The senior citizen stereotype has changed, perhaps forever.
Older Canadians work longer, live longer and consider retirement as their life's reward to be relished, not as a time to slow down. They want the financial freedom to do the things they love, and they want to remain independent and active as long as they can.
The first set of Canada's baby boomers turned 65 in 2011; by 2026, the number of seniors is expected to reach about 7.8 million. This means changes for the real estate industry as more boomers downsize and the number of residents living in active retirement or age-restricted lifestyle communities rises.
Anne and Bernie Bruneau have been living in one such lifestyle community since 2009. Country Meadows in Wasaga Beach, ON is a land lease community open to residents age 50 and older owned by Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities Inc., the largest residential and recreational land lease community operator in the country. “Land lease allows those who are retiring or downsizing the opportunity to own a home at a much reduced rate,” says Andrew Blair, Parkbridge President and CEO. “Homes in Wasaga Beach tend to cost 22% more than a home in one of our communities, which frees up more disposable income to spend or save however they wish.”
The convenience of community living is another benefit. Anne and Bernie retired in 2002 and became part of the “6 and 6” set – spending six months in Canada and six months in South Texas. After seven years, they decided it was time to put down roots and buy a permanent home so they returned to Ontario and began the search. “Our number one priority was to have a community atmosphere because we had gotten used to living that way in Texas and we enjoyed it,” says Anne. “You've got a built-in social life and we had no doubt that we'd make a lot of acquaintances, but even more long term friends. If you knocked on anyone's door, most of them would say that they like community living, that they're glad they moved.”
Residents of Country Meadows share amenities such as the clubhouse, pool and 9-hole golf course, while organized activities include every type of card game imaginable, yoga and ladies fitness, pool and snooker, shuffleboard and once or twice a month, dinner entertainment. And impromptu events are always springing up. “We have a front porch and a rear deck and the private deck activities have become fabric of the social life,” says Anne. “It's a great way to enjoy the fruits of your labour, after the 35 or 40 years you've put in working hard.”