Learn from our list of the best places to retire in Canada to help you make a more informed decision on where you should live.
What makes a city a great place to retire? Some of the most important factors, like proximity to family, are deeply personal, but objective criteria may include climate, crime rates, cost of living, public transportation, health care access and senior living possibilities.
Fortunately for the 65+ crowd, many Canadian cities excel in these areas. The following are some of our top picks.
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Consistently rated one of the top five Canadian cities in MoneySense.ca’s annual list of best places to live, Calgary also ranked fifth globally in The Economist’s 2014 report on the world’s most livable cities. While both rankings take into account over 30 factors, Huffington Post summarizes the city’s main appeal as “High wages, low taxes, excellent quality of life, proximity to nature and cleanliness.”
In their article “39 Reasons to Move to Toronto,” Buzzfeed calls Toronto “North America’s boomtown,” noting that the city is now bigger than Chicago. Home to more than 50 senior centres, clubs and service groups, such as the Bernard Betel Centre, Elder Connections and Toronto Ride, Toronto also boasts the lowest crime rate of any Canadian city, according to the most recent numbers published by Statistics Canada.
Chosen by the Economist as the “World’s Most Livable City” eight times since 2002, Vancouver is Canada’s largest seaport and home to dozens of global companies, two major universities and several world-class hospitals. In addition to a lively arts scene centered around theatre, film and dance, seniors can enjoy the city’s natural beauty and mild climate. Summers are warm and dry, and, on average, snow falls only 11 days per year.
According to the web site “Living in Canada,” some of Edmonton’s best features include its location in Alberta, Canada’s “lowest tax province,” its ethnic diversity, its 97 kilometers of “biking, hiking, skiing, walking and snowshoeing trails,” and its “Ribbon of Green,” 27,400 of interconnected parklands that wind through the city.
In an article titled “100 Things to Love About Winnipeg,” the Toronto Sun lists Winnipeg’s smog-free air, friendly citizens and low home prices—along with things like the “nachos at Carlos and Murphy’s,” the intersection known as “Confusion Corner,” and Flatlanders Beer Festival—as being among the city’s key features. Organizations like the Stay Young Centre, Creative Retirement, Golden Rule Seniors and many others make the area especially attractive for seniors.
Located within the Niagara Escarpment and home to more than 100 waterfalls, Hamilton is known for its lush natural beauty and relatively moderate climate. TourismHamilton.com lists 27 golf courses, 34 performing arts venues, 23 libraries, 10 farmers’ markets and many other senior-friendly attractions.
Moving2Canada.com calls Ottawa “an extremely clean and green city.” CBC News touts the city’s famous sunsets as being “among the best in Canada,” and OttawaSeniors.com lists hundreds of local businesses and services geared toward seniors, including 19 driving services, 18 meal-delivery services, 40 sellers of adaptive clothing and devices, and 41 senior clubs and centres.
Ranked number 17 on Conde Nast Traveler’s 2013 “Readers’ Choice Best Cities in the World” list, Victoria is known as the “City of Gardens,” and famous for the 1,500 hanging baskets of flowers that appear downtown every June. According to the web site “Visitor’s Choice,” it has the “mildest year-round climate in Canada,” and “the lure of active lifestyles, superb amenities, manageable size and a welcoming atmosphere put Victoria at the top of the list as Canada’s favourite place to retire.”
Known as the “City of Forests,” London, Ontario is filled with more than 160,000 trees. According to RetireWow, London’s low housing prices, which come in at “10% and 30% below Canadian and American averages, respectively,” are a major source of the city’s appeal.
Recently ranked the best overall “mid-sized city” of the future by fDi Intelligence, Mississauga is home to over 50,000 businesses, and is known for its steady population growth and thriving economy. Its Square One Shopping Centre is one of the largest malls in Canada, containing more than 350 shops. Mississauga is committed to accessibility, and, in 2014, formed an 11-member “Older Adults Advisory Panel” who will work with city officials to incorporate services for older adults into future city development initiatives.
Canada’s “Flower City” is one of the country’s fastest growing, most culturally diverse places to live, with people of more than 209 ethnicities calling it home. The city of Brampton sponsors over 40 senior-focused clubs and recreational groups.
Ranked 13th on 2014’s MoneySense’s list of best cities in Canada, Saskatoon has a thriving business sector and booming economy. It’s also one of the sunniest cities in Canada, with “2,381 hours of sunshine per year,” according to LivingSaskatoon.com.
MoneySense named Burlington the top mid-sized city in Canada in both 2013 and 2014. Mayor Rick Goldring calls the city’s “great weather, amenities, great city programs and services, and very engaged, enthusiastic community” a “recipe for success.” Organizations such as the Burlington Seniors’ Centre provide seniors with a wealth of classes, activities and volunteer opportunities.
The Globe and Mail lists Kelowna as one of the most affordable places to retire in British Columbia. Residents enjoy warm summers and temperate winters, along with “fine dining, unique shops and vibrant culture,” all within a 10-minute drive of thriving orchards and vineyards, according to the city’s web site.
In 2014, the Intelligent Community Forum named Kingston one of the “Top 7 Intelligent Communities of the Year,” an award granted to cities that “provide role models for the world’s best practices in creating competitive local economies and vibrant societies in today’s hyper-competitive global economy.” The Kingston Senior Centre boasts over 5,000 members and offers seniors support in the form of foot care, help at home, frozen meals and more.
The recent recipient of a Sustainable Communities Award for its Energy Initiative, Guelph consistently scores well on MoneySense’s best cities list based on its high employment rate and low crime rate. The Guelph Senior Centre offers a variety of classes and activities, as well as peer support and a Half Day program that includes transportation and lunch.
Centrally located on the coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo features “a boldly revitalized downtown core, delightful harbor-front walkway, sparkling new museum, affordable art galleries, and a wealth of cool shopping and dining alternatives,” according to HelloBC.com. The city’s temperate weather and varied natural beauty make it a great place to live.
Kitchener was recently named a top town for new real estate investment by the Real Estate Investment Network, a leading Canadian real estate research organization. Population growth, job creation, transportation improvements and other hopeful economic factors played a role in the designation. Three senior centres, including the Breithaupt Centre, the Rockaway Centre and the Downtown Community Centre provide seniors with support services and recreational opportunities.
According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Regina is one of the Top 10 Canadian entrepreneurial communities. Home to Wascana Park, which at 2,300 acres is nearly three times the size of New York’s Central Park, Regina is a prairie town known for it’s sunny skies and friendly citizens.
Windsor is among the warmest of Canada’s cities, with a mean annual temperature of 9.9 degrees Celsius. According to the web site “RetireHere.ca,” many retirees move to Windsor to escape the high house prices of the Greater Toronto Area. “Bargain-price real estate (relative to big Canadian cities); low property taxes; a long growing season; bodies of water on three sides and, not least, proximity to the United States,” are cited as the city’s primary attractions.
What are your favourite cities in Canada and why? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.