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What should I consider as I plan my retirement?
For active older Canadians, retirement opens up a whole new world of opportunities and one of those opportunities is finding the perfect retirement home.
It's not an easy decision. For many retirees, leaving their family home is an overwhelming experience both physically and emotionally. Preparing yourself before you make your move can make all the difference in the world.
Before you start looking, here are some things to consider:
- Do I want to stay in the same neighbourhood? It's been your home for years. Can you leave behind friends and acquaintances and say goodbye to your trusted doctors, friendly shopkeepers, and familiar surroundings?
- Where would I really like to live? Do you want the diversity and cultural opportunities of a major metropolitan city? Is it time for that home in the country? Can you bear the Canadian winter?
- How much can I afford? You have many years to look forward to, but your income is going to be relatively fixed. A good financial plan can help you decide what you can afford, not just now, but in ten or twenty years from now as well.
- What sort of lifestyle do I want? Retirement living offers all sorts of possibilities, from owning your own home, to living in a community, to joining a retirement community. Which one fits your lifestyle? Is it the small bungalow so you can have your own garden or the condominium that does all the maintenance for you? Each has its benefits and each has its drawbacks.
- Where will I be in ten years time? Ideally, the perfect retirement home is one that will accommodate your needs as they change over the next few years and reduce the chance of having to make another move when you may be less prepared.
Once you've determined that you're ready to take the plunge, there is an abundance of options available to you.
Short on maintenance and long on amenities, condominiums are a favourite choice of empty nesters and retirees.
Condominium apartments and townhomes are available in virtually every price range and neighbourhood. Many offer recreational facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness areas, and even golf courses.
Remember that when you own a condominium you're governed by the by-laws, rules, and regulations established by the condominium board. Make sure you know how these will affect you (especially if you have a pet) before you buy.
Bungalows give empty nesters and retirees the best of both worlds – your own house and yard with minimal maintenance and, best of all for many retirees, no stairs.
The bungalow living concept has surged in popularity in recent years, especially in smaller communities outside major centres where homes are less expensive.
What are retirement communities?
An adult lifestyle community provides the benefit of home ownership along with recreational and social activities. With the proliferation of these communities in the last few years, the choices are better than ever.
You can choose from several different ownership options, each of which has different benefits for the individual owner. When comparing adult lifestyle communities, make sure you know which title you will be assuming and understand its advantages and disadvantages.
- Fee simple – The highest form of ownership with minimal restrictions.
- Condominium – You own, and are responsible for, the interior area of your unit (everything from the plaster in). The condominium association, funded by monthly fees, is responsible for the upkeep of the building and grounds.
- Land lease – You own the structure and contents, and lease the land.
- Life lease – As a tenant, you have a leasehold interest in the unit, and the shared use of common facilities. You make a lump-sum payment and have an ongoing obligation for common costs.
What are the benefits of retirement homes?
Residential retirement living is a flexible lifestyle option for older adults who are active and independent.
Retirement residence living takes the work and worry out of day-to-day living so there's more time to enjoy life. You choose how much you want to do for yourself and how much you want to have done for you (and how you spend your time and who you spend it with).
Peace of mind – No worries about frozen pipes, break-ins, missed medication, or "What happens if I fall?"
Companionship – Living with others who share your memories of yesterday and your interests of today.
Fulfillment – Opportunities to enjoy current interests or develop new ones. The freedom to spend your time in the ways you find rewarding.
Privacy – As much or as little as you want. Entertain in your own suite, or join a group for an outing. It's your choice.
The Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) keeps a list of accredited retirement homes in Ontario. For more information, please contact ORCA.