Planning to Retire to Another Province?- Consider These Things

One of the important decisions you make when retiring is where you want to spend your retirement years.

According to a BMO survey, most Canadians prefer to stay close to home rather than uprooting their lives. Of those who plan to relocate, most move to another province. Only about 10% of the survey respondents would like to relocate outside of Canada, of which 5% move to the US, with Florida and Arizona the not surprising favourite destinations.

The 2016 census shows that Alberta has the lowest proportion of seniors (12.3%) and Albertans are the most likely to relocate (61%).  Where do they move to? Beautiful British Columbia is the most likely destination for them as well as those from Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

As a recent migrant from Alberta to B.C. myself, I suspect that getting away from 9-month-long frozen prairie winters is tops on the list of reasons to move. British Columbians on the other hand plan to remain in their own home province.

Residents of Atlantic Canada are the most likely to stay put (only 37% would move away). It is interesting to note that these provinces expect to see the highest increase in seniors in the next few years. This is not surprising news to me since most of the Maritimers I have worked with over the years in Calgary stated that they couldn’t wait to return to the “old sod.” It’s true that for them “home is where the heart is”.

The places with the highest percentage of seniors are:

  1. Peterborough, Ontario
  2. Trois Rivieres, Quebec
  3. Kelowna, B.C.
  4. St. Catherines, Ontario
  5. Victoria, B.C.

What are people looking for?

What are people looking for in a Canadian retirement community?

Not surprisingly, good weather was one the most frequently cited considerations.

I was overjoyed to experience Spring weather like this:

Instead of this:

Also high ranking is the proximity to family, affordable housing costs, the availability of health care facilities and things to do.

There has also been a heavier migration from cities to smaller communities, although close proximity to a major city is desirable.

Some top Canadian retirement communities

For Canada’s retirees, seeking out a place to call home means finding a community that offers the most opportunities to enjoy this stage of life to the fullest. For those of you who don’t have a cottage to escape to, here are seven popular retirement communities that more and more boomers are beginning to call home.


  1. Halifax, Nova Scotia  

Halifax has a thriving arts scene and many walking trails. The city also has the largest concentration of health care facilities and specialists in Canada.


  2. Moncton, New Brunswick

Moncton was named Canada’s most polite and honest city by Readers Digest magazine. Real estate is very affordable for both buying and renting. It has the second highest number of family physicians per 100,000 residents in Canada.

Although it’s cold in the winter, the sun shines most of the year. The areas four large parks make it great for walkers, and there’s nearby Magic Mountain Water Park for visiting grandchildren.

  3.  Rimouski,  Quebec

The winters are cold, but summers are warm.  The regional hospital is the city’s largest employer so there’s no shortage of doctors. 

To live here you’ll have to brush up on your French.

  4. Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa is consistently in the top of MoneySense magazine’s list of best places to retire. It was named the world’s cleanest city. Summers are hot and humid. There’s a good selection of senior’s centres and excellent health care and support.

There are lots of community services to get involved in and outdoor water activities.  The Rideau canal connects Ottawa to Kingston which, when frozen, makes it one of the world’s largest skating rinks.

  5. Niagara region, Ontario

This area has the second highest proportion of senior residents in Ontario (19%), behind Peterborough (20%).   It offers lots to do for retirees on the go.  Niagara Falls, wineries and the Shaw Theatre Festival make it a top tourist attraction.  

People who are downsizing and looking for a slower pace while still close to Toronto (90 minute drive) are finding this area appealing.

  6. Okanagan, British Columbia

After decades of slogging through Canada’s winters, for me there was no better reward than moving to the Okanagan – a popular retirement location.

The area from Osoyoos to Salmon Arm, and encompassing Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon, is one of the most affordable in B.C. Residents soak up hot summers and temperate winters. They enjoy beautiful lakes – second-to-none for sailors and water sport enthusiasts, sandy beaches, thriving orchards and wine tasting at the hundreds of vineyards. There’s golf, skiing, arts and culture and lots of family and kid friendly attractions for your visitors. 

7. Comox, British Columbia

While retirees are know for flocking to Victoria, Comox is becoming an increasingly popular place to settle down.

If being outdoors is a priority, then Comox is for you.  It’s perfect for those who want to sit back and watch nature.  It boasts prime fishing and year-round golfing.  The sunny summer days and mild winters make it conducive to gardening as well.

Some things to consider

Is retirement the best time to relocate? There are many things to consider. 

A move that’s lifestyle motivated may lead you to a location where the cost of living is higher. It may also involve frequent travel to visit your family, also increasing your expenses.

If you plan to relocate, you need to review your health care coverage.  Provincial income tax differences can be substantial depending on your income level.

Your Will and Power of Attorney may no longer be accepted, or adequate. Probate fees vary widely between provinces, so it’s crucial to review, and possibly revise, your estate plan.

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