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Retire in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada?
Overview: About 35 miles north of Buffalo, New York and burrowed into the shores of Lake Ontario, charming Niagara-on-the-Lake is one of the Ontario's most historic towns, dating from 1792. It was Upper Canada's first capital and home to the nation's first printing press. Upper Canada's first public library was founded here. Ontario's oldest Catholic and Anglican churches are within its borders. It is the only town in Canada to still have a Lord Mayor.
Although Niagara-on-the-Lake is essentially a tourist town today, it supports a farmers' market, a newcomers club, a horticultural society, and a dinner dance club. The lovely downtown is peppered with shops, galleries, book stores, eateries and a bounty of colorful vegetation. The parks and recreation department manages two ice rinks, a community center, three outdoor pools, and tennis courts. Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club, established in 1875, is North America's oldest operating golf course. Other historic sites include Fort George, Navy Hall, and the Mississauga Point Lighthouse. Niagara-on-the-Lake is also a terminus for the Niagara River Recreation Trail.
The RiverBrink Art Museum, along the Niagara Parkway, houses a collection of over 1,400 artifacts, and the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens has a butterfly conservatory with 45 species. The Shaw Festival operates out of three theaters, showcasing the work of George Bernard Shaw. Bravo Niagara! produces jazz, pop, and classical concerts. Niagara-on-the-Lake is also known for its well-preserved 1815 to 1859 architecture, with many neighborhoods acting as beautiful reminders of a bygone era. Residents also enjoy nearby wineries, two breweries and an outlet mall.
Population: 18,000 (city proper)
Percentage of Population Age 45 or Better: 50%
Expatriate Community Numbers: No estimates
Living Costs: Above the Canadian national average, which is above the U.S. national average (depending on region, tariffs, lifestyle, health care, social services, etc.)
Home Prices: Niagara-on-the-Lake has had a very hot real estate market the last several years. The median home price is currently $750,000 CAD ($570,000 USD).
Climate: The area enjoys four seasons, with Lake Ontario providing moderating factors. Summer temperatures are generally in the 70s and 80s, and winter temperatures are in the 20s and 30s. The area receives an average of 30 inches of rain per year. Snowfall is minimal.
Medical Clinic or Hospital: Yes, Niagara-on-the-Lake Hospital
Public Transit: Yes, a bus system, but it is limited.
Crime Rate: Meets the Canadian national average, which is lower than the U.S. average.
Cons: Local leaders fret about the aging population and its impact on services. The town is growing but not as fast as leaders would like.
Notes: Racial diversity is minimal. Many people say that Niagara-on-the-Lake is Canada's prettiest town.
Immigration: If you live in the U.S and want to retire in Canada, then start planning early (two to four years in advance of your retirement). The quickest and easiest way to enter the country is as a visitor. Citizens of the U.S. can stay in Canada for less than 6 months within a calendar year without a visa. Visitors can also own property in Canada. This means you could spend summers in the North, rent your home when it gets cold and flee to the South for winter.
Another temporary option is the super visa. If your child or grandchild lives in Canada as a permanent resident, you may qualify. You can hold this visa for up to 10 years, but can only stay in the country two years at a time. If you chose temporary visitor or grandparent status, make sure you also look into international health insurance (Medicare is not accepted in Canada).
Applications for permanent residency can be tough. Canada prefers the young, the skilled, the bilingual (French and English), the highly educated (university degree, please), and those still in the workforce. Your must show a means of support. Owning property in Canada will probably not be enough. If citizenship is your goal, stay employed while you wait for the process to work its way through government channels.
Canada considers some groups "inadmissible." This list includes security risks, people who have committed a human rights violation, those who lied at an immigration interview or on an application, and those who have committed a crime. Canada may disqualify you if you have a DUI or DWI in your recent past. If you can convince authorities of your rehabilitation, they may look more favorably on your application.
Both the federal and provincial governments have immigration programs (PNPs) and can and will nominate certain potential immigrants to become residents. These tend to target students, business people, skilled workers or semi-skilled workers.
If you have a good idea that will create jobs and help Canada "compete on a global scale," then you can register for a "start-up visa." Family sponsorship or a caregiver status are other viable immigration options.
Gaining citizenship or permanent residency can get complicated. To start entangling the web, explore Canada's immigration website. Laws change. It's a good idea to talk to an immigration attorney. Don't forget an accountant to help with taxes.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes
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