Rural Retirement: The Right Move for You? - Sutton — Canadian Real Estate Listings & Agents |

Rural Retirement: The Right Move for You?

06 November 2017

Rural Retirement: The Right Move for You?

According to the latest data from Statistics Canada, only 19% of us live in rural areas. By comparison, the rate was 55% less than a hundred years ago. Why the radical, if lengthy, demographic shift? One key reason was mechanization, which reduced the need for manual labour in farming, forestry, mining and similar industries. People moved to cities to find employment as well as to enjoy a greater range of cultural and educational opportunities.

Today, a different demographic change is taking place: the exodus from rural areas has ended. In fact, the percentage of rural dwellers has been holding steady for more than a decade. People are choosing rural properties as an affordable alternative to major metropolitan areas. Instead of paying $1 million for a character home in Toronto, people can snap up pretty lakeside cottages, seaside hideaways, or sprawling country homes with money to spare.

This type of move is especially suited to retirees who are free from the constraints of showing up at a workplace each day. And it is not simply money that attracts retirees.

After city life, many people relish the opportunity to step out their front doors and experience forests, lakes, or rolling farmland instead of noisy streets congested with traffic.

Interestingly, while mechanization compelled people to move to urban areas, modern technology is now making rural life a more comfortable option. Cell phones, satellite television and the internet allow retirees to stay connected, take online courses and purchase just about anything imaginable for home delivery. Geothermal systems, solar electricity and solar water heating are also making it possible to live in ‘off the grid’ regions.

Depending on the specific area, rural living can offer significantly lower property taxes (but also fewer services and amenities).

While most people hope to retire in good health, over the years, it is common to experience mobility issues, age-related vision and hearing loss and the need to visit a doctor more often. When choosing a place to retire, consider these important factors:

Community services

• Most of Canada experiences snow in the winter. Will the local municipality clear the roads and sidewalks? If not, it could negatively impact safety and a sense of independence.

• Does the community have public transportation including wheelchair-accessible buses? If not, it is important to budget for private transportation/deliveries, or a move to a more suitable community, when it becomes necessary.

• Is there a library nearby? Libraries offer a wide range of large-print books for the visually impaired along with free access to thousands of regular books, audio files and movies.

• Is there is a community center nearby for fitness and socializing?

Medical Services

• Ideally, select a property that is reasonably close to a hospital or medical clinic, or is in a region with emergency helicopter transportation.

• Are in-home care services available through the local health authority? If not, are private services available?


It can be tempting to purchase a grand country estate using the proceeds of a modest city home, but consider the long-term costs. A large house requires more cleaning, more roofing and siding to maintain and replace, higher utility bills, etc. Similarly, a spacious yard is lovely, but it becomes more challenging to maintain with age, often requiring paid lawn care services. A smaller, well-built home can leave more money for savings.

Mobility should be a consideration when purchasing any retirement property. Although Canadians are staying healthy longer, many will eventually require a wheelchair, walker or cane. These are easiest to use in a single-level, ranch-style home without stairs.


Loneliness and social isolation may represent a greater public health hazard than obesity, and their impact has been growing, according to research presented at the 125th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in August 2017.

At the convention, Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, made this statement: “There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators.”

People can feel isolated and alone anywhere—even in a city of millions of people. However, living far from another human being certainly makes socializing more difficult! Communities that offer golf, card games, yoga and art classes, gardening clubs, etc. can make life much more enjoyable and very likely healthier.

Following a dream to live in a picturesque rural setting can be very rewarding—no matter how long that dream lasts.

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