Do you dream of leaving the city in your retirement or semi-retirement? Here, when an urban condo is just not your thing.
When you’re no longer trekking to the office daily, there may be nothing left to tie you to an urban setting. In a small town or rural area, you can connect with nature, enjoy recreational opportunities and take advantage of lower real estate prices and taxes.
“You get so much more for your money out of the city,” says Caroline Baile, a broker with Royal LePage Your Community Realty in Aurora, Ont.
There are other perks, too: “It’s a slower pace of life. You don’t have that rush-hour congestion. And there’s more interaction with your neighbours, more of a community feel.” Baile, who has her Accredited Senior Agent (ASA) designation—Canadian real estate agents with the ASA designation have received special training on serving seniors; search for one in your area at asamembers.com/Find-an-ASA—adds that feeling safer and less isolated is important to people this age.
We tend to associate a late-in-life move with a transition to a smaller space. Not true for today’s seniors, however.
In a Royal LePage survey of baby boomers who were planning to make a move, more than 40 per cent sought someplace just as large as—or larger than—their current home. These men and women have wealth to spend and stuff to store. They may also have boomerang kids.
“‘Downsizing’ is used a lot, but I like the word ‘smartsizing’ because you smartsize to what you can afford and what you need,” says Jane Dewing of Changing Places, a company in Victoria that provides moving services to seniors. “If you’re still very active with cooking and entertaining, you’re smartsizing to a bigger place.”
If you’re with a partner, a smartsized house might allow for separation, whether it’s at night (two bedrooms because of snoring or late-in-life hot flashes) or in the daytime.
If you’re looking to make a move from Toronto, small communities in Ontario that are trending for seniors include Ballantrae, a bungalow-rich community in Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ont., targeted to retirees who enjoy a good old-fashioned golf and country club but want to stay close to the city.
Bradford also pops up on the radar screen, as it’s got plenty of amenities, includes a pleasingly mixed demographic and even hosts a not-to-be-missed annual carrot festival.
The 20-year checklist
What kind of house is most likely to meet your needs now and down the road? These physical features will boost your odds of aging in place.
A large main-floor plan, rather than a two-storey or split-level home. (Moving to a vertical townhouse is charming only until you need that knee replacement.)
Three-piece bathroom on the main level or a two-piece with room for a reno to add a shower .
Wide hallways and doorways to accommodate a walker or wheelchair.
Level walkway and front entrance. “It completely defeats the purpose of a bungalow if it’s a raised bungalow, and you have to go up stairs to get inside,” says real estate broker Caroline Baile.
Garage. You won’t ever have to chip ice off your windshield again, plus you’ll have room for all your sports equipment.