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(2018 - Fall Issue)


Retirement is our chance to turn a corner, one that’s gently curved or mighty sharp.

 Perhaps all you need is a scaled-down home someplace near family and friends where you can pursue your favourite interests. Or maybe you envision your days in a resort-style retirement residence either here in Canada or in a location where it never snows. In fact, a growing number of Boomers say all they want to do is to keep on experiencing, learning and staying much longer in remarkable places around the world.  

Naturally, long-term money management is an essential part of the plan so seek guidance, do the math, prepare for the unknown and soon you could be rubbing your hands in anticipation of so many sweet possibilities.


Generally, in Canada, the cost-of-living is lower in cities where populations are under 100,000. According to slice.ca and salaryexpert.com, several of the most affordable locations are in Québec and Ontario. The data includes the real estate costs for purchasing, renting and retirement home investments.

Just outside Montréal for instance, the reported cost-of-living in Sherbrooke, Laval, Longueuil, Terrebonne and Mascouche is well below the national average. In Ontario, one doesn’t have to drivevery far from pricey Toronto for living expenses to drop substantially, as they do in St. Catharines, London, Kitchener and Barrie. In Western Canada, Abbotsford in the scenic Fraser Valley of British Columbia—located 73 kilometres from Vancouver—is one of our country’s most affordable places. In Atlantic Canada, that distinction goes to Moncton, Fredericton and Charlottetown.  


Why not spend winter in the sunny south—perhaps as far as the Southern Hemisphere? The taxman (travel.gc.ca) sets parameters on this snowbird lifestyle, so work it out to your advantage, factor in the destination exchange rate, and then remain shrewd by selecting a warm, cost-favourable destination. 

The United States: Arizona and Texas are the sunniest states with winter daytime temperatures in the 18 to 21 C range. Hawaii has a tropical climate and so does Southern Florida with both places posting average winter highs of 25 C. North Florida (around 16 C) can be quite affordable in communities such as Panama City, Destin, Zephyrhills and Largo. Similarly, North Carolina (10 C) could keep your costs lower in places like Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham. Or, for the same reasons, consider spending your winters in Huntsville, Alabama, or Tupelo, Mississippi.

Mexico: For long-term stays, it’s quite easy to clinch an attractive rental property on websites such as  LongTermLettings.com, sublet.com and HomeToGo.com. Scenic and affordable beach locations in Mexico include Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. Or for more savings, travel inland to either Alamos, Guanajuato, Lake Chapala or San Miguel de Allende, all of which are eye-popping colonial towns in which today’s Mexican modernity is woven into a stark and deep-rooted history. 

Costa Rica: The welcome here is enthusiastic and sincere, and Canadians often refer to it as “our twin in the tropics.” Costa Rica is not only friendly and safe, it is committed to a clean environment, the great outdoors, peace and human rights, and universal health care. Among other options, rental housing can be found at at HolidayHomes.com and PropertiesInCostaRica.com

Panama: At the gateway to South America and known for its favourable tax laws, the easy-going, unpretentious lifestyle in Panama greatly appeals to a growing number of snowbirds. And that’s especially true if you speak or are learning to speak Spanish.


At last, exploring the world in retirement has no time restrictions. You might decide to slip into a culture of particular interest or live like a local farther afield, as inspired perhapsby your favourite storyteller. Currently, Canadians are talking about:

Portugal: It’s lively, safe and scenic, offers plenty of resort-style activities and holds a seminal place in the story of civilization. The Algarve coast is known as the sunniest destination in Europe and the country’s much lower cost-of-living allows you to stay longer.

France: The joie de vivre culture is even more pronounced when experienced off the beaten path. Many market towns in the countryside conduct each day in the same quiet way they’ve done for centuries—and that includes magnificent cuisine et du vin. Property costs in smaller towns are attractive as well, such as those posted occasionally in Saint-Chinian, a village just 20 minutes by car from la Méditerranée. 

Italy: High above the Adriatic coastline, serene Citta Sant’Angelo is just as pretty as any enclave in the fabled Tuscany region (a four-hour train ride away), however many of these lesser-known, culturally rich places are easier on the pocketbook. Out of necessity, mind you, you’ll be speaking italiana in no time.

Retirement Planner

The Global Retirement Index (im.natixis.com) is a window into the quality of life around the world. Out of 195 countries, the top 25 for reliable retiree needs include (in no particular order) Norway, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Japan and South Korea. And once you’ve explored these, keep going.

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