How to find the best place to live when you retire?

How to find the best place to retire?

seniors couple in front of the house
Here are a few factors to consider when finding the best place to retire for you.

What is your plan for retirement after working whole your life? Perhaps it is to move into town and buy a condo to be closer to your family, doctors, hospital, library, supermarket, and liquor store.


You might decide to stay where you are, which is a great choice if it works for you.

Oh, let’s not forget important aspects like weather, cost of living, housing, and community.

How To Find the Best Place to Retire for You?

There’s more to it than just the cost of living and proximity to family.

If there were one perfect spot to match the needs of every retiree, deciding where to retire would be simple. But no dream location fits every dream.

Regardless of your ideal – or your deal-breakers – here is a few factors to consider when looking for the best place to retire.

key take away form the post How to find the best place to retire

Consider Staying Where You Are

Before you assume that you should move in retirement, evaluate your current living situation.

Choosing to stay in your current home or town/city is a perfectly valid choice if it fits your future needs and what you want out of retirement physically and emotionally. Maybe your grandchildren are just a short car away or you live in a thriving neighborhood with a shopping center within walking distance and a hospital nearby.

Fear of change, decluttering, or renting aren’t good reasons to stay in a home not well suited to your next stage of life. There is no question that change is hard, especially as one gets older.

Having the option to move elsewhere for retirement doesn’t necessarily mean you HAVE to take it.

If you do decide to move, try a new location by living in Airbnb for a week and exploring are.

“I spent a decade upgrading my property so I feel I can easily maintain it until I’m too old, and then I’ll just pay someone to do the chores. No further major changes should be required on the property. I know the neighbors and like the neighborhood, so I plan on staying until I keel over and hopefully never have to go to a “home”. My kids and grandkids are close, and they can give some assistance.”

Assess the Cost of Living

COVID-19 has changed everything, including where people might want to live in their retirement.

First, determine your budgeting cost, a low cost of living and housing costs are critical to most of us and help to stretch our retirement income further.

Also, factor in that plans and financial circumstances can change

  • Upon the death of a spouse,
  • The need for a more hands-on living facility,
  • or just a change of heart.

RELATED: 8 Cheapest Places To Retire In Ontario

Know Your Taxes in Retirement

Do you plan on retiring to a new community? If so, it’s important to review the property taxes where you plan to live. Usually, we focus on actual home prices and forget about property tax, maintenance fees, and utilities.

For instance, in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), there is a big difference in property taxes between the east and west ends of the city. This could mean a difference of thousands of dollars depending on where you settle. 

Similar situation with condos and maintenance fees. They can vary widely depending on building age, amenities, and services, so be sure to factor these into your search.

NOTE: Many municipalities offer their own online property tax estimation calculator. Be sure to check!

💡 TIP: Focus on life planning over tax planning. If you don’t like where or how you’re spending your days, low taxes won’t necessarily make you happy. Depending on other financial data points of the location, low taxes might not save you much money, either.

What to Consider When Choosing a Place to Retire

THE IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER: When you are trying to find the best place to retire depends on the type of retirement you see for yourself.

It’s also a good idea to visit several areas before you decide to move anywhere for your retirement.

There are key aspects every future retiree needs to consider when in the planning stages, including

  • home prices/property taxes,
  • local amenities,
  • population size,
  • vibrant economy,
  • low crime rate,
  • transportation,
  • access to medical care,
  • access to the Internet,
  • and more.

Also, consider how your choices will affect your retirement budget (needing a car vs. using public transit), so don’t forget to look at the new places from all sides!

How Do I Find the Best Place to Retire: AMENITIES

Do you plan to live in a large city, a small town, or somewhere in between? Certainly, where you choose to live will impact your day-to-day life.

FIRSTLY, what about entertainment? Where is the closest movie theatre? What is the public library like? Are there recreation facilities, great public parks, or festivals? If you’re a fan of different cuisines and of dining out, what types of restaurants are around?

SECONDLY, what about stores and/or malls? For instance, how close are a decent grocery store, corner store, and gas station? If you have specific medical needs, are there pharmacies or home health care stores (or even cannabis dispensaries) where what you need is available? What about farmer’s markets or local goods?

FINALLY — and for many people moving to a new place, most importantly — what about the community? Does the municipality offer free activities/groups (especially for seniors or retired people)? Are there religious services or communities that align with your beliefs? What about any volunteer or even part-time work opportunities?

Choose all that applyNot
Access to Green Space
Bike Paths
Continue Education
Exercise Facilities
Fairs & Festivals
Golf Course
Indoor Swim Facilities
Movie Cinemas
Outdoor Concerts
Running Paths
Sporting Events
Provincial Park
Walking Paths

How Do I Find Best Place to Retire: CULTURAL ACTIVITIES

Choose all that applyNot ImportantPreferredRequired
Live Music Series

How Do I Find the Best Place to Retire: HOUSING OPTIONS

The most popular options people consider when they trying to find the best place to retire is:

  • stay where you are;
  • buy somewhere else that is physically easier for them;
  • rent somewhere else that is physically easier for them;
  • rent somewhere that is physically easier for them;
  • move in with younger family members in a three-generation home;
  • or, go to some form of retirement residence.
Choose all that applyNot ImportantPreferredRequired
Adult Communities
Affordable Housing
With Family Members
Assisted Living
Gated Communities
Group Homes
Nursing Homes
Over 50 Communities
Rental Units
Residential Care Facility
RV Parks

How Do I Find the Best Place to Retire: TRANSPORTATIONS

Choose all that applyNot ImportantPreferredRequired
Nearby Major Airport
Nerby Cruise Terminal
Rental Cars
VA Transportation

How Do I Find the Best Place to Retire: SENIOR ASSISTANCE

Choose all that apply Not ImportantPreferredRequired
Elder-Care Facilities
Home Care
Meals On Wheels
Senior Centre
Van Service for Seniours
Visiting Nurses

Take a Trip to Find the Best Place to Retire

If many different locations appeal to you, get out and see them. Starting years before retirement, visit five or six places. Once you have narrowed down your choices to three or fewer, spend a few weeks in each location to carefully weigh the pros and cons of day-to-day living.

Don’t spend all of your time near the hotel―instead, get out and visit neighborhoods to get a sense of the people and the overall community engagement.

Most importantly, do not base a decision on average home prices found on the web, which might be inaccurate. Meet with realtors in the area to get a sense of actual home prices and find someone committed to helping you find the right place.

Research The Best Places to Retire

Before making any decisions about where you want to live, do some research:

  • HOUSING PRICES: Visit Canadian Real Estate Association to find average price in area.
  • DETERMINE THE COST OF LIVING: NUMBEO measures the cost of living in many areas of Canada and even has comparison table.
  • CHECK OUT WEATHER AND CRIME RATE: Use web to find out these numbers.
  • FIND HEALTH PROVIDERS: Use the web to find the physicians and hospitals available in the area and guides to the best hospitals by location or specialty.

With RETIREMENT RESIDENCES, you obviously have to do your homework and understand the costs of being there. But for many, it’s a decision that is right, especially for those with known medical issues.

Make Your Decision

Once you’ve explored all aspects of your chosen locations, go through a list of pros and cons for each and create a spreadsheet to price out the cost of living in each location. It’s old-fashioned but seeing the lists on paper will help you decide with your partner.

What it truly all comes down to, factoring in all of the above, is how best a place fits with your overall lifestyle, needs, and budget. Ask yourself whether the place you’re considering aligns with your current life, including how safe you feel, and how close you are to various amenities and comforts.

Whether a big city or small town, you’ll have your own personal checklist of what’ll make the perfect place to retire. Take your time and consider everything carefully!


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