Comfort Life - Your guide to retirement & care

Costs of Senior Care

What type of retirement care can you afford?

The amount that you can expect to pay to live in a senior living retirement community will vary greatly. Most residents of retirement communities pay monthly rent for their accommodations and across Canada, monthly fees range from $1,453 to $4,500 (and higher) on average. This is dependent on the size and location of the accommodations, the type of community, and the quality and number of amenities. When Canadians feel they have exhausted home care and other options, they often find that paying for senior care is, all things considered, more affordable than they might have thought.  

On this page

Cost surveys and overviews

Further considerations

Costs in Ontario

Costs in Ontario

Ontario has by far the widest range of costs for retirement homes, including the most affordable and most expensive rates across Canada. Retirement home costs average $3, 038 per month. Ontario's retirement homes cover a wide range of specialized needs and forms of care.
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Costs in BC

Costs in BC

British Columbia follows Ontario in number of retirement homes and range of retirement home costs. Rental prices are a little more affordable at an average of  $2,250 per month. British Columbia's retirement homes offer the best of services and amenities. Retirement homes in BC cover a wide range of care needs, so costs vary.
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Costs in Alberta

Costs in Alberta

Retirement community rent for seniors in Alberta averages $2,780 per month. What accounts for this price is the fact that in Alberta, residents often receive health care and other amenities in their residences. The variety of care options come with different related costs.
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Costs in Manitoba & Saskatchewan

Costs in Manitoba & Saskatchewan

Retirement communities in the prairies provinces offer a number of services and ameneties for seniors. In Manitoba, the average is $2,378 per month. The average in Saskatchewan is $2,505  for a one-bedroom senior space.

Learn more about retirement costs in Manitoba

Learn more about retirement costs in Saskatchewan

Costs in Quebec

Costs in Quebec

Quebec offers a wide variety of senior housing types.  The average rent for a senior space in Quebec is only $1,520 a month. Retirement communities in Quebec offer a vibrant social community as well as the support services that seniors need.

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Costs in Atlantic Canada

Costs in Atlantic Canada

As it goes with real estate in general in Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick retirement homes are one of the country's most affordable, with an average rent of $2,137 per month. Seniors live in great comfort in Atlantic Canada and have a variety of options so they can choose the retirement home of their choice.

Learn more about retirement costs in Atlantic Canada

How Much Does Care Cost?

Fees and prices for senior living communities vary widely. Retirement home costs will change according to the area you live in and the type and intensity of care that is required. Most residents of retirement communities pay monthly rent for their accommodations. Across Canada, monthly fees range from $1,475 to $6,000, depending on the size and location of the accommodations, the type of community, care required and the quality and number of amenities. When planning for retirement it's important to research the costs of the type of retirement community you wish to live in so that you are financially prepared when you are ready to make the move.

There are a number of retirement home options out there for every budget, For example, if you're considering buying into an independent living retirement condominium in the Greater Toronto Area, a one-bedroom starts at about $240,000, while a two-bedroom suite can go for $300,000 or more. Life leases give seniors a stake in a community but do not involve traditional home ownership. Residents have the right to occupy their unit and use amenities such as dining rooms and recreational facilities. These types of senior communities tend to be sponsored by non-profit organizations and vary greatly in cost depending on location and amenities, but buying into a development tends to be lower than market value.

Average Monthly Rent Across Canada

On the left is data from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation' Seniors' Housing Report for 2013. On the right you will find data from cities from across Canada, surveyed from Comfort Life clients in 2018.

Province Avg. Cost   Major city Avg. Cost
Prince Edward Island $2,433       Toronto, ON $3,150
Nova Scotia $2,559       Calgary, AB $3,041
New Brunswick $1,807       Vancouver, BC $3,565
Quebec $1,520       Ottawa, ON $2,810
Ontario $3,204       Mississauga, ON $3,150
Manitoba $2,378       London $3,157
Saskatchewan $2,505       North Vancouver $3,868
Alberta $2,798       Kelowna Area $3,153
British Columbia $2,747          
Canada Average $1,995       Average in major cities $3,150


Cost by Care Type

In actual fact, the biggest determining factor for the cost of seniors' care is the type of care you require. Suites in independent living are typically counted as the basic retirement home cost that clients will pay. Beyond that, though, if further care is required, fees may be added or the cost may go up.

The cost of assisted living varies from one province to the next and can vary quite widely depending on whether or not you are looking at a care home in a small town or in a larger city. We provide a survey of assisted living costs, and how to pay for assisted living.

Alzheimer's care and memory care, for dementia patients, is one of the most costly types of care. Inevitably, many sufferers of dementia will be admitted into long term care, but there are waiting lists to get into these homes. In the meantime, families may choose to avail themselves of a short term stay in a retirement home. We cover the costs of memory care and how families pay for memory care.

Long term care costs are generally covered by the government, across Canada. If you get into a long term care home, care costs are all covered you will only need to pay for room and board.

Download our free eBook The Ultimate Retirement Tour Checklist for the top questions you should ask when you tour a retirement community.

Retirement Communities: Financial Tips

  • Retirement homes across the country offer special discounts for accommodations for a couple or second person living in the same home. This should be taken into account when planning for the retirement of other family members and can be an excellent way to cut costs
  • Find costs you can manage based on your specific needs and desired location
  • Each combination of location, payments and services results in a different monthly cost
  • Personal support and health-care services are generally available for an additional fee
  • Ask the retirement community you are interested in for their rates
  • The most common types of retirement communities allow residents to continue living independent and active lifestyles. With the least amount of extra care provided by retirement residence staff, the costs of independent living communities and active adult living communities are generally lower priced
  • The costs at retirement communities that provide intensive attention to residents, such as Alzheimer's care and long-term care facilities, are slightly higher

The cost of individual retirement home units varies considerably depending on the size of the unit as well as the amenities and features you require. To get all the details, speak to the individual retirement communities and home care services that you're considering. You'll find some of the best profiled here on Comfort Life.

Questions to consider as you tour communities

Many people are surprised by what they can actually afford when they look closely at retirement living. For some, at first, the advertised costs can seem shocking, but the same can be said for many things, when we hold expectations from years ago.

There are also factors that can help free up resources. For one thing, as you get older, there’s less need to save for the future, and it becomes apropos to begin dipping into your retirement nest egg, as long as that is done carefully and wisely. There are conservative, solid ways of investing any leftover equity from your home to give yourself residual income. Some retirement homes can recommend financial planners who will help you optimize your investments.

Getting to the bottom line takes research. It also requires asking the right questions. When you break things down, the same as you would any major real estate purchase, the possibilities become clearer. Of course, we recommend that you talk to a financial advisor, but here is a broad look at important issues.

Determine what level of care you need and what parts of your life are less than satisfactory. Record all your current living costs in a spreadsheet to get the big picture. Make sure to include all your monthly costs as well as yearly costs, like property tax, broken down into monthly chunks.

Armed with an understanding of your current basic needs and monthly budget, you’re ready to look at your options. This is where people are often happily surprised. They’re impressed by how wonderful senior living can be, and amazed by what they can actually afford. But before you get to those pleasant surprises, you need to open yourself up to the potential.

There are three essential topics to consider when investigating senior care:

1. Basic accommodation services and care

The listed costs typically include three meals a day as well as snacks. Diets are often taken into account, including low-sodium and gluten-free, and considerations for conditions like diabetes, as well as cultural requirements.

Questions to ask:

  • What is included in the accommodation charges? There is no standardization in the way fees are structured, so you need to be clear about what’s included. Most communities do not include services like cable TV and internet in the stated cost. Some will include laundry and housekeeping, but most often you will pay extra for these services.
  • How much flexibility is there in the meal plan? In some communities, you will be able to reduce costs by cooking some meals in your own suite or dining outside the community.
  • Will I need tenant’s insurance? If so, does the residence have a group plan?
  • Are there move-in incentives? Some examples might include a free month’s rent or free parking, if you move in within a specific time frame. Ask if they have referral discounts, too.

Be sure to understand rent increases and rental laws before you commit.

2. Extra care services provided by or available within the community

Whether or not you need care immediately, it’s important to understand how care fees are structured. Care you will likely have to pay extra for includes the following:

Personal care, like hands-on assistance with dressing, bathing, or feeding. Two-person transfers are not available in all communities. Incontinence care is often not available in select communities, especially in Ontario. Investigate communities in the pages that follow—or on— and learn how their care fees are structured.

The way these services are billed varies widely across Canada. For example, in Ontario, some basic care services may be included as part of the cost advertised for assisted living. In Alberta and BC, such care services are provided under government programs, independent of the costs listed by retirement communities.

Medication management is a service available in some retirement communities. This is a convenience for seniors who need regular medication, but it puts an onus of responsibility onto the retirement home. As such, you can expect to pay extra for this service.

Nursing care is provided by professional staff. This may include medication as well as assessments and other nursing services. Some residences have nursing staff visiting once per week, while others have registered nurses on-site 24/7.

Medical doctors may be available in some communities, most often on a weekly schedule.

Questions to ask:

  • What care is included in the advertised costs?
  • What care services do you anticipate needing and what costs are associated? To anticipate this, you might think of your own medical history or that of family members.
  • If you are paying for included care, are you likely to use it? If you think not, you may want to consider other options.
  • Can you hire in your own home care services easily and seamlessly?
  • Do you anticipate the possibility of needing long-term care? If so, discuss the implications of this with communities you are investigating.

3. Third-party services

Where services are not provided within the community, you may choose to go outside. There are many examples of this, but you may need pharmacy delivery, physiotherapy, hair care, etc. There are communities that offer all those things in-house, but not all do. In this case, you can often hire in your own home care services.

Questions to ask:

  • If the community has a central pharmacy, are you required to use it? Is their service truly in your best interest or is there another reason for this (such as ownership by the same parent company)?
  • If there are visiting or in-house health care services— anything from physiotherapy, to dental care and eye care—is it cost-effective to use these services? Or are you better off in a less expensive community and procuring your own care?
  • If there are outings, such as trips to the theatre or local attractions, what extra costs will you have to pay?

It’s best to work through all of the financial concerns with as much help as possible.

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