Home is Where Your Heart Is How to Find the Retirement Home For You

"There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds."

So wrote Gilbert K. Chesterton and for many of us, our home is our castle. Even the most humble abode is a fortress against the outside forces. The walls contain the memories of family times, the joys of new life and the melancholy of lost loves.

However, there comes a time when the castle may no longer suit our needs. There are too many rooms; the roof begins to leak and cold air blows through the old windows.

The time has come to move.

Our search for a new home is unique to each of us. There are those who need the hustle and bustle of an urban landscape, and then there are those who seek the quiet solitude of a natural landscape.

The first thing to do before beginning the search for a new place to hold your heart is to make a list of what is important to you.

  • Location: Where do you want to live? What are the amenities you look for in your neighbourhood; a library, shopping, medical offices? Is accessible transportation vital to you?
  • Space: Does size matter to you? Do you need lots of room for mobility and storage? Do you prefer modern or rustic decor?
  • Connection: Is it important to you to be close to family and friends? Can you attend your favourite social activities: Church, theatre, or recreational facilities?
  • Budget: How much can you afford? What on your list can you live without, but importantly, what are the must haves?

Careful planning will help you avoid moving from the pan to the fire and ensure the move is a positive one. Knowing what your needs are while searching will let you focus and not be distracted.

Build your new castle on a solid foundation!

You can apply the list in your search for a Retirement or Assisted Living home. Many communities have a variety of residences available that will suit budgets and personal preferences. So it is important to visit more than one to find the home that suits you!

Rule No. 1 Start your search before you need to make the move!

Retirement homes, particularly the popular ones, have long waiting lists. So to ensure that you can move into the residence that fits your needs start the process as soon as you start thinking of making a move. Most retirement homes will add you to a waiting list, and there is no obligation to take the first suite they call on.

Next steps ...

Research the homes in your preferred location. Read the reviews. In Ontario, the public can access the RHRA (Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority) website to obtain compliance history reports. As well there are other reference sources, such as A Place for Mom, that can provide information on amenities and pricing.

Personally visit the residence. Tour the grounds as well as the interior of the building. Think of your list, or better yet, take your list with you. Ask lots of questions.

When you have narrowed your choice book return visits at different times, so you get an idea of what the residence is like over the course of the day.

Book a meal. Remember you will be eating the majority of your meals in your new home. Meet the Chef. Inquire about special menus and diet accommodations. Think of your food preferences and if the residence will be able to meet them.

Ask about Wellness services. Each residence will have practices unique to the House. Ask questions. Think about your future needs and will the Residence be able to accommodate your care if your needs change.

Inquire about activities. Ask to see the activity calendar, and if possible see if there are examples over the course of the year. Are there events that will appeal to you? And for those who like solitude, are there options that will give you the peace you require?

Once you have found the residence that fits all your needs start the process of booking your room. Make sure you read the contract and if you have any questions ask them. Find out what the policy is for moving out just in case you discover the residence is not the home for you.

Now relax. Enjoy your new home and remember ....

“Home wasn't a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.” ― Sarah Dessen,


  • Start the journey before it is a must
  • Make a list of what is important
  • Set a realistic budget
  • Research Residences in your preferred location
  • Tour the Residences
  • Ask lots of questions
  • Make the short list
  • Make a list of the questions you want clarified
  • Revisit the preferred residence at different times
  • Put a deposit for a future suite
  • Read the contract, ask questions for clarity
  • Know your Resident Rights

Some Useful Links

A Place for Mom

Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority

Understanding Your Rights as a Resident

Ontario Retirement Communities Association

Canadian Association for Retired Persons

Created By
TLC Muskoka


Created with images by aingnamma - "castle neuschwanstein castle king ludwig" • Matt Artz - "Beach Cottage" • Edoardo Busti - "Storehouse" • Jeff Sheldon - "old man reading newspaper with tea"

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