Active Adult Lifestyle Communities

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Active adult communities offer the best in retirement living, creating a community of like-minded people, while removing many of the mundane burdens of life in a regular community or suburb. Active adult or adult lifestyle communities represent the biggest trend in retirement living in Canada, precisely because of their appeal. It's retirement that rocks. You live in community with people who not only share your interests and passions, and who will also expose you to new and exciting opportunities and become great friends along the way.


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Garden Ridge Adult Lifestyle Community  

330 Lakeview Drive, Woodstock, Ontario, N4T 0G9

Welcome to Garden Ridge Active 55+ Lifestyle Community in charming Woodstock! We offer freehold townhome bungalows which are fully finished with luxury features & finishes! Join our friendly & active community!

Lifestyle Options: Active Living

Edgewood Suites  

270 Hagan Street East, Dundalk, Ontario, N0C 1B0

Welcome to Edgewood Suites in Dundalk Ontario. This brand new community featuring quality rental units, superior amenities and small town charm is open now and available for immediate occupancy.

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Active Living

The Meadows of Aurora  

440 William Graham Drive, Aurora, Ontario, L4G 1X5

The Meadows of Aurora is a Christian Seniors Lifestyle Community that promotes the wellbeing of individuals 65+. Residents experience nature’s green spaces, memorable dining experiences and great times with friends.

Lifestyle Options: Active Living

WaterView Estates by Estates of Niagara  

518 Queenston St, St. Catharines, Ontario, L2R 7K6

WaterView Estates & Wellness Suites, offers a luxurious, vibrant Active Living community along the Welland Canal, steps from walk/bike trails, world class amenities and living options designed to create your best life!

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Active Living

Royal Heights Inc.  

30 Adelaide Avenue East, Oshawa, Ontario, L1G 0B8

Royal Heights is designed with your active & independent lifestyle in mind. Luxury apartments feature en-suite laundry, stainless steel appliances & balconies. On site Fitness room, salt water pool, movie theatre & more!

Lifestyle Options: Apartments, Active Living

St. Elizabeth Village  

1 Yates Gate, 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.

Lifestyle Options: Active Living


Costs associated with adult lifestyle communities

There are different ownership options and a wide range of costs associated with active living. While this type of community may have a reputation for being high end, investment still need not be expensive; there are homes in many active lifestyle communities available very reasonably. In some cases, leasing arrangements are priced in favour of downsizing seniors who don't want to tie up their retirement savings in home ownership.

The following tables provide a survey of rates (in 2022) for different types of communities, sampled from across Canada.

Ownership costs for active adult communities:

Style of home
Square footage
Small town
2 bedroom
Coastal destination
1 storey bungalow
2 bedroom + den
City community
2 bedroom
Major city
2 bedroom
2 bedroom (life lease)

Of course, costs range widely between different cities and towns, and you will need to consult each community to learn costs and what exactly you get when you buy.

Some prices here may surprise you in terms of how low an investment this style of living may be. This is because developers package costs in a variety of ways, so don't assume these are apples-to-apples comparisons. In some cases, you may be purchasing a home and property, with maintenance fees (akin to condo fees) extra.

Learn further ownership and leasing variations below.

Rental costs for active living communities:

Style of home
Square footage
Major city
high rise
1 bedroom
Major city
1 bedroom
Mid-size city (300K)
2 bedroom
Small town
2 bedroom
Rural area
2 bedroom

Again, this is only a brief survey, from homes listed here at Comfort Life. Note that commmunities vary widely in terms of the number and quality of amenities and features. Be sure to look closely! This type of community offers exclusivity and privacy like no other. Fees often cover maintenance, condo fees, grass-cutting, snow removal and a variety of other services.

Maintenance fees

The costs advertised by many communities are base costs that may exclude access to services promoted by the lifestyle community. To save money, you can choose to forego amenities, or perhaps these may be packaged in a way that works for you. If you don't like swimming, opt out of using the onsite swimming pool and save those fees.

Be aware that communities may also raise fees, so carefully examine the policy before you sign on any dotted line. Older communities may see upkeep costs increase, so some experts advise that there is an advantage to purchasing new; the cost of moving in may be higher, but the maintenance fees are likely to remain stable for the foreseeable future.

The sales agent should provide full disclosure of all fees for each community.

Featured Links

Inside Adult Lifestyle Communities

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Ownership and leasing variations

There is a wide variety of ownership, and leasing options in relation to these developments. In many cases, developers create completely unique legal arrangements for each community.

For one example, a variation we have seen is a land lease, where a purchaser owns the actual house, but property is leased on top of the purchase price. This arrangement lowers your outlay – essentially freeing you to spend or invest money in other things – but the land lease is an added monthly expense that you need to account for, while maintenance and other fees may also be added on top of this.

Another oft-used phrase is life lease, usually entailing that the lessor pays out a lump sum as an initial deposit, then for the life of the lease (extending decades, possibly) there is very little change in rates paid. This provides security for the lessor, and is often tied to a sponsoring body such as a church or other charitable organization, though it need not be. There are developers who offer variations of a life lease. Learn more about the option of life lease communities.

Other variations include outright ownership (of course) and more. Larger developments may include a variety of home types that may include townhouses, detached homes and mid-rise apartment buildings all in the same complex, each with unique ownership options. Seniors' housing cooperatives may offer shareholder agreements under a wide spectrum of conditions. Since developers may create specific conditions and legal arrangements, this will require you to dig into and scrutinize details and fine print of all documentation in order to get all the facts.

There are also many different styles of housing in active lifestyle communities, including bungalows, condominiums, subdivision-style developments and more.


Different styles of housing in active adult communities

Bungalow (ranch-style) communities or other subdivision-style communities consist of several acres of what may be a closed community of hundreds of homes. All homes in the area will be ideal for retired couples or even singles who want to live in a friendly little community – like a small town full of people your own age, interests and background. Some of these can have very lovely locations, such as proximity to water, seclusion from busy highways, heavily wooded areas, etc. People in this style of community say it's like living in a cottage year round.

These active lifestyle villages (as some of them will, in fact, be like) may have an onsite tennis court, golf course, restaurant, fitness center, library, walking trails... the list goes on. All of these amenities will foster a close-knit community of those 50 and older, forming new friendships or strengthening older ones.

Condo communities for active living are typically situated in a city, but may have some pastoral features like landscaped gardens, ponds, walking trails, etc., and they may be situated near parks or other greenspace. Inside the building or buildings there may be a games room, a chapel, a lounge or bar and other amenities. Contemporary condo communities will be built with maximum accessibility in mind. Townhouse complexes are typically found in residential neighborhoods in a city or town.

Gated communities

These are an attractive, even prestigious option within the sphere of active adult lifestyle. This type of community may be bungalows or houses, with the added security and exclusivity offered by a secured gate. Golf courses and other amenities may also be a feature of the community, and services such as snow shoveling and grass cutting may also be covered by costs. These may include a recreation centre, hiking trails, the list goes on. Check communities for more details.

Gated communities are rarer in Canada than they are in the United States, but more crop up all the time, especially in Canada's larger cities. The security here is simply not available through any other means, and these are especially ideal for couples who spend a lot of time traveling or otherwise away from home. The added security means that your home is invulnerable to random break-ins or any other type of crime.

"We want to be sure that our home is secure when we are away," says Gail, owner of a gated community home in the city of Toronto. "We travel at least six months of the year, and we’ve never had to worry about our home, never had to ask our kids to check up on it and never had any problem coming back to our home after we've been away for an extended period of time."

Golfing communities

Making your own home the nineteenth hole (not necessarily vice versa!)

One of the most sought-after features in any adult lifestyle community is a golf course. Of course, a driving range, putting green and even a mini-putt are also nice to have. Lots of people are looking to "trade in their riding lawnmower for a golf cart" when they sell off their family home. Comfort Life lists homes with both 9 hole and 18 hole courses, and many active lifestyle communities are at least near a golf course. For many people, golfing and retirement go together like hand and (golfing) glove.

If you're moving into a golf community, be sure to learn everything about guests' policy, dress codes, availability of golf carts and other concerns you might have.

Ed King, one resident of a golf community in Toronto says it well: "We love our new home at the golf course."

Many active lifestyle communities feature biking and hiking trails


Ten questions to ask about any active lifestyle community

As you consider communities, here's a list of things to think about with respect to any specific community or to a variety of options you may be considering, in adult lifestyle.

Are there reviews of the community that I can consult? Find out all you can about what residents say about the community.

What can you find out about the Home Owners Association and other local "politics"? Get to know all you can about the community's leadership, and the personalities who run the show. The Home Owner's Organization might also be called a variety of other things, including the Owners’ Council and other names. Ideally the organization will encourage input from everyone in the development, and if you are so inclined, you should feel welcome to partake, and voice opinions and ideas.

What is the history of the community? Learn all you can about the reputation of the builder, of the community's ownership and the history of ownership of the community. It may have changed hands in the past, and there may be interesting reasons for ownership changes.

What are the neighbours like? Of course you want to know this, the same as you would when moving into any neighbourhood. You can't assume that everyone is perfect or just like you, of course, so be sure to learn all you can. You may even find out very good news, that they are not around much (travelers, perhaps) or they are just plain excellent people.

Has it been maintained well? Look at the age of the buildings and/or homes. Active adult communities come in a wide variety. In some cases, you may be fortunate to be moving into a phased development, where you can see how previous phases have turned out. Most often, communities will heavily promote new developments, some of which you will find on this page.

What are membership expectations? Make sure you fully understand membership in the community, especially all fees and dues you will be expected to pay. Different communities use very different terminology and have very different rules concerning membership and ownership stakes. Some charge annual dues, others monthly fees, and there are variations in ownership arrangements. Question the selling agent so you fully understand all fees and costs. If you know someone in the community, learn what you can from them about all costs they pay.

What are the maintenance fees? (And what is covered under those?) Most active living communities will have onsite staff whose income is covered under maintenance fees paid by homeowners. Even in communities where you own your own home, you will likely pay extra for community services ranging from dining to golf and other features and amenities described. Get the sales rep to fully inform you about community fees, packages and options offered and what fee structure is right for you. Ask also about the history (if there is any) of increases in fees and reasons for increases.

What services (e.g. laundry) or maintenance is included? Look over the list to make sure that all services and amenities the community offers appeal to you. Make sure you understand about any additional fees for specific classes or activities.

What is the broader area like? For example, are there local medical care services? What are some local activities you want to take part in? Is there enough shopping and other conveniences nearby?

How do you feel about the community's pet policies? Depending on your personal preferences you may or may not want strict rules.

How much staff is onsite? You want to consider the value of services, as you think about this. Some communities have an abundance of staff and services offered. Some examples of titles we have seen include Master Chef, Lead Golf Professional, Head and Associate Concierge and more. Getting a list of staff gives you an idea of what services you are paying for (which can vary widely from one community to the next).

Get a full list of all the property rules, and rules covering all onsite facilities, just for your peace of mind.

It's a smaller, more manageable home, in a smaller community. We wouldn't trade it for anything.


Seven more questions to ask about new communities

For communities or new phases that are under development, there are specific questions and concerns that come up for new home buyers. Here are some concerns to dig into with sales agents, or in your own research:

What type of assessments have there been? Find out all you can about objective material written about the community, including information from local municipal government or any other bodies. At least scan these and research online to make sure there is nothing amiss.

What introductory materials or packages are available? For example, some communities offer a weekend getaway that lets you try out the community experience for a weekend or even longer. This is an ideal way to try out living there, but be aware of any signs that people may be "putting on a face". Other developments offer online videos or DVD packages that can be an informative way to introduce yourself from afar. New developments may also host a presentation night, where you can learn everything you may want.

Does the community or the builder have a "sinking fund"? A sinking fund provides capital for improvements or upgrades to community property or to ensure that communal costs are covered for the foreseeable future. It's nice to know if the community will be re-investing in its future.

What is the reputation of the builder; especially, how stable are the builder's finances? Learn all you can about the community’s financial background. Some communities are begun under the best of intentions but the developer has encountered difficulties, financial or otherwise. Building projects or developments are sometimes hit during economic downturns. Properties may be selling slower than anticipated; this may affect a variety of factors such as dealing with ongoing construction or poor property maintenance of unsold land, which may concern you.

How many floor plans are offered by each new community you are considering? If you are comparing across communities, we suggest you pick out one floor plan from each community then compare your choices. Consider the possibility that your accessibility needs may change, then consider the adaptability of the home or community to increased accessibility requirements. Different municipalities or different active adult lifestyle communities may have very different possibilities when it comes to adaptability.

What are zoning bylaws for the areas in and around the development? If there are nothing but farmers' fields or forested areas around the community, don't assume that's how it's always going to be. Get to know what has been zoned for the area or what changes in local zoning might be in the works.

How well has the development been integrated with the natural environment? Homeowners and landowners (like you) are increasingly concerned about our impact on the environment, for the sake of the ecosystem but also for the sake of the long-term wellbeing of the active adult community. Find out all you can about the degree of environmental preservation, and (for example) protection programs for local wildlife, etc.

Four more tips when looking at buying into a community:

  • Time your purchase. Ideally, move into a new community or one in a new expansion phase. This will situate you in a neighbourhood of people more likely to be your age. There are other situations where your timing can be important and give you opportunity for a lower price. For example, as the weather changes in the fall, there may be more of a tendency for people to move south. You may get lucky in autumn and find a home in a 55 plus community where resale homes are available for lower than market price.
  • Consider tax rates. Taxes vary widely from one community to another, and between different property sizes within the same community or municipality.  And even within the same city, tax rates for a property in one active adult community may be quite different from those of a property in another community.
  • Get the goods on age restrictions. Examine how each community matches your needs in terms of policy and actual move-ins. With few exceptions, these communities cannot be legally age-restricted to "55 plus."  Anne, a sales representative for an active lifestyle community in the small town of New Hamburg, Ontario, explains, "We can't call this a 55 plus community, and in fact we have people here in their late 40's. Of course you can't legally restrict based on age. But the whole community here is set up to appeal to people who have emptied the nest and no longer want to live in community with families with young children or teenagers. Of course, communities are unlikely to have any restrictions that keep your family away. In the province of British Columbia, the Strata Property Act does allow corporations to "[restrict] the age of persons who may reside in a strata lot."
  • Keep an eye out for buy-in incentives and promotions. Some advertised costs are actually lower, when the developer offers incentives for early move-ins. In one example we have seen, a 90-day move in promotion offered a total of $15,000 in incentives. These were split between a straightforward mortgage discount and a coupon for upgrades or services. In addition, communities may also have a referral program, where, if you get friends to move into your neighbourhood, you may be rewarded.


What it's like in adult lifestyle communities

These communities create an environment ideal for people who have shifted into their post-child-rearing years and whose interests have changed somewhat with age. "I'm not going to let being 74 years old change me, not if I can help it," says Jack, a resident of a lifestyle community just outside of London, Ontario, where great trails nearby allow him to cycle every day.

One strong feature seen across a number of developments is a recreation centre on site, where all activities are geared toward those 50 and over. Some communities set up regularly scheduled casino nights where community residents can have friendly games of blackjack or play roulette together. There may also be an indoor swimming pool where people can swim laps, play water polo or other sports, and there may be other communally-shared facilities that are all included in the cost you pay.

"We moved here because it's a smaller, more manageable home, in a smaller community. We wouldn't trade it for anything," says Francine, Jack's wife. Being with people our own age, with similar concerns, definitely makes a difference in your everyday living."

Is life perfect in these communities? Well, nothing's perfect. "There are different personalities, to be sure," says Francine, "so you know who to hang around with and who to keep your distance from, the same as you would in any neighbourhood or community. The way I look at it, that makes it like a big family. It's just a great place to live."

Being with people our own age, with similar concerns, definitely makes a difference in your everyday living.


Different ages and stages of retirement

Communities develop over time, and there are some people who have moved into this style of housing ten or fifteen years ago and who may have developed care needs in the meantime. These changes are easily accommodated, of course. It's important to note that these communities are made up of people at a variety of ages and stages; the range of age in a community can be anywhere from late 40's to 80 and older.

This type of housing is similar to any residential neighbourhood, in that it can accommodate people of any level of need; it's fine to live here and age in place as long as you want. For younger couples or singles just starting out in an active living community, that can mean that some of your neighbours are older than you.

We have seen some developments that grow in phases that range over many years, even decades. The first phase may have been built in the 1990's, and it may now be in its sixth phase of development, adding dozens or even hundreds of new homes. Anne in New Hamburg has told us how this phased development creates "impromptu mini-communities, where each phase will have its own mini-age group or friendships, and even its own personality."

For those who are older, an active lifestyle community can be your own age-in-place community. For example, if some care needs arise, there is no reason you can't hire home care services to come into this type of community. Some adult lifestyle communities are planned with a focus on aging in place, with health care services available nearby or even on-site.

Singles living, LGBQT and other considerations

While most communities are geared toward couples, inevitably there are singles, some who have been divorced or widowed. Communities do not discriminate, of course. If you can afford to stay here as a single, you will find these welcoming. There may also be other singles to mingle with.

Similarly, communities do not (nor cannot) discriminate against people or couples who are gay or transgender. If you live with a partner and share costs, communities become much more affordable.

There have also been some communities that are developed with LGBQT seniors in mind. Developments in major cities like Vancouver and Toronto are typically more progressive-minded in respect to this issue.


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