Spending Patterns on Housing Among Americans Aged 50 and Over

what percentage of household budgets do people over the age 50 spend on housing?

As the American population ages, understanding the financial commitments of those over 50, especially in terms of housing expenses, becomes increasingly important. This article delves into the spending patterns of this demographic, focusing on how much of their budget is allocated towards housing.


The data for this analysis is drawn primarily from the 2014 Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE), which provides a detailed look at the expenditure patterns of households with a reference person aged 55 and older. This age group was chosen to explore spending changes that occur as individuals age and transition into retirement.

Key Findings

  1. Proportion of Budget Spent on Housing: In 2014, housing emerged as the largest expense for households aged 55 and older, both in dollar terms and as a share of total expenditures.
  2. Income and Expenditure Overview: The average annual pre-tax income for this group was $58,528, with total annual expenditures averaging $49,279.
  3. Age-Wise Housing Expenditure:
    • Households aged 55–64 had the highest housing expenses, averaging $18,006 annually.
    • This figure decreased to $15,838 for the 65–74 age group.
    • For those aged 75 and older, the average housing expense further declined to $13,375.
  4. Percentage of Housing Expenditure: On average, housing expenses accounted for 32.9% of the annual expenditures for these households.
  5. Mortgage Trends: The decrease in housing expenditure with age corresponds with a reduction in mortgage debt. Among older homeowner households, 59.5% were mortgage-free, with the proportion increasing with age.

Statistical Overview

Age GroupAverage Annual IncomeAverage Annual ExpendituresAverage Housing Expense% of Budget on Housing


The data from 2014 highlights a significant trend: as individuals age, their housing expenses, as a proportion of their budget, remain a considerable expense, though the actual dollar amount tends to decrease. This trend is likely influenced by the reduction in mortgage obligations among older homeowners. For a more current perspective, a study of recent data would be required to see if these trends hold in 2023.


This analysis offers a foundational understanding of spending patterns among older Americans, especially in relation to housing costs. It is crucial for financial planning and policy-making aimed at supporting the aging population.

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