Retirement – The golden years of a person’s life. After a lifetime of hard work, responsibilities, and obeying a work schedule, you can finally hang-up the “cape” and relax in your home, but it doesn’t have to be in the city you currently reside in. If you have decided to relocate for your retirement, you might be looking for the best places to retire in Canada.
Even if you have your own list of preferences for your place of retirement, this list can help. Taking a pragmatic and practical approach towards choosing your retirement city can ensure a happy and (financially) healthy retirement.
Table of Contents
Top Things to Consider When Choosing a City to Retire
Everyone has their own preferences, priorities, likes, and dislikes about everything. This stretches from small things like the favorite coffee and important decisions like the right career path. So it’s understandable that each person would have their own ideas about how and where to spend their retirement.
You might have your own checklist of your retirement dreams. You may want to pursue a hobby that you didn’t find time for in your working life. Or you might just want to stay close to nature. But if you plan to move to another city, your personal preferences alone cannot shape your decision. How much money you have saved up for your retirement would be the strongest factor influencing your dream retirement destination. When you’ve made your list of the best places to retire in Canada on a budget, then you can choose a place that’s a (near) perfect fit for you.
There are many other factors, as well. And while each person will have different needs when they retire, there are a few things you must consider:
Cost of living
Even if you are loaded with cash, the cost of living is a crucial factor to consider. An expensive place will deplete your savings faster and make your advanced years harder. Cost of housing (rent/own place), food, transportation, medical care, cost of services, and, most importantly, the cost of doing things you dreamt of doing in your retirement (hobbies, vacations, fishing, etc.), are all important factors to consider.
If you have certain chronic conditions (especially respiratory issues), you may not want to live in a humid city. Similarly, you don’t want to relocate to a place where it gets too cold, especially if you are used to milder weather. A sunny place might be packing too much heat for your liking. So think well about the weather before making up your mind. Ideally, visit and city in your chosen city in different weather before deciding to move there.
That’s more about personal preferences. If you’ve lived all your life in a bustling city, the quiet, calm, and “slow” life of small towns might get boring after a while, even if it seems appealing at first. You should also consider your major retirement employment and activities. If your hobbies are home-bound and will turn you into a homebody, most cities might look the same to you. But if you are outgoing, like to travel, hike, or have other hobbies, you should pick your retirement city accordingly.
Some people prefer the privacy of a big city, where you can spend years without knowing your neighbors. And more populous cities also mean more variety, more businesses, and a multitude of facilities, i.e., more options. Others prefer to chat up their neighbors over the fence and like the feeling of being part of a close-knit small community. They prefer the quiet that comes with fewer people around the town. Which one you are will be a deciding factor in choosing your retirement city.
Property Tax Rates
When you retire on your savings, understand that it’s all that you’ll have. So take into account expenses like property taxes, which you’ll have to pay even if you can buy a place in your retirement city. A $200,000 property in Whistler, BC, might have half the tax bill that a $200,000 property in Toronto would have. Over the years, just property tax rates can yield a difference of tens of thousands of dollars.
If you are planning to purchase a house, housing prices are one of the first things you should consider since this will have the most significant impact on your retirement savings. If you are thinking about your home as an asset, price appreciation patterns would also be important to consider. Rent might also be influenced by high housing prices (in case you are planning to rent a place).
Doctor per 100,000 Population
As you age, proximity to medical facilities and professionals become just as important as proximity to friends and family. That’s especially true if you are already dealing with chronic medical conditions. The concentration of doctors per capita is a less-than-ideal measure of how easily you will have access to medical care if you need it.
There are other factors to consider as well, like the crime rate in the neighborhood you are moving into, proximity to malls, restaurants and farmers markets, and several other things. Some of them are subjective, and some aren’t. Either case, if you are looking for the best places to retire in Canada on a budget, you have to do your research.
In this article, I’ve tried to lighten a little load for you. Even if you disagree with the choices, this list might add something to your thought processes, like new variables you might have ignored or a different perspective.
11 Best Places To Retire In Canada
Some of the best places to retire in Canada are stated below, in order of population (smallest to largest). Make sure the city you choose to retire in offers the best “balance” when it comes to your retirement goals, your financial standing, access to facilities you’ll require as you age, and is not too expensive.
One of the figures below that needs further clarification is the housing price. The prices below are based on the averages and medians for Oct-2020. It’s expected to give you an idea of how hot the market generally is.
The actual price of a property you might be seeking could be significantly lower (in most cases). That’s because, as a retiree, you might not look for a hip condo, well in the heart of the city, with a decent amount of square footage. You might look for a small, quaint, and sturdy home in a quieter town. Those characteristics alone might knock a significant percentage off the average price in that area.
1. Fredericton, NB
Cost of Living: $1,180 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 25.5°C January: -15°C
Lifestyle: Artsy, small-town feel with big-city facilities
Housing Prices (Average): $189,239
Property Taxes: 2.55%
Doctors’ Offices: 122
Fredericton is the capital city of the New Brunswick province. Population-wise, it’s quite small for a capital, but for retirees, it’s a blessed mix. The city is not too crowded, but as the regional capital, it has a lot of facilities a city of its size typically doesn’t have (though public transportation doesn’t run on Sundays). Property prices are low enough that you can afford a place if you have enough savings, especially if you are going for a condo.
The rent is also significantly cheaper. It has a humid continental climate, and it’s a riverside city. So if you fish, it might be an amazing city to settle down in. The city has a lot of historical buildings and museums, parks and hosts quite a few festivals for a city of its size. The largest hospital in the city has over 300 beds, several specialists, and a level 3 trauma center.
If you want to live some-place that’s a nice, affordable blend of nature and a moderately big-city, Fredericton might be the place for you.
2. Kingston, ON
Cost of Living: $1,194 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 25°C January: -3°C
Lifestyle: Mild-paced, healthy, and a bit costly
Housing Prices (Average): $308,749
Property Taxes: 1.34%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 138
If you don’t mind living in a city where half the population is made up of young students and not old retirees like yourself, Kingston might be the place for you. It has a long and proud history, especially military history, thanks to its strategic location.
As a retiree, you’d like Kingston’s relaxed aura and comfortable pace of living. The city is sunny for almost half the year. Local transportation is efficient, quick, and affordable. But the most potent point in Kingston’s favor is perhaps its excellent medical facilities. Kingston General Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in Southern Ontario. The city has many great places that you can visit or spend your retirement time in, like Lake Ontario Park or the Museum of Healthcare, the only one of its kind in the country. You can also pursue several outdoor activities in the city, like sailing, fishing, golfing, or hiking.
3. Burlington, ON
Cost of Living: $1,257 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 27°C January: 2°C
Lifestyle: Casual, social, and “outdoorsy.”
Housing Prices: $896,000 (Average), $808,000 (Median)
Property Taxes: 0.76%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 102
There are 115 parks in the small city of Burlington, so you won’t have trouble finding fresh air in the city. It’s just about 40 minutes away from Toronto, so if you have family there, you might love living in this quaint little town. It has a strong creative community and enough art venues, especially considering its population. The city is also very bicycle-friendly.
There is one major hospital in the town, but for some serious issues, you may have to go to Hamilton, which isn’t too far off. One chink in Burlington’s armor is its housing prices. Even if you want to rent, you may find the city relatively expensive to live in. But if you find a way around this expense (co-op, small house, etc.), the city will seem quite affordable. Or you can choose the city’s retirement facilities. You can also find a wide spectrum of retirement living in the city, including active retirement living, assisted living, and home care.
4. Kelowna, BC
Cost of Living: $1,071 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 27°C January: 0°C
Lifestyle: Retiree-friendly, casual, and bustling (only when the tourists’ swamp)
Housing Prices (Average): $412,790
Property Taxes: 0.527%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 137
Kelowna is actually sort of cliché when it comes to retirement communities. Until the last census, over 18% of the population was made up of retirees – way above the national average. It sees all the four seasons, housing is a bit expensive (especially if you try and live closer to the lake), and if you are an oenophile (a fancy way of saying wine-lover), Kelowna is a place to be. It’s a perfect blend of nature, quiet and big-city rush (especially in tourist season).
If you don’t mind being a bit out of the city for cheaper housing, like to drive and enjoy outdoor leisure activities and picnics by the lake, then you may find Kelowna affordable enough. The main medical facility, i.e., is quite sizeable with over 700 beds, and the number of doctors per capita is high enough as it is in the city. One major attraction that draws many a retiree to this city is the dry weather.
5. Victoria, BC
Cost of Living: $1,186 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 20°C January: 7°C
Lifestyle: Densely urban, friendly, and costly
Housing Prices: $1,000,000 (both average and median)
Property Taxes: 0.50%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 176
A very high doctor count per capita and a meager property tax (Assuming you can afford to buy a place) make it one of the best places to retire in Canada when you are not on a budget. The temperature is moderate and dry. In fact, it’s one of the driest cities in the region. It receives about half as much snow as Vancouver.
Transportation can be a bit costly, especially to and from the island. Housing is also a bit expensive, but as a trade-off, you get to live in a densely populated yet friendly city. And even though you might not be looking for any flings in your retirement age, it’s also Canada’s most romantic city. If you love flowers (and are not allergic to pollen), the “garden city” will feast your eyes with a variety of flowers.
If you are an extroverted, social creature who thrives in urban densities and can afford to pay for it, Victoria is for you.
6. Halifax, NS
Cost of Living: $1,202 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 23°C January: 0°C
Lifestyle: “Rustic” big city and affordable life
Housing Prices (Average): $406,000
Property Taxes: 1.03%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 145
Halifax is the largest city in the province, and population-wise, it’s practically half the province by itself. Since it’s the regional capital of almost everything, you will find the best medical professionals and healthcare facilities available in the region if you move to Halifax. It has a very coastal-vibe, and you get to taste some amazingly fresh sea-food.
The coastal closeness also impacts the climate. You get relatively milder winters and a lot of humidity. It’s a big city, but it doesn’t really incorporate all the features of one, and that’s not a bad thing. You get a thriving nightlife, but not too much traffic in the rush hour. It’s more historical and less “artsy” in nature. Also, the outdoor activities are mostly centered on the seas. So if you are more into hiking or hunting, you may not find Halifax much to your liking.
7. London, ON
Cost of Living: $1,036 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 20°C January: -6°C
Lifestyle: Mild-paced, casual urban living
Housing Prices (Average): $517,000
Property Taxes: 1.34%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 111
In London, you get almost everything you want in a big city, without all the rush and the crowd. That’s one of the best ways to describe this city. Its strongest points are its proximity to the US (Detroit), proximity to Niagara Falls (but it might get repetitive after a while), affordability, and greenery. It’s called the forest city for a reason, and if you love nature and taking long walks, London might be the city for you.
Housing in the city is not very expensive, compared to some other cities its size in the province. Being the regional healthcare center, London offers plenty of medical facilities and professionals. You might have access to all kinds of medical experts and nurses for assisted living (if you need it at an advanced age). It has a humid continental climate, and the city gets heavy snowfalls.
8. Winnipeg, MB
Cost of Living: $1,128 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 26°C January: -11°C
Lifestyle: climate-driven, big-city life
Housing Prices (Average): $353,238
Property Taxes: 2.75%
Doctors’ Offices: 765
If you are looking for a milder climate and a dry place to live, Winnipeg isn’t that. But if you can bear with the humid summers and cold-dreary winters, “the peg” can be an affordable city to retire in, especially when you want to buy a house (with a thin retirement budget) and still live in a big city. The city focuses a lot on art and history and has decent medical facilities and a sizeable number of family physicians.
It’s a thriving economic hub which tends to draw a lot of immigrants. So Winnipeg has a well-diversified community. Some time ago, the city got a bad reputation for crime rates, but thankfully, it’s under control now.
The community is helpful, and the cuisine is excellent and diverse. So if you are a foody and the weather permits it, you can enjoy its various restaurants. One major point in Winnipeg’s favor is its affordability.
9. Ottawa, ON
Cost of Living: $1,152 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 27°C January: -11°C
Lifestyle: Quiet, reserved, and family-oriented
Housing Prices (Median): $570,000
Property Taxes: 1%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 145
If you like living in a big city, especially as an introvert that doesn’t really like socializing, the capital might be a good place for you to retire. It’s quiet, clean, and beautiful. The quality of life is high, but thankfully not the cost and property taxes. In Ottawa, you’ll have access to some of the best healthcare facilities that the country has to offer. It’s also very tech-heavy in nature, so if your medical care requires significant technological integration (which would be the case in a few years), Ottawa might be a good place to be.
If you don’t own or want to drive your own car, you might find the city a bit hard to navigate. The local transport is more oriented towards taking people to and from work, then to leisure activities. The city is not very retirement friendly. But if you can take care of yourself and are pretty self-dependent, that won’t matter much. Crime is relatively low. The winters can be rough.
10. Calgary, AB
Cost of Living: $1,197 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 21°C January: -2°C
Lifestyle: Bustling, fast, and dynamic
Housing Prices: $469,000 (average), $416,000 (Median)
Property Taxes: 0.75%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 143
Despite being one of the most populous cities in the country, Calgary is relatively very affordable. The cost of living is low, and so are property taxes. It has a relatively dry climate, and winters are quite cold, but not brutally so. It’s home to many petroleum-related headquarters and has acquired quite a bit of wealth. As a thriving metropolitan, it has attracted a lot of people from other countries and other parts of the country.
This essentially means that it’s a great place to work but might not be an ideal place to retire if you want closeness to nature and a quiet atmosphere. However, if you are too used to the socially charged and bustling life of a big city, and want to keep enjoying life to the fullest and engage in a plethora of activities that a big city has to offer, then Calgary might be just the place for you.
11. Vancouver, BC
Cost of Living: $1,179 per month (without rent)
Weather: Average Max Temp – July: 22°C January: 6°C
Lifestyle: Costly, dynamic and healthy
Housing Prices: $1,300,000 (average), $975,000 (median)
Property Taxes: 0.29%
Doctor per 100,000 Population: 160
The third most populous city in the country is a beautiful metropolitan that offers a rich and dynamic big city life and can be a great place to retire if you are loaded. Despite very low property taxes, you’ll find housing painfully expensive. But if you can afford it, Vancouver has a lot to offer. Despite being home to over 2.5 million people and a concrete jungle, the city has its fair share of natural sights. It’s surrounded by forests, and the beauty of the city attracts so many tourists that tourism is the second-largest industry.
The city is also famous for being one of the healthiest in the country, and while with a population of millions, it’s not easy to generalize. Still, Vancouver’s citizens pride themselves on developing healthy habits. It has one of the smallest overweight populations, and relatively fewer people smoke.
If you still have years till you retire, but you’ve already started planning, there is one simple fact you have to understand: Your options are directly proportional to your finances. If you have sizeable retirement savings, you can have your pick of the litter. The smaller your retirement funds, the lesser your options will be.