7 Key Benefits of Renting vs Owning in Retirement for Low-Income Seniors.

Rent Or Own In Retirement in Canada for low-income seniors

photo of a house and apartment building with words rent vs own and two popular questions about this topic
Pros And Cons Of Renting Vs Owning In Retirement in Canada for low-income seniors

This article is for low-income Canadian seniors deciding whether to rent or own in retirement.

  • Are you deciding whether to rent in retirement?
  • How do you know which option is best for your retirement plan?
  • Renting can beat home ownership for retirees!

Read to find out why.  

Whichever route you go, housing costs will be one of your major monthly expenses in retirement. Here are some factors to consider when making a rent vs own in retirement decision.

Why is home ownership not the key to a comfortable retirement?

I am like many people in Canada who live pay cheque to pay cheque.

At 57, I have NO RETIREMENT SAVINGS. The only asset is my 1000 sq ft condo townhouse.
And with retirement just around the corner comes a host of questions about retirement on a low fixed income.

What you should be doing 5 years BEFORE retirement (15 actionable steps)

The reality is that many older homeowners are grappling with this issue but for a variety of different reasons.

Some have mortgage payments they couldn’t afford if they stopped working while others simply wish to forgo the hassles of home maintenance.

Others desperately need access to their home’s equity in order to afford basic necessities needed in retirement. A few may be looking to downsize their home for a more joyous retirement while others might be planning to move closer to kids.


Consider my thoughts about renting vs owning in retirement.

I have been a homeowner for the past 30 years, renting is an odd concept for me to consider right now. But does it make financial sense?

Let’s consider the facts.

I own a townhouse mortgage free and my monthly expenses are roughly $3000.00.

And will receive roughly $1000 in retirement from CPP, OAS, and GIS.

My concern is “Where to get the $2000 difference?

Is It Cheaper To Rent Or Own In Retirement?

Let’s look at the monthly numbers. My 1,000 sq. ft condo townhouse (mortgage free) vs one bedroom apartment in my city (Mississauga, Ontario).

Monthly INCOME
in retirement
$1000$1000 + $2000 (from
selling the house)
Rentno mortgage$1,750 – $2,400
Maintenance fee$300
Property Tax$300
Gas, Electricity, Water$224

If I retire at 60 and by miracle leave till 70. I will need $2000 a month only for 10 years.

$2000 x 12 x 10 = $240,000

The revenue that I will receive from selling my house easily will cover this amount.

“It’s math versus emotion: Emotions says `I own a home. It’s paid off.’ It just feels good. Who wants to be 70 and say, `I rent.’ It is just the pride and emotion versus the math and if you can get around that and just look at the numbers, most of the time it makes sense.” [source]

Should I Sell My House And Rent When I Retire In Canada?

There are good reasons to own a home in retirement, but there are also plenty of arguments for renting. The latter may be less expensive if it means you don’t have to pay for maintenance and repairs.

In my case, I NEED to renovate the master bathroom and kitchen. In today’s market, we are talking about $50,000 to $100,000. Should I borrow this money to renovate and retire with debt? Should I sell and don’t worry about it? Very tempting.

However, owning can be less stressful if you don’t have to worry about a landlord raising your rent.

Cashing out and Liquidity

Selling a home may take a long time; it also will involve lots of paperwork, and the real estate agent will charge a commission.

Many articles I read argue that it will reduce the return on the investment. ??? How can you calculate that? We purchased the house 30 years ago for $130,000 now its price is $650,000.

To me, it was a good investment. That is if I sell it, otherwise, it’s will be a big upkeep expense.

I had a 92-year-old neighbor that couldn’t afford to replace the broken AC or go up the stairs.

In order for me to use home equity to finance retirement income. I have next options;

  • Sell the house
  • Rent the house or part of it
  • Take a reverse mortgage
  • Home equity loan

For me as a single woman and introvert selling a house is more appealing.

But does ownership make sense? With many older Canadians approaching retirement with little savings – and some even carrying significant debt – selling the family home and renting may mean the difference between just getting by and living a life free from financial worry. [source]


PROS of OWING HOME (for me):

  • More stability and control.
  • NO worry about a landlord bumping up the rent. or a landlord sells the residence out.
  • I don’t have to hear noise from a neighbor
  • Fewer bugs in the house
  • Making the house age-friendly
  • Emotional attachment

CONS of OWING HOME (for me):

  • No money to pay for living expenses
  • Isolation and loneliness

unused rooms or spaces

Children grow older and move out. This means that your current home may have rooms or areas that go unused and take up empty space.

To me, unused spaces may feel like an extra burden for maintenance and cleaning.


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7 Reasons You Should Rent vs Owing In Retirement

Selling your home and moving into a rental has its points. 


  • No worries about house-sitting while you travel.
  • No worries about the upkeep
  • Better chances of finding new friends
  • Chance to retire earlier
  • Less staff to clean


  • Close proximity of others
  • Rent increase
  • Waiting for repairs and maintenance to be done can be frustrating
  • Less space to entertain or store hobby items for example
  • Loss of family home to come back at Christmas

Build Equity

For me living an inheritance to my two children is an important aspect as well.

However, if I sell the house and live the money, it will be easier for them to inherit. Instead of going through the hassle of selling a house while dealing with grief.

Open Options

Renting may make sense if you’re an empty nester, ready to downsize, or unsure of where you’ll spend your retirement years. You may want to move away for better weather or a lower cost of living for some years, but also be easily able to move closer to your family later on.

My health as a cancer survivor plays a big factor for me. Many assisted living is rent-only and I can qualify for government subsidy only if I don’t own the house.

If I do end up renting, I will be looking for a long-term lease that will lessen the uncertainty of rising rents.

Less Maintenance

The older the home the more you have to pay to upkeep it.

TIP: Read the lease carefully before you sign and make sure your landlord is responsible for all (or nearly all) maintenance and repairs.

It’s not just the cost. As you get older, your ability to do any of these jobs yourself will inevitably decline. Maybe you don’t want to live somewhere that finds you regularly standing on ladders to change the light bulbs or shoveling snow from the sidewalk—or the roof.

That’s when a super or building maintenance person can really help.

Freed-up Capital

Renting will free up money that I can invest. That will increase my overall income during my retirement years.

And free up cash for such needs as:

  • Increased healthcare expenses and medicare premiums
  • Tax payments
  • Increased food budget to accommodate dietary adjustments
  • Entertainment and travel
  • Family support and legacy planning
  • Cover the inflation


Think of a lifestyle change examples below:

  • Spending significantly more time in your home because you aren’t working.
  • Increasing difficulty navigating stairs, steep driveways, etc.
  • Picking up new hobbies both inside and outside of your home.
  • Hosting more family get-togethers, reading groups, etc.
  • Different hygiene routines come with age and other health factors.
  • More time for staying active through activities like walking around the neighborhood.
  • Traveling and being away for a few months a year.

Does your home accommodate that or moving to an apartment will suit you better?

My father recently passed away. He downsized his life 25 years ago and moved into a small apt building in Port Townsend, Wa. steps from the water. He would walk along the beach, go to the grocery store, and take the Ferry just because it was a nice day. Without question, I never saw him stressed out about anything since he downsized… He would always say that he had found the perfect lifestyle. Carefree & stress-free. It took me a few decades to fully grasp what he was saying. -The Global Vagabond

Family Home to Come back to

The biggest thing people worry about is the LOSS OF A FAMILY HOME. The place everybody comes back to at Christmas and its memory.

So their grown-up children have a place to come back to. A sense of family.

The reality is they don’t because they move on. They have kids and they want to start their own life with their own traditions. They go and buy a house that they are proud of. They don’t want to come to your house at Christmas and Thanksgiving. They want you to come to their new house.

The kids got tired of coming to us every year for the holidays…And they want us to come to their homes instead. And I was badly isolated BEFORE Covid hit, and nearly lost my mind during the distancing required by that epidemic. We, in particular, still have our home outside of nearby towns. It was a good place to raise our children. But they are gone and no one drops by. Ugh. – Texass Patty

Social Isolation

You probably saw it with your own parents that decided to stay in their family home. Weeks can go by without them seeing anybody.

Society has become very insular, and people don’t just knock on your front door anymore or drop in for a cup of tea. Your neighbors moved away or downsize. And you find yourself surrounded by newcomers.

In an apartment, you always meet somebody in an elevator or in the hallway.

We are planning to keep our house. We have a dog as do many of our neighbors. We meet them as we are walking the dog and get a little fresh air and exercise at the same time. We have always had Black Labs. I don’t think the next will be a puppy, but maybe a rescue. – Buddy Jenkins

If you sell your house and turned that illiquid asset into a liquid asset, you could actually retire now!!!

This is exactly what Norm and Tina did. They were able to retire at 57 by selling their large family home near Ottawa. Watch their YouTube channel playlist “Retirement Selling Your Home And Downsizing” to find out what they did.


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