Smaller retirement communities

Advantages offered by mid-size and small retirement communities

While the majority of retirement communities are larger -- with over 100 suites or more -- there are also many smaller communities. These are appealing to some personalities and have the advantage of greater intimacy. Here, we look at living in some smaller retirement communities across Canada.

Smaller vs. larger communities

Smaller communities offer more intimacy and a feeling of coziness. They’re often found in smaller towns, though that’s not always the case. The smaller size communities can be appealing to people who have lived in smaller centers or who simply feel more comfortable in a cozier, more intimate environment, with a smaller, more manageable social circle.

Of course, there is a trade-off. Larger retirement homes are simply able to offer more. They have more amenities, more space and more people. More community members create more social connections and opportunities. They can also offer a greater variety of care options along with activities and internal services. Many of these are, in effect, self-enclosed villages for the people who live there, with everything you need under one roof. Most communities, including those on Comfort Life, are larger.

But some people may feel more comfortable in a smaller community. In addition, since many of these are in smaller cities and towns, this creates an extra layer of comfort. For some, a smaller community can offer everything they need.

Life inside mid-sized retirement communities

“From the first day it felt like home,” says Kath of her mother’s chosen community, Granville Gardens, in the Kerrisdale neighbourhood of Vancouver. People who live in mid-size or smaller retirement communities often praise them for their “coziness” and “warmth.”

Because many mid-sized and small retirement homes are found in smaller centers, this adds to the intimacy. These are an appealing alternative for some people from cities like Toronto or Vancouver. The change of pace might be welcome, away from the noise and traffic you often find in big cities. Sherwood House, in Duncan, BC (population 5,000), can boast “tasty home-cooked meals” and a “personalized lifestyle.” Cavendish Manor, River Road and Queenston Place are all in the relatively small city of Niagara Falls (pop. 48,000).

This intimacy facilitates friendships in a unique environment. At Queenston Place, Kay and Mary have become great friends. “We just clicked,” says Mary. Kay adds, “We’re together most of the day.” Sure, that kind of friendship and intimacy is possible anywhere, including a large community, but it may be just a little bit easier in a smaller environment. When Mary lost her eyesight, Kay was an answer to prayer. “We’re the odd couple,” says Mary. “She’s a stubborn English woman and I’m a stubborn Italian. Sometimes she’s a pain and sometimes she thinks I’m a pain in the rear end.” Kay: “It’s like being married.”

Read Kay and Mary's full story.

Smaller settings as a trend in retirement living

Smaller communities in neighbourhoods offer the possibility of a dedicated care environment in a traditional neighbourhood. That was the dream of Alexandra Maclean when she founded Lifemark Communities in Vancouver. For here, smaller homes open up the possibility of more personal connection. “ This style of living should appeal to people that are active and social, who may have been widowed or who are single by choice,” according to Maclean, who hopes this is “a new standard in retirement living.” You can read more about boutique-style retirement housing.

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