A Guide to Retirement Care & Senior Living in Calgary

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Calgary is a sought-after retirement destination as it offers affordable real estate, quality healthcare, as well as a unique blend of the city lifestyle with outdoor activities. In addition to world-class festivals like the Calgary Stampede, the city is also known for its thriving arts scene, variety of parks, shopping centres, and senior centres. No matter your preferences when it comes to deciding on a retirement community, let Cared Upon help you find a community in Calgary that suits your needs.  

Lifestyle & activities

In terms of activities, older adults that enjoy being outdoors can find themselves spending their days swimming, golfing, biking, and taking scenic park tours while exploring the top-rated parks Calgary has to offer. It is also worth noting that Calgary is only 1.5 hours away from the world-famous town Banff, making a weekend getaway to Banff National Park common (and even cheaper) for locals. You can choose to do a road trip by car or Greyhound, or board the world’s largest privately-owned luxury train, The Rocky Mountaineer. For seniors looking to fulfil their physical activity with walking, you can visit the Glenbow Museum to view world-renowned art exhibits or take a stroll along Prince’s Island Park. 

Weather and Climate

Its mountain-high altitude contributes to Calgary's dry climate, and the city experiences mild weather throughout the year. The city is known as the sunniest major city in Canada, with a recorded level of 333 sunny days annually. The daily average summer temperature in the city sits at 15°C (59.4°F), with daily maximums of 22°C. While Calgary experiences a milder winter in comparison to other cities in Alberta, average winter temperatures sit at -11°C (12°F).  

Housing options in Calgary: Finding the Right Fit for You

Whether it’s assisted living or a retirement community, Calgary offers its senior residents a variety of reliable and affordable options to choose from when it comes to their care needs. While you can expect the cost of assisted living to typically start from $2000-$3000, the Alberta government works with numerous non-profit organizations and housing providers to offer subsidized options to choose from. If eligible, programs such as the Rent Supplement Program, Seniors Self-contained Housing Program, and the Seniors Lodge are designed to help subsidize the cost of retirement care based on your personal income.

Rent Supplement Program: The Rent Supplement Program was designed to subsidize the cost of housing for those needing both long and short-term assistance with rent. The Rent Assistance benefit is a long-term benefit program that offers low-income Albertans direct payments to their tenants to cover the cost of rent, with the coverage amount being individually calculated depending on both the local market rent and your household income. The Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit is a short-term benefit offering support to Albertans that are working on improving their current income situation or are not currently receiving support through benefits such as the Alberta Seniors Benefit. Similar to the Rent Assistance benefit, those eligible will receive support for covering their rent paid directly to their tenants. However, those receiving the Temporary Rent Assistance Benefit may only receive support for up to 2 years.

Seniors Self-contained Housing Program: Functionally independent seniors, regardless of whether they require assistance from community-based services, are offered apartment housing at a reduced cost based on 30 percent of their household-adjusted income through this program. Their subsidized rent also covers basic needs such as sewer, water, and heat expenses.

Seniors Lodge: Seniors that do not require specialized health care may be eligible for the seniors' lodge program, which offers rooms, meals, and housekeeping services for those 65 and up. Lodge rates may vary depending on each housing provider, however, all seniors participating in the program must be left with a minimum disposable income of $322 per month.

Cost of Retiring in Calgary: Budgeting and Financing

Depending on the care you require and your personal lifestyle, the cost of retiring in Calgary can vary. However, Calgary is often noted for having one of the lowest costs of living in all of Canada - including lower costs for housing, taxes, and leisure activities. When it comes to senior support for finance and budgeting during retirement, the Alberta government offers assistance with monthly expenses to those needing additional help.

Alberta Seniors Benefit: Seniors making an annual income of $29,285 or less (or $47,545 for senior couples) are entitled to a benefit that is determined by a number of factors. Your income, your type of accommodation, your marital status, and whether you are receiving the Old Age Security pension will determine the amount of support you will receive under this program. Additionally, If you are a new Alberta resident, you may receive these benefits in the month of your 65th birthday, or 3 months into your permanent residency in Alberta.

Special Needs for Assistance for Seniors: Low-income seniors making $29,285 or less annually are entitled to up to $5,105 per year to help cover the cost of health and specific personal items. For senior couples to be eligible, the household income made annually should be $47,545 or under. This program helps older adults cover the cost of items such as appliances, furniture, health support, or personal support. While health support can cover the cost of certain prescriptions, personal support covers the cost of services such as housekeeping, yard maintenance, medical trips, respite care, and more.

Seniors residing in Calgary should receive a package in the mail six months before their 65th birthday outlining every program they are eligible for. For more information on eligibility and benefits, visit the official Alberta website.  

Post-retirement Income Sources

For seniors not eligible or looking for government funding, there are several different ways they can look to fund their retirement. 

Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs): Using a Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) or a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSAs), your post-retirement income is dependent on the amount you put into these accounts when you first began saving and the interest you received.

Investment accounts: More commonly, many older adults turn to taxable investment accounts, such as stocks and bonds, as a post-retirement income source. 

Employer-sponsored pension plans: If offered by your employer, you may be eligible for an employer-sponsored pension plan. This plan involves your and your employer contributing money towards your retirement over the course of your employment.

To learn more about your post-retirement income source options, visit our resource centre.

Access to Healthcare

Alberta’s Health Services is known for its philosophy of offering health care that allows seniors to live independently at home for as long as they possibly can. All residents of Calgary must register with the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan to receive coverage for health care and health services, such as medically required services and certain hospital services. However, the Government of Alberta supports their senior population by providing additional, premium-free health coverage to costs not insured under the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan for seniors 65 and over. 

Coverage for Seniors Program: The Coverage for Seniors program covers additional health services such as specific prescription drugs under the Alberta Drug Benefit List, home nursing care, clinical psychological services, and chiropractic services. 

Dental Assistance for Seniors: Eligible seniors aged 65 and older are entitled to dental coverage of up to $5000 towards their dental services every 5 years.

Optical Assistance for Seniors: Every 3 years, eligible seniors are offered up to $250 in funding to cover the cost of optical services. This also includes and covers the costs of lenses, frames, and prescription glasses. 

Home Nursing Care: Seniors eligible are given up to $200 annually to cover the cost of physician-referred nursing care from the senior's home. 

Additional Resources

For further information, you can visit and/or contact these sources: 

Alberta seniors benefit: A resource center for receiving senior financial assistance.

Recreation Fee Assistance Program: Information on how to sign up for Fee Assistance.

Alberta's Seniors Information Phone Line: call 2-1-1 or visit 211 Alberta