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 March 12th, 2014
Ontario baby boomers looking to downsize to enjoy retirement

By downsizing their homes, 50+ retirees in Ontario are looking to reduce year-round maintenance, lowering their cost of living, opening up opportunities to travel, and otherwise help finance their retirement.

That’s the word from a new market research survey conducted by Angus Reid, which found that 60 percent of those surveyed (Ontario homeowners 50 years old and up) plan to sell their existing homes and buy or rent smaller homes sometime during the next five years. The survey also suggests that most of these folks (53 percent) don’t want to live in a highrise apartment or condo block.

Right-sized bungalowAnd nearly 80 percent see this as their last big move – so they’re looking for a community that will continue to serve their needs for years to come. This suggests that a lot of Ontario people preparing for retirement are searching for a place that will offer an active lifestyle in a true neighourhood setting, with the opportunity to age in place and maintain their independence well into the future.

The online survey, which was commissioned by a Toronto retirement community developer, polled 508 randomly selected folks in the 50+ cohort who currently own their homes (88 percent of them own detached homes.)

The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to age, gender and region. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

posted January 18th, 2014
Five ways to practice for retirement

Are you ready for retirement? Those in the know suggest that, as with anything you want to do well, you may want to practice. At a time when many are deciding to work a little longer, this can be a way of tasting the good life sooner. It can ease the shock of plunging right into retirement, going cold-turkey on your work life and possibly discovering that too much time on your hands is not for you. It can help you decide, ahead of time, what activities, interests and endeavours you want to pursue in retirement. And it can help you get involved with the folks and local groups in the community where you plan on spending your retirement years.

1. Losing the daily social fix of the workplace can come as a shock to your system. So start building new networks now. Seek out organizations, groups and fellow hobbyists in areas that interest you, and get involved. In addition to enriching your life right now, these relationships will give you a social continuity as you move into retirement.

2. Make sure you’ve sampled the activities you want to enjoy in retirement. Maybe you’ve envisioned retirement as providing the time to take up that hobby or passion you left along the way years ago. Don’t wait. Pick it up again now and find out if its still right for you.

3. Try out new hobbies. Discovering new frontiers is a great way to enrich and liven up your retirement. So think beyond the old ideas you’ve had, and give these a try. By spending time exploring new activities now, you can plan on accommodating those that really grab you.

4. Try living on a little less. If you’re planning on getting by with less income in retirement, find out how that impacts you now, and start to prioritize where you want to spend money in retirement. Getting by with one car in retirement? Try it now. (Put the savings from your experiment into your retirement funds.)

5. Spend as much time as possible in the community you plan on living in – at different times of year. This gives you a better sense of what to expect when you do move, and allows you to get involved now with local activities, community groups, clubs, and even businesses. When it’s time to retire, you’ll already be part of the community.

To plan longer holiday stays in Meaford, visit:

posted January 4th, 2014
Retirement New Year’s Resolutions

The new year brings new and not-so-new financial advice for people planning for or starting retirement. Here are just a few of the recent crop.

Pay down debt, save, and reduce investment fees are three of Canadian Living’s “Five Pre-Retirement New Year’s Resolutions”.

Avoiding getting sucked in by sale prices and publicly predict investment yields are two of the creative ideas in these financial resolutions you might actually keep, from Time Magazine.

Practicing “mindfulness” puts a new perspective on financial planning in Smarter Investor’s resolutions for new retirees.

Our resolution… treasure and enjoy life in this beautiful place. Happy New Year, and here’s to a great 2014!

posted November 23rd, 2013
More online retirement resources

Here are some more retirement resources as close as your nearest browser.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has launched a free online guide to financial considerations in retirement. Living in Retirement covers such topics as budgeting during retirement, various sources of retirement income and credits – including public pension benefits, tax credits and other benefits for seniors, working in retirement, ways to protect yourself from financial abuse and fraud, and dealing with changing living needs, caregiving and other transitions.

Retirement resourcesThird Quarter bills itself “the job service for mature Canadians”. With support from the federal Office of Literacy and Essential Skills, the non-profit organization offers various online resources and information, as well as an employment service which matches employers with Canadians aged 45 and over. offers a wealth of retirement resources, including articles on finance, housing, planning, and health.

posted November 16th, 2013
Top four online retirement calculators and tools

Retirement income calculator

Service Canada has a calculator which provides you with retirement income information, including OAS and CPP benefits. It takes about 30 minutes to work through the series of modules, at which point you’ll discover how your retirement income stacks up against the 70 percent income replacement rate a lot of planners recommend. A separate calculator helps you understand how contributions to the new Post Retirement Benefit (PRB) can contribute to your financial security.

TFSA vs RRSP calculator

If you’re debating the benefits of a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) over a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), here’s help. By filling out a few fields, you’ll get a good idea of whether you’ll be bettter off with contributing more to a TFSA or an RRSP now.

Life Expectancy Calculator

While you might approach it with a little trepidation, this calculator can give you a rough idea of how much you’ll need to have in retirement based on your genes, your health and your lifestyle.

Home financing, mortgage management, amortization and more

Choose from a number of mortgage calculators using the right-hand drop-down. There’s a tool for planning every stage of homeownership and mortgage renewing.

posted June 8th, 2013
Good financial news for retirees

Came across a few encouraging thoughts on saving for and living in retirement this past week.

To begin with, BMO reports that property tax deferral programs for seniors can free up more cash from your retirement income sources by allowing you to put off paying a portion of property taxes till a later date, such as when you sell your home.

“It’s a great way for seniors to take advantage of the equity they have built in their homes and create more cash flow during their retirement years,” says Chris Buttigieg, Senior Manager, BMO Wealth Planning Group, BMO Financial Group.

In Ontario, homeowners over the age of 65 can defer paying any increases in property taxes; however, they are still required to pay the base amount.

Real Retirement

And a recent book by Fred Vettese and Bill Morneau, senior executives with Morneau Shepell – Canada’s largest administrator of pension and benefits plans – paints a rosier image of financial needs in retirement than we’ve been hearing elsewhere. Real Retirement: Why You Could Be Better Off Than You Think, and How To Make That Happen suggests that most people can get by quite well on half their pre-retirement income, rather than the 70 percent often cited.

“The real target can’t be 70 percent for real Canadians,” Vettese told Benefits Canada. “Most households operate on half of their gross income, so why do they need 70 percent?”

And while our longer lifespans have led some to predict we’ll outlive our retirement savings, the authors point out that staying healthier longer needn’t mean that. “People are healthier,” Morneau told Benefits Canada, “So they can work longer.”

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 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 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.

posted March 30th, 2012
Move to your Ontario retirement community faster with these tips

Phased retirement or partial retirement has a lot of things going for it: staying active and stimulated during retirement; having a little more money to enjoy some of those retirement perks you’ve been putting off; and enjoying a retirement lifestyle before you might have otherwise been able to.

If you’re looking to ease into retirement and begin enjoying the lifestyle a little sooner, cutting costs can help you do it. Here are some tips to get you enjoying your Meaford Haven retirement sooner.

Live where it’s cheaper
Just moving to a retirement community in a small town like Meaford, Ontario will immediately cut your expenses. That large city or suburban home carries a lot of regular, ongoing costs in maintenance, taxes and insurance.

If you still have a mortgage, selling your home and finding an Ontario retirement community in a small town can see you mortgage free, which frees up a lot of monthly cash flow right away.

And you’ll be surprised at how many things are a lot less expensive in small-town Ontario.

Retire faster

Reduce your belongings
Moving to a smaller place – or right-sizing, as we like to think of it – means you need less stuff. Selling off some of your belongings can provide a tidy sum for additional investment or other use. And donating items, as long as you get a tax receipt, can help you to a tax break.

If you’re retired, or working in the “nobody-knows-you’re-retired” guise, you don’t need the same clothing budget you had when you were heading to the office, the plant, or the store every day.

And a second car isn’t nearly as necessary once you’re in retirement or semi-retirement. Selling the second car can immediately net you thousands, and the additional savings on insurance and maintenance will continue to add to your bottom line.

Do you need a land line? In this age of mobile communications, you might want to take a tip from those 20-somethings who rely on cell phones alone. A good family plan can have you both in touch at all times for not much more than you’d pay for a land line alone.

Re-evaluate your insurance needs
Your home insurance will likely drop when you move to a retirement community. If you’ve shed that second car, you’ve slashed that insurance burden. And as you ease into retirement, you should consider your life insurance policies. At this point, changing at least part of a large whole life policy into term insurance provides protection while cutting costs.

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