How Affordable Is it to Live in a Retirement Residence?

in Independent Living

Written by Sheila Hansen

Senior writing in a notebook

You’ve looked around at retirement residence options, and you like what you see. But you’re also wondering if you can afford to live in such a community.

As it turns out, older adults are often surprised to discover they have the financial resources to live in a full-service retirement community. In fact, many costs associated with a private home are included in a monthly residence rate. And that’s good news, especially considering that almost a third of B.C. seniors aged 75-plus intend to move into a retirement residence in the near future.

For a clear picture of those costs, simply download and fill in PARC Retirement Living’s cost of living comparison worksheet [Excel file, 52KB]. As Tony Baena, PARC’s VP Strategic Growth and past President of the BC Seniors Living Association, says: “We want you to do an apples-to-apples comparison . . . maybe the gap isn’t that big, especially given everything that’s included.”

Below, Baena outlines the key underlying benefits of residence living, then breaks down the costs and potential savings.

4 underlying benefits of retirement residence living

The flexibility of renting

“Rent provides you with flexibility should your circumstances change,” says Baena. For example, if your health changes and you require a higher level of care, you’d give notice rather than have to sell real estate into a competitive market. Renting also makes downsizing (i.e., from a two-bedroom to a one-bedroom suite) or upsizing easier.


PARC rental agreements include the SECURE FUTURE® guarantee, which caps rent increases for the next four years. “SECURE FUTURE® provides residents with certainty for budgeting. It provides some peace of mind.”

Wealth tax avoidance

“Governments are starting to tax wealth,” says Baena, citing the speculation tax and school taxes on properties over $3 million. “The longer you hold onto a piece of real estate, the more likely it’s going to incur ever-increasing taxes.” And deferring takes away from your future wealth, he adds.

Safety in community

Intangible benefits include watchful eyes and a community shield. “Our best source of information on our residents is other residents and staff. If we don’t see Mrs. Smith one day, we’ll check to see what’s going on with Mrs. Smith . . . [Residents] get safety in numbers with like-minded people.”

Residents talking in the garden

Costs and potential savings of residence living

Property expenses

With the PARC costing worksheet  [Excel file, 52KB] in hand, seniors can fill in their current monthly rent, condo fees or mortgage payments, as well as property taxes, property and content insurance, and repair/maintenance costs. You’ll then want to compare these costs to the cost of a suite at a PARC residence by choosing your desired suite type. The worksheets provides the corresponding starting monthly rental price for each suite type at each residence.

Even if you’re mortgage free, Baena points out, you still have to cover these other costs. At PARC, however, all these costs except content insurance are included in the monthly rate.


Next, note your monthly utilities expenses. Electricity, gas, and water are included in your PARC monthly rental fee.  We also have exclusive and deeply discounted packages on phone and high speed Internet with Shaw Communications that residents can take advantage of. And thanks to PARC’s SECURE FUTURE® guarantee, residents don’t have to worry about rising utility prices for the next few years.

Security and emergency response

Do you pay monthly monitoring costs in your current home? And do you worry about getting help should something happen? PARC residences are equipped with fire and security systems, as well as a 24/7 emergency communications system in all suites and common areas, via pull chords or pendants.


“A lot of people say, ‘I can feed myself for $40 a week,'” says Baena, “which leads to the question: but how well are you eating, what are you eating?” As part of PARC’s healthy lifestyle philosophy, three nutritious meals a day and snacks are included in the monthly fee (note: dining plans at select residences like Oceana PARC vary).

Shopping, entertainment and gardening

Are you currently paying vehicle or transit costs? PARC properties offer a car or shuttle service for local shopping trips, appointments and social events. And while special outings – an evening at the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra or a daytrip to VanDusen Botanical Garden – require an admission fee, PARC’s “full-blown activity package includes these activities as well as cribbage, Tai Chi and more,” says Baena. For avid gardeners, PARC provides green houses and planter beds, along with soil and irrigation – items you might also be paying for in your current home.

Residents gardening

Housekeeping and laundry

Do you currently pay to have your house cleaned? Weekly light housekeeping is part of PARC’s full-service offering. And all suites have personal laundry facilities, though residents can pay extra to have their laundry done.

Costs minus income

Lastly, calculate your cost comparison by deducting income amounts from your monthly costs. These could include monthly investment income from the sale of your home and monthly CPP, OAS and RIF.

Typical outcomes could look like this:

  • A $2,845 studio monthly rental at Mulberry PARC in Burnaby nets a $2,565 monthly surplus, compared to a $185 surplus in a private home.
  • A $6,838 one-bedroom monthly rental at Westerleigh PARC in North Vancouver nets a $2,025 surplus, compared to a $6,387 deficit in a private home.

Try the cost of living comparison tool

Download the cost of living comparison worksheet [Excel file, 52KB] and crunch the numbers yourself to get a realistic cost of living comparison. Our sales team is also available to help you compare the numbers as well. For more information, contact our sales team at one of our residences.

Seeing is believing

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