When we think of retirement, we all have different priorities. Some want to retire in the sun, some look for a community of people of their age, others prefer a quiet life while some might like to spend their well-earned free time enjoying the range of amenities and activities in a big city.
In this article, we have listed the ten best places to retire in Canada. One of the key factors when you are retiring is your budget, but that was not the only criteria we based our selection on. We also looked at weather, healthcare and lifestyle.
Cost of property
The cost of property varies between provinces and territories. For example, in Newfoundland and Labrador, the average property costs only $304,765. On the other end of the scale, are Ontario, with an average price of $856,269 and British Columbia with $967,948.
Places that fit into the middle include Nova Scotia $435,293, Quebec $479,004 and Alberta $455,923. However, prices within provinces and territories vary, too, with larger cities usually having higher averages than small towns.
Cost Of Living
As well as the cost of housing, you need to consider the cost of day-to-day expenses, too. The cost of food, utilities and transportation. After the expenses, you also want to have money left over for hobbies and vacations.
The cost of utilities is higher in provinces with colder and longer winters because you spend more on the heating and lighting of your home. However, properties in these provinces and territories are generally cheaper, so it balances out.
The weather conditions differ so much across Canada. For example, on Vancouver Island, the temperatures rarely drop below zero, whereas in Nunavut, they can struggle to stay above zero even during the summer months.
The drawback of the milder climates is the increased humidity and the amount of rain those places get in a year. In colder places, the winters can be harsh and the heavy snowfall can make getting around a challenge.
Then there are the places that can get hot and uncomfortable during the summers such as Winnipeg and Kelowna. But it comes down to preference and what you are used to. If you have spent your whole life in the colder parts of Canada, the warmer parts might not appeal to you at all.
Availability of and easy access to healthcare
For many of us, getting older comes with more frequent trips to the doctor. So, when choosing your retirement place, you might want to consider how easy it would be to see a doctor.
Bigger places will have more hospitals and doctors, but especially in popular locations, there might be a waitlist to get your doctor. In smaller and more remote places, there may be fewer doctors and the distances to the nearest hospitals can be long.
How you are planning to spend your retirement is a key factor. Do you want to chill out in a sun lounger and just watch the world go by? Perhaps you love culture and look forward to spending your time exploring art galleries and attending theatre shows. Or maybe you love nature and want to spend time hiking and nature watching?
Whatever your preferences are, there is bound to be a place that ticks, if not all, at least most of the boxes for you. The trick is to balance your lifestyle preferences with the other criteria you have.
So, based on the different criteria above, what are the best places to retire in Canada?
What Are the Best Places to Retire in Canada?
With a population of 1.585 million, Calgary is the biggest city in Alberta and one of the most populated in Canada. However, compared to Toronto or Vancouver, it still has an affordable housing market. The average house price in August 2023 was $653,150 and the property taxes are 0.75%.
The climate in Calgary is quite dry, so it is good for anyone who suffers in humid climates. However, the winters are cold, though not as cold as in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. The average temperatures here are 21°C in the summer and -2°C in the winter.
People retiring in Calgary will have good access to medical services. The public transport here is OK in the city centre, but not as good outside of it, so you might need to use your car or taxes more.
Fredericton is a great choice for anyone who enjoys living in a small city with great amenities. The capital of New Brunswick has a population of 66,000 but has more amenities compared to other similar size cities.
It is also great for anyone who wants to find a property on a smaller budget. The average house price in July 2023 was $317,110. However, it was up by nearly 30% compared to just a couple of years ago, so if you are thinking of retiring in Fredericton, better get in there quickly before the prices go up even more. The property taxes in the city are higher than average at 2.55%.
Before you decide on Fredericton, you need to consider whether you are ready for very cold winters. The average winter temperature here is -15°C. On the flip-side, you get nice summer temperatures with the average being 25.5°C and in between there are lovely springs and colourful autumns.
Halifax is in Nova Scotia and has a population of 440,000, so it is a great option for those who like all the city amenities with fewer people than places like Vancouver or Calgary, for example. The property tax in Halifax is 1.03% and the average price in July 2023 was $529,900.
Winters in Halifax are colder than on the west coast of Canada, with an average of 0°C. Summers here can be lovely, with average temperatures of 23°C.
Halifax is known for its friendliness, so it will be easier to meet new people than in some of the other major cities. From Halifax, you have easy access to the rest of Nova Scotia, which is considered one of the most beautiful provinces in Canada. Halifax is also the centre of healthcare facilities for the province.
Kelowna is a smaller city with a population of 217,000 in British Columbia and its laid-back lifestyle appeals to many retirees. It is also great for those who enjoy hot summers. The average temperature in the summer is 27°C. The winter average is 0°C, so it gets colder than Victoria or Vancouver.
One drawback of Kelowna is its very expensive housing market. It may be a lot smaller than Vancouver, but the prices here are not that far from the prices in the bigger city. An average family home in Kelowna costs around $1,084,093. The property taxes in the city are 0.527%.
If you are looking for a place where it is easy to meet other retired people, then Kelowna is a great choice. It has more retirees than the national average. There are also various housing options, including independent retirement living, assisted living and long-term care options.
Kingston is a small city with a population of 136,000, which makes it suitable for those looking for a smaller place with a more moderate pace of life. The house prices in Kingston fell by 3.7% between July 2022 and July 2023 and the average home now costs $609,521. The property taxes in Kingston are 1.34%.
People considering retiring in Kingston should know it has a large community of young people because of the city’s large university. However, you can still find many neighbourhoods in the city which are not overpopulated by university students.
The city benefits from a great transport system, making it easy to get around without owning a car. It also has excellent medical facilities, including Kingston General Hospital. The winters here are not too cold with an average temperature of -3°C and the summers are pleasant with the average maximum temperature of 25°C. Perfect for making the most of the leisure activities, including golf, sailing and fishing.
Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and home to 1.095 million people. Despite being a large city, Ottawa’s properties are still reasonably priced. An average home will cost you $650,200. It is higher than the average for the province which is $479,004, but you get all the benefits of a big city. The property tax is 1%.
Ottawa is great for people who enjoy all four seasons. However, the winters here can get very cold with average temperatures of -11°C. Summers can get uncomfortably hot for some, with the average temperature being 27°C.
Even though Ottawa has a population of over one million, it is still a quiet city and doesn’t have the vibrancy that other bigger cities such as Toronto or Vancouver have. But you will still find plenty to do in this historical city while having access to some of the best healthcare in the country.
Quebec City, QC
Quebec City is great for French speakers. However, you don’t have to speak French as all services are available in English, too, even if the city is mainly French-speaking.
The population of Quebec City is 542,000 and the average house price in July 2023 was $469,900. The property taxes are 1.35%. It is a safe city and has a vibrant urban centre with bars and restaurants that often have a very European feel to them.
There are excellent health and social services in Quebec City and the province has the most doctors per capita, so you should have no problems finding yourself a doctor. Winters here can still get chilly, but not as cold as in Fredericton or Halifax. The average winter temperature in Quebec City is -4°C and 25°C in the summer.
Saint John, NB
Saint John in New Brunswick is a friendly and laid-back place with a population of just over 70,000. It has relatively high property taxes at 1.71% but this is offset by some of the lowest real estate in Canada. The prices here have risen almost at the same rate as in Fredericton by 25.1% and an average home in July 2023 cost $330,281.
Saint John is a great place to retire for anyone who loves boating or fishing with beautiful summers and not-too-cold winters. The average temperatures in St John are 23°C in the summer and -1°C in the winter.
The city has excellent medical facilities for its size. However, there are fewer doctors per capita and there have been waiting lists to get a doctor in recent years.
Vancouver is a great place to retire if you have saved a big pot of money. It definitely is not for people retiring on a budget, since it has very expensive properties. The average home in July 2023 cost $1,270,664. However, the property taxes are low at only 0.29%.
The population of Vancouver is 2.6 million, so it suits people who enjoy being surrounded by other people and all the amenities large cities offer. It also suits those who prefer a warmer climate since the average summer temperatures are 22°C and winter 8°C.
Despite its size, Vancouver is very safe and the whole province benefits from one of the best medical systems in the world.
Victoria on Vancouver Island benefits from the temperate climate in the area and the average temperatures are 20°C in the summer and 10°C in the winter.
Victoria is a safe city with a vibrant community, so it is a great choice for those looking to meet new people. It is an expensive city with the average family home costing over a million dollars, $1,396,864 to be more exact. Because of its popularity among people of all ages, it is also densely populated.
Other benefits of retiring in Victoria include the very low property taxes at 0.5% and the availability of doctors and hospitals.
We hope our list has helped you to narrow down your options. In a country the size of Canada, there is something to suit every taste and budget from small remote towns to large metropolitans.
While it can be difficult to decide between places, it is worth remembering that wherever you are in Canada, you will be in one of the best countries in the world for safety, healthcare and quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
The top three places are Calgary, Fredericton, and Halifax based on a range of criteria.
Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Quebec City are all great bigger cities to retire in.
There are many important things to consider when deciding where to retire, including the cost of property and living, the climate, accessibility, access to healthcare, and lifestyle you want.
Saint John and Fredericton are both great smaller places to retire in.
People who don’t like cold winters might like to consider the west coast, for example, Vancouver, where the winters are milder.