Retirement Real Estate Planning

Are you prepared for retirement?

Published on February 17th, 2021

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By 2041, one in four Canadians, nearly 25%, will be over the age of 65. Just a generation earlier, in 2011, that figure was only 14.8%. This demographic shift has already caused a population explosion in retirement-friendly cities such as Penticton, British Columbia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; and London, Ontario. City planners are scrambling to build more apartments and retirement residences near vital amenities such as shopping malls, hospitals and medical offices.


The latest statistics show that 61% of people aged 55 to 64 live in houses, but by the time they are 75-years-old that figure has dropped to 52.1% with many of those people moving into apartments. 


What the statistics don’t reveal is the vast range of housing options and lifestyle choices during each stage of senior life. How might you plan to enjoy your retirement to the fullest? Consider: 



Where you live will have a major impact on your finances, quality of life, family connections and access to services. 


  • City living vs. rural life
     A farmhouse, a cottage or a cabin on a fishing lake might sound like a dream come true. The property is likely to be more affordable than a house in a major city. However, rural life poses other challenges. It may require a long drive to visit a doctor, dentist or, in the worst case, the emergency room of a hospital. Sometimes it will cost more for maintenance because plumbers, roofers and others will have a longer commute. 


  • Canada vs. living abroad
     If you enjoy warm weather year-round, you’ve likely already considered renting or buying property south of our border. Visiting the U.S. and Mexico is normally quite easy, but staying for several months, or even permanently will require permits or visas. Living in another country has implications for legal residency, taxes, healthcare coverage, drivers license, and more. 


Type of Real Estate
 If you are hoping to live most or all of your retirement in your own home, plan in advance to help you achieve that goal:


  • Establish a low maintenance yard, 
  • Install raised garden beds,
  • Purchase a home without stairs to allow easy use of a walker or wheelchair,
  • Choose a property close to family, shopping and medical services. 


Home Insurance: House vs. Apartment
 If you plan to travel extensively, many things can happen while you are away such as fire, flood, falling tree branches, sewer backup, etc. Whether you live in a house or apartment, insurers have strict requirements (e.g., shut off the water supply, regular checks).  Some people find apartment living is more worry free, but house owners can hire a property management service.


Thinking outside the box

Co-operative housing involves sharing a property with other people. Typically, co-owners buy shares in a large property and collectively hire lawn care, cooking, cleaning and other services.  



Mobility and Ageing


Mobility is affected by vision and hearing loss as well as changes in balance and strength due to illness, injury and ageing. According to data collected by CMHC, one in 10 people of working age (15 to 64 years) reported having a disability compared to one in three among people aged 65 and older. 


Assistance in the home
 Many people would prefer to stay in their own homes as they age rather than going into a care facility. Fortunately, help is available. Public health authorities can send registered care aids to visit homes to administer medication, assist with bathing, nutrition etc. These health services may be free depending on income level. If you require domestic services such as cleaning and cooking, these can be arranged through a paid private service. 


Retirement Timing


When people retire, they are sometimes surprised to discover they miss the ‘daily grind’ of a job. Work provides an income, but also camaraderie, pride, purpose and even a sense of identity. Many people over the age of 65 are mentally and physically very capable of remaining on the job and in 2011 the Canadian government recognized this fact by abolishing mandatory retirement. 


On the other hand, considering that one in three seniors has a mobility issue, it is tempting to take an early, active retirement. On the downside, government benefits may be reduced. 


What will you choose? Would you like to continue in your current line of work full-time, as a contractor or a part-time to full-time employee? Do you dream of turning a favourite hobby into a business? Would you like to piano on a cruise ship or be a tour guide in paradise? Are you ready to try an entirely new line of work?


How will you make the most of your retirement? 





Sources: Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation; Statistics Canada, 2011 Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-316-XWE. Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population, Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-316-X2016001. 

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