Should You Enjoy Retirement in a Different City?

I am currently on holiday enjoying our house swap on the east coast of Canada.  The setting is breath-taking: a house on the water and minutes away from numerous beautiful beaches.  Inhaling the salt water air and indulging in fresh seafood for dinner every evening seems almost mythical to a city-dweller. So, what is the cost of this luxury? Surprisingly, the price tag on the home we are in is a lot less than one would expect. Turns out this five-bedroom house with ocean view cost one third of a smaller one in downtown Ottawa.
As I began chatting with some of the locals, I realized that many were originally from bigger cities and had moved to enjoy the slower pace of maritime living, but also to reap the financial benefits of the exodus. The economic downturn in recent years translated to lost stock value and smaller nest eggs for many who had originally planned to retire comfortably at home. Given their options, they chose to sell their big house in the city and move to a smaller town.
Considering that real estate is often a relatively safe investment, it is no surprise that these retirees chose to sell their home to increase their savings. Imagine your downtown property sells for $650,000 and you buy one for $250,000 on the coast instead. That means you have $400,000 to invest as you see fit and enjoy retirement – not a bad use of capital if you ask me!
Of course, various pros and cons must be weighed before coming to any sort of conclusion. On the one hand, the financial advantages speak for themselves, as well as the lifestyle pace and the view. On the other hand, if you have family (especially grandchildren) living nearby, it makes moving a difficult decision. Not only will you see your friends and family less, you will also spend more time and money travelling back and forth to visit the lot of them on a regular basis. Having said this, not seeing family regularly may seem like a pro rather than a con for some.
For many, the matter of uprooting their entire life and risking the feeling of isolation and boredom once away from familiarity may be enough to sway the vote to stay put. For others, the lure of extra money to use towards enjoying the prime of their life will be enough to convince them to go.
How about you? Would you move to enjoy financial freedom in retirement?


  1. krantcents

    That sounds attractive even for Americans. I do not recall finding too many ocean front properties for so little money. I am within 30 minutes of the beach in southern California, but there is no way to move closer for a reasonable price.

  2. CF

    That’s tough – I really enjoy where I live currently. I suspect that my expenses would go up if I lived somewhere “cheaper” and had to constantly travel for entertainment and family.

  3. Earth and Money

    I’m at the stage now (in my 20’s) where I’m struggling with the decision to leave the city and move somewhere smaller with a cheaper cost of living. This is definitely not exclusive to retirement 😀

  4. Kanwal Sarai @ Simply Investing

    Would I move to enjoy financial freedom in retirement? Absolutely! The difference in house prices can certainly add a lot to your retirement savings.

  5. Lance @ Money Life and More

    I actually moved from DC to the Florida Panhandle early in my career and housing is so much cheaper here. I didn’t own in DC but I am able to afford to own down here and it is great. If you won’t miss big city living it is definitely a valid option to consider.

  6. Urs Murlot

    I would definitely move to improve my financial situation for a better retirement. Why struggle where you live, there are places that offer a lot more for way less. Don’t let family stand in your way, communication is a lot easier today with SKYPE and GOOGLE.

  7. NovaScotian

    Yeah, this is a great idea. Everyone knows that the Maritime provinces need more old people draining the health care systems.

    Retirement is when your use of costly health care goes WAY up compared to your working life. Add to that the fact that you’re no longer paying as much in taxes when you retire.
    So you’d have paid all your taxes in Ontario, BC, etc. and are now expecting Nova Scotia or PEI to pay for your health care.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying your time in the Maritimes. I chose to live & work here, raise my family (1st baby on the way!) for many of the same reasons you list here.
    However, if people start to do what you suggest en masse, there needs to be a serious re-evaluation of how health care is funded by the provinces.

    Why not try living your whole life here. There’s more to us in the Maritimes than fish & vacation spots!

    • Mario

      The east coast also has thousands that spend their careers working in western Canada, only to return on retirement, or after saving considerable amounts of money. They’re taking advantage of another province’s health insurance.

      For those that are economizing and retiring in the east, the benefits outweigh the social services drain you’re suggesting; for example sinking hundreds of thousands into real property and living expenses outweighs the thousands in annual health insurance claims. The basic consumption of daily goods and utilities is more than sufficient to keep your economy pumping. Baby boomers have the greatest amount of disposable income – take them in and take their cash!

  8. Theresa

    If you are emotionally strong moving from the city to the outskirts, in seclusion would be wise or it would be a disaster.Loneliness might kill sooner than later. Its not a wise decision to sell your property in a prime location in Toronto and move to a small town in Halifax just to save and invest the equity. My health seems to be befriending me for now but never know when time catches up and my medical expense shoots up may be then I would sell my $ 12,50,000 property and move from the hustle bustle in Toronto to a quieter serene place.

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