Independent Living for Seniors

Today's retirement homes offer a new kind of peace of mind

Find retirement homes with independent living for seniors

Independent living is a style of seniors' care right for active, self-sufficient, and autonomous seniors who want to live in a community of people their age with similar interests. The main benefit of independent retirement living communities is they provide you with a care-free, stress-free lifestyle that removes some of the drawbacks of trying to remain in your own home. Residents at independent living retirement homes look after most of their own needs and wants, while the community offers recreational programs, and provides services to make life easier, including meals, personal laundry, mail service, and scheduled transportation.



What is independent living?

Independent living provides a maintenance-free lifestyle designed for active seniors who want to spend more time with others their own age, doing what they enjoy, while leaving mundane tasks like housework, cooking, home maintenance and more to other people.

There are a number of typical advantages to independent living that encourage people to make the move into a retirement home. Typically, these are:

Take a full look at all the pros and cons of moving into independent living.

Independent living retirement homes' safety

Many of the independent living retirement homes listed on ComfortLife have excelled at keeping residents safe throughout the pandemic. Of course, they’re patently designed and built to do just that, but not enough attention has been given to strict protections of seniors in retirement homes. Retirement communities’ ability to remain entirely free of COVID-19 is indeed remarkable. Residents here duly praise communites for keeping them safer than they would be on their own. As one senior in a Burlington retirement home has told us, “It’s good for us to be here. [At our age], we have a tendency to be careless, [especially] if you are all alone. But here the regular demonstrations help us be safe. There is freedom in the restrictions.” 

Here’s a look at increased safety measures taken by independent living retirement homes.

Independent living communities on Comfort Life tell what life is like under quarantine, in a transparent effort to not only assure family members and others, but as a matter of course. Visit community pages linked to above, and see how many of them report this under a heading special to their Comfort Life profile, called "what life looks like now."

You have to stay ahead of the curve.

In the Comfort Life Spotlight


How much do independent living retirement homes cost?

The majority of independent living retirement homes are rental units, but you may be able to purchase some units or (on another hand) receive subsidized housing. The cost of retirement homes is based on a number of factors, including the types of amenities and services involved and, more importantly, where the community is located.

A diversity of independent living seniors retirement homes can be found across Canada. Rates you pay will depend on the quantity and quality of the services and it's important you find out everything included in monthly fees. Making an informed decision about your independent living community is a very important step and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Below, we survey costs associated with independent living care in cities across Canada. The number given is a median price, as of 2019.:

Median cost per month
Care included
Vancouver, BC
Meals, weekly housekeeping
Calgary, AB
Meals, weekly housekeeping
Scarborough, ON
Meals, weekly housekeeping, medication administration
Ottawa, ON
Meals, weekly housekeeping


Many people are surprised at what they can afford when they look at what they might consider a “high end” independent senior living home. Here are some factors to consider:

The costs of aging at home

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When people sit down and do the math, they are often surprised that the move into a senior living retirement home is affordable and well within their means. We offer a close look at some of the costs of aging at home vs. moving into independent living.

There's a coveted simplicity to this one-cost-to-cover-all approach, in that you will never again have to worry about individual bills, whether they have been paid, where the receipts are, etc.

That's just one more aspect of the independence created within one of these communities.


Ownership vs. renting

Some retirement village style residences do offer the option of ownership. This may be structured much like a townhouse or condominium ownership, where you purchase your suite and pay other fees. See communities listed on this page for more details.

Be sure to consider the benefits of various retirement home ownership options before you decide against the idea of renting. It is generally considered wise to own over renting but there comes a point in time where this is not certainly the case. For people of a certain age, it can be wise to rent, and invest your left over equity and savings elsewhere.

More about independent living


What are some features of today's independent living homes?

Independent living communities listed above will offer superior services and features like the following:

In many cases, the move into an independent living suite can mediate the move into further care as time goes on. It may be that someone moves into independent living and after some time, they have increasing needs. Many retirement homes are able to accommodate their changed needs and meet a person's growing needs where they are.

As Barb tells us, "We have residents who were independent but are having trouble getting washed and dressed on a daily basis… and we put it back to the resident and their family what works best for them. In some cases, a resident may say 'I've lived here for five years, I've got all my friends here, can you bring those services to me. We address what our customers want and fit into their lifestyle."


Critical questions to ask when considering a senior independent living home

Ten questions to think about as you are reviewing residences near you:

Short term stays in independent living
Many people find it ideal to take a trial stay in a retirement home. This allows you to "test out" the care home and learn exactly what it's like to live there. There are a number of different cases where people can avail themselves of a short stay in independent living, including:

Are you ready to move?

In our new guide to making the move, we look at facing your own last minute trepidation, things to get excited about and how communities welcome you.

Take a full look at adjusting to independent living.


Independent living across Canada: regulation and governance

Provinces regulate retirement home ownership and rentals to varying degrees, and there are some differences in how retirement homes are operated and understood across Canada.

In British Columbia there is little or no regulation of independent senior living. The British Columbia Seniors Living Association (BCSLA). The BCSLA grants its Seal of Approval to homes that meet high industry standards. It's a membership-driven organization that is self-regulated. Homes that have the BCSLA Seal of Approval will have met multiple criteria in five important areas: safety measures, infection control, staff training, resident services and assisted living supports.

Many retirement homes offer independent living for seniors along with assisted living and further care. In this case, in BC, they are regulated under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act. The province of BC also has a Bill of Rights for Residents, pursuant to both this Act and the Hospital Act. This Bill of Rights provides people with a list of rights they can expect to have met in any type of care in the province. This Bill of Rights is available for download here. Find more information and a discrete list of British Columbia seniors' independent living.

Alberta's retirement homes are represented to a great degree by the Alberta Senior Citizens' Housing Association (ASCHA), an organization over 50 years old. It does not regulate homes but is focused on advocacy of the industry's owners and operators. It also publishes an annual report and bylaws. Resources on the ASCHA website will help you learn more about senior care in Alberta.

Since many homes that have independent living also have supportive living and deeper care options, some residents in independent living may be covered under Alberta's Protection for Persons in Care Act. Albert also has a Supportive Living Accommodation Licensing Act (first enforced in April 2010), which may apply to homes listed here if they have this level of care. This comprehensive Act offers specific prescriptions governing care home inspections and licensing. Under this Act, residents can register complaints and have these followed up. You can learn more at Acts S23P5. Find more information and a select list of Alberta independent living communities.

In Ontario, homes are inspected and licensed by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA). This was instituted in 2010 under the auspices of the province's Ontario's Retirement Homes Act, designed to protect the rights of all seniors' home residents. In addition, until April 2017, homes were accredited by ORCA, which (as of that date) retains a membership option. You might also consult the Residential Tenancies Act regarding lease laws as they apply to your suite in an independent living home. You can find a discrete list of independent care homes and further information about Ontario's senior independent living care, or find a list of Toronto senior independent living homes.

I do what I can about things and let the rest take care of itself.


Testimonials from seniors themselves: hear it from your peers

Moving into an independent living retirement community is a proactive choice, a way of staying on top of things. As Reg D. puts it: "At some point, you know you’re going to have to deal with moving. Why not take it head on? I know what I like and what I don’t like," he says. "I was getting tired of some things about condo living. Here, I love that I don’t have to do stairs anymore!" In other words, he says, "be prepared!" (Read more about people proactively choosing independent living.)

There's a lot more to it than just that, of course. Seniors who've moved into an independent living retirement home are genuinely surprised by the features of this style of living.

For example, at one retirement home, a 24-hour tea room is loved by residents. One resident, Martha calls it "one of the best ideas ever... there’s always someone to chat with over a cup of tea."  Additions like this make retirement living today a great improvement over "homes" of the past, certainly, and also remaining at home.

The social aspect of living in one of these retirement homes is impossible to appreciate until you move into. This improves your well-being in ways that you cannot imagine, including the increased activity. As Jean in Vancouver has told us, "getting out and meeting people" with her retirement home friends, is "way better than sitting in a chair."

If you move to a different city, this can also be eye opening. Take for example, Rhena, who moved from a small town in Saskatchewan to Toronto. We "brought up four children there, but they all left for Toronto when they grew up." Her daughters moved her to a Toronto retirement home where she fell in love with the shops on Bloor Street and loves being close to her kids and grandkids. Nick, another resident of the same community loves the fact that inside his independent senior living retirement home, "I don’t have any worries."

Life inside of many retirement homes might be about making the best of things; in homes listed here at, though, it's often about simply having the best of things. Florence, a resident of an independent living home in Toronto, lived to be well over 100; as she told us, "I do what I can about things and let the rest take care of itself." You, too, might be surprised at how good it is to live inside one of today's seniors' communities.


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