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Top 5 cities to live in Canada when you have no retirement savings

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Halifax skyline

If retirees could take their pick, most would probably want to spend their golden years somewhere warm, beautiful, and affordable, with a strong sense of community, ample services for seniors, and easy access to medical care. But if you’re living on CPP/OAS alone, a few places with all those characteristics get knocked off the list.

The maximum amount of CPP/QPP benefits at retirement (age 65) is $1,038.33 for the October to December 2014 quarter. The maximum OAS payment, meanwhile, is $563.74.

By no means an exhaustive list, here’s a handful of Canadian cities that might just make for a great place to live if you’re on a pensioner’s income.

Property taxes weren’t taken into account in this collection, because they’re calculated based on the assessed value of your home, and, ironically, Vancouver, where real-estate prices and the cost of living are sky high, has the lowest property taxes in the country.

Moncton  
Celebrating its 125th birthday next year, the city was named Canada’s most polite and honest by Reader’s Digest. It made the list because of its cheap real estate: The average price of a home was $158,680 in September, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. The average price of a one-bedroom rental apartment as of April is $626, according to the CMHC.

New Brunswick has the second highest number of family physicians per 100,000 in Canada (144, after Newfoundland/Labrador’s 163), according to the Canadian Medical Association. A monthly bus pass for seniors goes for $47, while gas was going for as low as 119.9 as of October 25, Gas Buddy reports.

The consumer price index (CPI) 125.2 for New Brunswick, which is lower than that of the country as a whole, at 125.8, and one of the lowest in Canada. (This means that a basket a goods that cost $100 in 2002 now costs $125.20.)

The city of 69,000 is great for walking: Its four parks, including Riverfront, with a trail that follows the Petitcodiac River, have groomed trails that are open year-round.

Lacombe

The average price of homes here is $385,858 homes here[1], while a one-bedroom apartment rents for $664 on average.[2] A litre of gas was 105.9, while bus passes for seniors are just $25 (or $45 for service to nearby Red Deer).

Alberta ranks sixth in terms of numbers of doctors per 100,000 (114) and its CPI is 132.9.

In 2013, the City of Lacombe conducted its inaugural citizen satisfaction survey. People were asked what they considered to be the three most significant factors that contribute to high quality of life there. Thirty-four per cent of respondents cited the “small-town feel”, while 22 percent mentioned the people and the friendliness of the community. Ninety-six per cent of the respondents rated the overall quality of life as “excellent,” “very good,” or “good”.

- Stratford  The average house price is $251,365 while rentBoard.ca lists the average rent for a one-bedroom as $755. The CPI is 126.7. A litre of gas goes for 117.4; a seniors’ monthly bus pass is $47.

Ontario scores poorly on the number of GPs per capita: just 96 per 100,000 (above the Territories’ 93. However, their citizens must keep healthy through things like the Stratford Lakeside Active Adults Association (55+), which offers programs in everything from fitness and Wii sport to crokinole and billiards,

Stratford is also known for its vibrant cultural scene and the renowned Stratford Festival, which celebrates the work of William Shakespeare and other great writers. 

- Brandon The average sale price for single detached homes is $264,112[3]; a one-bedroom apartment rents, on average, for $585.

The CPI is the same as that of Canada as a whole, 125.8. You can get gas for 113.9 and a senior’s monthly bus pass for $40.

Manitoba has 109 GPs for every 100,000 residents, just under the national rate of 110.

A trail system within the city itself, a network of community gardens, and free activities at Brandon University’s Healthy Living centre during Active Aging Week make it a senior-friendly place.

Halifax
If small-town feel isn’t your thing, Halifax might be your best bet. The average rent for a one-bedroom is $783 while a house goes for an average of $273,026.

The CPI is below the national average, at 125.2. A litre of gas is at 121.9, while a seniors’ bus pass costs $58.

Nova Scotia ranks third in the country for the number of GPs, at 140 per 100,000. Halifax has one of the largest concentrations of health care facilities and specialists in Canada, according to the Greater Halifax Partnership.[4]

With a thriving arts scene, many walking trails, the city also appeals to seniors who want to travel: it’s two hours closer to Europe by air than any other North American destination, and closer to New York than any other Canadian city.

[1] http://www.remaxlacombe.com/Lacombe-real-estate-stats-news/Lacombe

[2] http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/odpub/esub/64495/64495_2014_B01.pdf

[3] http://www.breb.mb.ca/index.php/stats/

[4] http://www.greaterhalifax.com/en/home/livinginhalifax/halifaxasacity/halifacts.aspx