Retiring in Canada: a complete guide

1 min readLast updated May 31, 2024by Unbiased team

Learn why Canada is a popular retirement destination and what you need to emigrate there successfully.

Summary 

  • Canada is one of the safest places in the world to retire and offers world-class healthcare programs. 

  • US citizens who wish to retire in Canada must obtain a Canadian visa, which can be complicated and time-consuming.   

  • Retiring in Canada is expensive, and expats need 70-80% of their pre-retirement salary to live comfortably. 

  • An expert financial advisor can make planning for your retirement easier and more successful.  

What are the pros and cons of retiring in Canada? 

Retiring in Canada is largely regarded as a positive experience, with welcoming people, great healthcare, and exceptional public safety. But before deciding on retirement in Canada, it is important to consider both its advantages and disadvantages.  

Pros 

  • Exceptional healthcare system: Canada’s universal healthcare system (also known as Canadian Medicare) is extremely comprehensive and open to both citizens and residents. It is widely regarded as one of the best healthcare programs in the world.  

  • Offers safety and security: Canada has stable government systems and public services and is ranked the safest country in the world as of 2024.   

  • Friendly, welcoming culture: Canadians are globally renowned for their warmth and friendliness, making it a pleasant place to retire. 

Cons 

  • High cost of living: Canada’s living expenses are among the highest in the world. It can be difficult to experience a high quality of life without access to an above-average income.  

  • High tax rates: Taxes are more expensive in Canada than they are in the US and most other countries around the world.  

  • Harsh weather: Winters in Canada are incredibly cold and harsh. Snow, frost, rain, and blizzards are not uncommon, and even summertime is colder than in the US.  

What are the best places to retire in Canada? 

There are many stunning places to retire in Canada. But which ones are the best? These three are known for being particularly well-suited to seniors.  

  • Niagara Falls, Ontario: This beautiful area of Ontario offers access to a variety of natural waterfalls and museums, ensuring local retirees never run out of activities or scenery to enjoy.

  • Victoria, British Columbia: This city is located on Vancouver Island, a place known for its architecture and boating culture. It has a laid-back, village-like atmosphere.  

  • Ottawa: Ottawa is located in Ontario and is in a prime location for accessing healthcare and other important amenities. It is known for its more affordable housing opportunities and range of history museums to explore.  

At what age can you retire in Canada? 

The standard age for retirement in Canada is 65. However, Canadian citizens may start to receive retirement benefits as early as 60 or as late as 70, depending on their occupation.  

As a US citizen, it is unlikely you will receive retirement benefits from the Canadian government, but you may be able to roll over your Social Security benefits or pension from the US. If you receive Canadian citizenship or permanent residence by the time you are 65, you will qualify for benefits.  

What is the average cost of retirement in Canada? 

The cost of retirement in Canada is high. Expats need an average of $756,000 to live comfortably.  

In other words, you will need 70-80% of your pre-retirement salary in retirement.  

Do you pay taxes after retirement in Canada? 

Canadian retirees are not typically required to pay taxes for their pension income.  

However, they may have to pay additional tax when filing their income tax and benefit returns.  

What programs are there for emigrating to Canada? 

There is a long list of different programs for emigrating to Canada, including Express Entry, Startup Visa, and Provincial Nominees.  

However, the best program for retiring in Canada for someone who won’t be working is to go through the Family Sponsorship program or Investor program.  

What visas do I need to retire in Canada? 

There is no Canadian retirement visa option. Obtaining a visa for retiring in Canada is a complicated affair that doesn’t follow a straightforward process.  

If you have family there, you may apply for a Family Sponsorship visa in Canada. If you have access to $200,000, you can apply for the Investor Program and receive automatic permanent residence.  

What are my healthcare options in Canada? 

Canada offers universal healthcare, which means you can receive high-quality healthcare wherever and whoever you are in the country, as long as you are a citizen or permanent resident. The public healthcare options available are world-class, but if you have specialized needs, private healthcare is advised.  

Is Canada a good place to retire? 

While many people head south for their retirement, Canada is proof that the north can be just as idyllic. It is safe, naturally beautiful, offers a high quality of life, and has a welcoming culture.  

However, it can also be a very expensive place to live, and the immigration application process is complicated. If you have the means, retiring in Canada can be a rewarding experience.  

Get expert financial advice 

Many US seniors plan to retire in Canada. Although the average cost of living is high, the quality of healthcare and welcoming culture make this country an appealing option. 

To learn more about whether you can emigrate to Canada and plan your future as a retired expat, get matched with a financial advisor at Unbiased today.  

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.