Home, suite home

We’re living longer than ever. Indeed, one in eight Canadians has already reached 65, a number expected to double over the next 25 years. But with this age wave comes a number of pressing problems: How will we care for our aging population? How will we continue to finance healthcare and state pensions? Pertinent points, and topics we’ve dealt with at length in past issues of CARPNews… and which we will, of course, revisit.

One area already gearing up for this awesome demographic bulge — the “pig in the python” as one expert so succinctly put it — is housing. Many people are well ahead of the game: Across the country, custom designed retirement communities are springing up, offering the sort of safe, controlled lifestyle most of us dream of. Countless others are being built in both rural and urban environments — veritable villages-within-villages with affordable, age-friendly housing.

Many other folks are planning to stay-put in their family home. For them, it’s better to renovate, upgrading existing living space to accommodate their aging, adding things like raised bathtubs, grab bars, wider doorways… anything to make life easier.

Housing options for 50-ussers, retired or not, are limited only by imagination. Take the remarkable tale told by Assistant Editor Jayne MacAulay of a group of urban culture-vultures — musicians, authors and theatre lovers among them — who banded together to make their retirement dreams come true. What started as small-talk over brunch three and a half years ago is set to become a community of more than 50 families — Living in urban harmony (online May 13/99). As the man behind this non-profit housing development says, “Community is not something we simply live in, it’s what we feel.”

And then there’s our cover story. We sent Contributing Editor Frank Jones in search of his idea of retirement heaven. Wise guy that he is, he went Back to School, visiting a unique retirement community in the university town of Guelph, Ont., that caters to those with a yearning for learning.

For those for whom moving home isn’t an option, we investigate the Inns and outs of starting a B&B (online May 24/99). A heady mixture of the lure of a home-based business (What… no more commute?) and the prospect of an ever-changing roster of guests willing to pay for a sleepover is seducing hundreds of Canadians, most of them aged 50-plus, into B&B ownership. From P.E.I. to the Pacific coast, Bed & Breakfasts are springing up faster than they can be licensed, reviewed, or even officially tallied. But as contributor Miranda Hawkins finds out, it’s not all a bed of roses.

At retirementcanada.com, you can access the complete list of retirement communities we’ve gathered this year, and you can keep coming back for updates and progress reports on retirement communities under development. Links have also been established with all those developments operating their own websites.

We’ve also created a series of unique, interactive maps of Canada and the provinces — with the click of a mouse you can quickly check the availability of communities in a region of interest to you, and even send e-mail requesting further information. Finally, it’s important to remember the decisions you make regarding your retirement are not insignificant. They’ll affect your way of life for a good many years. We hope this guide, with its eclectic mixture of lifestyle, travel and financial features, will help you make the kind of judgments that lead to a rewarding retirement.