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Choosing a retirement community is exciting – but it can be daunting too. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to determine which community is the best fit for you or your loved one. Whether you’re looking to move to an official ‘retirement community’ or are simply looking to retire to a different place, there are many factors to consider. Below, we take an in-depth look at the most important factors and provde resources and tips to help you make the right decision.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Retirement Community
Location – Whether you’re thinking of moving to a new neighbourhood, new community or even a new country, where you choose to retire is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. How important is it to be close to friends and family? Is the neighbourhood walkable? How close are shops, services and parks? How safe is the community?
Amenities – Retirement communities often offer a wide range of amenities and services – fitness centers, swimming pools, libraries, social activities, outdoor spaces, transportation and more. Consider which amenities and services are most important to you and make sure the community you are considering offers them.
Healthcare – Consider the proximity to and level of healthcare services available in the community. Will you be able to keep your family doctor? Many communities in Ontario have waitlists that are years long, so if you’re moving to a smaller community, make sure you understand your options for accessing doctors and specialists. Will you be able to find physiotherapists, chiropractors or any other specialized care you need? How far is the nearest hospital?
Public Transportation – If you plan on staying where you retire for a long time, make sure to consider the public transportation options. While you might drive everywhere now, you may want or need other options in the future. What types of public transport are nearby? How close are they to where you want to live? How frequently are the routes serviced?
Cost – The cost of retirement communities can vary significantly, so it’s important to determine your budget before you start your search. Consider your income, any savings or investments you have, and any financial assistance you may be eligible for. If you’re moving to a formal retirement community, make sure you understand the ongoing costs, such as monthly fees and expenses for meals, activities, and services.
While smaller communites in Ontario tend to have lower home prices and rent costs than Toronto, those savings can quickly be replaced by higher utility bills, higher property taxes and more travel costs to visit friends and family and access specialized healthcare.
Tips for Making the Right Decision
- Tour the community: If you’re looking to move to a formal retirement community, schedule a tour to get a feel for the atmosphere, meet the staff and residents, and ask questions. Pay attention to the cleanliness and maintenance of the facilities.
- Talk to current residents: Ask current residents about their experiences living in the community and what they like and don’t like about it.
- Read the fine print: Before making a commitment, be sure to carefully review the contract and any rules or regulations. Pay attention to any restrictions on activities or services, as well as any fees or charges that may not be included in the initial costs.
- Seek recommendations: Talk to friends, family, realtors and retirement professionals to get recommendations and advice on retirement communities. You can also seek out online reviews and ratings to assess the community’s reputation.
- Consider the long-term: Think about the future and whether the retirement community can accommodate changing needs as you or your loved one age.
- Consult with a professional – Consider consulting with a senior living advisor or geriatric care manager to help navigate the process and make an informed decision.
Resources to Help You Make an Informed Decision
Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) – ORCA is a non-profit organization that represents retirement communities in Ontario. Their website provides a directory of ORCA member communities and resources for seniors and their families.
SeniorsZen – SeniorsZen is a Canadian-based website that provides a directory of retirement communities in Ontario and across Canada. Their website also includes reviews, ratings, and photos of retirement communities from actual residents and their families.
Comfort Life – Comfort Life is a Canadian-based website that provides a directory of retirement communities in Ontario and across Canada. Their website includes detailed descriptions of each community, as well as articles and resources on retirement living.
Caring.com – Caring.com is a U.S.-based website that provides a directory of retirement communities in Ontario and across Canada. Their website includes ratings and reviews from actual residents and their families.
ElderCareCanada – ElderCareCanada is a Canadian-based website that provides resources and information on senior care and retirement living. Their website includes a directory of retirement communities in Ontario and across Canada, as well as articles and resources on senior care.
RetirementHomeSearch.ca – RetirementHomeSearch.ca is a Canadian-based website that provides a directory of retirement communities in Ontario and across Canada. Their website includes detailed descriptions of each community, as well as articles and resources on retirement living.
When researching retirement communities in Ontario, it’s also important to consider resources provided by the provincial government, such as the Ministry for Seniors and Accessibility, which provides information and resources on retirement living, as well as the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, which represents long-term care providers in the province.
Choosing a retirement community for you or your loved one can be a complex process, so make sure to do your research and take the time to make an informed decision. Find a community that meets your needs and provides and supports the lifestyle you want in your retirement years.