They are sitting on a yellow bench on the decking together outdoors in the garden

Remember that while you won't have a mortgage, you still have to pay property taxes and homeowners insurance. (Getty Images)

You've paid off your mortgage, which means you now have a lot of new little problems and concerns to fill your time.

Sure, these are good little problems and concerns. What do I do with my extra money every month? Where do I put my deed? Nobody's going to feel sorry for you for having these "problems," and everyone will mock you with air quotes if you refer to them as such, but they still need to be solved.

In other words, paying off your mortgage is a major milestone, but yes, you still need to be vigilant and take care of these next steps.

[See: 10 Ways to Reduce Your Housing Costs in Retirement.]

You made the last payment – now wait. It may take a few weeks to receive your paperwork, which will include a "satisfaction of mortgage" statement – a letter stating that you've paid off your home. You may also even receive a check, since your mortgage lender probably had some of your money in reserve to pay your homeowners insurance and property taxes. If you don't receive anything by the date of what would have been another payment, that would be a good time to call your lender to check on your paperwork, just to make sure your paperwork will soon be on its way.

Getting the actual deed to your home may take a few more weeks at least – the county needs to record that you've been released from your obligations to your lender. And when you do get the deed …

Put your deed somewhere safe. Like, in an actual safe, preferably one that is fire and waterproof. Or even better, place the deed to your home in a safety deposit box.

"For customers of most banks, safety deposit boxes can range from $30 to $100 per year depending on the size," says David Reiling, CEO of Sunrise Banks, headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota.

But what happens if you don't put your deed in your house and then you lose it? Are you at risk that you could lose your house?

Not likely. It's more of a hassle to replace than anything else.

"Losing a deed today isn't as serious as it used to be. But if you do, the county that your house is in has records and for a small fee will issue you a new deed," Reiling says. "That being said, they also recommend pursuing owner's insurance through the title company you worked with to keep yourself protected if an ownership dispute arises."

And it is possible that someone questions your ownership if things go badly down the road. For instance, stories will occasionally pop up in the media of homeowners with dementia being scammed out of their home. Let's put it this way: You don't want to leave your deed lying out on the coffee table for anyone to grab.

[See: 10 Terms First-Time Homebuyers Must Know.]

You still have to pay property taxes. And homeowners insurance. That's easy to forget about, at least at first. If you're like most people, your taxes and insurance were part of the monthly mortgage payment. They were held in escrow by the loan servicer, which would make the payments for you.

But now, you're taking over those payments. If you're unsure if your county treasurer's office knows to send you the property taxes bill, you'll want to contact them. And you'll want to start putting money away to pay both your taxes and insurance.


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"I recommend homeowners create their own escrow accounts by setting aside funds for their insurance and property taxes into a bank or savings account each month. They can use the previous year's amount as a guide for the amount they need to set aside. That way they will be prepared when the bills come due and not have to blow a hole in their budget to make ends meet," says ReKeithen Miller, a certified financial planner, enrolled agent and portfolio manager with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Atlanta.

As for your homeowners insurance, you should call your agent and make sure the bill will be sent to you and not the lender.

[See: 8 Potential Headaches to Be Aware of Before Becoming a Homeowner.]

Spend that monthly mortgage payment wisely. But, of course. Everyone knows that. Still, if you're wondering exactly where that money should go, consider putting some of it back into your house, suggests Nancy Butler, a Waterford, Connecticut-based business coach and motivational speaker, who specializes in working with businesses, particularly in the real estate industry.

"Odds are, if your mortgage is paid off, your house is older," she says. Butler suggests putting some of that monthly mortgage aside "for major repairs that may be needed in the future, such as a new roof, heating system or water heater."

Still, if you feel good about your ability to pay off home improvements or are simply looking for more ideas on what to do with your money, Timothy Gagnon, an associate professor of accounting at D'Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University in Boston, suggests putting the extra money every month into an emergency fund or growing your retirement.

"If you aren't matching out your 401(k), now's your chance," he says.

Another way to look at it. You've spent decades watching the numbers on your mortgage slowly go down. Now it's time to start watching the numbers in your retirement fund and your savings account quickly go up.


The 25 Best Places People Are Moving to in the U.S. in 2017

These places have the highest net migration over five years.

Fort Myers, Florida

(Getty Images)

In calculating the Best Places to Live, U.S. News factors in each metro area’s growth due to net migration over a five-year period. For the 2017 ranking, we determined net migration from 2011 to 2015 per data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the most recent complete data set at the time of our calculations. Places with the most growth might be attracting new residents thanks to a hot job market, inexpensive housing, desirable location or some other factor. Read on for the 25 metro areas (out of the 100 largest) that have grown the most.

25. Oklahoma City

25. Oklahoma City

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 36
Metro Population: 1,318,408
Median Home Price: $149,646
Median Annual Salary: $44,280
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 4.67 percent

To some coastal residents, Oklahoma’s capital may seem an unlikely place for growth, but this city has seen strong growth in population due to net migration: 4.67 percent between 2011 and 2015.

Learn more about Oklahoma City.

24. Des Moines, Iowa

24. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines, Iowa skyline from the summer of 2013. Taken from the Mercy Holiday Inn

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 9
Metro Population: 601,187
Median Home Price: $168,629
Median Annual Salary: $47,170
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 4.82 percent

The No. 1 Best Affordable Place to Live in the U.S. is also seeing a significant influx of people moving to the area. Des Moines grew by 4.82 percent due to net migration between 2011 and 2015.

Learn more about Des Moines.

23. Seattle

23. Seattle

High dynamic image of Seattle skyline in dramatic sunrise colors across pier-66 waterfront

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 6
Metro Population: 3,614,361
Median Home Price: $359,693
Median Annual Salary: $59,060
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 4.97 percent

Seattle has long had a reputation as a strong job market, with the likes of Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon headquartered in the area. But it is also the ultimate hometown for many who are looking to move to the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more about Seattle.

22. Las Vegas

22. Las Vegas

Las Vegas Strip Palms in Colorful Color Grading. Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 78
Metro Population: 2,035,572
Median Home Price: $208,839
Median Annual Salary: $42,070
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 4.98 percent

One of the recession's hardest-hit cities, particularly in the housing market, Las Vegas continues its upward trend with a growing job market and plenty of entertainment to attract new residents.

Learn more about Las Vegas.

21. Jacksonville, Florida

21. Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida, USA downtown city skyline on St. Johns River.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 45
Metro Population: 1,401,600
Median Home Price: $190,760
Median Annual Salary: $43,460
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 5.04 percent

Sunny Florida weather, a below-average cost of living and growing business district continue to attract residents of all ages to Jacksonville, which grew more than 5 percent due to net migration between 2011 and 2015.

Learn more about Jacksonville.

20. Phoenix

20. Phoenix

Phoenix Arizona skyline framed by saguaro cactus and mountainous desert

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 44
Metro Population: 4,407,915
Median Home Price: $216,454
Median Annual Salary: $46,700
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 5.07 percent

Phoenix serves as a particularly hot destination for retirees. But the job market and ample outdoor activities continue to attract new residents of all ages. The area has grown by 5.07 percent over a five-year period.

Learn more about Phoenix.

19. Melbourne, Florida

19. Melbourne, Florida

Sunset over the Melbourne Causeway

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 49
Metro Population: 553,591
Median Home Price: $163,042
Median Annual Salary: $45,470
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 5.43 percent

Growing 5.43 percent due to net migration between 2011 and 2015, Melbourne sees particular interest from seniors – the metro area's median age is 46.6 years old.

Learn more about Melbourne.

18. Dallas-Fort Worth

18. Dallas-Fort Worth

Photo of Dallas skyline in the morning. Sunrise moment. Dusk.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 15
Metro Population: 6,833,420
Median Home Price: $210,181
Median Annual Salary: $49,030
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 5.5 percent

The largest metro area on this list, Dallas-Fort Worth grew by 5.5 percent in a five-year period. Despite its size, Dallas-Fort Worth has a median home price of $210,181, just shy of the national median at $211,731.

Learn more about Dallas-Fort Worth.

17. Miami

17. Miami

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 92
Metro Population: 5,861,000
Median Home Price: $232,449
Median Annual Salary: $45,110
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 5.67 percent

Miami’s reputation for beautiful beaches, warm weather and a diverse population is certainly at least part of the reason people are flocking to the metro area.

Learn more about Miami.

16. Boise, Idaho

16. Boise, Idaho

Summer at a city park with clouds

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 12
Metro Population: 651,402
Median Home Price: $228,567
Median Annual Salary: $42,180
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 5.77 percent

Offering a much different landscape than Miami, Boise comes in at No. 16. Idaho's capital grew by 5.77 percent between 2011 and 2015 due to net migration alone.

Learn more about Boise.

15. Charlotte, North Carolina

15. Charlotte, North Carolina

charlotte north carolina city skyline

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 14
Metro Population: 2,338,792
Median Home Price: $189,508
Median Annual Salary: $48,370
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.07 percent

Growing by more than 6 percent between 2011 and 2015 from people relocating to the area, Charlotte is also a top destination in the minds of many Americans. The area ranks No. 15 for the Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. in 2017.

Learn more about Charlotte.

14. Tampa, Florida

14. Tampa, Florida

Historic Ybor City with bars and restaurants in Tampa, Florida, USA

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 35
Metro Population: 2,888,458
Median Home Price: $170,495
Median Annual Salary: $44,510
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.08 percent

The fourth of nine Florida metro areas on the list, this Gulf Coast metro area grew by 6.08 percent between 2011 and 2015 due to net migration.

Learn more about Tampa.

13. Fayetteville, Arkansas

13. Fayetteville, Arkansas

Houses in a neighborhood in Arkansas

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 5
Metro Population: 493,095
Median Home Price: $182,508
Median Annual Salary: $43,570
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.09 percent

It’s the smallest of the 25 fastest-growing metro areas, but Fayetteville is seeing residents rapidly moving to the area.

Learn more about Fayetteville.

12. Nashville, Tennessee

12. Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville written on a building of the historical district.More images from Nashville in the lightbox:

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 13
Metro Population: 1,761,848
Median Home Price: $200,590
Median Annual Salary: $44,700
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.1 percent

About 500 miles east in neighboring Tennessee, Nashville comes in at No. 12, having grown slightly more than Fayetteville between 2011 and 2015 at 6.1 percent due to net migration.

Learn more about Nashville.

11. Denver

11. Denver

Sunrise over Denver Colorado's skyline as seen from City Park.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 2
Metro Population: 2,703,972
Median Home Price: $314,021
Median Annual Salary: $54,450
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.31 percent

Growing more than 6.3 percent due to net migration between 2011 and 2015, Denver continues to grow at a rapid pace, thanks to both its flourishing job market and high desirability among U.S. residents for its countless outdoor opportunities with the Rocky Mountains just a short drive away.

Learn more about Denver.

10. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

10. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina

Downtown Raleigh Twilight, North Carolina

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 7
Metro Population: 1,750,865
Median Home Price: $219,466
Median Annual Salary: $51,150
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.42 percent

Home to major universities – the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, Duke University and North Carolina State University – former students in the Raleigh and Durham area are choosing to lay down permanent roots, while others are flocking to the metro region for the job opportunities the schools and other locally based corporations offer.

Learn more about Raleigh and Durham.

9. Lakeland, Florida

9. Lakeland, Florida

A typical winter scene on Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland, Florida

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 64
Metro Population: 626,676
Median Home Price: $148,000
Median Annual Salary: $39,030
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.52 percent

Located in the center of Florida’s peninsula, Lakeland is showing strong growth that mirrors the state's coastal metro areas featured on the list. Lakeland grew by 6.52 percent from 2011 to 2015 due to net migration alone.

Learn more about Lakeland.

8. San Antonio

8. San Antonio

San Antonio Texas skyline cityscape aerial panorama

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 23
Metro Population: 2,286,702
Median Home Price: $178,408
Median Annual Salary: $43,740
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.63 percent

The second of four Texas metro areas on the list, San Antonio has experienced significant growth due to net migration: 6.63 percent between 2011 and 2015.

Learn more about San Antonio.

7. Houston

7. Houston

Downtown Houston at nighttime

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 20
Metro Population: 6,346,653
Median Home Price: $197,628
Median Annual Salary: $51,830
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 6.84 percent

A close second to Dallas-Fort Worth for the largest metro area population on the list, Houston grew 6.84 percent in a five-year period due to net migration. Houston homes also maintain a low median price at just $197,628.

Learn more about Houston.

6. Daytona Beach, Florida

6. Daytona Beach, Florida

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 82
Metro Population: 604,502
Median Home Price: $164,069
Median Annual Salary: $36,980
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 7.09 percent

At No. 6, Daytona Beach’s growth from net migration between 2011 and 2015 breaks 7 percent. The coastal metro area attracts plenty of tourists to NASCAR races and its beaches, but plenty of these visitors also appear happy enough to make the place their next home.

Learn more about Daytona Beach.

5. Charleston, South Carolina

5. Charleston, South Carolina

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(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 27
Metro Population: 712,232
Median Home Price: $222,979
Median Annual Salary: $43,560
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 7.88 percent

It’s a relatively small metro area, but Charleston is growing quickly – by 7.88 percent due to net migration over five years. Ranking No. 9 on the Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S. list, people are clearly acting on their plans to live in the historic coastal area.

Learn more about Charleston.

4. Orlando, Florida

4. Orlando, Florida

Sunset on the Boardwalk - Disneyworld

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 40
Metro Population: 2,277,816
Median Home Price: $187,948
Median Annual Salary: $41,460
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 8.59 percent

The home of Disney World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter doesn’t just attract people hoping to see their favorite fictional characters up close, it also brings people who are planning to make it their home.

Learn more about Orlando.

3. Austin, Texas

3. Austin, Texas

Barton Springs Picnic is a area for food trucks or carts on Barton Springs Road, in Austin, Texas.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 1
Metro Population: 1,889,094
Median Home Price: $262,182
Median Annual Salary: $49,560
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 10.45 percent

Tech companies have been opening offices in the Texas metro area, partially for its affordability relative to the likes of San Jose and San Francisco, driving many people to Austin for work. It’s a hot enough destination that the metro area grew 10.45 percent over five years due to net migration.

Learn more about Austin.

2. Sarasota, Florida

2. Sarasota, Florida

Going toward Downtown Sarasota from from the Ringling Bridge

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 21
Metro Population: 735,767
Median Home Price: $224,613
Median Annual Salary: $40,600
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 10.74 percent

With a median age of more than 50 years old, Sarasota is a particularly attractive destination for retirees, even more so than other Florida locales. Sarasota grew by 10.74 percent in a five-year period due to net migration.

Learn more about Sarasota.

1. Fort Myers, Florida

1. Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers Beach pier, Florida, USA.

(Getty Images)

Best Places to Live 2017 Ranking: 70
Metro Population: 663,675
Median Home Price: $198,700
Median Annual Salary: $39,950
Net Migration Rate, 2011 to 2015: 12.7 percent

Fort Myers returns as the fastest-growing metro area in the U.S. Fort Myers grew a whopping 12.7 percent between 2011 and 2015, which is much higher than its 9.36 percent growth rate due to net migration between 2010 and 2014 from the 2016 ranking.

Learn more about Fort Myers.

Read More

Tags: money, real estate, mortgages, home refinancing, property taxes


Geoff Williams has been a contributor to U.S. News and World Report since 2013, writing about a variety of personal finance topics, from insurance and spending strategies to small business and tax-filing tips.

Williams got his start working in entertainment reporting in 1993, as an associate editor at "BOP," a teen entertainment magazine, and freelancing for publications, including Entertainment Weekly. He later moved to Ohio and worked for several years as a part-time features reporter at The Cincinnati Post and continued freelancing. His articles have been featured in outlets such as Life magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, Cincinnati Magazine and Ohio Magazine.

For the past 15 years, Williams has specialized in personal finance and small business issues. His articles on personal finance and business have appeared in CNNMoney.com, The Washington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, Forbes.com and American Express OPEN Forum. Williams is also the author of several books, including "Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever" and "C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America"

Born in Columbus, Ohio, Williams lives in Loveland, Ohio, with his two teenage daughters and is a graduate of Indiana University. To learn more about Geoff Williams, you can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow his Twitter page.

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