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These are the 10 places to retire in Canada, according to Sotheby's

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For Canadians thinking about retirement, costs aren't the only factors to consider when deciding where they want to spend their golden years.

Compiled by a luxury real estate firm, the report did not get into affordability, but noticeably absent from the list are three of Canada's most populous cities: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

These Canadian cities and regions are the top ones for retiring, because of "breathtaking naturescapes, top health-care facilities, and diverse and welcoming communities," according to Sotheby's International Realty Canada.
 

Victoria

A mild climate, beautiful beaches and ocean views are among the reasons Victoria is a popular place to retire in Canada, according to Sotheby's.

B.C.'s capital suits those with an active lifestyle. It has golf courses as well as dozens of parks and gardens, the firm said in an annual report.

Parksville, B.C.

Called "Canada's retirement capital," Parksville, B.C., has the highest concentration of seniors per capita.

Sotheby's said Parksville also meets the needs of those who want to enjoy the outdoors. Located on Vancouver Island, its mild climate year-round means retirees have plenty of opportunities to golf and visit parks, as well as to go boating, kayaking and more on the Strait of Georgia.

Okanagan Valley, B.C.

Spending leisurely days of retirement in wine country is another attractive option. And the Okanagan Valley has year-round outdoor activities, such as boating on Okanagan Lake and skiing at ski resorts, Sotheby's said.

The firm did not name the cities or towns in the Okanagan region it would recommend for retirement.

Calgary

Calgary was ranked one of the world's top five most livable cities, and is one of the few cities on the list that are among Canada's most populous.

"With a vibrant culture, access to top healthcare facilities, and more sunshine year-round than any other part of Canada, Calgary is a popular spot for those looking to retire in a vibrant and bustling city," Sotheby's wrote.

Canmore, Alta.

The breathtaking scenery in Canada's Rocky Mountains helped put Canmore, Alta., on Sotheby's list of best places for retiring.

Offering year-round outdoor recreation, this town has six golf courses and is near seven national parks.

It also has a thriving arts scene and a welcoming community, Sotheby's said.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.

Its charm and rich history are among the reasons why retiring in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., is appealing, according to Sotheby's.

Close to Toronto and New York state, this town is the heart of Ontario's wine country. Along with access to more than 50 wineries throughout the Niagara region, this town has a vibrant culture and many galleries.

Ottawa

Canada's capital city is considered ideal for those who want an urban environment with historic charm. Ottawa has some of the country's top health-care facilities, scenic parks, museums, galleries and entertainment venues, Sotheby's said.

Quebec City

Quebec City's rich history and European charm make it a top retirement place. One of North America's oldest cities, it has the most doctors per capita in Canada, a low crime rate and a more affordable cost of living compared to others, according to Sotheby's.

Fredericton

Fredericton is the capital city of New Brunswick, known as a cultural hub with many museums, historic sites, theatre and music festivals year-round.

"Situated along the picturesque St. John River, Fredericton offers tranquil tree-lined streets, charming Victorian architecture, and all the amenities found in larger cities," according to Sotheby's.

Halifax

Breathtaking natural scenery and a friendly community have made Halifax a popular retirement destination in the Maritimes. It also has a diverse population with top health-care facilities, music and theatre venues.

Challenges for retirement

Saving for a comfortable retirement has always been challenging, especially in recent years, according to Deloitte Canada, which released a report on the retirement gap in November 2023.

The majority of Canadians are unprepared for retirement, according to Deloitte Canada's report.

"Canadians now face a multitude of challenges in planning for retirement, such as increased investment responsibility on the employee, the rising costs of retirement, a lack of high-quality, near-retirement planning resources, and unexpected expenses during late-stage retirement," Deloitte wrote in a press release in November.

Among its findings, only 14 per cent of three-million households near retirement can do so with confidence, while 31 per cent will require the support of the government's public pension system.

The study also found that 58 per cent of near-retiree and retiree households do not have a formal or detailed retirement plan in place. As well, 44 per cent of working Canadians were using their retirement savings to pay for non-retirement-related expenses.

Bonnie-Jeanne MacDonald, director of financial security research at the National Institute on Ageing at Toronto Metropolitan University, says it is more challenging today for people to retire than in the past. She notes more people are working over the age of 70.

Two-thirds of Canadians feel they will not be able to afford to retire when they'd like, according to a 2023 National Institute on Ageing study. It could be people who have financial hardship now or those who have a reasonable standard of living but feel they didn't save enough, MacDonald says.

She adds most people are homeowners by the time they retire. "Traditionally people would go into retirement without a mortgage," MacDonald said in a Zoom interview with CTVNews.ca. "People are now increasingly having mortgages going into retirement, which means they have to pay debt."

There are also those who don't own a home and will be renting by the time they retire. She says renting is more expensive because homeowners only pay for upkeep expenses and can use the house as "fallback insurance" if they need to sell it and pay for assisted living.

Other trends that make saving for retirement a challenge is the movement away from people having defined benefit pension plans provided by employers, as well as baby boomers having fewer children, which means many won't have adult children to take care of them like in the past. As well, people are living longer than ever before and Canada has a large aging population, MacDonald adds.

Tom Davidoff, associate professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, whose expertise includes real estate and housing, says since most Canadian retirees are homeowners they are doing "fairly well."

"Those homeowners have a lot of asset wealth," he said in a Zoom interview with CTVNews.ca.

Davidoff believes retirees tend to stay put rather than move to retire in another town or city. However, he says retirement is still a challenge as Statistics Canada data shows the median net worth for Canadians in 2019 aged 65 and over is $543,000, which he says is "not a huge amount of money to retire on."

CTVNews.ca is looking to hear from seniors about the lessons they've learned on retirement and real estate. Do you have any advice to share with others about your experience retiring? Did you downsize? Did you switch to renting? Did you stay where you are? Did you have to move out of your city?

Share your story by emailing us at dotcom@bellmedia.ca with your name, general location and phone number in case we want to follow up. Your comments may be used in a CTVNews.ca story.

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