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The Best Places to Retire in Canada

Explore the country’s top retirement destinations for accessibility and comfort
By · April 12, 2024
The Best Places to Retire in Canada

Housing costs are an important consideration when choosing a place to retire in Canada. Access to health care and recreational activities, proximity to family and friends and enjoyment of scenic beauty are also priorities for retirees.

Real estate prices in Canada’s major cities are high, as is the cost of living. This makes city living less than ideal for retirees on a fixed pension or those looking for more economical options.

Many are opting for smaller towns where they can afford to live comfortably and enjoy life at a more relaxed pace.

From BC’s stunning mountains and breezy seaside regions, Ontario and Quebec towns steeped in history, and the picturesque Atlantic coast– Canada has a lot to offer for prime retirement locations.

Parksville and Central Vancouver Island, B.C.

Vancouver Island is appealing to seniors, as it is much less crowded than Vancouver and the lower mainland. The peaceful beach town of Parksville houses several retirement communities and is a 30-min drive to the city of Nanaimo. This means easy access to a ton of amenities. Nearby Qualicum Beach is another retirement hotspot in Canada. With expansive beaches and a village atmosphere, you’ll love it.

House Prices

Condos are the most economical option for living in the Parksville/Qualicum area; the average price for a condo is $425 000. House prices average at $725 000. These prices make it significantly more affordable than nearby Victoria’s average of $1.2 million and Saltspring Island’s average of $1.4 million.

Weather and Things to Do

Parksville and Qualicum residents enjoy temperate, coastal climates with mild, wet winters and warm, drier summers.

Long, sandy beaches provide the perfect setting for walking, swimming and sunrise views. There are forested hiking trails in every direction for excursions and bird watching. The towns themselves house artisan gift shops, golf courses, recreational facilities, cafes and restaurants.

The Buckley Bay ferry terminal is a 30-minute drive north. This provides easy access to Denman and Hornby Islands for a Gulf Island day trip or weekend getaway. Strathcona National Park is two hours away for the more adventurous types seeking pristine mountains.

South Okanagan, B.C.

The southern region of the Okanagan Valley is ideal because of its comfortable climate. It suits those who are looking to get away from the city lifestyles of Kelowna, Vancouver or Calgary. The area is peaceful, yet Kelowna is within an hour’s drive of any South Okanagan town, for bigger-city amenities and an international airport.

READ: Pros and Cons of Living in Rural Canada.

House Prices

Average house prices in Penticton are $708 000. In Summerland, they average $766 000, and in Osoyoos, the average is $673 000. These prices are much lower than nearby Kelowna, whose homes average at $953 000, and in Vancouver, $1.16 million.

Weather and Things to Do

South Okanagan’s diverse geography contributes to its hot, dry summers (with warm nights!), and mild winters. The desert-like terrain includes mountains, valleys and lakes.

Residents enjoy the warm lakes in the summer for swimming, boating and kayaking. Sprawling vineyards offer wine tours and tastings. Canada’s only desert boasts hiking trails, a strong Indigenous culture and unique flora and fauna.

Recreational facilities, farmers' markets, and community centres are in all South Okanagan towns. There are also options for hiking and skiing close by. Being a touristic area, the South Okanagan provides diverse restaurants and entertainment venues.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

For retirees looking for a different lifestyle than the big-city hustle and bustle, Niagara-on-the-Lake offers the perfect combo of scenic beauty, history and wine country. Residents still live close to Toronto and surrounding cities while enjoying a lower cost of living.

One additional benefit is that Ontario has the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) which has a senior drug program for seniors over age 64.

House Prices

House prices in Niagara-on-the-Lake average at around $657 000. This is considerably lower than real estate in Toronto and Mississauga where houses average at $1 million, and Hamilton where the average price is $795 000. These prices make Niagara-on-the-Lake an accessible choice to enjoy retirement in Canada.

Looking for more options nearby? Check out our post on Retirement Homes in Barrie, ON.

Weather and Things to Do

Niagara-on-the-Lake’s climate can be described as humid continental, meaning it has four distinct seasons. The hot summers and cold, snowy winters complement each other, with bouts of high humidity in summer and fall.

Eastern Canada is famous for the vibrant red and orange colours of autumn leaves.

The town sits on the beautiful Niagara River and is home to many vineyards and orchards. For history buffs, Niagara-on-the-Lake offers 19th-century architecture, historic sites and museums.

Along with a thriving arts community, there are several cultural attractions such as galleries and festivals. Toronto is a 1.5 hr drive away for access to city amenities, specialised health care, family visits and world-class entertainment. Alternatively, there are many options for travelling to Toronto by boat.

Eastern Townships (Cantons de L’est), Qc.

The Eastern Townships area is perfect for retirees who want the convenience of living close to Montreal without sacrificing tranquillity and beautiful surroundings. Quebec City can be reached in two hours and Ottawa is 3.5 hours away, providing accessibility for those relocating from afar.

House Prices

Eastern Townships houses average at $457 000, with the town of Sherbrooke’s average being $515 000. Buying a house in the Eastern Townships is less expensive than in nearby Montreal, where house prices average at $596 000. And even more so compared to Ottawa, where the average is $761 000.

READ: Guide to living in Canada’s Capital city, Ottawa.

Weather and Things to Do

Similar to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Eastern Townships experience a continental climate with four distinct seasons. You'll get hot summers with warm nights, and cold, snowy winters. Summer and fall are humid– a perk for creaky joints.

The Eastern Townships region is surrounded by lakes, forests and rolling hills. This creates the perfect setting for outdoor recreation. You'll have access to endless walking, hiking, water activities, sports and birdwatching. The many towns and villages offer a network of tight-knit communities, perfect for exploring the area’s rich heritage with new friends. Montreal is close by for those seeking urban amenities.

The city’s famous arts scene, top-of-the-line healthcare, shopping and dining experiences are only a short drive away.

Mahone Bay, N.S.

Mahone Bay is a popular seaside retirement option in Nova Scotia, offering small-town charm and scenic coastal views. It’s within commuting distance to Halifax, providing retirees with access to a wider variety of amenities such as shopping, health care and entertainment.

House Prices

In Mahone Bay, house prices average at $565 000. This is slightly lower than Halifax’s $582 000 average and significantly lower than larger eastern Canadian cities. In Toronto and Mississauga, the average price for a house is well over $1 million.

Weather and Things to Do

The maritime climate offers four distinct seasons with warm, dryer coastal summers, rainy spring and autumn, and cold winters with occasional snowfall.

Mahone Bay’s coastal beauty is highlighted by colourful historic homes and natural surroundings. The community is friendly and well-connected. Locals enjoy hiking, golfing and water activities such as sailing and kayaking.

The town hosts galleries, cafes and regular festivals and events. Halifax can be reached in an hour for anything one might need in the city such as shopping, healthcare specialists and an international airport.

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