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One of the most popular stories published on The Globe and Mail's website over the holidays came from Hawaii, where possibly the last baby boomer in the United States turned 50 on Dec. 31: It's all over now, baby boomers.
Carlos Barientos III got his 15 minutes of fame as the last of a cohort born in the 19 years between 1945 and 1964. What struck me was that Mr. Barientos said he'd now like to be a "snowbird" spending summers on the U.S. mainland and winter in Hawaii.
That's an often-expressed boomer wish – leave the office cubicle and live a little. (Sounds lovely to me, a baby boomer, even as I type it.)
Arguably the most prosperous generation North American has ever seen, baby boomers are changing the expectations of retirement, including where they live. The unrelenting upward pressure on home prices, especially in Canada's largest urban centres, works in their favour.
Last year the average selling price for a home in the Greater Toronto Area increased 8.4 per cent from 2013 to $566,726, the Toronto Real Estate Board says.
And more homes in major cities are selling for more than a million dollars. Sotheby's International Realty Canada says a total of 7,527 homes (condominiums, attached and single family) valued at more than $1-million were sold across the GTA, with 3,134 in Vancouver; 836 in Calgary and 434 in Montreal.
At these kinds of prices, many baby boomers can afford to cash out of city properties and adventure to smaller centres where retirement savings stretch further. It's not an easy move. It may not work for every retiree. Debating where to live the remainder of your life is one of the most contentious topics a couple can face and was the subject of an earlier story: Retirement dilemma: He says British Columbia, she says Ontario.
Here, then, is our third round of great places for retirement. Many of you left us thoughtful comments in praise of favourite places in our previous series, which you can read here and here. Thank you. This introduction will be followed by longer articles by contributing writers who spoke to boomers who have already made the move to the following locales. Read about Osoyoos, Chatham-Kent, Gimli, Port Stanley, Creston and Rothesay.
Osoyoos: Little B.C. desert town a big draw
For retirees who choose Osoyoos, the major draw is, without question, the weather. The semi-arid desert of this border town means temperatures soar above 25 C in summer months and seldom drop lower than -5 C in winter months. That means it’s got outdoor advantages, including cycling, boating, golf and wine tours, but one can still ski in nearby Oliver. Cross-border shopping is a five-minute trip away. Albertans still drive much of the Osoyoos market, both those who work part-time and retirees who are looking to avoid winter weather. It’s only a half-hour flight from Calgary to Penticton. Kerry Gold
Chatham-Kent: Put down foodie roots
Nested between Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, Chatham-Kent is a vibrant, verdant municipality in the heart of southwestern Ontario. It’s known for its agricultural abundance (No. 1 producer of tomatoes, carrots and green peas in Canada) and rich historical heritage (important stop on the underground railroad). Chatham-Kent also boasts low housing prices, sandy beaches and plentiful recreational activities, such as fishing, birding and boating. It’s just an hour’s drive to London or the Detroit airport. Shelley White
Gimli: On Lake Winnipeg, a retirement hot spot
Gimli has long been a cottage retreat on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. Only an hour from Winnipeg, the small community founded by Icelanders about a century ago is renowned for its beaches, summer festivals and world-class fishing. But in the past decade, it’s become one of the province’s unsung retirement hot spots, offering an appealing combination of a laid-back lake lifestyle and affordable housing that’s attracting retirees even from beyond the Keystone province’s borders. Joel Schlesinger
Port Stanley: Authentic Lake Erie fishing port
A Lake Erie summer tourist town with a storied past (once known as “The Coney Island of the Great Lakes” for its casino, Stork Club and other entertainment amenities), Port Stanley still draws fans for its wide swath of sandy beach; a sheltered port undergoing major renovation; an historic lift-bridge and easy access to the water, including Kettle Creek. The antithesis of big-city living, the town of 2,500 residents is close to health services in nearby St. Thomas and London, Ont., with Toronto two hours away. Jennifer Lewington
Creston: Acreages sell quickly in Kootenay valley
The town of Creston, B.C., is already home to a large number of retirees, and they keep on coming, especially from Alberta. They are drawn to a microclimate that means winter temperatures seldom dip far below freezing, and there’s hardly any snow. They also like the fact that Creston is the epitome of the idyllic small town, with a population of about 5,000. It’s got its own little hospital, courses available at the College of the Rockies, five nearby ski hills, and is a short drive to the Idaho border – where locals regularly fuel up in the town of Porthill. As well, property prices are at least 50 per cent cheaper compared with Calgary or Vancouver, with acreages selling quickly. Kerry Gold
Rothesay: N.B. river charm. Lobster anyone?
This charming Maritime suburb was originally the summer home of Saint John’s wealthiest citizens back in the 1800s. Now it’s an appealing retirement location for boomers seeking a small-town atmosphere within a 15-minute drive of the city. It’s a town for walkers, with plenty of parks, wharves and hiking trails to explore. It’s also a town for water enthusiasts, with two boating clubs, a rowing club and the beautiful Kennebecasis River. Shelley White