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Big city lights, suburban living or the charms of a small town? Whether you're looking to downsize or simply make a change, we look at the benefits of these three different lifestyles.

1. Big City Lights

Urban living, says Evan Rosser, is geared to Zoomers who crave action and energy

If you find yourself drawn to the big city, chances are it’s for a lot of the same reasons that may have taken you there in your youth. “Some people have a need for museums and art galleries and operas,” explains Linda Comrie, a sales representative with Re/Max Realtron Realty Inc. “I think those are the people who most want to move to the city.” Ready access to cultural events and activities is certainly a big draw, but downtown life also boasts an energy many retirees find attractive. “They want not just a one-to-one connection with their peers but the feeling of being part of a bustling, energized city,” Comrie says.

“There’s some people who just love going out on the street and being downtown,” says Alexander Henderson, a real estate solicitor with Oiye, Henderson Barristers and Solicitors in Toronto. Henderson goes on to describe a client of his, who, in December, decided to move out of a retirement home and into a condo on Toronto’s fashionable Esplanade. “She’s 86. She hates the music and the pubs but she loves being around the young people.” Though moving into a hip condo may require you to compete with other buyers, Comrie says “You’re at an advantage [over younger buyers] because you have the money and don’t need financing. You’re going to win that offer every time.”

The Simple, Bare Necessities

Another major bonus of life in the city is easy access to transportation and medical services and facilities. Later in life, the financial and physical requirements of car ownership can become quite onerous. The public transit and proximity to hospitals available in the big city can save you from dependency on a friend or relative or feeling trapped by the burden of a taxing expense.

Shifting into a condo or a step-down care facility (a condo or apartment connected to a nursing home or long-term care facility that includes access to nursing and support staff services) can also eliminate yard work and property maintenance — both of which become increasingly difficult with age. According to the TD Canada Trust report, more than half of Canada’s boomers are considering a condo for their next move because of the drop in required maintenance.

Snowbird Security

With on-site concierge, security, management and maintenance staff, Comrie points out that properties located within larger complexes can eliminate a lot of concerns for snowbirds and regular travellers. Ten per cent of Ontario boomers currently own a vacation property, and nearly a third are considering buying a property south of the border. The ability to lock your door and leave, confident that your home is safe, could prove to be invaluable for a huge number of globe-trotting boomers.

The First Step

Both Comrie and Henderson advocate making your first move as early as you can. “The first one, out of the family home, is always the hardest,” says Comrie. “There’s a lot of guilt tied to the feeling of being keepers of the family memorabilia.” Henderson recommends putting excess possessions that still carry some emotional attachment into storage. “Eventually, you’ll get sick of paying the storage fees, and it will force you to make some tough decisions.”

The most important reason to downsize early is to ensure your freedom of choice and mobility. “It’s easier to make the second transition than the first,” says Comrie. “If the first decision doesn’t work out, you won’t be trapped.” Relieved of the emotional burden of leaving the family home, “you’re free to make the next move, and the next.”

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