Comfort Life - Your guide to retirement & care

Best places to retire: SW Ontario

The most senior-friendly towns and cities west of Toronto



Southwestern Ontario is rife with small towns, Great Lakes' coast villages and some of the mildest weather in all of Canada – in addition to all the best of living that you expect from Canada. So when it's time to retire here, which is the perfect place? Comfort Life surveys sources and interviews the people living here to find where are the best places to live and retire, and why the people who retire in those places love where they live. Our sources include the annual survey by MoneySense, a variety of Ontario newspapers and the voices of the people who live here.

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Here's our take on the best places to live in Southwestern Ontario:

  1. Waterloo, Ont

    The number of international awards Waterloo has won is impressive enough. In 2007, it was named the world's smartest city by the Intelligent Community Forum (IFC) and is never far out of top spot on subsequent annual lists. Waterloo boasts two top universities, a wealth of greenspace, fun downtown core and a variety of other features. The region focuses on sustainable growth. An under-construction light rail transit (LRT) right through the heart of Kitchener-Waterloo is scheduled to be completed by 2018. It's also the highest ranked Southwestern Ontario city in MoneySense's list of Best Places to Live, ranked 10th overall1 across Canada. Waterloo has low unemployment, healthy population growth and a high household net worth over $600,000. Among other notable stats, 8.5% of the region's population is employed in health care. Retiring here is as wise as living here. Attractions as varied as St. Jacob's Market, Elora Gorge and downtown Toronto are all within an hour of Waterloo. Learn more about retirement in Waterloo.

    Check out spectacular 55-plus communities in Waterloo and area.

  2. Stratford, Ont

    Stratford and area is some of the most perfectly peaceful places to settle in all Ontario. The beautiful Avon River, the Stratford Festival and a manageable cost of living make this a great place to settle into retirement. The proximity to Lake Huron and the easy drive to Toronto area are just two more factors that make this the 15th best place to live in Canada1 and second overall in Southwestern Ontario. (By the way, it was 7th overall in Canada, in 2015). Far from typical, Stratford and area residents "celebrate diversity," as one resident puts it. "Our personal stories are all a little different, to be sure. But in the end, in our community, people solve differences amongst themselves and learn from each other."

    Check out retirement in Stratford, Ontario, including retirement residences and several superb active lifestyle communities nearby.

  3. London, Ont

    London's a superb mid-size city with an active nightlife, modest real estate costs and reasonable property tax averages (below $2000 annually). A decreasing crime rate (dropped by 17% since 2012), exceptional access to health care (including renowned hospitals) and the beautiful campus for the University of Western Ontario are just some of the other features that make London great. It's ranked as the 30th overall best place to live in Canada1.

    Ron Campbell moved into a London area adult lifestyle community, and he and his wife love the quality of life here. "This is an extremely good area to live in. We have recommended this community to friends... It is by far the nicest community we have ever lived in." 

    If you are 55 and older, there are a number of spectacular active lifestyle communities in London and area. 

    London retirement homes have a superb reputation for bringing together the very best in seniors' care and amenities.

  4. Collingwood

    If you surveyed the population of Ontario and asked people their favourite summer beach destination, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach will almost certainly win every poll. There may be no need for such a poll because the choice is obvious. Torontonians crowd Wasaga Beach every long weekend, Georgian Bay is home to some of the most pleasant sailing waters in all of Canada, and the surrounding area has an abundance of natural beauty, from Lion's Head to Christian Island and many points in between. In winter, nearby Blue Mountain is probably the province's top ski destination.

    As a place to live (not just visit, not just retire in), Collingwood takes the #39 spot overall in Canada1. It's our easy choice for a top spot among best places to retire in southwestern Ontario.

    Find superb active lifestyle communities in Collingwood and area.

  5. Sarnia, Ontario (and area)

    We know Sarnia is further down the list, slipping yearly2, and suffering from something of an inferiority complex3; the city itself is actually ranked #144 overall on the list of Best Places to Live1. However, there is proximity to Lake Huron, spectacular nearby beaches and legendary nearby destinations that include Bright's Grove and Grand Bend. Sarnia and its general area definitely deserves recognition as one of the best places to live in Southwestern Ontario. There's also cross-border shopping and attractions, and easy proximity to the 402, making it a half hour drive to London.

    Find superb active lifestyle communities near Sarnia.

  6. Tillsonburg, Ontario

    Listed #123 on Canada's overall list of best places to live, Tillsonburg is a charming, quiet, peaceful little town, with a passell of other similar peaceful towns nearby. It's close to Lake Erie and spectacular beaches like Turkey Point and Long Point. As you would expect, it has an extremely low crime rate (having decreased 26% in the last three years), low property taxes, and just enough local activity to keep life interesting. And it's stable. It is a great place to retire. 

    Check out excellent places to retire in Tillsonburg and area.

  7. Brantford, Ontario

    Brantford is listed as #125 on the overall best places to live in Canada. There's a lot of great parkland in Brantford. It has some easy proximity to Hamilton and the 403 into Toronto, and the cost of living in Brantford is very easy to take. 

    Brantford retirement homes offer the finest in senior care certainly, but for anyone 55 and older and looking to downsize, there are a number of noteworthy active lifestyle communities near Brantford.

  8. Niagara Falls, Ontario

    Well, then there's Niagara Falls, surprisingly at #152 on the overall list of best places to live in Canada. Why is this world-class destination so low down the list? As noted in an earlier local editorial4, the predominant metrics used to decide best places to retire or live are not focused on "nice place to visit" or spectacular local beauty, but are focused on population growth, unemployment rate, average household income and property tax rates. The area, though, remains a wonderful place, well-worth retiring to. There are spectacular beaches nearby on Lake Erie, cross-border shopping, and easy proximity to the QEW corridor that can take you into Toronto or out to the US. 

    Check out spectacular places to retire near Niagara Falls.


Home care
Consider how home care companies can help you age in place.

Many people use lists like this one as only confirmation of a decision they have already made, or as a blue-sky starting point. Your main consideration will be things like how close you live to family, or other things that are important to you. We also caution you to things like availability of home health care and other services. Finally, learn all you can about projections about real estate in the area, for the next few years, even decades. Many factors come into play beyond what anyone else says is 'best' for you.

Sources

1 moneysense.ca/canadas-best-places-to-live-2016-full-ranking/
2theobserver.ca/2013/03/21/canadas-best-places-to-live-2
3thesarniajournal.ca/six-things-love-sarnia/
4stcatharinesstandard.ca/2014/03/13/niagara-isnt-the-best-place-to-live

Look closer at great retirement locations in SW Ontario

Hygate Active Senior Living

Hygate Active Senior Living

215 Lexington Road, Waterloo, Ontario, N2K 2E1
Experience resort quality living at Hygate. Choose from a variety of apartment style suites, including independent supported and assisted living options.
The Village of Wentworth Heights

The Village of Wentworth Heights

1620 Upper Wentworth St., Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 2W3
The Village of Wentworth Heights is a full-service retirement living community offering retirement apartments, full-service suites, assisted living and memory care.
The Village of Winston Park

The Village of Winston Park

695 Block Line Road, Kitchener, Ontario, N2E 3K1
This elegant retirement residence in Kitchener-Waterloo offers a continuum of care from long-term care to assisted living to independent living seniors apartments.
The Village of Riverside Glen

The Village of Riverside Glen

60 Woodlawn Road East, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 8M8
This elegant Guelph retirement home offers a range of care including assisted living and long term care, serviced by a friendly, caring staff.
The Village of Arbour Trails

The Village of Arbour Trails

32 Bayberry Drive, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 0A2
Guelph retirement home offers Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care. Includes 24 hour onsite nursing team and medication support within a Village-like setting. It takes a Village to care.
The Village at University Gates

The Village at University Gates

250 Laurelwood Drive, Waterloo, Ontario, N2J 0E2
Queenston Place Residence

Queenston Place Residence

6440 Valley Way, Niagara Falls, Ontario, L2E 7E3
This Niagara Falls retirement home features local activities and scenery in a luxury environment offering a comfortable lifestyle, care and peace of mind.
The Village at St. Elizabeth Mills

The Village at St. Elizabeth Mills

1685 Garth Street, Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 1T8
St. Elizabeth Village is a place where community comes first. The Village is set on an impressive 114-acre natural oasis of parks and ponds. Enjoy a non-stop slate of social activities in a vibrant, active lifestyle.
Cavendish Manor Retirement Residence

Cavendish Manor Retirement Residence

5781 Dunn Street, Niagara Falls, Ontario, L2G 2N9
Cavendish Manor is within walking distance to the Majestic Niagara Falls, the vibrancy of which can be felt within the walls of our charming retirement home, where a friendly community of seniors live in harmony.
Seacliff Manor Retirement Residence

Seacliff Manor Retirement Residence

30 Seacliff Drive East, Leamington, Ontario, N8H 0E5
At Seacliff Manor, we provide a vibrant, supportive retirement lifestyle complete with restaurant style dining and social events and activities. Choose from independent living, assisted living, and memory care options.
Wellings of Corunna

Wellings of Corunna

180 Bunker Ave, Corunna, Ontario, N0N 1G0
NOW OPEN - Wellings of Corunna is a vibrant new community for adults 55+. We are a maintenance free rental community, focused on independent living with amenities designed to make everyday living more convenient.
Caroline Place

Caroline Place

118 Market Street, Hamilton, Ontario, L8R 3P9
RiverBend Golf Community

RiverBend Golf Community

2200 Jack Nash Drive, London, Ontario, N6K 5R3
Upon completion, RiverBend will include a collection of 400+ new homes, all built throughout the incredible 18-hole golf course that rests in the heart of the community.
Sifton - Dorchester Terrace

Sifton - Dorchester Terrace

143 Byron Ave, Dorchester, Ontario, N0L 1G5
Dorchester Terrace offers area seniors a variety of suite choices, wellness support services, medication administration, housekeeping services, physiotherapy and daily dining in an open restaurant-style dining room.
Oakcrossing Retirement Living

Oakcrossing Retirement Living

1238 Oakcrossing Road, London, Ontario, N6H 0K2
Welcome to Oakcrossing Retirement Living, where we have a fresh perspective on senior living. Offering a large variety of studios, one- and two-bedroom suites with both retirement and assisted living services available.
River Crest Estates

River Crest Estates

2626 Mewburn Road, Niagara Falls, Ontario, L2J 0G4
Welcome to River Crest Estates, where you will enjoy a higher quality of life, in the heart of the Niagara Region. You will find a community of comfort, simplicity, and freedom for 50+ Active Adults.
Harbour Hill Retirement Community

Harbour Hill Retirement Community

104 Suncoast Drive East, Goderich, Ontario, N7A 0A7
Harbour Hill is a unique retirement community that is founded in customized care. Freshly prepared home-cooked meals, friendly caring staff, large bright suites, plenty of common space to relax and accessible to all.
The Meadowlands Retirement Residence

The Meadowlands Retirement Residence

1248 Mohawk Road, Ancaster, Ontario, L9K 1P5
The number one retirement community in the Ancaster and Hamilton Area. The Meadowlands offers personal choice in living accommodations, dining, recreation, social and personal services. Make the most of your retirement years at The Meadowlands Retirement Residence.
Aberdeen Gardens

Aberdeen Gardens

330 Dundurn Street South, Hamilton, Ontario, L8P 4L6
A well established retirement residence located in the cozy part of West Hamilton. Winner of the Reader's Choice Award for best Retirement Residence for 4 consecutive years. You know you're home at Aberdeen Gardens.
River Road Retirement Residence

River Road Retirement Residence

4067 River Road, Niagara Falls, Ontario, L2E 3E6
Enjoy the warmth & personal touch of a private residence combined with the services & amenities of an upscale all-inclusive resort. We Overlook the Niagara River & are located close to Niagara’s downtown tourist area.
Wellings of Waterford

Wellings of Waterford

111 Bruce Street, Waterford, Ontario, N0E 1Y0
Welcome to Wellings of Waterford, a vibrant villa community for adults 55+. Community clubhouse and parking is included. On-site secured storage is available for an additional cost, all maintenance is included.
Sifton - Richmond Woods

Sifton - Richmond Woods

200 North Centre Road, London, Ontario, N5X 0B1
A desirable retirement residence in London, Ontario, including 130 suites with extensive amenities designed to provide the ultimate in retirement living. Proud winners of the "Best of London in Retirement Living 2020!"
Queensview Retirement Community

Queensview Retirement Community

70 King Edward Street, Paris, Ontario, N3L 2G8
Queensview Retirement Community is a Globals Award winner for living solutions with care. We are a fun,vibrant and caring community with homemade meals, friendly staff and residents who make the community a loving home.
Sifton - Longworth

Sifton - Longworth

600 Longworth Road, London, Ontario, N6K 4X9
Voted London's Best Retirement Residence seven years running! We promote our passion for seniors living well by offering choices for an active, wellness focused lifestyle with the security of knowing help is at hand.
Sifton - The Westhill

Sifton - The Westhill

25 Westhill Drive, Waterloo, Ontario, N2T 0B6
The Westhill is an inviting atmosphere of new friends and great times, with personalized support services for better living. The Westhill is conveniently located in Waterloo, near The Boardwalk shopping area.
Chartwell Tranquility Place Retirement Residence

Chartwell Tranquility Place Retirement Residence

436 Powerline Road, Brantford, Ontario, N3T 6G5
Chartwell Wellington Park Retirement Residence

Chartwell Wellington Park Retirement Residence

181 Janefield Ave, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 1V2
Chartwell Oak Park Terrace Retirement Residence

Chartwell Oak Park Terrace Retirement Residence

1750 E.C. Row, North Service Road, Windsor, Ontario, N8W 1Y3
Chartwell Royal Marquis Retirement Residence

Chartwell Royal Marquis Retirement Residence

590 Grand Marais Road East, Windsor, Ontario, N8X 3H4
Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence

Chartwell Deerview Crossing Retirement Residence

460 Rymal Road West, Hamilton, Ontario, L9B 0B2
Chartwell Tranquility Apartments

Chartwell Tranquility Apartments

436 Powerline Road, Brantford, Ontario, N3T 6G5
Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence

Chartwell Royalcliffe Retirement Residence

609 Wharncliffe Road South, London, Ontario, N6J 0A4
Chartwell Westmount Retirement Residence

Chartwell Westmount Retirement Residence

190 David Bergey Drive, Kitchener, Ontario, N2E 0E7
Chartwell Anne Hathaway Retirement Residence

Chartwell Anne Hathaway Retirement Residence

480 Downie Street, Stratford, Ontario, N5A 7Y5
Chartwell Riverside Retirement Residence

Chartwell Riverside Retirement Residence

201 Riverside Drive, London, Ontario, N6H 1E5
Chartwell Royal on Gordon Retirement Residence

Chartwell Royal on Gordon Retirement Residence

1691 Gordon Street, Guelph, Ontario, N1L 1E1
Chartwell Bankside Terrace Retirement Residence

Chartwell Bankside Terrace Retirement Residence

71 Bankside Drive, Kitchener, Ontario, N2N 3L1
Chartwell Terrace on the Square Retirement Residence

Chartwell Terrace on the Square Retirement Residence

100 Caroline Street South, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 1X5
Chartwell Leamington Retirement Residence (RET)

Chartwell Leamington Retirement Residence (RET)

1 Henry Avenue, Leamington, Ontario, N8H 5P1



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