By: Patrice Gale
11 Best Places in Ontario for Retirees
Tags: 11 Best Places in Ontario for Retirees
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Many think about how they will spend their retirement years before the time arrives, saving and planning in preparation. For Canadians, and those from other parts of the globe, retirement in Ontario, Canada offers no shortage of attractive locales in which to settle. There are some factors to consider, such as climate and amenities. Numerous smaller towns are often desirable due to lower costs of living. There are some places close enough to the cities and metro areas for retirees to enjoy the amenities without the high living costs associated. Ontario’s 11 best towns have pleasant environments and well-developed social and cultural infrastructures.
With a population of 76,698, it’s noted as one of Ontario’s most senior-friendly locales. Peterborough City, on the Otonabee River in Central Ontario, offers a wide variety of cultural activities. Residents enjoy museums, classical music, and dance ensembles, as well as fishing on the river. The Otonabee River area offers outdoor activities including hiking trails and paddle sports centers. There’s also a fine art gallery, an annual folk music festival and a slightly provocative, underground comedy scene. In addition to modestly priced housing, the architecture of the town is also very interesting. For seniors with particular health care needs, it’s home to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre, state-of-the-art health care which serves several counties. There are also numerous options for retirement homes and adult day care, as well as long-term care facilities.
Once a railway junction, now a digital technology center and internationally recognized “smart city.” Stratford, with a population of 32,000, is an ideal retirement spot for those with a passion for the arts. The renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival has drawn the elite of theatrical talent over the years to perform in its productions, including Sir Alec Guinness, Christopher Plummer, and Dame Maggie Smith. In addition to theater, Stratford is also the home of its Summer Music Festival, drawing the best in classical music talent from around the world. Voted by MoneySense magazine as one of the top ten retirement towns in Canada, Stratford is a picturesque, pedestrian-friendly town with an average cost of living 10-30% lower than in most parts of the US or Canada. It also ranks as one of the 60 best places to retire in all of North America.
Located near the U.S. Border, about halfway between Toronto and Detroit, London sits on Canada’s Thames River, just as its larger namesake which sits on England’s Thames. Recent urban regeneration projects and low cost of living have led to it being ranked as Canada’s fourth-best large city in terms of livability. This city has a larger population at 367,000. It has nine major parks interconnected by walking and bicycle paths. Medical research, information technology, and life sciences/biotechnology-related research from a large sector of the city’s vibrant economy. London is also the regional center of health care and education, thanks to the University of Western Ontario, Fanshawe College, and several modern hospitals. London is also close to some great beaches on Lake Huron and Lake Erie, and nearby attractive small towns like Grand Bend and Corunna. As such, brief respites from the larger city are nearby and easy to reach.
Nicknamed “The Loveliest Town in Canada”, Niagara-on-the-Lake has one of the fastest growing retiree populations in Canada. An extremely picturesque small town, with a population of 15,500, its rich in culture and history. This quaint town has served as a filming site for at least a dozen Hollywood movies. It’s located approximately 25 minutes away by car from world famous Niagara Falls, on the Canadian side. This charming town also has a rich history, having been a stop on the Underground Railroad a refuge for those escaping, and as a passageway further north into Canada. It also boasts some of the best examples of architecture from the post-War of 1812 period. The town’s mild climate is ideal for planting, both orchards and vineyards make it and extremely attractive place to live for a growing retirement-age population.
Located on Lake Ontario, halfway between Toronto and Montreal, Kingston has a population of 125,000. It offers marvelous walks on the lakefront near downtown and features many different choices for entertainment, dining and a thriving art scene. About 15% of the city’s population is of retirement age, and so this small metropolis, which also boasts several universities, is home to a broad spectrum of people and age groups. Ready access to health care, inexpensive housing and an affordable cost of living have made Kingston one of Canada’s top retirement spots. Weather and location make Kingston one of Canada’s prime locations for sailing. The town’s eight golf courses offer ample opportunities to hit the links. Many of the attractions of big city living can be found in this small-town setting, which sits across the lake from upstate New York and nearby Vermont, thereby granting easy access to New England in the US.
Cobourg features a rich artistic community, and as the largest town in Northumberland County, it is the center of the Northumberland Hills Studio Tour, where artists’ welcome visitors to their studios. The downtown area and nearby residential area are preserved as a Heritage Conservation District. The town hall, Victoria Hall, is a National Historic Site in Canada. Over 20% of Cobourg’s 18,600 population is of retirement age. Of interest to retirees looking to downsize from larger residences in big cities, attractive homes and condos in Cobourg cost less than half of what they would in cities like Toronto. Many retirees are selling their homes in larger cities and relocating to smaller towns. This affords the opportunity to take advantage of more modest real estate prices and augment their retirement savings. With the town’s well-tended parks, nearby beaches, harbor and other local attractions, Cobourg is an ideal spot for retired professionals to enjoy the great outdoors.
With a population of 19,500, Collingwood is situated on the southern tip of beautiful Georgian Bay. It’s known for some of the best sailings in all of Canada and is a favorite summer destination for the people of Ontario. Fans of the great Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot will be familiar with the names of many of Collingwood’s nearby locales from the lyrics of his songs. With the captivating, Christian Island and Lion’s Head nearby, and skiing at Blue Mountain in winter, Collingwood offers great variety for seasonal sports and basking in the beauty of nature. Transportation and health care costs are at or slightly below the Canadian national average, while housing is slightly above. Still, for those looking to sell and move out of a big city, the property values in Collingwood are another thing that makes it one of Ontario’s choicest retirement spots.
Those who wish to retire in a quiet, little town may find Tillsonburg, whose population is just 15,500, quite to their liking. Nearby Lake Erie supplies breathtaking beaches like Turkey Point and Long Point. This town also features low crime rates and low property taxes. It’s one of the towns that received a central library from the Carnegie Foundation in the early 20th century. In 1994 a major revitalizing of the downtown area started and continues to the present day. Access to health care is also available at the Tillsonburg and District Memorial Hospital. The town is named for George Tillson, who settled the area in the early 19th century. Tillsonburg brings an element of true old-world charm into the 21st century in scenic spots like the Annandale House, a standout piece of elaborate Victorian architecture. Safe, secure and stable, Tillsonburg is ideal for a quiet, comfortable retirement.
9) Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay, the largest city in Northwest Ontario with a population of 108,500. It’s quite sunny year round, averaging over 2000 hours of annual sunshine. Once a fur trading post at the eastern tip of the Great Lakes, and an outpost for the famed Hudson Bay Company, Thunder Bay now offers a multi-cultural blend of modern living with reminders of Canada’s rich past. Fort William National Park presents visitors with uncannily accurate recreations of life in bygone eras. Thunder Bay also offers numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation, including snowshoeing, skiing, hiking and sailing on Lake Superior. Paddling and mountain biking make it ideal for active retirees to make the most of the outdoor sunshine. Affordable housing, respect for cultural diversity, numerous community centers, golf courses, and access to many outdoor sports and cultural sites keep life vibrant and interesting in Thunder Bay.
An impressive cultural center for a small city, Waterloo was named by the International Community Forum the world’s smartest city in 2007. With a population of 99,000 it continues to rate highly in subsequent rankings (not bad when you can rival Boston!) Two prestigious universities, an exciting downtown area, low unemployment and access to health care make Waterloo one of Ontario’s prime retirement destinations. The city is partnering with nearby Kitchener on a light rail line scheduled to open in 2018. Its proximity to Toronto allows Waterloo to offer the best of big and small city living. Waterloo Park, in Uptown, features historical buildings, a band shell and Lion’s Lagoon, a 110-acre water park. It’s also known for its Christmas display, “Wonders of Winter”. Betchel Park offers many opportunities for outdoor sports enthusiasts, as well as an off-leash dog park.
Located at the southwest tip of Lake Ontario, Burlington offers a moderate climate and lots of interesting things to see and do for its 184,000 inhabitants. About 16% of the town’s residents are retirees, higher than the Canadian national average. Spencer Smith Park, on the Lake Ontario shore, has an extensive walking path on the shoreline, and observatory, and outdoor pond and water jet recreation area. There is also the recently-opened Brant Street Pier, which extends 137 meters out into Lake Ontario, offering up great view of the lake and the Burlington shore. The Art Gallery of Burlington features an extensive collection of Canadian ceramics, presents new exhibitions every ten weeks and is always free to the public. Burlington is also home to the famed Royal Botanical Gardens which has the world’s largest collection of lilacs, gardens and nature sanctuaries and a Mediterranean Garden under glass. The climate, the location, and the number of enjoyable things to do make Burlington a highly appealing place to retire.