Retirement living - this will be inevitably one of the biggest investments of your life. Seniors today
learned to live simply and tuck their money away during the Great Depression. They had to live through
an incredible difficult financial time, and make it out with savings hidden away. Fast forward several
decades later, many seniors are living in the same family home for 50+ years, they have paid off their
mortgages and have lived frugally for most of their lives. The move from their long-time family home to
a retirement residence is like having to flip a switch from saving to spending. This will feel unsettling as
they start planning for their future care in retirement living.
Families need to start having conversations about retirement living while their aging parent is still in
good health and physically able to participate in downsizing.
When discussing retirement living, the first thing that comes to mind is the cost. There are two main
factors that drive the cost of retirement living.
1. The size of the accommodation
2. The level of care one may need.
As your needs increase, the level of care increases, but you can downsize to a smaller suite size to save
the additional money.
Size of the suite
When a senior is quite independent, they have the option to move into a suite that is suitable for their
current lifestyle. A great place to start when trying to decide what size of a suite to rent, is to consider
what rooms in your current home you actually use. In many cases, it’s the bedroom, living room,
washroom and kitchen. If this is the case, a 1-bedroom floor plan would be suitable. In some cases,
couples sleep separately, so a 2-bedroom is a must.
The larger floor plans are 1-bedroom, 1-bedroom + den and 2-bedrooms suites. The floor plans can
range anywhere from 600 sq. ft. to 1000 sq. ft. One-bedroom floor plans can start around $4,500/month
and a 2-bedroom suite can start around $6,000/month in the Greater Toronto Area. If it is a couple
moving in, keep in mind there is a second occupancy fee that would apply that is roughly an additional
When a senior who was independent when they first moved in, but now their care needs have
increased, a larger suite is unnecessary, mainly because mobility issues will restrict how much space you
actually need to live your life in. If this is the case, there are a studio/bachelor size suite. Suites of this
size can vary from 300 sq. ft. to 600 sq. ft. A studio floor plan can start at $3,500/month.
Cost of care
The other factor which one has to consider is level of care. The more care you need, the higher the
amount will be. Some examples of care are:
- shower assistance
- getting dressed and/or undressed for the day
- washroom help
- ambulation assistance, etc.
Prices will vary and will be based on a wellness assessment prior to the move into the residence. Some
retirement residences have minimal care included and some residences charge extra for additional care.
Care starts at $300/month and can go up to $3,000/month. The higher end is for someone in need of
full assistance with all of their care.
In Ontario, everyone is eligible to apply for services through Home and Community Support Services.
Based on the need, a Personal Support Worker (PSW) can provide some assistance with getting dressed
and undressed, as well as shower assistance. If you require such assistance, Home and Community
Support Services will cover the additional cost of care.
Many retirement homes offer a Retirement Living calculator. This is a great tool to use to identify how
much money you would need on monthly basis to reside in a residence. Many people were pleasantly
surprised when they took a closer look at the inclusions already factored in. Our friends at Tea & Toast,
have a created an online calculator to use to help you plan:
Another great tip to consider is to ask the retirement home of your choice if they have any incentives for
any new resident moving in. One example is a retirement home company who has a partnership with
CARP, https://www.carp.ca . CARP members will receive special benefits including two month’s free
rent. These savings can go towards any moving expenses that would need to occur.
With all costs considered, you may be surprised to learn that a move to a retirement community could
cost less than your current expenditures. One way to save money in the beginning is moving into a
smaller suite. The goal of retirement living is to improve your quality of life and enhance your lifestyle.
Your suite should only be used for sleeping and you should get out and explore the many activities and
events that you chosen retirement home has to offer. Retirement living offers countless advantages if
you are considering downsizing in the near future. Having an understanding of the costs involved prior
to starting your research, can help you find an option that offers the best price and lifestyle for your