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This is part of a series of stories on retirement and second-home destinations in North America.
Looking to move to a less-expensive home in a community that offers a good quality of life? Here's a list of places that offer warmer climates and amenities designed to entice retirees.
No, they are not in the United States. Not everyone wants to escape there – or can afford to travel south. Or, as reader comments on earlier stories in this series showed, want to deal with the hassle of owning a second property in the United States.
But as seniors accounted for a record high of 14.8 per cent of the population in Canada in 2011, up from 13.7 per cent five years earlier, the migration of the 55+ crowd from cities to smaller communities is markedly picking up steam.
As a rule of thumb, this list considers communities situated in the warmest zones of Canada – from Zone 7 to Zone 9a; the higher the number, the warmer the climate.
Longer stories in this series feature people who have found their "unbelievably cool place to hang out and retire:" Niagara Falls, Ont.; Windsor, Ont.; Peachland, B.C.; Comox Valley, B.C., and Sunshine Coast; and Elliot Lake, Ont.
1) Niagara Falls still magnificent – still affordable
The Niagara Falls region is just an hour and a half from the Greater Toronto Area (depending on the traffic.) With its still-magnificent natural show, Niagara Falls, the heart of the region, with 81,000 people, remains one of Canada’s top tourist attractions. Yet Niagara housing is still relatively affordable.
2) Niagara-on-the-Lake adds a dash of charm (three dashes, actually)
Charming Niagara-on-the-Lake boasts high-end heritage hotels, such as the Prince of Wales, shown here, many restaurants, nearby wineries and the stand-out Shaw Theatre Festival. The Niagara region, which includes St. Catharines, has the second-highest proportion of seniors in Ontario (just behind Peterborough) – 19.2 per cent, according to the 2011 census.
3) Windsor grows in estimation – especially for gardeners. Think jasmine
4) Have your peach and eat it, too, in the Okanagan
5) Go coastal, not postal, on the Sunshine Coast
6) Comox Valley, Vancouver Island, hits best-investment list
7) And if hot spots don’t suit you, try the contrarian choice – Elliot Lake
Located midway between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury in northern Ontario, Elliot Lake is a former uranium mining town which has successfully used its physical assets to rebrand itself as an affordable retirement destination. With two lake beaches in town, more than 4,000 lakes within 242 kilometres, a championship golf course and extensive hiking, skiing and snowmobile trails, the city of 11,000 bills itself as an “outdoor lover’s paradise.”