable than in the States as well.

As I say, other countries see the writing on the wall and are offering services to Expats now for these purposes. These facilities and array of services will only grow to cover the increasing needs of the population. Chances are, we will take advantage of these when the time comes.

In terms of do we have any concerns about staying in a facility overseas – no more than having to stay or receive them in the States. There are always areas where one must watch so we aren’t taken advantage of – whether it be cleanliness, good service, or money fraud – but one would need to watch that anywhere they stay. We take the attitude of staying open to having the best options present themselves when the time is needed.

Not sure you can retire? Get answers here

As far as having a favorite country — we do not. Each country has their pros and cons, depending on what one is looking for. Sometimes stunning natural beauty is accompanied by less infrastructure, sometimes an easy-to-get-to-place has more traffic. Weather-wise, we prefer a springtime climate – not too hot, not too cold, not too humid. It’s always a give and take.

I hope this answers your question and do feel free to write again any time.

Wishing you the best,
Akaisha

Posted in All Things Financial, Q & A From our Readers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Age Requirements for 55+ Active Adult Communities

Hi Billy and Akaisha,

Thank you so much for creating your website Retire Early Lifestyle. It has been such an inspiration to me.

Your travels and adventures encourage me so much in my mission to retire early.

I especially like the way you have structured your travels…with a home base in an active adult community with easy access to an airport and travel adventures overseas.

I would love to do something similar but every active adult community that interests me seems to be 55+. As I am only 47 I don’t know if I would be able to join a community that I like.

Since you two retired early I was wondering how you dealt with this issue.

If you have time to write back that would be wonderful!!! (I wouldn’t want to take away from your travel time though.)

Thanks again so much for your website. I read it every day (and after some of my work days, I really need the pick me up.)

Sincerely,
Pamela

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

Hi Pamela,

Thank you for taking the time to write and for all your kind words regarding our website. We are most pleased that you find inspiration and useful information on RetireEarlyLifestyle.com

Regarding Active Adult Communities — we were grandfathered in to a community when we were in our forties, so that is how we were able to be where we are. However, some communities follow an Equal Housing Opportunity rule which doesn’t allow the community to discriminate residents by age and allows for a certain percentage of residents to be under 55. You might try looking for communities which follow this rule first, then see if there are any housing opportunities there.

Our particular resort park was one of these communities, and there were several younger people living in there. You could probably do some research online, but from what I understand, each community is different.

It’s a great way to live, with lots of amenities. You can check it out here: ‘Worry-Free’ Housing.

The best of luck, and don’t give up on your dream!

Best regards,
Akaisha

Posted in About us, All Things Financial, Q & A From our Readers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Giddy Yup

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneI had wanted to take horseback riding lessons for a long while, however well meaning friends cautioned, “You’re in your sixties, for Heaven sake. You could break your bones,” …….as if broken bones would be less convenient or less painful at a younger age.

I’d been on a horse twice: when I was four years old, to have a picture taken, and in the late 80’s with a tour guide along Arizona’s rugged red mountain tails. I loved it, and was advised that if I wanted to know more than how to simply get on, stay on and get off, I’d have to take lessons.

Chip was a leathery old horse trainer who’d been teaching horseback riding for over 32 years. One look at me and he determined that Clementine and I would be a perfect match. Her tired sagging frame had her belly barely missing the ground and her flashing, threatening, eyes dared me to mount her.

My third lesson took place on a scorching day in August. I was doing just fine riding in circles around the sweltering enclosed arena. Then Chip instructed me to squeeze my legs to get Clementine to trot, and to pull the reins back when I wanted her to slow down. So I squeezed my legs gently and suddenly Clementine’s tired old body, fired by resentment for me, managed to muster up the same trajectory as the stone from David’s sling shot.

I let out a shrill, terrified scream, which startled Clementine to a gallop. She was out of control. Frantically, I pulled back on the reins in hopes of getting her to slow down, but I couldn’t help involuntarily squeezing my legs in a desperate effort to keep from falling off. The horse was confused by my mixed commands, but she never stopped to ask questions. Instead, she bolted, and I reacted by squeezing even tighter which, of course, caused her to sprint even faster.

There I was, bouncing up and down, up and down, and Clementine was going down and up, down and up. We were totally out of sync. But, she was not the only one out of control, for every time we collided, I peed, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it from happening. We collided. I peed. We collided. I peed.

Finally my instructor, who had been racing to catch up with us, caught hold of Clementine’s reins and got her to stop. I was now faced with a new crisis…..how to dismount without Chip seeing what I’d done to his beautiful leather saddle. I was mortified, so I simply slid out of the saddle and said with great aplomb, “I’m so hot. I can not believe how much I sweated.”

One look at the saddle and he had to know what really happened, and that I was lying, but what could I do? So, I silently thanked God that I’d worn black slacks that hadn’t revealed my alleged secret. My aching legs and my humiliation directed me towards my car, and the glory and wonder of riding something with an accelerator and brakes.

Needless to say, I never returned to see Chip and Clementine – a fact for which I’m certain they were both grateful.

Other posts by this author

Stop Telling Me I’m Old

Growing Up Dangerously

Watching Real Beauty

Hell, Not on the Map, but I Was There

Cellulite: A Rite of Passage

Camping: Not for Sissies

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Humor | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Laundry Service

Laundry cleaned, folded and delivered!

Laundry cleaned, folded and delivered!

One of the services we receive from Compass Living’s all inclusive stay is laundry service. It’s just so great to be able to put our used clothing in a bag and fill out a form that lists our items. Two pairs of socks 3 pairs of shorts, our pajamas… I then give it to housekeeping when they come in to the residence in the morning. They count our items and weigh the amount of clothing and then a couple of days later it comes back all clean and folded.

I don’t even have to drop it off and pick it up! How easy could it get?

Posted in About us, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Banana Sheets

Lady making banana sheets on the sidewalk

Lady making banana sheets on the sidewalk

We are staying at the Compass Parkview in Saigon, Vietnam. As part of my Pampered Package I receive weekly massages, manicures and pedicures.

One week, as a surprise, my manicurist brought me some tasty banana sheets. What are these? You might ask. A vendor slices bananas lengthwise into narrow strips and places them on a grill to heat. Because of the sugar in the banana strips, they begin to adhere together and eventually form a flattened grilled “sheet” of crispy bananas. They are surprisingly delicious!

We liked them so much that when our gift package ran out, we began the search to purchase more. For the next several days, we went from store to store but we couldn’t locate this tasty treat.

Then one day when we walked outside our residence, we saw a vendor cooking up waffles and banana sheets! What luck!

Since I don’t speak Vietnamese, sign language had to suffice and I found out that a package of these yummy delights cost 24,000VND or just over a dollar. I bought two! And now I’m all set to enjoy a local delicacy at my leisure.

Posted in About us, Indigenous Life, Travel Tips and Insight | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I Am a Happy, Homeless Pet and House Sitter

Guest post by Francien Daniels-Webb who found herself divorced in her 60’s and began house sitting around the world. You can find her through her business, Home Sitters Worldwide.

Full Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, so if you click on the link and sign up, we will be compensated.

2014-07-10 14.48.44My decision to leave my marriage was an instant one, and as luck would have it my husband was on the same page. My role in the marriage had become one more of a carer then a wife, dare I say it – the mother figure he had missed out on. I was 15 years older and at 60 I was over the chaos and, having already raised my three children and taught 1000s of students, it was time for me to move on.

I left the home and virtually everything in it. What he didn’t want I donated to Opportunity Shops or gave away things to those who could use them. Items such as thousands of dollars of quilting must haves. It was unbelievably easy, cathartic and I was thankful for the opportunity to do so. We agreed on a figure he would pay me for the home. It wasn’t much, but it was a cushion to land on.

Plans to build a self-contained granny flat at my youngest daughter’s home was soon ended. My two grandsons have autism as does her husband, so the chaos I had left in my own home would be pushing onto them. Meanwhile their home would be pulled apart with strangers coming into the home to build the granny flat. I made my decision not to do this and let my daughter and her husband know.



So what was I to do? Renting was out of the equation as my part of the pension did not come close to match any place to rent.  At midnight, my daughter and I Googled options, with the first coming from nowhere; ‘house sitter‘!

Another life and lifestyle opened before us. It was unbelievable, and I signed up and paid for a year membership, on an Australia only site.

Life is very interesting when you are open to a different way of thinking, and calls to action soon come along. Friends of my daughter came over for a BBQ and I told them I was researching home and pet sitting. The couple faced each other with a grin and voila! Here was my first booking for 2 weeks! One of them would have had to stay home with the dogs and since it was Christmas, family and neighbors were not available.

I applied to owners’ listings and within a few days I was contacted by owners and I soon had the next 6 months booked. Most of these were conveniently back to back. Colleagues at the school where I had worked as a casual relief teacher also booked me to home sit, so within 5 days I was 15 months booked out in Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland, all the way until early 2013.

I decided this was a perfect way to experience the UK and my birth country, the Netherlands. I spent an amazing 133 days between both countries and my inner gypsy was born.

Today I am booked until March 2015 in Edmonton Alberta Canada, the springboard to my travels from Canada to Panama until January 2016. Back to Australia to celebrate my darling daughter’s 40th birthday and then off to enjoy Europe’s Summer in 2016 sitting anywhere I am asked to sit. I have many repeat assignments and I have made very dear friends besides experiencing amazing cultures, foods, cities and villages.

Being constantly in demand I realised this was the opportunity to create my website alongside my daughter who needed to have an escape from her Autism World 24/7. She works on the dashboard when needed and supports the business by promoting the services we provide. We launched our business on the 1st  of June 2014, and are promoting Free Membership Trials to both Owners and the Sitters.

I haven’t charged any owner for my services as the release of worldly goods led me to Pay it Forward, but House Sitters Worldwide will eventually support my travels and allow my daughter to earn some pocket money for the first time in 13 years since her boys were born.

If you envy my lifestyle then you are not the first, and my being 63 now proves that you can begin this lifestyle whenever you wish. To be honest, the grey nomads are very appreciated by all ages of home owners.

We can all sit and watch the world and time pass by through our curtains but being part of the growing number of sitters travelling the world will be the very best decision you have made for a long time. Who wouldn’t like to travel and have FREE accommodation?

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Housing, Travel Tips and Insight, Women's Work | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stop Telling Me I’m Old

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneStanding at Macy’s jewelry counter, I was having difficulty making a purchasing decision. A saleswoman, recognizing the look of confusion on my face, asked if I needed assistance.

“I’d like to buy a gift for a special  friend,” I said, as I surveyed the enticing array of gold bangles, brooches and earring.

“How old is your friend?” asked the perky, size six, twenty-something redhead.

“She’ll be celebrating her sixty third birthday,” I answered.

“Oh,” she frowned, “then perhaps you should consider a comfy flannel nighty or a floral house dress. They love to walk around the house wearing those things.”

They? Around the house? Wearing those things?

I had all I could do to keep from slapping her wrinkle-free face. Where on earth did she get such a distorted concept of older women? I, personally, do not have a single female friend who wears floral house dresses, or hangs out around the house. They’re all vibrant women, involved in life, who actually leave their homes to shop, attend classes, play tennis, and work out at the gym – in spandex.

Life is an adventure. Follow your dreams.

Another recent unsavory memory occurred while I was pushing my cart through the supermarket. I’d just had my hair and nails done and was feeling pretty darn good about myself.  Walking neck and neck with me was a handsome, dark haired man, perhaps in his early forties. He smiled broadly, prompting playful feelings to stir within me, so I fluttered my eye lashes and flashed him a flirtatious grin.

With a twinkling smile he asked, “Excuse me ma’am, do you know where I can find the laundry detergent?”

Ma’am???  Ma’am???

Talk about crashing smack into reality. My fanciful thoughts were instantly dashed.

I was at a wedding, cutting a rug with my man of the hour. There we were, feeling chipper, limber, and dancing to the beat of Donna Sommer’s fast paced disco number, “Hot Stuff.”

At the end of the dance a teen-aged girl sauntered up to us with a huge, condescending smile.

“You two are absolutely adorable,” she said. “I hope I have your energy and spirit when I’m your age.”

Adorable???? Your age???”

Poof! The bubble burst as my date and I stared blankly at each other and were suddenly aware that we were not as young as we felt.

When, exactly, did I become the old person that others perceive me as? One moment I was young, the next I was mature and the very next I was ancient. But I, somehow, missed each transition.

Sure, there are certain occurrences I’ve observed that indicate the passing of time, but only a few. For instance I’ve noticed that authoritative people, such as policemen, teachers and presidents, are being hired and elected at a considerably younger age today than they were years ago. Also, street signs and reading material in general are now written in much smaller print than they use to be, and clothing sizes are no longer accurate; they’re made much skimpier.

In my heart and in my mind I am the very same person who drew chalk marks on the playground macadam in preparation for a game of hopscotch with Mary Lou and Nancy. My wonder and excited anticipation of the unexpected have not diminished one iota since my days of waiting for my prom date to ring my doorbell, or for the impending birth of each of my children.

Why are my exterior signs of time often viewed with disdain, intolerance and indifference? I’m the same person I was when I wore a younger body.

I think it’s only fair to warn you that this spirited senior will never be found wearing comfy flannel nighties, floral house dresses or hanging out around the house. You’ll find her instead, at the playground, playing hopscotch with her grandchildren, while the sunlight bounces off of her large, gold, hooped earrings.

Other posts by this author

Growing Up Dangerously

Watching Real Beauty

Hell, Not on the Map, but I Was There

Cellulite: A Rite of Passage

Camping: Not for Sissies

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

Posted in Guest Blog Posts, Heart Song, Humor | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Buying and Selling Real Estate (Foreign or Domestic) from a Tax Perspective

Guest post by John Ohe, IRS Enrolled Agent and chartered Financial Analyst.

John Ohe 1In this article, we discuss U.S. expats and real estate. The most frequently asked questions on this topic include: (1) what are the tax implications when buying foreign real estate? (2) I still own real estate in the U.S. – what are the key issues to consider?

Buying Foreign Real Estate

From a tax standpoint, buying and selling foreign real estate is not much different than in the U.S. Currently, there are no reporting requirements when purchasing foreign real estate. However, U.S. expats should be aware that if one transfers money to a foreign bank to facilitate a real estate transaction (and the balance exceeds $10,000), then this would trigger a requirement to file an FBAR (FinCen 114).

Property taxes are deductible on your tax return. So are mortgage interest payments, including home equity loans. The same restrictions apply as in the U.S. (e.g., acquisition debt limited to $1M, home equity debt limited to $100,000). One can deduct mortgage interest on up to two homes. Keep in mind that deductible amounts paid in local currency will need to be converted to USD for tax reporting purposes.

Open up to new possibilities abroad.

When it comes to selling foreign real estate, the tax-related similarities continue. If the home has been one’s primary residence for at least 2 out of the past 5 years, then one can exclude capital gains up to $250,000 ($500,000 if married filing jointly). Similar to the real estate deductions, amounts denominated in local currency will need to be converted to USD.

From a non-tax standpoint, there are a number of issues to consider. Property rights differ by country. Transferring money should be conducted carefully – fees and Foreign Exchange transactions can be costly. It may be wise to seek professional guidance (e.g., a reputable real estate broker).

Holding onto U.S. Real Estate

Many Americans are aware of the $250,000 ($500,000 if married filing jointly) exclusion on the gain from a sale of a home in a qualifying transaction. The following general requirements must be met to qualify for the exclusion:

  1. Person must have owned and occupied the home as a principal residence for at least 2 out of 5 years prior to the sale; and
  2. During the two-year period ending on the date of the sale, the person did not exclude gain from the sale of another home.

What is lesser known is the fact that any portion of the gain attributable to non-qualified use of the property is ineligible for the exclusion. Non-qualified use includes periods during which the property is not used as an individual’s principal residence (including when it is rented out). The maximum exemption amount is reduced on a pro-rated basis

Let’s use a simplified example to illustrate. Jane Smith (a single taxpayer) buys a house for $100,000 on January 1, 2000. She lives in the house for five years, then moves abroad. On January 1, 2012 (seven years later), Jane returns to the U.S., and begins living in her house again. On January 1, 2014, she sells the house for $350,000 (at a gain of $250,000). Jane meets both of the above requirements. However, 7 of the 14 years she has owned the house falls under non-qualified use. Therefore, only half (or $125,000) of the maximum exemption amount applies. Jane will have to pay capital gains tax on $125,000.

There is one important exception to the non-qualified use rule. Non-qualified use does not include any portion of the 5-year period preceding the sale that is after the last date that the property is used as a taxpayer’s principal residence. In plain English, if you own a home and leave the U.S. without selling the property, sell it within 3 years (and don’t move back into the home). That way, you qualify for the 2 years of 5 years requirements, and you will not be subject to a reduction in the maximum exemption amount.

Other articles by this Author

U.S. Expat Taxes – An Introduction

If you would like to submit a tax-related question, please visit us: HolaExpat.com .

All responses are provided by John Ohe (IRS Enrolled Agent and Chartered Financial Analyst).

Hola Expat helps Americans living abroad with their U.S. tax returns. Our professionals are IRS Enrolled Agents with expertise in expatriate tax return matters. Take a look at our fee schedule. We offer the most sensible pricing among our competitors.

Disclaimer: The answers provided in this article are for general information, and should not be construed as personal tax advice. Tax laws and regulations change frequently, and their application can vary widely based on the specific facts and circumstances involved.

Posted in All Things Financial, Guest Blog Posts, Legal Matters | Tagged , , | Leave a comment