Back to Lifestyle

Retirement made easy – 10 best places to retire in Canada

elderly couple cooking dinner together with husband in an apron and wife sitting on the counter wearing an apron

Maybe you’re looking around the home you bought almost a lifetime ago and thinking to yourself: it’s time. Your children left the nest to create lives of their own and the home you built for your family is feeling too big and empty. It’s time to find your retirement spot.

Picking the ideal place for retirement is a big decision. What makes a city the best place to retire in Canada? From choosing between a large city and a smaller town to learning what features to look for when downsizing, the factors to consider may feel endless. So we hunkered down and did all the research for you!

How we ranked each city

Sure, we could have made a list of our favourite cities and told you to spend your retirement there, but you need a better reason to move other than whether or not we liked the tourist attractions. Instead, we took the time to research Canada’s top 30 cities and rank them by five factors for retirees:

Affordability – We looked at the cost of living (the price range of everyday items) of each city and determined which would be most affordable for seniors who are no longer working.

Health – By calculating the number of health professionals per 100,000 people we were able to determine the accessibility of health care within each city.

Weather – Not too hot, not too cold. Through researching how many days each city had a low above 0°C and a high over 20° C, we learned which city had the most ideal temperature.

Crime – We determined the safest locations for seniors by analyzing the crime rate reported by each city.

Culture and community – We were able to understand the importance of culture and community within each city by researching the number of people with an occupation within the arts, culture, recreation and sports per capita.  

Through this research, we were able to rank each city and deliver a complete and unbiased list of the best places to retire in Canada!

The 10 best places to retire in Canada

Ethnic senior woman kayaks with caucasian husband

Let’s get to why you’re really here. Canada is a huge and beautiful country — so when it’s time to relocate and buy a new home, the sheer amount of choices may feel a little overwhelming. As people get older, priorities change. Retirees can save money and improve their quality of life by relocating. Maybe you once wished to live close to an active nightlife, while now you prefer daytime activities in a safe and warm community.

There’s a lot of research that goes into finding a new town to live out your golden years. As people get older, the cold gets colder, but time spent outside with friends and family is valuable. There’s a need to live somewhere safe, but without an active income, this place needs to be affordable. We kept in mind which factors hold the greatest importance for retirees and weighted them accordingly. For additional insight on rankings and how we weighted each factor, check out the methodology section below.

From Kingston to Montreal, here’s a list of the 10 best places to retire in Canada. 

Spoiler alert: you might want to practice your French if you want to retire in the top spot in Canada!

Located on Lake Ontario and known as the “Limestone City,” Kingston is a small, beautiful city filled with culture and a tight-knit community. Whether you take a day trip to a museum, watch a show at the Grand Theatre or enjoy the weather at Lake Ontario Park, there’s always a way to appreciate the day. For these reasons, Kingston, ON rounds out our 10 best places to retire in Canada.

The largest city in the Niagara region, St. Catharines is known for its friendliness and charm. Also referred to as “The Garden City,” when you buy a home in St. Catharines, you can spend your day relaxing in lush parks, going on mild hikes and basking in gorgeous garden views. 

Winnipeg not only serves as Manitoba’s capital, but it’s known as the cultural cradle of Canada. Home to Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and much more, this city is bursting with life, entertainment and affordable house prices.

If you want to be surrounded by natural and architectural beauty, you might want to consider buying real estate in Edmonton, Alberta. North of the Saskatchewan River, Edmonton is home to Canada’s largest living history museum as well as Canada’s largest historical park.

With affordable living, diverse communities and a beautiful climate, Surrey is home to a vast array of people who all agree that there’s no other place in the world quite like it. Referred to as “the City of Parks,” buying a home in Surrey means being surrounded by 600 parks and 277 hiking trails and natural walkways.

Windsor is a mid-sized city sitting along the Detroit River. You can find historic and modern architecture, fabulous attractions and lively festivals at every turn. Whether you prefer stretching your legs with a bike ride or with a tour of historical manors, there’s never a shortage of things to do when you buy your next home in Windsor.

We hope you like cheese and beautiful scenery! Saguenay is all about cheese shops, freshly baked baguettes and beautiful natural parks like Parc de la Rivière-du-Moulin. Start the day fishing at Saguenay Fjord National Park and finish up back home eating a fresh fish dinner.

Maybe you want to go for a stroll along the old city of Rue des Ursulines, or appreciate the beauty of art at the Quebec Museum of Folk Culture. Trois-Rivières is the second-oldest city in Quebec, Canada’s first iron industry, and home to Canada’s first industrial village. That’s right, the history within the city is endless. 

Home to the world-famous Château Frontenac — and runner up for the best city to retire in Canada — Quebec City takes you back in time with its cobblestone streets, French architecture, and charming small shops. In the winter, locals keep warm and active by celebrating the Carnaval de Quebec. If you ever wanted to live somewhere straight out of a fairytale, this is your chance!

The number one city for Candian retirees also holds the title as being the largest city in Quebec! Montreal is North America’s number one host for all international events. Home to Cirque du Soleil and maple syrup delicacies like maple cookies, maple butter and maple candy, this artsy and flavourful city will make you proud to call it home. Quebec certainly knows how to maintain a great quality of life while staying affordable. 

Did any of these cities stand out to you? If you’re ready to retire, consider making the move to one of the top locations mentioned above (and maybe even get ready to sell your house.)

If you’re still in the early stages of considering your ideal retirement location, you might be in the process of taking a closer look at your finances.

How much money do you need to retire?

Elderly asian couple looking through a book and laptop with plants behind them

Understanding how much money you need to retire depends entirely on your lifestyle. Someone getting ready for a simple and humble mortgage-free retirement option won’t need to save as much as a person looking for something a bit more lavish.

There are multiple working theories created by investment advisors on how much money you should save to retire comfortably. While some advisors will say you should have 70% of your working income saved, others recommend saving a minimum of 10 times your final salary.

Regardless of the multiple theories available, when calculating your retirement income, you should always start by adding together all of your income as well as any company or private pension plans, spousal or personal RRSPs, savings and annuities. It’s also important to include any payments from the government such as the Canadian Pension Plan and Old Age Security.

For more information, check out this post on how to determine how much money you need to retire from the Government of Canada’s official website.

You’ll buy many homes in your lifetime, but the most important home you’ll buy will help you slow down to take in the beauty of every sunrise and sunset. We hope the list above leads you to the retirement home of your dreams!

Methodology

This study was conducted in August 2020.

When researching the best places to retire, we began with 30 cities that have a population of 100,000 or more. This data was pulled from the world population review list. We then looked at five factors and gave them a score from one to 30 — with 30 being the best possible ranking. The scores were rated as followed:

Affordability (35%)

In order to determine the affordability of each city, we compared the monthly cost of living, average rent and the average household income before taxes, then gave each city a total rank out of 30.

Health (30%)

To determine the quality of health, we pulled the total number of health professionals within each city from the Canadian Census and then calculated the number of health professionals per 100,000 people before ranking each city.

Weather (20%)

To rank cities by weather, we calculated the number of annual days with a low above 0° C and high above 20° C by analyzing the data from WeatherSpark Canada prior to giving each city a rank between one and 30.

Crime (10%)

Crime rates were determined by analyzing data from the Numbeo crime survey for each city.

Culture and community (5%)

In order to determine the score for culture and community for each city, we pulled the number of people with occupations within art, culture, recreation and sport from the Canadian census. We then converted that sum to its per capita equivalent before giving them their final ranking. 

Sources: World Population Review | Cost of Living | Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation | Weather Spark Canada | Numbeo Crime Survey | Canadian census

Image of Romana King

Romana King

Romana King is an award-winning personal finance writer, real estate expert and the current Director of Content at Zolo Homebase. Romana has contributed to business and lifestyle publications including CBC.ca, Toronto Sun, Maclean’s, MoneySense, Globe & Mail Custom Content Team, and The Toronto Star. Among her achievements, Romana won silver for her annual Where to Buy Now real estate package in the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. In 2015, she won a SABEW Business Journalism award. When she was editor of CI Top Broker, Romana helped guide her team to obtain its first KRW Business Journalism nomination, and in 2011, she was part of a small team that helped MoneySense win Magazine of the Year at the 34th annual National Magazine Awards. Her north star is to consistently provide actionable, valuable and accurate information that helps elevate the financial literacy of everyone.