In this article, we'll give you the 12 best places for seniors to retire in Canada and worldwide.
After working for many years (or even retiring early) and going through the various stages of life, all people face what is perhaps their most daunting decision: picking a retirement destination. Ideally, a person wants to find a lovely part of the world to retire with plenty of amenities and a low cost of living. However, finding everything can be a challenge.
On top of all of this, there are numerous considerations to remember before launching into retirement. By learning the best places to retire inside and outside of Canada and how to choose, current residents can find the best retirement destination to suit their needs.
The average age of retirement in Canada
While it's true that generally, most people retire once they become seniors, it's not a fast and hard rule. Technically, a person can retire at any age, but they won't receive as many benefits if they do. With that in mind, it's worth looking at the average retirement age so that you can begin preparing for your eventual permanent time off work.
In Canada, the average retirement age falls to around 65 years old. This value comprises three different classes of workers: The public sector, the private sector, and the self-employed. Getting into the finer details, those in the public sector tend to retire a few years earlier, at 62 years old.
In contrast, self-employed tend to work longer until they are 68 on average. Those in the private sector fall precisely, on average, 65 years old.
Are people retiring overseas or domestically?
Amidst rising prices over the last few years due to general global inflation, among other factors, you've likely heard reports that more and more people are deciding to retire outside of Canada.
This has undoubtedly become a trend, with many people seeking warmer climates and more affordable conditions now that they have no responsibilities anymore. However, a large number of Canadians are simply relocating within the country.
The choice of whether or not to stay domestically or to set your sights internationally is entirely a personal one based on what you hope to get out of retirement.
Major considerations when finding a location to retire in
Before looking at places to retire to around the world, a person must consider all the critical factors of retirement that can influence the decision.
After all, you don't want to choose a destination just because you like the sound of it, only to discover that it doesn't have low crime rates or is impossibly expensive. To that end, keep the following seven items at the top of mind:
The cost of living
Naturally, the cost of living should be one of the primary considerations when looking at places to retire. Costs associated with renting or buying property, food costs, daily activities, and more should all be considered.
Certain areas, such as Thailand, are known for being cheaper than other parts of the world. In contrast, other countries like the United States are similarly expensive to Canada. Consider your monthly income and compare it to the cost of living in your ideal destination.
Any Visa requirements
Remember that if you hope to retire to a country outside of Canada, you will likely need to apply for a Visa unless you are a permanent resident or citizen of another country. Some nations worldwide offer specialty foreigners retirement visas. Still, others have no such program and show no sign of creating it.
The language spoken in the country
Living in a gorgeous location somewhere in the world is all well and good. Still, if you can't speak the language, you will have difficulty meeting new friends or handling daily interactions. Remembering this piece is less important for those in Canada when they retire.
Still, those with eyes set internationally should consider this as one of the most critical points.
The currency conversion
Remember that your currency may not be the primary accepted one wherever you go. This means you must convert your money into a foreign currency, which may or may not work in your favour, depending on where you go.
Look up historical and projected currency values for your intended destination ahead of time to know what to expect.
The healthcare in a location
A natural part of getting older is accepting that more health ailments will afflict you over time. To this point, having strong healthcare wherever you are can go a long way in keeping you comfortable as you age.
While the average temperature in the destination you are considering may be pretty nice, it's pointless if no healthcare system is established.
The safety in an area
Nobody wants to find themselves victimized while trying to live out their retirement. However, retiring to a part of Canada or elsewhere known for high crime rates may result in that. Research postings from locals to learn more about the lifestyle in a potential retirement destination to see if there is a lot of crime in the area.
The overall climate
Finally, think about the weather that your intended destination experiences most frequently. The last place snowbirds from Canada want to retire is somewhere equally cold, meaning destinations like Costa Rica, Spain, Panama, or others may be appealing.
Consider what type of climate will make you comfortable in retirement well before your big day.
Will a Canadian pension apply if retiring abroad?
Retiring abroad is extremely common for Canadians, with thousands making this decision yearly. However, one of the most critical questions these individuals are faced with is whether or not their hard-earned pension still applies.
To get the immediate worry out of the way, Canadians are still eligible for their pension even if they retire abroad. This applies to both a Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS), but be aware that you won't get a Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
Collecting CPP vs. OAS
When it comes to collecting your CPP or OAS, the process will vary slightly depending on which you have and a number of other factors. For an OAS, be aware of the following:
- A person must have lived in the country for at least 20 years as a legal resident after turning 18
- A proportional amount will be taken off of your OAS if you have not lived in Canada for at least 40 years
- You will need to pay a 25% withholding tax to the Canadian Federal government, but this can be reduced if you are in a country with a tax treaty
- The Canadian government may send you your OAS payment in the local currency of wherever you move, depending on where it is
As for collecting the CPP, a person needs to know the following:
- You must have worked and lived in Canada at some point while also contributing to the Canadian Pension Plan
- You will need to pay the same 25% tax, with the option to reduce it to 15%
- The government will also send your CPP payment directly to you in the local currency, depending on where you move to
Best places for Canadians to retire inside Canada
Many Canadians look internationally and consider destinations on other continents, such as Europe or Asia when considering retirement.
However, countless gorgeous destinations within our home country can make for excellent places to retire. In particular, the following seven locations are some of the most prominent to consider. Keep in mind, they're in no particular order.
The general Victoria area is one of the most sought-after destinations for Canadian retirees for various reasons. The biggest reasons are low property tax rates, many doctors, and just the fact the city is beautiful. Access to plenty of healthcare and few expenses entices many, but it doesn't stop there.
The climate in this part of Canada is among the best in the entire country, with plenty of sea air and comfortable temperatures keeping things pleasant. Be aware that the lifestyle here is generally more active than in other parts of the country. Still, the area's population of nearly 400,000 doesn't seem to mind the opportunity to get into the great outdoors.
Picton, sometimes known as Prince Edward County, is a smaller destination in Ontario to consider. This town has a population shy of 25,000, meaning it will undoubtedly have a small-town feel. For those who have lived in cities all their lives, this may be exactly what the doctor ordered for retirement.
The weather tends to be lakeshore-temperate, so it may not be ideal for those seeking extreme heat. The area has been toted as having an extremely laid-back attitude and designed for those over 50.
Known for Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon is a historic part of the country that can make for an excellent destination for retirees. Its population is one of the largest in the country at over 270,000 residents, and eight walking bridges along with cultural attractions make this the ideal city for someone with an active lifestyle and curiosity about the arts.
The people in Saskatoon are known for their friendliness, and beautiful landmarks and rivers spread throughout the Meewasin Valley provide something for everyone.
St. John's, NL
The temperate-coastal climate of St. John's earns it a place on the list of the best locations in Canada to retire, along with the fact that life is known for moving a little slower in this area. The area has a high unemployment rate, but that's only because most of the 108,000 residents no longer work and are retired.
A rugged landscape surrounds the region, making it excellent for those who love to explore trails or simply walk around to stretch their legs.
Niagara Falls, ON
This list would be incomplete without including the classic famous destination of Niagara Falls. Everybody travels to this destination due to the waterfalls. Still, few people know that the town is also an excellent and lovely destination for retirement.
Within the city limits are a casino, museums, and other attractions that can keep a retiree busy for years. It's also been named one of the safest cities in Canada.
Additionally, two of the Great Lakes are within driving distance, making this an excellent option for travellers. Be aware that the notoriety of this town means that lower costs or a lower cost of living, in general, are not something that exists for the 80,000+ residents.
Canmore is a relatively small part of Canada with a population of nearly 15,000 people, but that doesn't mean there's no entertainment in the area. Located in Alberta, Canmore is a gorgeous destination that has majestic scenery. Famous attractions like the Three Sisters and Ha Ling Peak make this area a hiker's dream.
Whether you love to fish, climb, hike, or even ski in the winter, there is something for everyone in Canmore. Additionally, the people in this area are known for being extremely kind to outsiders, which makes socializing with new friends a breeze.
Finally, as one might expect, the capital of the nation is also one of the destinations that sees the most retirees out of everywhere in the country. With a population shy of one million strong, the flowing rivers and ample parkland in the city shock many from more traditional cities.
The pure size of the area means that retirees will never get bored or run out of things to do. Although this is one of the cheapest places to live in Ontario, it's still relatively expensive compared to other spots in the province.
Best places for Canadians to retire abroad
There are many options for those who cannot be convinced to set their eyes anywhere besides an international destination, which is quite understandable for those with a travel bug. Some of the best international destinations for retirees include:
There's a reason Costa Rica is one of the most popular destinations for those retiring. This jungle paradise sometimes suffers from the misconception that it is unsafe despite being one of the friendliest and safest countries for travellers.
The cost of living has unfortunately increased in recent years. Still, it is far more affordable than certain areas within Canada. Be aware that most of the country speaks Spanish as a first language, but English is also used as a second language. Healthcare isn't as advanced in this country as in Canada, but it's also nothing to scoff at.
For some, retiring to Europe may be a goal held for years. Portugal can be an excellent choice. The climate is characterized as Mediterranean, meaning that the summer months, July in particular, will experience hot and dry weather.
In the wintertime, a person can expect wet months. This variety in temperature keeps the landscape looking beautiful, and the rocky coastal towns scattered around the country can keep any retiree busy for years.
As mentioned earlier, Thailand is a destination many people consider retiring to due to how cheap it is. The only downside to Thailand is that it is notably less safe than other countries on this list but not entirely dangerous.
Given the fact that the affordability of this country means that housing, dining, transportation, and more are a fraction of the cost in Canada, most retirees choose to overlook the potentially unsafe areas.
The country's climate is tropical, making it an excellent destination for those seeking year-round warmth in particular. Be aware that you must provide proof of ongoing healthcare coverage to local immigration authorities every 90 days, which may be a severe drawback for some.
Returning to Europe, Spain can also be a wonderful country to consider retiring from Canada. Similar to Portugal, Spain offers a Mediterranean climate that is almost warm year-round.
For reference, the price of living is slightly higher in Spain than in Portugal. However, the average Canadian will still find it cheap compared to what they are used to. This country is most well-known for the food, culture, and safety that is offered.
Whether you are a traveller who is always on your feet or someone looking to stay laid back for their retirement years, Spain has something to offer. The primary language is Spanish, but English will be spoken in larger cities.
Finally, Australia is a unique but fantastic destination to consider calling home for retirement. It's worth noting that an expat must be over 55 to retire to Australia, and you cannot have any dependents besides your spouse.
The way retirement works in Australia is that a person will be granted a temporary Visa, which lasts for four years, before being granted a standard retirement Visa that allows them to stay. Australia is a dream for many from Canada, known for the warm weather, exotic animals, friendly people, and ample activities.
Find your new home for retirement
Choosing a new place of permanent residency will not be easy, especially if you have set your sights on international living for retirement. With that said, finding a location with a strong healthcare system, a fair level of affordability, and weather that brings you joy daily is essential above all other factors.
Take the time to evaluate what you hope to get out of retirement and compare the destinations around the world that suit your specific needs.
FAQs about Canadian retirement
What is the tax situation of retiring abroad?
Even if you move to another country, you will always be responsible for paying taxes to the country you are a citizen of. This may change once you become a permanent resident of the country you retired in. However, until then, you will still be responsible for income taxes if you begin working again.
Do I need to return to Canada to maintain citizenship?
No, there is no reason you should need to return to Canada to maintain your citizenship. Those who legally reside in Canada currently but are not citizens may have special restrictions on a case-by-case basis, which are essential to consider.
How does healthcare work when retiring abroad?
As one may expect, any healthcare you currently utilize in Canada will not be applicable if you move out of the country and receive healthcare elsewhere. Generally, before being allowed to move to another country on a Visa, you must show proof that you have health insurance.