There's a surprising lot of interesting stuff going on around here, and this space is devoted to discovering and sharing it. We'll post regular updates on merchants, activities and events. Look in often and soon you'll see why Meaford calls itself "The other Big Apple".

posted April 5th, 2013
Retirement in small-town Ontario – a true story

Last November, a former Toronto couple began blogging about their real-life retirement in real time. By the time, they began their blog, Astrid and Peter Tobin had already moved from east-end Toronto to Kingsville, a small town on the north shore of Lake Erie, but they documented the path to their decision to escape the city and embrace a small-town Ontario retirement.

We’ve found their story interesting, in that it mirrors much of what we understand and have written here about a rich, rewarding retirement lifestyle.

When the Tobins started thinking about retirement, they took a hard look at their finances and realized that in order to remain in the home and neighbourhood they’d lived in for 12 years, they’d need to both get rid of their car and fully pay down their mortgage. Neither was an option. The alternative was to move out of Toronto, which was just too expensive a place in which to retire.

Starting to seriously think about retirement had been sparked by visiting retired friends in Bracebridge, Ontario and seeing the retirement lifestyle they were enjoying in a smaller Ontario community. So moving from the city already had attractions.

On top of that, they’d always seen their Toronto neighbourhood as having a small-town atmosphere, with shops and the Beach within strolling distance. They set out to find the same feeling in a smaller community.

Their priorities included affordable housing, a community on the water with a public beach nearby; proximity to a golf course; an active arts community; and walking distance to town. Hmmm, starting to sound familiar? You might as well describe Meaford Haven.

The Tobins’ search took them north to Muskoka, further north and east to the Ottawa area, and then along Lake Huron and over to Georgian Bay. They found Collingwood a great place, but not suited to retirees on their budget. (We wish we might have met them on their travels, and shown what Meaford Haven has to offer in a short while.) And in the end, they chose Kingsville, for all of the above reasons.

In their most recent post, they reveal how much they’re saving by living a small-town Ontario retirement lifestyle. Owning a more affordable house, along with other reduced costs, has freed up an additional $350 a month.

We’ll keep following the Tobins, and hope to hear more about their real-life retirement in small-town Ontario.

posted March 1st, 2013
Owen Sound retirement – city tops MSN list of retirement destinations in Canada

Now, we love Owen Sound. After all, this small city just 20 minutes from Meaford Haven offers a wealth of culture, dining, shopping, outdoor activities, golf, boating, fishing and… we could go on.

We just think that Meaford is better. In Meaford, you can be in Owen Sound in the time it takes to put on a kettle and brew a pot of tea. But you also have more intimate access to Georgian Bay, which embraces a large part of the town; you’re in the centre of a golfer’s paradise, with Lora Bay less than 10 minutes down the road, and many more courses to the East; you’re nicely situated between the larger centres of both Owen Sound and Collingwood, so you can take your choice; and you’re closer to Blue Mountain Resort, the Village and all it offers. That’s to name just a few things. Meanwhile, you get all this while enjoying the quiet setting of a true small town Ontario retirement community.

Having said that, we do want to point out that the Owen Sound (which means Meaford) area has been recognized by as Canada’s top retirement location.

Among the reasons cited are “great access to boating and fishing”, affordable homes, and proximity to Toronto. They also mention that it’s home to the Springfest 55+ Games (for ages 55 plus).

Our secret tip: get access to all that while living in a better location and environment at Meaford Haven.

posted February 9th, 2013
Next steps for Meaford Haven’s unique Ontario retirement community

As we wrote here a couple of weeks ago, Meaford Haven has completed the initial stages of developing this unique Three Seasons small-town Ontario retirement community. With the Draft Plan of Subdivision in place and a zoning bylaw amendment recently passed, you might be wondering what you can look forward to in the coming months.

Simply put, these developments mean that the Municipality of Meaford and Grey County have given their approval for the Meaford Haven vision and all it entails: an aging-in-place retirement community that includes residences to accommodate each stage of your retirement (from bungalows to apartments to a retirement residence); gardens, a parkette and nature paths leading to the golf course next door; meandering, low-speed roads; commercial units offering health and every-day amenities; and a recreation centre/clubhouse.

The plan and amendment provide guidelines, including what type of building can go where, how natural spaces will be preserved, where roadways will go, how far a building should be from the road, and what conditions a builder needs to satisfy in order to get building plans approved.

Basically, the next steps are mapped out, and the Meaford Haven property is ready for a builder to take over the actual construction of the bungalows, apartments, and retirement residence.

Meaford Haven is now engaged in talking to builders – with an initial focus on finding a builder who will build the bungalows and low-rise condominium apartments, but is also looking for a builder for the retirement residence building.

Meaford Haven is moving to select a builder for this area within the next three months, and moving quickly, we’d look forward to having homes for sale by this summer, with the first few neighbours moving into Meaford Haven within the year.

If you haven’t yet registered to take receive updates on Meaford Haven or to take part in our virtual focus groups to help design the community, do it today.

posted January 26th, 2013
Ontario retirement community poised to clear third and final hurdle on Monday

Forgive us if there’s a tone of pronouncement in our headline, but we’re pretty excited about what’s happened over the last month or so, and about what the coming months will bring. Meaford Haven’s Three-Seasons Retirement Community is moving rapidly closer to seeing the first spade in the ground, and realizing this unique retirement community vision.

It’s been a painstaking process to take that vision from the initial idea to reality, and it has required a big investment of time, money and energy during the last two years. In order to have the property ready for a builder to actually begin work, we needed to clear three hurdles. We’ve now cleared two of them, and on Monday, we look forward to hearing good news from Meaford Council on the third and final step.

First off, Meaford Haven needed to obtain an amendment to Meaford’s Official Plan to change the land-use designation on the property to accommodate the retirement community we envisioned, and to slightly reduce the size of the area designated for commercial use along the area fronting on Highway 26. The amendment was approved last fall.

Next, Grey County needed to approve Meaford Haven’s Draft Plan of Subdivision, which creates the blocks and sets conditions for development. Last month, just before Christmas, the county recognized that Meaford Haven had addressed any concerns brought forward, and approved the Draft Plan of Subdivision. With the appeal period finished and no further action, this Plan is in full force.

Finally, on Monday, Meaford Council will be presented with the zoning bylaw amendment, which defines more detailed conditions on the various blocks, and sets the stage for a builder to begin work on the Meaford Haven property.

We look forward to celebrating completion of this third and final step, and we’ll share the news on this and upcoming developments with you here.

posted December 28th, 2012
How to avoid carrying a mortgage into retirement

A recent article in the Globe and Mail by Robert McLister reports that almost 25 percent of baby boomers aren’t really that concerned about paying off their mortgage by the time they retire. The article says that, currently, about a quarter of Canadian homeowners continue to carry a mortgage into retirement – and that more than half expect that to be the case.

Mr. McLister points out the risks this attitude carries – including the chance that rising interest rates down the road may turn a manageable monthly expense into something that will quickly cut into the fixed, more modest income you’ll have in your retirement years.

While he suggests that for many, carrying a mortgage into retirement may not be that big a deal – if you are worried about being caught unprepared, you can take certain steps to avoid the risks.

These include working longer; getting a fixed rate mortgage with at least a five-year term; extending your amortization to 30 years; or starting to pay down your mortgage while you’re young. (Unfortunately, baby boomers who haven’t already taken the last bit of advice can’t really take it now.)

While this is all sound advice, Mr. McLister fails to point out another solution. By downsizing (or right sizing) or moving to a less expensive real estate market (or doing both), you can eliminate your mortgage and discover a more enjoyable lifestyle in which to enjoy your financially liberated retirement years.

We just thought we’d point that one out.

posted October 19th, 2012
Enjoy your Three Seasons Owen Sound area retirement

A few facts to clear up any confusion between Meaford Haven and Seasons Owen Sound.

As you know, Meaford Haven is a Three-Seasons Communityâ„¢. This means that you’ll enjoy living every season of your retirement in our beautiful small-town retirement community – from your active early retirement through settling to those days when you appreciate assistance and companionship in a caring setting.

Meaford Haven, 15 minutes down the road from Owen Sound, Ontario, is the first of many Three-Seasons Communities envisioned throughout Ontario. We wanted to make that people looking forward to their retirement years make the distinction between this unique concept and other retirement residences, which are sometimes branded as retirement communities.

three seasons owen sound area retirement community

The vision for Meaford Haven is a true community, a neighbourhood of cluster bungalows (right next door to the Meaford Golf Club) for your early retirement, when you want an active, independent life (without the home maintenance hassles of the house you’re in now); low-rise condominium apartments for those years when you’re looking to take things a little easier; and a retirement residence to offer additional care and companionship.

Owen Sound has a retirement residence known as Seasons Owen Sound, which is an attractive low-rise retirement home consisting of studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Seasons Owen Sound seems directed to the Summer and Autumn seasons, and is situated in the downtown area of Owen Sound. Meaford Haven, on the other hand, is a true Three Seasons Owen Sound area retirement community – allowing you to live in the same small-town Ontario neighbourhood for every season of your retirement life.

To learn more about our Three Seasons Owen Sound area retirement community, download the fact sheet.

Thanks for letting us clear things up.

posted August 24th, 2012
Our Meaford retirement community is moving forward

If you’ve been reading the Meaford media lately, you’ve probably heard the latest news about Meaford Haven. Meaford Haven is another step closer to realizing the goal of an active retirement community for the three seasons of your retirement in this beautiful Ontario town.

Meaford Council has approved a resolution recommending to Grey County that the draft plan for the Meaford Haven subdivision be approved.

The Meaford Independent reports that Director of Planning & Building Services, Rob Armstrong told council that “the Meaford Haven proposal conforms to planning policies outlined by the province, as well as those of Grey County. Armstrong also said that issues raised by area residents have also been taken into account.”

Armstrong’s report to council explained that “there has been significant consultation with various individuals including the Conservation Authority, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Environmental Peer Review Consultant for the Municipality and County, and a committee of residents from the Ridge Creek Subdivision. This Consultation resulted in two significant changes to the plan that included maintaining the northern watercourse and relocating the internal road to the east and providing a second road linkage to Ridge Creek Drive.”

Once the County approves the plan for the subdivision, Meaford will then be able to approve a re-zoning request for the development.

Things are moving along for this unique Meaford retirement community, and we’ll keep you posted with more good news soon.

Here’s the Meaford Express report on the new development.

posted August 20th, 2012
Demand increasing for retirement homes and retirement communities

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation senior citizen housing report has revealed that retirement home vacancy rates are decreasing across Ontario. While areas of the province have seen something of a boom in new retirement homes recently, the Baby Boom generation has already begun to retire, and within the next five years will begin to reach peak retirement home age.

The demand for spaces in retirement communities and retirement homes will continue to increase, Ontario housing surveys manager Ken Sumnall told

He also notes that retirement residences are beginning to reflect the baby boomer lifestyle. “New retirees are looking for a higher standard of living,” he told the website. “Now, you are seeing more pools, theatres and media rooms. And it is not just a projector on a wall with some chairs. We’re seeing more homes with actual mini theatres.”

posted May 31st, 2012
Your thoughts on Meaford Haven’s Retirement Community Centre

The vision for the Meaford Haven Community Centre got a little more focused recently. We got quite a mixed response from the first round of the virtual focus group that discussed the community centre for our Ontario retirement community. So we refined the questions and begged the indulgence of future residents of the retirement community – and we got some clearer answers.

A fitness facility with group classes found favour with voters, and a swimming pool is definitely desired.

Imagine this… an indoor, salt-water pool that can be used round. In the winter, you enjoy a refreshing and invigorating swim with a beautiful view of snow draped trees and grounds. As the weather warms, presto – the pool is opened to the sun-warmed, landscaped patio, and the indoor pool is outdoors.

The clubhouse atmosphere favoured by most is something not too stuffy, but definitely not drab, either. Something comfortable, like a combination café and pub, seemed to be the preference.

And we also got votes for such additional amenities as a kitchen, office space, a library, and a comfortable indoor mailroom rather than outdoor area mailboxes.

For full details, visit here.

posted May 23rd, 2012
Your small-town Ontario retirement – Can you retire mortgage free?

Forty-seven percent of Ontarians expect to still be paying for a mortgage into their retirement years, according to a study released by BMO Financial Group last week. This despite the fact that retiring mortgage free not only makes for a more enjoyable lifestyle – it’s a smart financial move.

“If your retirement is only a few years away, it’s wise to try and pay off your mortgage before you enter retirement,” says Laura Parsons, Mortgage Expert, BMO Bank of Montreal. This is due to the simple fact that less employment income means less money to manage your debt load, says Tina Di Vito, Head, BMO Retirement Institute.

Strategies include choosing a shorter amortization or switching to bi-weekly payments – both of which mean paying a little more down and decreasing the ensuing debt years down the road. But in the years immediately before retirement these options may not be the most effective choices; there simply isn’t enough time to make a significant dent. Fortunately, there is another way to retire mortgage free.

If you’re living in one of Ontario’s real estate hotspots, you likely have substantial equity in your home, even if you are still carrying a mortgage. That equity will go a long way in many Ontario small towns, including some of the most beautiful in the province. This might mean downsizing a little – but maybe not as much as you think. Moving from a four-bedroom home in the GTA to a condo in the same community to save money will mean settling for a much smaller place, as real estate values will be comparable. But you’ll find a small-town Ontario retirement community can mean less downsizing for the same value – and can offer a more enjoyable retirement lifestyle to boot.

Life's a beach in Meaford

Move an hour or two out of the more expensive regions, and you’ll be able to retire from that mortgage along with your job.

Here’s a great article from MoneySense Magazine on the benefits of downsizing, with some ideas to help you determine if retiring mortgage free to small town Ontario is right for you.

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