10 amazing places in North America to retire in 2019
Regardless of where you live and how you've spent your life, most people look forward to the age of retirement. After a lifetime of school, work and family commitments, retirement is your time, a time to relax and enjoy everything life has to offer. While this exciting time is full of new choices and boundless possibilities, the first choice you have to make is where you want to live.
You can choose to stay where you are or move to a new location, with a number of retirement condo communities located across the USA and Canada. From the mountains and lakes of the north through to the beaches of Florida and California, where you choose to live will have a huge impact on your financial freedom and quality of life.
Let's discover 10 amazing places in North America to retire in 2019.
Age of retirement in the US and Canada
You can stop work at any age, with some lucky self-funded people able to retire in their 40s or 50s. For the vast majority of North Americans, however, the retirement age is linked to the full benefit age, which is when you're able to receive retirement benefits from the government. In the United States, the full benefit age has traditionally been 65, with early benefits available from age 62. This is all changing, however, with the retirement age generally slipping back as people live longer and healthier lives.
Currently, the full benefit age in the US is 66 years and 2 months for people born in 1955. This threshold will gradually rise to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. While early retirement benefits will continue to be available from the age of 62, they will be reduced to 70 percent of the full benefit by the time this threshold is reached.
In Canada, the situation is slightly more complicated, with the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) retirement pension based on how much you have contributed and how long you’ve been making contributions to the CPP. The standard age for receiving the full benefit is 65, with a reduced pension available as early as 60. The benefit amount is based on the cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
Finding your ideal retirement spot
Finding the perfect location for your retirement is part art and part science, with each person needing to identify and analyze the issues that are important to them. Unless you have unlimited funds, you will probably have to make compromises along the way. Balancing affordability with lifestyle issues is the most obvious consideration, with each person or couple needing to respect their own personal healthcare and budget needs.
Saying that, however, retirees have a lot of freedom and opportunities when it comes to relocation. There are more 55+ condo communities out there than ever before, all you have to do is find one that meets your financial and lifestyle needs.
Location is a crucial consideration, so take your time and research cities and towns across North America to find your perfect retirement paradise.
While there are benefits to staying at home after your retire, including easier access to friends and family members, moving to a different climate with more affordable housing can also be incredibly rewarding. If none of the places in the following list feels like your full-time home, perhaps you want to stay where you are or buy multiple homes in different locations as you move with the seasons.
Retiring in the United States
The US is a large and diverse country with a range of climate zones, natural attractions, and urban centers for retirees to choose from. While lots of people stay in their home state after they retire, there is a very real phenomenon among retirees in the US to move somewhere warm. Florida is the obvious hot spot among older Americans, with other sunny states such as Texas, California, and Arizona also getting a lot of attention.
Let's take a look at the 5 best places in the US to spend your golden years.
1. Fort Myers, Florida
Florida is the number one retirement state in North America, with its hot weather, beautiful beaches, and relatively affordable housing attracting retirees from all corners of the country. There’s also no state income tax in Florida, which can be a significant benefit to retirees with taxable income sources. Because it's such an important retirement center, it’s relatively easy to find affordable housing across the state. Condos are a popular option with many retirees, with regular condos available alongside specialized 55+ communities.
Fort Myers is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast alongside the Caloosahatchee River in the southwest part of the state. With hot summers and mild winters, this part of Florida is desirable for people who want to relax and enjoy an outdoor lifestyle.
The median home price in Fort Myers is just $233,100, which makes it affordable for retirees who want to move permanently, and a great option for people who want to spend their winters in a more hospitable climate. This town has a long history of people escaping the cold, with both Thomas Edison and Henry Ford having owned winter estates in the area.
In a recent 2019 analysis into retirement locations conducted by U.S. News, Fort Myers jumped to second spot due to increases in desirability and happiness among residents. This comprehensive study compared the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States as potential retirement spots, by looking into important issues such as housing affordability, happiness, desirability, retiree taxes, the job market, and health care access.
Out of the 25 best places to retire, seven cities were located in Florida, largely due to affordable homes, low taxes and high ratings for happiness and desirability.
2. Sarasota, Florida
Once again located in Florida, Sarasota has always been popular with retirees of all ages and incomes. This city recently fell from the top spot to third in the U.S. News survey, with Hurricane Irma having a profound effect on the overall happiness of residents.
Along with the great weather and stunning coastline, housing remains affordable in Sarasota, with a median home price of $239,100 among people aged 60 and older. This is partly due to the number of dedicated retirement condos in the wider area, with people able to access affordable housing and age-specific amenities in a welcoming and inclusive community.
Sarasota is blessed with award-winning beaches and a beautiful climate throughout the year. Unlike other beachside locations, however, it also has a thriving arts and cultural scene and a few famous residents such as Stephen King and Rosie O'Donnell. From performing arts through to festivals and natural attractions, Sarasota has something for everyone. This city is about an hour from Tampa and two hours from Orlando, which means you're far enough away from the traffic without feeling completely isolated.
As a retiree moving away from your home city and state, healthcare should always be an important consideration. The Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is widely respected around the country, with the Doctors Hospital of Sarasota looking after residents and providing jobs for the local community. Sarasota has a large number of residents over the age of 65, which means there are plenty of housing options. From detached houses and townhouses through to dedicated 55+ condos with in-home care, the silver boom has ignited the real estate market without raising prices to unsustainable levels.
3. Austin, Texas
Texas is not the first state that comes to mind when you think of retirement, but this sprawling southern state is a great option for older Americans. As the capital of Texas and fastest growing large city in the United States, Austin has a lot to offer retirees. Not everyone wants to sit by the beach when they retire, with Austin offering live music, great food, and a unique southern culture. Make no mistake, Austin is a proper city without the costs associated with other metro centers.
Housing in Austin costs retirees a median of $283,500, and while more expensive than some locations, it's a steal for a large cultural city with great amenities. Austin is home to roughly one million people, which makes it one of the biggest cities on this list. While not everyone wants to move to the big smoke after they retire, longer life spans and an increased quality of life mean you can stay active and enjoy city living for longer.
Whether you want to keep working or studying, or volunteer for a charity cause, Austin offers a wide array of great opportunities. This area has a diverse economy and is home to tech giants such as Apple, Dell, IBM and Samsung. It's also a famous college town, with seniors aged 65 and older offered a limited amount of tuition-free study at the University of Texas at Austin. In terms of medical care, Seton Medical Center Austin and St. David's Medical Center are the two major health care providers.
While crime in Austin has been up in recent years, a lot of the activity is localized to a few suburbs. Condo communities, and especially 55+ condo communities, are generally located in safe parts of the city. The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority provides public transportation in Austin, with buses available alongside commuter rail, light rail, and new autonomous electric shuttles. Two other popular retirement towns in Texas are El Paso and Plano.
4. San Diego, California
California, the home of glitz, glamour, and the American dream. While it’s not the first place that comes to mind when you think of retirement, maybe it should be. San Diego offers great weather all year, easy access to the Pacific Ocean and its attractions, and a number of cultural and natural delights.
While living in San Diego is going to be much more expensive than living on the Atlantic coast, it is among the most desirable places for retirees to live in the United States according to the U.S. News survey. The median home price among people aged 60 and older is $560,200 in San Diego, with median rents likely to put you back $1,296 per month.
San Diego offers a number of well respected and high performing hospitals and health care options for retirees. Scripps La Jolla Hospitals and the UC San Diego Health-Jacobs Medical Center are both located in the city, with other leading institutions located in the nearby cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
San Diego also offers a wide range of living opportunities, from seaside condos through to lazy suburban houses and urban apartments. Getting around the city is easy wherever you reside, with a local commuter train called the Coaster traveling from North County to downtown. In many ways, this city offers the best of both worlds, with cultural attractions easy to access and a fantastic natural environment just outside your door.
5. Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is one of the sunniest places in North America, with this fact alone enough to attract lots of retirees to the Arizona capital. While you have to pay for the good weather through the expense of air conditioning, lots of retirees avoid this by setting up a winter home in Phoenix and enjoying their summers in another location. This city is the anchor of the Phoenix metropolitan area, which is known as the Valley of the Sun.
The median home price in Phoenix among people aged 60 and older is just $236,900. In terms of healthcare, the Mayo Clinic-Phoenix is ranked 11th in the country on the Best Hospitals Honor Roll by U.S. News.
Modern retirees need more than a nice place to relax, with cultural attractions, cuisine, and festivals all helping to attract people to this great city. The arts scene has evolved considerably in Phoenix over the last few years, with performing arts venues, fine arts venues, and museums dotted throughout the city.
If outdoor attractions are what you're looking for, Phoenix offers a number of great annual events and recreational activities. From the Phoenix Zoo and Japanese Friendship Garden through to Camelback Mountain and Mustery Castle, there’s a lot to see and do in Phoenix and the surrounding area. There are many great 55+ condo projects in Phoenix, from independent living communities through to continuing care centers and nursing homes.
Retiring in Canada
Canada has become a popular destination for retirees, both as a permanent location and a part-time location among the snowbird community who migrate south during the winter. Canada has some of the most pristine and beautiful natural environments in the world, and some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. When you factor in the low cost of living and great healthcare system, it’s easy to see why so many retirees are heading north.
Let's take a look at the 5 best places in Canada to spend your golden years.
1. Ottawa, Ontario
Canada’s over 65 population is set to double in the next 25 years, with Canadians looking to retire close to home and US citizens increasingly travelling north. Ottawa is a fantastic place to spend your retirement, with a number of 55+ condo communities catering to this growing demographic.
Standing on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern part of southern Ontario, this vibrant city is cultural, highly educated, and well serviced by healthcare institutions.
According to figures from Moneysense, there are 142 family doctors per 100,000 population in Ottawa, which is among the highest in the country. The median house price in Ottawa is C$382,000. As the capital city of Canada, Ottawa has a number of fantastic amenities and some of the best infrastructure in the country.
Arts and sporting bodies are both well funded, and an integrated public transportation system services the entire city with buses and trains.
Ottawa is also home to a number of annual celebrations, including Winterlude, the largest festival in Canada. The condo lifestyle has really taken off in Ottawa and Canada in general, with new and pre-construction condo communities often catering to specific demographics. Retirees are a big part of this lifestyle movement, with a number of dedicated 55+ condos and continuing care facilities dotted in and around Ottawa.
2. Rimouski, Quebec
Rimouski offers retirees beautiful natural attractions in a small and friendly package. Located in the Bas-Saint Laurent region, this city has roughly 50,000 people and some of the most affordable housing in Canada. Rimouski was recently ranked the number one best place to retire in Canada by MoneySense Magazine, using a ratings system based on access to healthcare, crime rates, walkability, and weather.
This city has a humid continental climate, which means cold and snowy winters and relatively warm summers. With a ferry service operating across the Saint Lawrence River to Forestville and some of the best walking tracks in the region, this small city has a lot to offer.
While Rimouski doesn't offer the same cultural attractions as larger Canadian cities, there is a lot going on for a city of this size. Many of the attractions and amenities are particularly retiree-friendly, including the Université du Québec à Rimouski for study later in life, the ocean sciences research centers, and the Music Conservatory.
Rimouski is also home to a number of annual festivals, including the Festi Jazz International, Carousel International du film de Rimouski, and Grandes fetes du Saint-Laurent. If you're thinking about moving to Rimouski or the surrounding area, there are a number of condo communities and dedicated retiree living options.
The median house price in the city is just C$217,000, which makes it a great option for retirees who want to spend their money elsewhere.
3. Victoria, British Columbia
The city of Victoria has become well-known as a retirement hot spot, thanks to its housing options, great weather, and active living opportunities. Almost 20 percent of the city are in their senior years, with 6.2 percent above the age of 80. According to MoneySense, Victoria has the 5th highest number of residents aged 65 years and over.
This demographic is serviced by a great healthcare system and a wide range of dedicated 55+ condo communities. Victoria has one of the mildest climates in Canada, and while it's hardly Florida, not everyone wants to sweat through their retirement years.
Victoria is enticing to retirees for many reasons, with the city seeming to offer the perfect balance between a relaxing and active lifestyle. With so many retirees living in the city, a number of recreational and social clubs have popped up to service the community.
From outdoor activities such as fishing and bird watching through to sports like tennis and sailing, you're sure to find something to do and someone to do it with. Victoria also enjoys one of the longest golf seasons in Canada, and some of the best greens and fairways in the country.
While Victoria is hardly starved when it comes to cultural attractions, it's also a lot quieter than larger cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. This has its advantages, however, with a lower crime rate than most big cities and a small walkable downtown area.
The cost of living in Victoria is not particularly low compared to other Canadian cities, with housing costs also much higher than average. The average Greater Victoria MLS home sale price is around C$700,000 according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
4. Qualicum Beach, British Columbia
British Columbia has more than its fair share of retirement towns, with the temperate climate and amazing scenery of this part of the world continuing to attract seniors. Qualicum Beach is home to one of the fastest-growing retiree demographics in Canada. Situated on the Strait of Georgia, this small town is the top retirement community in Canada's top retirement province.
The median price for a detached house in the area is C$377,200, with condos often more affordable depending on the amenities and location.
In an amazing statistic, the median age of Qualicum Beach is 60.9 years. Almost half the Qualicum Beach population is aged 65 or older, with retirement homes and independent 55+ condos dotted in the town and surrounding countryside.
The beautiful natural environment of the area is the main attraction, with the close proximity to Victoria and Vancouver also a major drawcard.
Qualicum Beach also enjoys a number of well-regarded medical services, including Nanaimo General Hospital. This large institution provides a full range of medical services, offers 263 beds, and is located just 25 minutes from the town center.
5. Kingston, Ontario
Lots of retirees from Canada's bigger cities choose to move to Kingstown to enjoy a slower and more mindful way of life. According to MoneySense Magazine, Kingston has been named one of the best places to retire in Canada.
A lot of this is down to the high quality of life, with the city enjoying a climate that's cool yet sunny 45 percent of the time. While retirees shouldn't expect Florida or California weather, what the city lacks in warmth it makes up for with the great scenery of Lake Ontario.
Seniors are also attracted to Kingston due to its low crime rate, relatively affordable healthcare, and great way of life. Kingston has a median listing price of C$335,400. Unlike some of Canada's bigger cities, walking around Kingston is a breeze.
More people walk to work in Kingston than any other Canadian city, with the waterfront featuring a number of criss-crossing walking and cycle paths. For a moderately sized city, Kingston also enjoys a number of cultural attractions and some of the best cuisine in Canada.
Kingston is home to a number of annual festivals during the year, including the Kingston WritersFest, Limestone City Blues Festival, and Kingston Canadian Film Festival.
The city also enjoys a healthy performing arts scene, with international, national, and local groups regularly performing across the city. There are an increasing number of specialised retirement condos and continuing care facilities located in and around Kingston.
Choosing where to spend your golden years is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. The rise of condo living has given people more options than ever before, with dedicated retirement communities easy to find throughout the United States and Canada.
From standard condos through to dedicated 55+ communities and continuing care facilities, you can stay active and independent for longer while you enjoy everything North America has to offer.