Canada is said to be one of the best countries to live in and ranks, according to US News, third in the whole world. With an exceptional healthcare system, stable economy and low crime rate, the world’s second-biggest country by size is a dream location for many expats.
It’s, therefore, no surprise that many people from all over the world, including the US, UK, India, and other parts of Asia, want to retire in Canada, to spend their golden years in a beautiful, stable, and welcoming country.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics you need to know if you’re thinking of retiring in Canada, what you can expect in terms of your eligibility, the cost of living, healthcare, and taxes.
Canada, a vast and diverse nation nestled in North America, is renowned for its picturesque landscapes, welcoming communities, and strong economy. The Canadian economy stands as a symbol of stability and growth, boasting a diversified mix of industries that contribute to its global competitiveness.
From natural resources like oil, minerals, and timber to high-tech sectors such as aerospace, information technology, and pharmaceuticals, the Canadian economy thrives on innovation and adaptability. Its trade relationships, notably with the United States, further amplify its economic prowess on the international stage.
At the heart of this nation’s success are its citizens, known for their friendly demeanor and cultural inclusivity. With a population as diverse as its geography, Canada celebrates multiculturalism, making it a melting pot of traditions, languages, and cuisines. The blend of Indigenous heritage and immigrant cultures creates a rich tapestry that defines the Canadian identity.
Canadian citizens enjoy a high standard of living, aided by robust social welfare programs, universal healthcare, and quality education. The nation’s commitment to providing its residents with equal opportunities and a sense of security has earned Canada a reputation as one of the world’s most livable countries.
In recent years, Canada’s proactive stance on environmental issues has come to the forefront as it strives to balance economic growth with sustainable practices. Embracing renewable energy sources and implementing conservation efforts, Canada aims to be a global leader in the fight against climate change.
From its thriving economy to its inclusive society, Canada stands as a beacon of prosperity and harmony, showcasing the potential for a nation to thrive while embracing its citizens’ diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
Consider Your Status
Although there is no official retirement visa in Canada, there are a number of different residency programs so you can legally live in Canada. Being able to live in Canada as an expat involves navigating immigration pathways. You can apply for a variety of visa options, such as work permits, study permits, or family sponsorship, depending on your circumstances.
Ways to Canadian permanent residency
Express Entry and Provincial Nominee Programs
The Express Entry system is a common route for skilled workers seeking permanent residency. If successful, you gain access to government programs and social services, such as universal healthcare. This pathway marks the initial step toward Canadian citizenship. For retirees with children, university tuition fees for permanent residents are notably lower compared to international students.
The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) in Canada is a pathway for skilled workers, entrepreneurs, and other individuals with specific qualifications to gain permanent residency. Managed by individual provinces, PNPs address regional labor market needs while offering opportunities for non-Canadian citizens to settle in specific regions.
Start-Up Visa Program
The Canadian Start-Up Visa Program allows foreign entrepreneurs to establish innovative businesses within the country. Endorsed by designated organizations, this program grants successful applicants and their families the chance to become permanent residents. It aims to foster economic growth by attracting international talent and fostering entrepreneurial ventures.
Family ties or residence by marriage
Many expats who choose to retire in Canada have either dual nationality or are married to a Canadian. In the latter case, a spouse can live in Canada under the family sponsorship program.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents can explore the “super visa” program, designed for parents and grandparents. This initiative permits a stay of up to two years, although access to Canada’s universal healthcare is not included. Additionally, your child or grandchild, who must be a Canadian permanent resident or citizen, must assume financial responsibility for you during your visit.
Retirees with family ties in Canada can pursue permanent residency through the Parents and Grandparents Program. A substantial portion of immigrants, approximately 30 percent, are sponsored by family members. Canada also grants permanent residency based on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.
For those intending to spend part of the year in Canada, acquiring a tourist or family visa is an option. A tourist visa permits a stay of up to six months annually (depending on your country of origin), granting certain privileges like property ownership and the ability to open a bank account. This allows a portion of your retirement to be enjoyed in Canada.
Be mindful that you’ll still have to pay taxes in your country of origin, despite spending some of your time in Canada.
Each of the above options comes with distinct requirements and processes, so thorough research and possibly consulting with an immigration expert are recommended to maximize your chances of living in Canada legally and successfully.
Being a Retiree in Canada
Being an expat retiree in Canada offers a unique and fulfilling experience, even if you’ve reached retirement age. Canada provides a welcoming environment for retirees, supported by its robust social and financial systems.
One key aspect is the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), a contributory retirement plan that provides financial assistance to eligible individuals upon reaching retirement age. Expats who have worked in Canada can benefit from this program, contributing to their financial well-being during their retirement years.
Lower-income seniors may qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). The age at which you apply can affect how much you get.
Securing a bank account is a crucial step for managing your finances as an expat retiree. It enables you to receive pension payments, manage expenses, and conduct day-to-day transactions seamlessly.
Becoming a permanent resident opens doors to numerous benefits, especially as a retiree. Permanent residency offers access to essential services, including healthcare through Canada’s universal healthcare system. This ensures that retirees can enjoy a good quality of life without compromising their health.
Estimate Your Cost of Living
Canada’s cost of living is relatively high in comparison to some other Western countries; however, in general, it is believed that living costs are around 10 percent lower than in the United States.
As Canada is such a vast country, the cost of living can also vary depending on which province and which city or town you choose to live in. Major cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, and Victoria are amongst the most expensive cities in the country, while smaller towns such as Sept-Îles, Cornwall, and Timmins are more affordable.
Your minimum pension income will depend on your lifestyle, but as a general rule, it’s recommended that for your annual income in retirement, you’ll use 70-80 percent of your annual pre-retirement income. So, if you’re currently earning $100,000 a year, you should aim for at least $70,000 of annual income in retirement if you intend to maintain the same lifestyle.
If you’re an expat settling in Canada after being granted residence through one of the above settlement schemes, you need to prove to have enough financial means to support yourself for a year whilst you settle. This is $13,000 for one person and $16,000 for a couple.
If you’ve never worked in Canada and come to live in the country after retiring, you’ll also need to prove your pension funds to ensure that you can sustain yourself during your golden years.
As mentioned above, depending on where you live, housing costs in Canada can vary greatly. Some of Canada’s big cities have the highest rental and real estate costs, but there are equally many towns and cities that offer value for money.
For a comprehensive comparison, see the table below:
Average house price
Average rent (one bedroom)
Healthcare in Canada
Canada’s healthcare system, also called Medicare, is often praised as a model for universal healthcare, boasting a free and inclusive approach to medical care. At the heart of this system lies its commitment to providing essential medical services to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds.
Canada’s universal healthcare system, founded on the principles of equity and accessibility, guarantees that individuals receive the medical care they need without incurring financial burdens. The government funds the majority of healthcare expenses through taxation, ensuring that medical services are essentially “free” at the point of use. This comprehensive coverage extends to a wide range of medical needs, including hospitalization, doctor visits, and necessary medical procedures.
Permanent residents and citizens alike enjoy the benefits of this healthcare framework, which is structured to prioritize preventive care and early intervention. By removing financial barriers, the system encourages people to seek medical attention promptly, ultimately leading to better health outcomes and reduced strain on emergency services.
However, like any healthcare system, Canada’s isn’t without its challenges. Long wait times for certain non-urgent procedures and a shortage of medical professionals in some regions have been points of contention.
Still, the overarching success of Canada’s healthcare system lies in its ability to provide a safety net that ensures basic medical services for everyone, fostering a society where access to healthcare is seen as a fundamental right rather than a privilege.
International health insurance
Although Canada’s public healthcare system provides great medical cover for its residents, some expats choose to get private or international health insurance. Private medical insurance plays a supplementary role in Canada’s healthcare landscape, giving residents the option to access expanded healthcare services beyond what is covered by the universal healthcare system and Medicare premiums.
This can include coverage for prescription medications, dental care, vision care, and specialized treatments. Private insurance can also help mitigate expenses associated with paramedical services like physiotherapy or chiropractic care.
Opting for additional medical insurance is a personal choice and can vary based on individual health needs and financial circumstances. Some employers may also offer private health insurance coverage as part of their benefits package.
Social security benefits
In Canada, social security benefits, including the Age Security program, play a vital role in providing financial support to seniors. The Age Security program offers a monthly payment to eligible individuals aged 65 and older, helping them maintain a basic standard of living during retirement.
This initiative reflects Canada’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of its elderly population and addressing the challenges of aging. The Age Security benefit, coupled with other programs, underscores Canada’s dedication to promoting social inclusivity and safeguarding the quality of life for its senior citizens.
Taxes in Canada
Taxes in Canada for retired expats are a nuanced landscape with various considerations, benefits, and obligations. Retirees can often access certain tax benefits, but they must also navigate their tax obligations diligently.
One of the primary concerns for retired expats is determining their taxable income. Canadian residents, including expats, are generally subject to income tax on their worldwide income. However, tax treaties and agreements between countries can impact how certain types of income are taxed, potentially reducing tax liabilities.
You may also want to explore the option of a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA is a special individual Retirement Account (IRA) in which you pay taxes on contributions, and then all future withdrawals are tax-free.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is responsible for administering tax laws for the Government of Canada and for most provinces and territories. It’s important to understand that Canadian taxes vary from province to province, so it’s important to check before you choose a place to retire in Canada. For example, Ontario has some of the highest taxes in Canada, whereas taxes in Alberta are amongst the lowest.
Retirees might have retirement accounts from their home country, and these accounts could still be taxable in Canada. Tax complications can arise due to differences in tax rules and regulations between countries. To navigate these complexities, seeking the guidance of a financial advisor with expertise in cross-border taxation can be immensely beneficial.
An essential aspect of tax compliance for retired expats is the requirement to report foreign accounts. If an expat holds foreign accounts, such as bank accounts or investments, exceeding a certain threshold, they must be reported to the Canadian authorities.
Understanding the intricacies of taxes in Canada as a retired expat involves being aware of available tax benefits, meeting tax obligations, managing taxable income, and addressing potential tax complications. By consulting professionals on your worldwide income tax return and staying informed about tax regulations, retired expats can navigate this complex terrain while optimizing their financial situation.
The Pros and Cons of Retiring in Canada
As with every country, there are pros and cons to retiring there.
- Universal healthcare ensures medical coverage
- Diverse cultural and recreational activities
- Stable and safe environment
- Well-established social security benefits
- Access to quality education and amenities
- Cold climate in many regions and limited sunshine in some parts
- Higher cost of living in some cities
- Tax complexities for expat retirees
- Healthcare wait times for certain non-urgent procedures.
The Bottom Line on Retiring in Canada
Canada is a beautiful and welcoming country for expat retirees. Before making the decision to relocate there, it’s advisable to do thorough research on whether you qualify to live there, have enough funds, and whether the tax regulations can work in your favor.
Overall, Canada has a lot to offer for those who want to spend their golden years there, so to ensure you have all the information you need, speak to an immigration specialist and financial advisor to ensure your Canadian adventure starts right.
Frequently Asked Questions about Retiring in Canada
Can retired American citizens move to Canada?
Yes, retired American citizens can move to Canada. They can apply for various immigration pathways, such as family sponsorship, investor programs, or temporary stays. Meeting eligibility criteria and legal requirements is essential for a successful move.
How much money do you need to retire in Canada?
The amount of money needed to retire in Canada varies widely based on factors like lifestyle, location, and healthcare needs. Financial advisors suggest a retirement fund of around 70-80 percent of pre-retirement income for a comfortable retirement.
Can a US citizen move to Canada and still collect Social Security?
Yes, a US citizen can move to Canada and still collect Social Security benefits. The US-Canada Social Security Agreement allows for coordination of benefits between the two countries, ensuring retirees receive their entitlements without interruption.
Is Canada a good place for retirees?
Yes, Canada is often considered a good place for retirees. With its universal healthcare, diverse culture, and social benefits, it offers a high quality of life. However, factors like climate and cost of living should be considered.
How do I retire in Canada?
To retire in Canada, you need to explore immigration options like family sponsorship, investor programs, or temporary stays. Meeting eligibility criteria, obtaining necessary visas, and understanding financial requirements are essential steps for a successful retirement in Canada.
Where are the best places to retire in Canada?
The best places to retire in Canada vary based on personal preferences. Some popular options include Victoria, Kelowna, and Vancouver in British Columbia, as well as Ottawa in Ontario, offering a mix of amenities, climate, and quality of life.
How can I retire early in Canada?
Retiring early in Canada requires careful financial planning. Maximize savings, invest wisely, and consider tax-efficient strategies. Consulting a financial advisor, creating a budget, and managing expenses are key to achieving an early retirement goal.