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In retirement, Canadians plan to stay put

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We've all seen the advertisements: an older couple strolling hand-in-hand along an idyllic-looking beach. Or sailing happily along on their yacht, wine glasses in hand.

But despite all the hype around retiring in warm southern climates, Canadians overwhelmingly prefer to live out their golden years close to home. According to a special report from the BMO Retirement Institute released Tuesday, 85 per cent of Canadians over the age of 45 say they plan to remain in Canada when they stop working. These statistics do not include Canadian snowbirds, people who trek south for part of the winter.

Within Canada, Victoria is the undisputed retirement capital of the country, with 15 per cent of baby boomers indicating they would like to retire in the capital of British Columbia. (Victoria, which boasts a warm, temperate climate and easy-going island lifestyle, is packed with retirees and has earned itself a reputation as a destination for "the newly wed and nearly dead.")

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Another 14 per cent of Canadians plan to live in smaller towns in Ontario, 11 per cent in Montreal and the Eastern Townships and another 11 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area, said the BMO special report. The report also found that Albertans are most likely to relocate for retirement, while Atlantic residents are least likely.

Not surprisingly, weather was cited as the top factor for those who choose to relocate, with 57 per cent of boomers pointing to that as their motivator. Fifty-four per cent of those surveyed cited financial reasons, 45 per cent proximity to family and friends, and 35 per cent better access to health care and support services.

Tina Di Vito, head of BMO's Retirement Institute, says that whatever motivation people have for moving, financial matters should be considered a priority. "Relocation can be the cause of many new or additional expenses, including increased travel to see loved ones, and an elevated cost of living due to higher health costs and taxes."

Ms. Di Vito has these tips for Canadians thinking of moving upon retirement:

• Relocating to a different province? Be sure to review your health care coverage, provincial tax differences and the adequacy of your estate plan.

• Relocating outside of Canada? Don't forget about departure taxes as well as managing your Canadian assets as a non-resident.

The BMO survey was filled out online by 791 Canadians, aged 45 or older, in August, 2011. It was put together by Leger Marketing and has a margin of error of 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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