Are you Alberta-bound in retirement? Or are you an older Albertan looking for a smaller town to settle into? We look at a number of places in the province that are ideal for living, based on the investment, the quality of life there, and acclaim from residents themselves. Start dreaming retirement ideas here, or find confirmation that the place you have in mind is the best possible choice.
We pull together information from a variety of sources, as well as our own expertise based on over 15 years of looking closely at Canadian retirement communities.
Calgary is the jewel of Alberta. It doesn't really get its due in some list from some sources1 because some smaller towns in the province have lower unemployment or a higher median household income — factors you probably care less about when you're retired. And it been ranked by The Economist2 as the 5th most livable in the city. If you want to be near family, near the best health care, in the best overall city in the province, Calgary's your choice.
Within the city of Calgary there are several exceptional areas and neighbourhoods. Two of the cleaner, friendlier, more retirement-friendly neighbourhoods in the city are Rocky Ridge and the Christie Park- Signal Hill area. These are both suitably close to the outskirts, with fresh mountain air in from the west, combined with the suburban quietude and peace you crave. Money, as they say, isn't everything, and at Comfort Life we look at the overall comfort you will find in retirement, instead of the hard statistics MoneySense might look at. And we know from talking to people in neighbourhoods like Rocky Ridge that life here is wonderfully comfortable.
Leo and Maxine Nugent moved into a retirement community here and they love the fact they are "all of a sudden free of the things tying [them] down." They love the environment in the Rocky Ridge area of Calgary. Says Leo, "We walk a mile or so every day. We can see the mountains, and we breathe that clean mountain air."
When you choose a place to retire, you want to think ahead to how you will feel once you settle there. And in the Rocky Ridge neighbourhood of Calgary, Leo and Maxine say that after they made the move, they wondered, "Why didn't we do it five or ten years ago." If you move to a Calgary neighbourhood that makes you regret not moving there earlier, you know you've made the right choice. "Only yesterday," says Leo, "we were saying how right we were to come here."
Check out a full list of Calgary retirement communities.
Lloydminster is a solid, conservative town, where people take hard work and self-discipline seriously. Given that the town was created as an attempt at temperate utopia defined by fidelity and sobriety, you can still feel those roots here. It's a "nice place to live." You may not always feel safe in some other cities, but Gaye is one older person who found a lovely home near the center of town. She has all she needs, "easy access to shopping, medical facilities and pathways to recreational activities."
Find a great place to retire in Lloydminster.
St. Albert is selected by MoneySense as the number 1 best place to live in Alberta, and number 4 overall in Canada1. Why is St. Albert so highly rated? It's a small town where people have a high income and high average net worth. Other factors that make this ideal are great access to health care and a low crime rate. "The Botanical Arts City," just northwest of Edmonton, is also highly rated for its low rate of unemployment. St. Albert is just a beautiful spot to settle into retirement, and has a moderate population just above 60,000. If you are looking for a peaceful town3 close to the attractions and options available in a major center (while removed from the noise and busyness at the same time), St. Albert is indeed a great place to retire.
There are a number of active adult lifestyle communities near here.
Edmonton is the third highest rated place to live in Canada, according to MoneySense1. As a major centre, it offers everything you need in terms of conveniences and entertainment. Of course, some of those things are less important in retirement but the high quality of health care services available in the city of Edmonton also make it attractive for those who are older.
Find the best places to retire in Edmonton.
Strathcona County, just east of Edmonton, is ranked #31 on the overall list of best places to live in Canada, by MoneySense, in 20161. That makes it the second highest in the province. As with a number of Alberta communities, it's highly rated for its low unemployment and high median household income. Those factors, though, may be less important to people living in retirement. That said, Strathcona County offers much for people later in life who may be more comfortable with a slower pace and quieter lifestyle. There is Sherwood Park surrounded by large rural areas and smaller hamlets in the county, all perfect places for those looking for peaceful digs. There are great things to do in Strathcona itself (like taking in some great shows at Festival Place) but there is also the proximity to Edmonton.
Canmore, just 20 kilometers outside of Banff, and a little over an hour outside of Calgary was listed as the 75th best place to live in Canada by MoneySense1, in 2016. A high average net household worth in a small town setting, with a number of other great qualities (for example, low unemployment, low property taxes, and a decreasing crime rate that is already low) make this an attractive place to live. For those who are retirement age, though, there are different considerations. Canmore is in the mountains, it's a little removed from major centres and there is a greater availability of high quality health care in places like Calgary.
Camrose, a small town of less than 20,000 people about 40 kilometers south and east of Edmonton, ranks high among Albert towns and cities, on MoneySense's list of best Canadian places to live. It's ranked in the top 100 in all of Canada 1. Among the prominent reasons for its high rating is the average household discretionary income, the high average household net worth (just over $450,000 per household in 2016), and the average value of prime real estate here.
Small towns like this and others rank well on lists of best places to retire because people who have lived in larger cities like Calgary and Edmonton love using the equity of their big city homes to purchase real estate in a smaller town, where life is simpler, land is cheaper, and the living is easier. While this does not work perfectly for everyone, the idea has a lot of validity. Move from Calgary or Edmonton to a small town like Camrose, though, you should expect to make some adjustments. 4
No one can say for sure what is the best place to retire for you. Most people have their own ideas about what makes an ideal place to live and those values have very little to do with money. The need to be close to family may supersede all other considerations when it comes to deciding on a place to retire. That said, it’s nice to know that the place you have in mind is considered a good place to live. And you can make any place you live the best place for you, by bringing out what is great in your environment and focusing on the positives that you see. In any case, we say happy searching… and happy retiring!
Sources and further resources
2"The Economist ranks Calgary as the 5th most livable city in the world." dailyhive.com/../the-economist-calgary-5th-most-livable-city-in-the-world
3 business.financialpost.com/../small-towns-can-offer-big-savings-for-retirees: The Financial Post and others list the best places to retire in Canada, based on other criteria.
4 theglobeandmail.com/…/how-moving-to-a-small-town-can-fund-your-retirement/. This story's cautionary take is based on one person's experience moving from Toronto to a smaller town in Ontario.
See also moneysense.ca/save/retirement/canadas-best-places-to-retire-2016/.
Sign up today to receive tips and advice on retirement living, retirement communities, home care and other services.
More in our series of best places
Tools to help you choose