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A view of the St. Lawrence River and the mountains on Quebec's North Shore from the verandah of this summer home in St Patrick, Que.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

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Les and Jennifer Schmidt love the snow and the mountains and all of the outdoor activity that comes with them. So it’s little wonder the mountain town of Canmore is a favourite destination for the couple from southern Alberta.

“For the last five years, we have just been saying, ‘This might be a nice place to retire,’” says Mr. Schmidt, an entrepreneur in his late 50s.

While not retired yet, the couple recently decided to purchase a condominium in Canmore.

“We had casually been looking at prices for the last two years,” but in the last several months, property prices accelerated to the point where “we decided to jump in,” he says.

The couple plan to eventually live in the condo full-time once they retire, selling their current home in favour of their recreational property. It’s a retirement dream shared by many Canadians.

The pandemic, years of strong investment returns, soaring home values and low-interest rates have helped make this dream more attainable than ever for retiring Canadians, says Carissa Lucreziano, vice-president of financial and investment advice at CIBC in Toronto.

“Based on reporting across the real estate industry, we know there is increased demand for recreational properties from those nearing retirement and those currently retired.” Joel Schlesinger reports

An ideal time to adopt the top defensive investing strategy for retirees

Want to protect your retirement savings from a market crash? You should be parking enough money to cover your income needs for two to three years, reports Rob Carrick, the Globe’s personal finance columnist.

“Until 2022, safe parking has meant dead money. Now, with interest rates rising, you can adopt this strategy with a smile on your face,” he writes. “Rates were high enough in mid-May that you could build a three-year ladder of guaranteed investment certificates earning an average return of as much as 3.8 per cent.”

A feature of every stock market crash Mr. Carrick has seen is seniors being distraught over the idea of having to sell hard-hit stocks and equity funds to cover the minimum annual required withdrawal from a registered retirement income fund.

“In both the 2008 and 2020 crashes, the federal government allowed a 25 per cent reduction in the minimum RRIF withdrawal for those years. But that’s only a limited benefit and, anyway, seniors shouldn’t depend on the feds for help with their investment portfolios every time stocks plunge,” he writes. Read the full article here

Can Thomas save for retirement while also paying a new mortgage?

Last November, Thomas took the plunge and bought a condo in Toronto valued at about $660,000. He’s 40, single with no dependants, and has lived in Canada since 2015. Before he bought the condo, Thomas was able to save $2,000 a month to his tax-free savings account and $700 a month to his personal RRSP. He earns $100,000 a year in a middle-management job. Now his TFSA is empty and his RRSP has shrunk.

His challenge is “how to plan for my retirement since a big chunk of my paycheque goes to paying my mortgage,” Thomas writes in an e-mail. He’s part of a group RRSP at work to which both he and his employer contribute 4 per cent of his salary each year.

Thomas plans to retire at the age of 65 with a spending goal of $36,000 a year after tax. He wonders if $1.7-million in savings, not including his home, “will be enough to take me through my retirement days from age 65 to 90″ – and if he can actually save that much. “I’m living frugally right now,” Thomas writes, “but I do want a little bit of breathing room to do my hobbies when I retire.”

In the Globe’s latest Financial Facelift column, Ian Calvert, vice-president and principal at HighView Financial Group in Toronto, to look at Thomas’s situation.

Retirement means writing a book - and some wood carving - for this former engineering manager

In the latest Tales from the Golden Age feature, Brian Waldron, 67, Burlington, Ont. talks about the challenging early days of retirement, including losing his wife to cancer and taking care of his sick father. “The first year was really about getting my boat upright,” he says. Mr. Waldron says the hardest part of retirement is readjusting to a free schedule. “I had to create long to-do lists and work through them over time.” Read more here about how he has kept busy and happy in retirement.

In case you missed it

More seniors are hiring a retirement coach

Sheila Mitchell wasn’t quite ready for her retirement in early 2020, at age 63. After working for about 40 years, Ms. Mitchell knew the transition to retirement would be a huge adjustment.

The architectural firm she worked for in Edmonton offered her some retirement coaching, starting several weeks before her last day, to help her make the shift. The program included sessions with retirement coach Brian Lambier of Calgary-based Career Vitality Services.

“When we started talking about physical health and mental health, it really did make things clearer for me. And whether I wanted to pursue more paid work or how much volunteer work I wanted to do,” Ms. Mitchell says.

Deciding what to do during retirement can take more work than expected. Many people struggle with the prospect of losing their identity, daily structure and purpose. It can be frightening and overwhelming, which is why many Canadians turn to retirement coaches for help with the lifestyle shift. Kathy Kerr reports

The rising tide of senior surfers

Jeanne Keith-Farris’s earliest memories growing up in California are of playing in the surf with her mother. She dreamed of being on a board on the water when she got a bit older.

Then her family moved to land-locked Colorado when she was 12, followed by Calgary, where she lived until her retirement about a decade ago. Her surfing dreams dried up over the years – but they never died.

When their working years were over, Ms. Keith-Farris and her husband moved to Ucluelet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island and there, in the sand and surf of the Pacific Ocean, her surfing dreams were reignited.

“It’s a little daunting, starting, because I would have been 56 or so then,” she says. She played around in the surf for a few years but “that was not cutting it. That was not surfing.”

“A few months before my 60th birthday I caught my first so-called green wave [an unbroken wave, the kind you see in surf pictures] and just got hooked on it,” she says. “You get that one wave out there that one day and you’ve just got to find that magic again because it’s feels so amazing. And I won’t get them as often as some of the younger kids, but it keeps happening and I keep going for more, trying to find that elusive better wave.”

Now 65, she owns seven surfboards and hits the waves nearly every day when the weather co-operates. Dene Moore reports

Ask Sixty Five

Question: If a couple decides to share Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits and say, become divorced, they cannot reverse this decision so that each would receive his/her original determined monthly amount? Is this true?

We asked Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning with CIBC Private Wealth, to answer this one:

Pension sharing can be stopped as of the month you divorce, assuming Service Canada approves a cancellation request submitted by both you and your spouse or common-law partner. To cancel a pension sharing arrangement, complete the Cancellation of Pension Sharing form (ISP1014).

Once pension sharing ends, the government will adjust your pension to the amount you were to receive before the pension-sharing arrangement. If you contributed less to the CPP than your spouse or common-law partner or if you never worked, the amount of your retirement pension could decrease. If you contributed more to the CPP than your spouse or common-law partner, your retirement pension amount could increase..

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Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors, or want to suggest a story idea for the Sixty Five series? Please e-mail us at and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.

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