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Save For Retirement, or Buy a Ghost Town?

June 22, 2018

That’s the spirit! But which one is the wiser investment?

1 min read

Some purchases can come back to haunt you. Buying a ghost town–yes, a literal ghost town in the California desert–could be one of them.

Cerro Gordo, a once-thriving mining town that was California’s largest producer of silver and lead during the 1860s and 1870s, is up for sale. It was home to nearly 5,000 people at one point, until the mine shut down and, and the world moved on–along with its entire populace.

Since then, the town has been privately owned, but now, it’s for sale with an asking price of $925,000. Here’s what you get for that price:

Ghost town? Or a retirement account?

Okay, let’s say you have $925,000 to invest.

Many people may find it tempting to buy their own little piece of the Sierra Nevada, but is it really a good investment? Is it better than, say, putting your money in a retirement account, like a 401(k) or IRA?

Sure, purchasing Cerro Gordo may provide a shot of excitement and offer up a tangible real estate asset to add to your portfolio, it also has some real downsides Cerro Gordo is, after all, a ghost town–meaning that the people who previously lived there found so little value that they literally packed up and left.

And while owning a ghost town may hold some value (the land, the seclusion, the dream of striking it rich a la “Deadwood”), how does it compare to putting that money in a retirement account?

Let’s make a rough comparison:

Putting money into retirement accounts (IRAs and 401(k)s):

What you get with a ghost town:

In short, don’t get ghosted by a bad investment. You can save for retirement on Stash.

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By Sam Becker

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