Did you know that some retirement communities in Ontario, Canada, are among the most preferred by retirees?
This is because the province offers countless outdoor activities, a robust healthcare system and many senior-friendly towns.
In this post, I will enumerate the best retirement locations in Ontario and why they can be ideal for your retirement years, whether you seek a high quality of life or prefer an affordable, quiet lifestyle.
- The best places to retire in Ontario include Toronto, Guelph, London, Chatham-Kent, Brampton, Kingston and Windsor.
- Cobourg, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie are among the best places to retire if you are on a budget.
- To choose the best place to retire, look at factors like cost of living, location, amenities, climate and weather, healthcare and entertainment and lifestyle.
Best Retirement Communities in Ontario, Canada
Ontario is a top destination for retiring Canadians, offering superior quality of life, cultural diversity, countless entertainment options and exceptional healthcare. Below are the best retirement communities in the province and what they offer.
- Population: 18,981
- Average cost of living: $3,186/month (single person including rent)
Dubbed as the “prettiest town in Ontario,” Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of Canada’s most picturesque towns. Its milder climate and natural beauty make it popular for retirement.
Amenities in the city include vineyards, wineries, orchards, greenhouses, convention facilities and visitor accommodations.
Niagara-on-the-Lake also offers a variety of things to do, including four-star dining, Shaw Festival Theatre, outdoor recreation, arts and culture and parks and trails.
As for healthcare, the city has a regional healthcare provider offering a multi-site hospital organization serving over 450,000 Niagara residents in 12 municipalities.
- Population: 34,643
- Average cost of living: $2,862/month (single person, renting)
Located on the Avon River, Stratford is a small retirement community in Ontario, Canada, with all the comforts of a larger city but with more affordable real estate than nearby major cities like Toronto and London.
The town features the world-renowned annual Stratford Theatre Festival, museums, galleries, parks, gardens and a conservation area.
Retirees also have numerous choices to spend their time through activities, including dining, outdoor recreation like hiking, camping and swimming.
While Stratford does not have medical facilities like in the bigger cities, it provides efficient healthcare through its public and private providers of healthcare services and programs.
- Population: 574,238
- Average cost of living: $1,358 (one person without rent)
- Average rent: $1,690 (1-bedroom apartment)
London is a city on the Thames River and a gateway to southwestern Ontario. One of the best places to retire in the world, it offers the feel of a big city without the crowd and the rush.
Also called the Forest City, London has many facilities for retirees who want to stay active physically and in the community, including the seniors’ centre, fitness centres, church organizations and public libraries.
There are also countless outdoor activities suitable for seniors, such as walking and day tours on hectares of scenic green space, day camps, golfing, biking, fishing and boating.
Likewise, many retirement residences and healthcare facilities are available in the city. London is also home to exceptional medical facilities and modern hospitals.
- Population: 135,005
- Average cost of living: $1,421 (one person without rent)
- Average rent: $1,690 (1-bedroom apartment)
Peterborough is in Central Ontario on the eastern boundary of the Greater Toronto Area, between Toronto and Ottawa.
It is a senior-friendly town with a vibrant and active elderly community enjoying amenities like parks, pavilions, sports fields, courts and trails.
There are plenty of things to do, from festivals and cultural events to activities like hockey, hiking, swimming, fishing, snowboarding and skiing.
Healthcare facilities include a state-of-the-art hospital, senior communities and retirement residences.
Collingwood is a town in Simcoe County in the heart of Georgian Bay. A popular winter resort, it is an attractive tourist destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
It has ample recreational opportunities for retirees, including skiing, snowboarding, paddleboarding, kayaking, boat tours, camping, hiking and biking.
The city also boasts heritage buildings, museums, a brewing company and arboretum. Other amenities include a community center, an indoor arena and sports fields.
The healthcare system in Collingwood includes a hospital, nursing facility, dental clinics, urgent care centres and a mental health care facility.
- Population: 109,051
- Average cost of living: $2,134
Located between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, Chatham-Kent is a senior-friendly town recognized as a top retirement hotspot, offering affordability, safety and community spirit.
With a relatively low cost of living, this can be a practical option if you want to retire in an affordable place with amenities like nature reserves, parks, theatres, museums and ice arena.
Chatham-Kent has year-round outdoor events and abundant recreational activities, including farmers markets, golfing, bird watching, fishing, hunting and snowmobiling.
The city also provides medical facilities, long-term care homes, senior centres and health centres to meet the individual care needs of seniors.
- Population: 656,480
- Average cost of living: $1,282 (single person without rent)
- Average rent: $2,245 (1-bedroom apartment)
Brampton is a diverse city in the Greater Toronto Area and a municipality within Peel Region. It is known as the Flower City due to its huge greenhouse industry.
This multicultural city offers a multitude of things to do, from cultural events to festivals, dining, farmers markets, day trips and visiting conservation waterfalls.
The city’s amenities include restaurants, shopping centers, recreational facilities, community centers, public libraries, parks, trails and green spaces.
Healthcare facilities and retirement homes in the city cater to the individual needs of seniors to help them transition smoothly.
- Population: 12,108
- Average house price: $611,000
The vibrant town of Brighton is one of the best retirement communities in southern Ontario. Retirees may find it ideal due to its affordability and superior quality of life.
The amenities that retirees can enjoy include parks, tennis courts, gardens, trails, park arenas, pavilions, campgrounds and community centres.
The city offers different things to do, ranging from camping to golfing, hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, boating, canoeing, and windsurfing.
Brighton also provides seniors with comprehensive services and convenient healthcare facilities, including health services, wellness centres and home care agencies.
The town of Cobourg is located in the Northumberland region of southern Ontario, bordered by Lake Ontario. It is a practical option if you seek a budget-friendly retirement location.
Cobourg amenities include restaurants, accommodations, parks, walking trails, a farmer’s market, churches and social clubs.
The things to do in this small town include sightseeing, camping, hiking, horseback riding and golfing. Water activities are also offered, including kayaking, swimming, canoeing and jet skiing.
Cobourg residents seeking health services can get them from the town hospital, clinics, health and wellness facilities and community centres.
- Population: 180,070
- Average cost of living: $1,337 (single person without rent)
- Average rent: $1,818 (1-bedroom apartment)
Kingston is a waterfront retirement community in Ontario that offers affordability and superior quality of life and consistently ranks as one of the best places to retire.
Its diverse facilities include shopping centres, farmer’s markets, fitness centres, a driving range, a home field, museums, a water park, an arena and a community centre.
Kingston is also full of things to do for retirees. These include exploring historic places, taking island cruises and helicopter tours, walking tours, hiking, and dining.
The city provides quick access to healthcare through multiple hospitals, health facilities and retirement communities.
- Population: 172,400
- Average cost of living: $1,390 (single person without rent)
- Average rent: $1,990 (1-bedroom apartment)
Guelph consistently ranks among the best places to retire in Canada, with its affordable cost of living, safety and a high quality of life.
This culturally diverse city boasts heritage sites, park arenas, a stadium, a brewery, cooling centres, a market square, an arboretum and a seniors community centre.
Retirees can also enjoy various activities, from skating to hiking, pottery, swimming, boating, kayaking, and attending festivals and events.
Guelph has several hospitals, medical facilities, wellness and community centres, and not-for-profit providers of long-term care.
12. Thunder Bay
- Population: 125,334
- Average cost of living: $1,306 (single person without rent)
The largest city in the northwest area of Ontario, Thunder Bay is one of the best places to retire in Ontario on a budget.
Thunder Bay has amenities designed for seniors, including walking paths, parks, recreational trails, senior centres, community centres and senior support services programs.
Located on Lake Superior, the city offers a variety of outdoor activities for retirees who want an active lifestyle. Sightseeing, hiking, skiing, sailing, and fishing are among the many outdoor pursuits retirees can enjoy here.
Healthcare facilities in the city include a hospital, health science centres and retirement homes and communities.
- Population: 6,685,621
- Average cost of living: $1,522 (single person without rent)
The provincial capital of Ontario, Toronto, is an excellent place for retirement due to its low crime rates, robust healthcare services and abundance of outdoor activities.
A variety of cultural attractions, entertainment and recreational activities, amenities and things to do abound in this lively city.
While Toronto is not the cheapest city to live in, affordable housing options are available for individuals with lower incomes as well as subsidized housing.
Toronto also boasts excellent health services for residents. If you are an Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) cardholder, you can access a broad range of services in the city.
14. Sault Ste. Marie
- Population: 81,158
- Average cost of living: $1,222 (single person without rent)
While Sault Ste. Marie is often listed among the most unsafe cities in Canada, it has to be noted that not all areas here are dangerous. Among the most livable neighbourhoods in the city are Cedar Heights, Pointe des Chênes and The P Patch.
Also called the Soo, Sault Ste. Marie offers amenities larger cities have, such as restaurants serving international cuisine, bars and clubs, craft breweries, ice facilities, fitness centers and sports complexes.
The things to do here also abound, giving you numerous choices, including annual events and festivals, golfing, skating, skiing, sleigh rides, snowboarding, snowmobiling and ice fishing.
Sault Ste. Marie also offers diverse healthcare services through its hospitals. It provides core services, walk-in clinics, health centres, and long-term care facilities.
15. Owen Sound
Owen Sound, known as the Scenic City due to its expansive harbour and bay, is also among the preferred retirement communities in southern Ontario.
The place teems with things to do, from festivals and events to extensive parks and trails, conservation areas, connecting waterfalls, flora and fauna to theatres, art galleries, museums, a community centre and a seniors’ centre.
Activities are also diverse, which include walking, golfing, bowling, skiing, boating, swimming, cross country and cultural events.
Owen Sound also has facilities offering basic and advanced medical care through its medical centre, an after-hours clinic, a walk-in clinic, a hospice and varied private dental and medical facilities.
- Population: 18,252
- Average house price: $670,140 (September 2023)
- Average rent: $1,360 (1-bedroom apartment)
Tillsonburg is a quiet town in Oxford County located near the Lake Erie shoreline. Its low crime rate, low property taxes and small-town living make it one of the best retirement destinations.
The town offers a range of amenities, including shops, museums, galleries, parks, restaurants, a fresh market, farm gates, flower farms, country stores and a community complex.
Activities retirees can enjoy in Tillsonburg range from pottery classes to yoga, skating, sunbathing, biking on an extensive trail system, annual fairs, tours and summer events.
The Tillsonburg healthcare system consists of district and general hospitals providing diverse medical services. A senior centre is also available to serve the needs of those aged 50 and over.
- Population: 19,816
- Average house price: $716,500
Huntsville is a town in Muskoka located north of Toronto and south of North Bay. If you are looking for an affordable cost of living and low housing cost, you will likely find Huntsville a good option.
Surrounded by four lakes, the town provides countless outdoor activities, including swimming, boating, hiking, camping, skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.
Amenities are also aplenty in Huntsville, with its mix of galleries and shops, cafes, restaurants, museums, and wellness centres. Retirees can also enjoy Muskoka seniors’ events.
For medical services, residents can visit district hospitals, clinics and other facilities providing basic to advanced healthcare services.
- Population: 359,672
- Average cost of living: $1,308 (single person without rent)
For many Ontario seniors, Windsor offers a superior quality of life due to a low cost of living and plenty of outdoor activities.
It is among the most ideal waterfront retirement communities in Ontario, offering opportunities for outdoor activities like swimming, boating, skiing, cruises, hiking, camping and tours.
If you seek a natural environment combined with a modern lifestyle, Windsor provides amenities like gardens, waterparks, a brewery, museums, multi-use trails and historic sites.
Windsor has several private and publicly-funded hospital facilities, in addition to retirement homes and elder care programs, that provide various levels of healthcare services to promote and protect the well-being of senior residents.
What is the Retirement Age in Ontario?
The mandatory retirement age in Ontario, and Canada in general, is 65, when seniors begin receiving their pension. They can start as early as 60 or as late as 70.
Related: Retirement planning guide.
How Much Does it Cost to Retire in Ontario?
While this would generally depend on your lifestyle, the basic rule to determine how much you need to retire in Ontario is 70-80% of your annual pre-retirement earnings.
So, if you make $100,000 annually, make it your objective to save $70,000 to $80,000 of your yearly earnings. This way, you can afford to retire where you want while maintaining your lifestyle.
How to Choose the Best Place to Retire in Ontario
Below are the various factors that help determine the best place to retire in Ontario. This will help make your decision process faster.
- Cost of living: Housing costs, groceries, utilities, transportation, healthcare and entertainment contribute to your cost of living. Compare prices from different regions to find what is ideal for you.
- Location. Depending on your lifestyle, you may want to choose a place you can afford yet allow you to live a comfortable life. While it can be expensive to live in many of its cities, Ontario still offers affordable locations.
- Amenities. Having enough facilities nearby helps retirees keep active lifestyles in their retirement years. Find a location with senior centres and other amenities that support healthy living.
- Climate and weather: This aspect is very crucial if you are tired of the cold, long winters in some provinces and wish for a milder climate. Check potential areas in terms of their temperature ranges, precipitation levels and sunshine hours.
- Healthcare: Access to quality healthcare is imperative during retirement when you need to manage your health. Choose a location close to medical hospitals, clinics or doctors and have long-term care and wellness programs.
- Entertainment and Lifestyle: As a retiree, you want to enjoy your retirement years, explore new hobbies and engage in recreational activities. Living in a place that offers various outdoor activities you like doing would be essential to enjoying your retirement years.
Based on house prices, Sault Ste. Marie is the most affordable place to retire in the province, ranking it among the best places to retire in Ontario on a budget. House prices in the city averaged $295,400 as of August 2023. The cost of living in the said city is also lower than in Thunder Bay and other cities in the province.
Having retirement savings of $800,000 to $1 million is sufficient for most Canadians. This amount, however, is just an estimate since retirement goals and financial situations are different from person to person. The actual amount depends on your lifestyle and the financial choices you make when you retire.
The best age to retire in Ontario is 70. Starting your pension later lets you receive a bigger monthly benefit. If you start at age 70 or after, you will receive pension payments up to a maximum increase of 42%. That said, your financial and health situation may differ.
New Brunswick is the best province for seniors in terms of housing prices. In 2022, it had the least expensive average home at $289,000. It also has one of the lowest living costs in Canada.