The mildest year-round climate in Canada, the lure of active lifestyles, superb amenities, manageable size and a welcoming atmosphere put Victoria at the top of the list as Canada’s favourite place to retire.
Renowned as the best place to escape winter without leaving the country, Victoria was chosen by MoneySense magazine as a top Canadian retirement choice in a 2013 report. According to the 2011 Canada census, the City of Victoria is home to the country's fifth highest percentage of people aged 65 and better. More than 18.4 percent of Victoria residents were in their senior years, well above the national percentage of 14.8 percent. The city was also home to the highest proportion of people who have passed their 80th birthday, at 6.2 percent of the population.
When today's aging baby boomers consider retiring, they are more likely to want to stay active. Those who are lucky enough to live here or relocate to southern Vancouver Island enjoy an exceptional range of activities. There are recreational clubs dedicated to mature citizens, and outdoor activities such as freshwater and saltwater fishing, birdwatching, boating and sailing, and tennis and racquet sports. Victoria boasts the country's longest golf season, with play possible every single month.
The downtown is compact and walkable, with no steep hills and paved and wheelchair-accessible routes around the Inner Harbour. It's an exceptionally dog-friendly city, with lots of designated parks and off-leash areas. There is a wide diversity of hiking within a 30-minute drive of the city, ranging from walks on the beach to spectacular viewpoints overlooking the mountains and sea.
Victoria has the highest number of annual snow-free days of any major city in Canada. It hardly ever snows here, and when it does, the snow never stays for long. Blossoms begin appearing in February, the earliest in the country. The city basks in more than 2,000 hours of sunlight annually, receives about half the amount of rain as Vancouver, and the temperature rarely drops below freezing or surges above 25°C. Being surrounded by water on three sides helps to moderate the climate, and brings moisture to renew and sustain the rain forests that cradle the city, and nourish a soothing green that endures year round. The exceptional growing conditions make this a gardener's delight, and Victoria gardens are among the most stunning to be found anywhere.
Arts and culture thrive here, with a myriad of festivals, museums, art galleries, the Victoria Symphony, live theatres, and much more. It is also a place grand kids love to visit, with attractions like a petting zoo called the Beacon Hill Children's Farm, the Victoria Butterfly Gardens and the Victoria Bug Zoo to engage young minds. There are plenty of free or nearly-free activities, too, like watching wild seals at Oak Bay Marina, playing at the beach, and bike riding on the Galloping Goose Trail.
Victoria is a safe city, with a lower rate of crime than most big cities and neighbours usually look for each other. Residents have forged a strong community network, which thrives on the culture of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteerism. This is a place where coffee and tea culture thrives, and independently-owned cafés are plentiful and popular. The city is served by an excellent public transit system run by BC Transit. Victoria International Airport is the tenth busiest airport in Canada, with more than 60 daily departures and convenient non-stop or one-stop service to every major Canadian city and many U.S. destinations.
There is a broad assortment of excellent seniors' facilities and health centres providing a range of different levels of care. The city has a wide variety of accommodation choices, especially for those looking to downsize. Choose from a selection of lock-and-leave condominiums, townhouses and patio homes. Retirement homes and seniors living communities come with perks, including spacious floor plans, luxurious homes, clubhouses and the best in care facilities. Owning a piece of a retirement paradise and having the time to enjoy all it has to offer is a combination that can’t be beat.