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Best places to retire in Ontario.

Guest Contributor June 14, 2016
Cobourg waterfront with boats docked.

While there is no one region that will appeal to all retirees, there are a number of Ontario towns that offer enviable amenities and lifestyles for seniors. This topic is a personal one for me. My brother, sister, and I all emigrated from Quebec to Ontario about a decade ago. Now that we have kids of our own here, we’re trying to convince our parents to make the move west as well.

It just makes sense. They’re retired, we’d like to see them more often, and of course we want them to have regular access to their grandkids. (Okay, we want regular access to nearby reliable babysitters.) I’ve been surveying my in-laws, their friends, and other older people I know as well as researching the local amenities and cost of living to find the best spots to retire in this province.

While Toronto offers all of the attractions and services of a world class city, many retirees prefer the lower cost of living, and slower pace of life available in the smaller cities and towns around the province.

Here are the top picks for retirement destinations in Ontario

Kingston, Population 123,363
Based on cost, access to healthcare and more, Kingston has made MoneySense Magazine’s list of top places in all of Canada to retire in for the past several years. Beautifully located right on the shores of Lake Ontario, Kingston has a walkable waterfront downtown. It offers all of the amenities of a thriving city: a dynamic arts scene, fine dining, and entertainment options, while maintaining small city charm and affordability.

Conveniently situated halfway between Toronto and Montreal, Kingston is a great spot for retirees looking for inexpensive housing, a lively cultural scene, and a variety of options for enjoying the great outdoors.

Peterborough, Population: 78,698
Peterborough is a haven for seniors. The 2011 census showed that one in five people living in Peterborough was aged 65 or older. That’s roughly 20 per cent of the population – the highest proportion of seniors in any Canadian city. Naturally, the strength of this demographic has led to Peterborough offering an abundance of affordable housing, quality regional health care, and accessible transit options to meet the demand.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Population: 15,400
The Niagara region offers retirees the benefits of affordable housing surrounded by local attractions such as world-renowned wineries, fine dining, and hiking and biking trails. Just a short drive from Toronto and the GTA, Niagara actually comes second only to Peterborough for the highest percentage of seniors in Ontario.
Niagara on the Lake street view with flowers.

Cobourg, Population: 18,519
The largest town in Northumberland County, Cobourg boasts a famous beach, boardwalk, and marina. It is home to numerous fairs and festivals, and offers multitude of beautiful, well-maintained parks for healthy outdoor activity. The historic downtown area attracts locals and visitors alike with its local shopping and fine dining options. Cobourg is also home to a rich artist community and is at the centre of the Northumberland Hills Studio Tour where local artists open their studio doors to visitors.

Its nearby neighbour Port Hope (population: 16,214) is another popular town for retired professionals looking for an enviable spot to unwind in quaint, small town surroundings that are right on the water and only a short travel to the province’s larger cities.

Stratford, Population: 30,886
Famously home to the renowned Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Stratford also hosts a vibrant Summer Music Festival featuring indoor and outdoor performances by international, classical, and world music artists as well as young Canadian performers. This thriving arts culture is all housed in a small city that offers world class amenities and entertainment in a small city that is walkable and affordable.

Stratford bridge on a river.

Southern Ontario with its temperate climate, beautiful lakes and landscapes, and range of quaint towns and small cities, offers a variety of retirement destinations offering an enviable quality of life. You can settle down and enjoy the best of small town living and outdoor activities just a short commute from world-class cities. (Hint, hint, Mom and Dad.)

By Peter Harris