Retiring in Canada
Canada offers a compelling retirement lifestyle. This is a safe country with high-quality health care and a low population density. Canada is famous for its natural beauty and friendly people. Retirement in Canada works best for those who enjoy winter sports and recreation, but some retirement spots near the coast have surprisingly mild winters. This vast country has many retirement options. Here are 10 retirement spots to consider in Canada.
Victoria, British Columbia
Victoria is located on southern Vancouver Island, the biggest and most populated island on the west coast of the Americas. Named after Queen Victoria, the city has a distinctly British feel, from its colonial architecture to its culture of afternoon tea. Victoria lends itself to a boating lifestyle, with multiple beaches and points of access to the Pacific Ocean. Hundreds of islands lie off Victoria’s shores, with vast expanses of rugged wilderness and promises of wildlife encounters. This city has one of the mildest climates in Canada. The Pacific Ocean moderates the climate, and temperatures stay within a limited range. Snow isn’t common during Victoria’s winters, though the city sees plenty of rain.
Squamish, British Columbia
Squamish is a fast-growing community about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler along the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Its proximity to these major tourism destinations means a huge range of amenities. But this town also has an appeal of its own. People are drawn here by the outdoor recreation opportunities. The city is surrounded by mountains, forest, rivers and the ocean. It has a strong arts culture, including the rich heritage of the Squamish First Nations community. Like most of the Pacific Northwest, Squamish has mild weather year-round, but gets a lot of rain.
South Okanagan, British Columbia
The South Okanagan has a desert-like climate, with more temperature extremes than you get on the coast. Winters are cold and below-freezing temperatures are common, while summers are hot and the temperature regularly tops 100 degrees. The South Okanagan is one of Canada’s premier agricultural zones, with peach, cherry and apple orchards blanketing the landscape. Top Canadian wineries are located here, and vineyard-hopping by bike during the summer is a great way to experience the area. The unique landscape allows for a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities. Big lakes make the Okanagan a sailing, boating and water sports haven. In the winter, Apex Mountain draws skiers and snowboarders.
Canmore, a town in southwestern Alberta, is surrounded by the peaks and valleys of the Rocky Mountains. It features dramatic mountain views and a variety of mountain-based recreation activities. Canmore first received international attention when it hosted the Nordic events at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. It’s now a center for winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, dog sledding, snowshoeing and ice skating. During summer months, there’s hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and golf. Canoeing and paddleboarding are popular on the turquoise lakes, and whitewater rafting is popular on the rivers. The small downtown has a handful of shops, restaurants and pubs. Canmore is a great choice for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
In eastern Canada, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a quaint town situated on the shores of Lake Ontario. It’s right next to Niagara Falls, and not far across the border from Buffalo, New York. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a compact town full of character and old-world charm. Its heritage district has boutique shops housed in Victorian buildings with immaculate flower gardens. Horse-drawn carriages make their way down the main thoroughfare and accentuate the historical effect. Outside the town center, the scenery is beautiful, with rows of grapes for wine production. Niagara-on-the-Lake is particularly famous for ice wines, a dessert wine made from harvesting frozen grapes. This is also a foodie destination, with several innovative and award-winning restaurants.
Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Wasaga Beach is a popular summertime vacation spot on the shores of Lake Huron in southeastern Ontario. It is home to the longest freshwater beach in the world. At two hours from Toronto, Wasaga Beach attracts many weekend visitors, but it also makes a great choice for year-round retirement living. The town is ideal for an active outdoor lifestyle. Wasaga Beach Provincial Park has hiking and cycling trails, while the Nottawasaga River allows for canoeing and fishing. In the winter, there’s downhill skiing at Blue Mountain Resort. Breezes off Lake Huron create comfortable temperatures in Wasaga Beach during summer, but they can also trigger heavy snowfall in winter.
Belleville is situated on the shores of the Bay of Quinte, a zigzag-shaped offshoot of Lake Ontario. Belleville is located about midway between Toronto and Montreal and about an hour from the U.S. border. This friendly city has a long history and a vibrant modern atmosphere. You can take in the historic ambiance along Main and Front streets, where the architecture harkens back to Canada’s early days. Belleville’s downtown has been revitalized and now boasts diverse dining and shopping options, and lively theater and live music scenes. All kinds of festivals, from the holiday-inspired Festival of Lights to the live music-themed Porchfest, are hosted here.
Quebec City beckons those who want a European lifestyle without having to cross an ocean. This is one of the oldest European cities in North America. It’s also the only remaining fortified city north of Mexico. The well-preserved historic district is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in Canada’s French-speaking province, this is a great retirement spot for someone who speaks French or wants to learn, although much of the population also speaks English. Property prices are on the rise, making Lévis, a suburb just across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City, an attractive alternative.
Fredericton, New Brunswick
Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, is a picturesque maritime destination worthy of retiree attention. It’s a university city and an important cultural and artistic hub for the province. Fredericton boasts historic sites and landmarks, museums and excellent restaurants. The city has a long literary tradition and hosts theater and music festivals, like the annual Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival. Spread out along the banks of the St. John River, it’s an attractive city with Victorian-era homes organized along tree-lined streets. Housing prices are more affordable here than in other parts of Canada.
Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia
Mahone Bay is a maritime destination found in the peninsula province of Nova Scotia. Close to Maine, this area is famous for its fishing culture that brings about a lot of delicious lobster, cod and scallop-based dishes. The town features colorful Victorian homes and a handful of eye-catching churches dispersed around the little bay. Buildings face the scenic inner harbor where small ships and sailboats bob gracefully. If you enjoy a boating lifestyle, this town could be a great retirement choice. The pace of life in Mahone Bay is slow, with the majority of residents keen to preserve its historical small-town ambiance. The weather can be unpredictable in this part of Canada. Summers are warm and breezy with low humidity, but winters are cold, wet and snowy.
The 10 best places to retire in Canada:
— Victoria, British Columbia.
— Squamish, British Columbia.
— South Okanagan, British Columbia.
— Canmore, Alberta.
— Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
— Wasaga Beach, Ontario.
— Belleville, Ontario.
— Quebec City.
— Fredericton, New Brunswick.
— Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.
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Update 12/22/22: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.