Category Archives: Pre-Retirement

Active Lifestyle Community Living

The time will come when you might say to yourself “this house is just too much for the two of us” or “taking care of these gardens and our lawn is way too time consuming” . Perhaps, it’s time to downsize but where would we move to?  The children have long since moved out, but we don’t want to move too far away from them and our grandchildren. What to do?  Why not consider an Active Lifestyle Community, also known as an Adult Lifestyle Community.

There are more and more of these Active Lifestyle Communities being developed to accommodate the growing number of “empty nesters” who want to connect with more people their own age who have similar interests.  However, there are so many questions and factors to consider in deciding which community is most desirable.

Key Factors in Choosing an Active Lifestyle Community

1.  Location

The three most important rules in real estate are location, location, location.  You want to choose an area that offers several winning qualities.  If possible, you would want to locate somewhere near your children because family is so important.  Proximity to a hospital, medical centre, dental care, pharmacy, retail, service and grocery outlets is also high on the wish list.  A short drive to enjoy some entertainment might be important too.  Perhaps a winery, a casino, a movie theatre or even a zoo. So many things to consider, time to make a list.

Another consideration is what happens if you and/or your partner cannot drive anywhere. Are there alternative modes of transportation available, for example, affordable taxis or public transportation.

2.  Home Builder

Choosing a reputable home builder is paramount.  It’s so important to secure feedback on the quality of homes being built in the community you decide to settle in.  Has the builder delivered on time?  Have there been a large number of complaints filed against the builder? Granted no builder is absolutely perfect and things will need to be rectified post- delivery.  It’s important to understand how responsive and effective the builder is in repairing those post-delivery items.

The types of homes available from the home builder is also key.  A bungalow with an open floor plan and a main floor laundry room might be preferable to a two-story house with stairs to climb.

It’s important to be aware of the covenants and restrictions applicable within an Active Lifestyle Community.  The builder must provide full disclosure on all of these.  For example, some communities will only allow two people per household.  Others will allow children and/or grandchildren to visit but not live within the community.  Pets may be allowed but must always be on a leash. Some may require prior approval before any landscaping changes or other outside home improvements are conducted.

3.  The Overall Cost

The cost to buy your house and property or to buy your house with leased property is one thing, but there are so many other expenses to consider. Keeping in mind, the builder makes a huge margin on any and all house upgrades.  If you are a “do it yourselfer” then these costs can be minimized.  House upgrades made prior to your move in date will factor into the overall property assessment value which in turn determines your property tax valuation.

Typically, an active lifestyle community requires that everyone contribute to a pooled set of maintenance fees.  These maintenance fees can vary considerably depending on what the overall cost is to maintain the common areas within the community.  The more facilities, the more the maintenance fees.  Some communities may only charge a minimal monthly fee for the use of the recreation centre by having volunteers within the community taking turns with the maintenance of the common areas.

Other costs to consider are the property taxes, water, hydro and telecommunication. Some smaller communities may require higher charges for water and/or property taxes due to a smaller number of residents within the particular county.

4.  Services and Amenities

One of the most appealing factors in moving to an Active Lifestyle Community is to take advantage of as many recreational activities, services and amenities that are available.  After all, your maintenance fees already cover these.

One service that is available with some of the communities is property security and management during extended absence periods.  For anyone who travels south for the winter months this is a critical service. Home insurance companies usually require that your unoccupied home be visited by someone at least once a week.  Having a monitored alarm system and a responsible property management service to visit your home while you’re away is a critical service to have.  If this service is not covered within your maintenance fees, then you would be required to seek out a private property manager and to install your own alarm system at an additional cost.

The list of recreational facilities and activities available will vary.  For example, there could be:  Swimming, tennis, golf, snooker, table tennis, pickle ball, shuffleboard, lawn bowling, car rallies, coffee mornings, holiday parties, dance classes, exercise classes, crafting, library etc.   The list is long with an opportunity for everyone to join in and enjoy.

Volunteering is essential in all Active Lifestyle Communities to help plan, organize and run all of these various activities.

5.  Average Resident Age

The average age of an Active Lifestyle Community is typically between 60-70 years. Keeping in mind that 60 is the new 40.  Granted some even younger “empty nesters” have chosen to move to a community and continue working from home.  The key attraction is the social life.  So many friendly people with similar interests, hobbies and recreational activities makes for some amazing gatherings and parties. There is nothing better than a huge sense of belonging and sharing laughter with new friends and neighbours.  The bond is so much stronger in a community where you share and help each other in need.  These are friends you will meet and they will be friends forever.

I plan to document in upcoming posts on what some of the actual Active Lifestyle Communities around Ontario and Florida have to offer anyone who is considering moving to one of these communities.  In the spirit of transparency,  I live in an Active Lifestyle Community in Ontario.  I can honestly say it has been a truly rewarding experience.


Hints and Tips for the Snowbirds

Travelling south for the winter months is a dream come true for many of us northerners. To be able to escape the harsh winter storms is truly a blessing.  Going south for the winter may not be for everyone but for those of us who live for warm and sunny days, it just lifts our spirits to no end.  To be able to say, “it’s just another glorious day in paradise” is truly an amazing feeling.   When you meet others on the street during your warm morning walks, you just can’t wipe the smile off their faces.  If you can manage it, I seriously recommend it!

I have been spending our winter months in Florida for the past 6 years and I have a few hints and tips to pass along to anyone else who is thinking about making the trip south for an extended period of time.  The obvious thing, you most likely already know is, as a non-American, you need a valid passport and in some cases a specific travel visa.  As a Canadian, I would pass along these tips:

  • You should set up a US bank account at your Canadian bank branch.  You can then obtain a US Credit Card with your local Canadian bank e.g. Visa or MasterCard.  This will allow you to purchase goods in the USA with your US credit card without any problems. Then you can simply pay off your US credit card balance online through your bank with your US bank account.  This avoids taking out cash and paying ATM fees. Not to mention paying for increased exchange rates when compared to converting Canadian funds to American funds online.
  • Having a US bank account in Canada also allows you to pay off US based credit card company balances with a check.  For example, large retailers in the US offer better discounts for purchases made with their own credit cards.  Retailers like Kohls often offer 15%-30% discounts if you use their Kohls credit card.  Why not secure a Kohls credit card, use it when discounts are being offered and then pay off the Kohls credit card balance before the due date with a check from your Canadian based US checking account.  Please note it takes at least 2-3 weeks for the check to clear in your bank account.
  • You should always purchase Travel/Medical insurance as our Canadian Health Insurance plan will not cover the massive costs of health care in the USA.
  • You should also be aware if you have an automobile accident in a parking lot, Florida laws are that each individual is responsible to pay 50% of the overall damages.  It doesn’t seem fair when someone else is totally at fault and damages their vehicle and you don’t have any damage.  It certainly makes you appreciate no-fault insurance a little more.
  • If you would like to rent a DVD at a Redbox vending machine, they require a US Zipcode.  To get around this, you can set up your account online with Redbox and simply enter a 99999 code for your Zipcode and this will pass the test with your Canadian based US credit card.
  • Another trick I learned is how to get around the Zipcode request when paying for gas at the pump, with your Canadian bank US Credit Card. How annoying is that when you have to go inside with your credit card while you pump your gas outside? Well, thankfully both Master Card and Visa have now fixed this. All you need to do is enter, at the gas pump, the numerical digits from your Canadian Postal Code and add 2 zeroes at the end.  For example, if your Canadian Postal Code was N2P 4S6, then the Zipcode to enter would be 24600.  Please note that some gas stations have totally disabled this capability for international credit cards, so you would need to go inside to prepay for your gas.
  • If you are into retirement magazines, like, there is an excellent article in the Nov 2014 issue which talks at length about the “New Rules for Snowbirds” and how much time Canadians can spend in the USA.

These are just a few hints and tips I have learned and I am sure you might have even more to share.  Please do so and share them as comments to this post.

The Retirement Countdown

As year end approaches and with the holiday season upon us, there is a huge sense of excitement in the air.  This is a time for family and friends to rejoice and reconnect.  It may also be a time when many have chosen to spend their last few days at work before they retire and recharge into that new chapter of their lives.

Trust me, the countdown to these last few days of work probably started about 365 days ago.  Some will have countdown counters set up on their workstations to remind them every day.  Nevertheless, as the “big day” approaches, there is both a sense of relief and anticipation.  It is also a very emotional time.  Co-workers have most likely planned a retirement party for you, where some over the top speeches will be heard and some excessive drinking might take place.  You will likely be coerced into making a speech which surprisingly might be easier than you think.  After all, you knew this day was coming. You would have prepared your retirement checklist and done all of your homework well ahead of time.  You’re now fully committed to this new beginning.

The Retirement Checklist

In the back of your mind, you would have double checked your retirement preparation checklist and it might have included (to name a few):

  • The post retirement budget
  • The honey do list
  • The part-time work options
  • The mind and body activities
  • The travel plans

You’re ready.  You can do this.  Be strong.

Saying Goodbye

However, saying goodbye to all of the people you worked with, some maybe for many years, is a difficult and even awkward thing for some.  Hey, even tears will be shed.  Sure there will be the promise to keep in touch and perhaps meet up for drinks every so often. But deep down you know that several ties will be broken for ever.  It’s just simply tough to say goodbye.  But the time has finally come to pull the trigger and just say it – “I’m Retired and so help me, I promise to be Recharged”.


Understanding the Generation Gaps

Vive la différence!  As a Baby Boomer I realize how different I was from my parents and grandparents.  More importantly, one really needs to understand what their children and grand children are challenged with in today’s world.  Despite our huge socio-economic differences, we will all retire from our working lives someday and we need to ensure those days will be the most fulfilling, rewarding and satisfying ever.

It’s important to understand the differences between the various generations and how we can share our knowledge.  Depending on the year we were born, experts have labelled us as either Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y or Z.  The generation definitions have been defined by many.  The following source was from a class on “Connecting across Generations”.

Silent Generation or Traditionalists (1927-1945)

Marriage is for life; labor union generation; Korean and Viet Nam War generation; in grade school, the gravest teacher complaints were about passing notes and chewing gum in class; readers; the Big-Band/Swing music generation; strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths; disciplined, self-sacrificing, & cautious.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

The “me” generation; “rock and roll” music generation; ushered in the free love and societal “non-violent” protests which triggered violence; self-righteous & self-centered; buy it now and use credit; too busy for much neighbourly involvement yet strong desires to reset or change the common values for the good of all; the first TV generation; quite conversational & skilled vocal & writer advocates; poor on marital skills…the first divorce generation; optimistic, driven, team-oriented.

Gen X or the Busters (1965-1979)

Raised by the career and money conscious Boomers amidst the societal disappointment over governmental authority and the Viet Nam war and the scoff-law attitudes coming out of the protest times; school problems about drugs; late to marry (after cohabitation) and quick to divorce…many single parents; are iconographic…clothes labels are large & shows of caring (turning out for a worthy-cause rally) are fully sufficient expressions (while government, charities, agencies will see to the work of it); want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy; conversationally shallow because relating consists of shared time watching video movies; short on loyalty & wary of commitment; all values are relative…must tolerate all peoples; self-absorbed and suspicious of all organization; computer generation; survivors as individuals; cautious; skeptical, unimpressed with authority, self-reliant.

Gen Y or the Millennials (1980-2002)

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other instant communication technologies may explain Generation Y’s reputation for being peer oriented and for seeking instant gratification. Thrive in a multitask environment but yearn for personal relationships.  Generation Y, like other generations, is shaped by the events, leaders, developments and trends of its time. Members of this generation are facing higher costs for higher education than previous generations.

Current Gen Z or the Digital Generation (2003+)

The Internet, technology, war, terrorism, the recession, and social media shape their lives. Gen Zs are tech savvy.  Social media has connected them globally to their peers. The internet has connected them globally to knowledge.  They are bright, and their IQ scores are higher than previous generations.  They are flexible in nature and expect flexibility from institutions. They are accepting of diverse populations.

The Current Trend

Suffice it to say, changes in technology have made a huge impact on all of our lives, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. Several changes for the better, thankfully.  However, as more and more Baby Boomers retire from the workforce, they leave with knowledge and expertise that companies are finding extremely difficult to replace.  That knowledge and expertise needs to be passed along to the next generation.

Finding a mentor in the workplace can be awkward. Generation X and Y individuals will typically migrate towards the baby boomers to seek out guidance but the technology gap alone can be daunting. You need willing volunteers that want to pass on their knowledge and many baby boomers are actually eager to please. Let’s face it, the learning opportunity from a baby boomer mentor far outweighs any of the awkwardness. Furthermore, baby boomers can learn so much from the younger generations.  It needs to be a two way street.  There are so many lessons to be learned and pitfalls to be avoided.




Money Management – Lessons Learned

Managing money is not as simple as it sounds.  Manage it, or it will manage you!  The skills required to successfully manage your own money are not really taught in school, yet they are so important.  So many books have been written on this subject yet the information that is shared is tough to follow.  Gratuitous advice is provided by so many, like “Spend less than you earn, invest the rest”.  How easy is that?  Well first you have to earn more than you spend and in these tough economic times that’s not always that easy.

When you’re young and carefree, the farthest thing from your mind is saving for your retirement.  There is nothing wrong with that.  I sincerely believe one should enjoy their youth as much as feasibly possible.  You might have a family to take care of, a mortgage to payback and the typical car loan.  These are all important stepping stones in life for so many.  However, the day will come when reality sets in and some serious financial retirement planning will be required.  Some say, one should start planning and saving, to some degree, for their retirement between the ages of 27-30. The reason is – we are living so much longer than our grandparents or great grandparents.  No one wants to outlive their available income stream during their retirement years.

Some of the basic money lessons I learned that helped me meet my retirement plan goals were:

  • Lesson 1:  Minimize the debt load, pay off those credit card balances monthly, and never ever just pay the minimum balance. I can honestly say that I never once paid interest on an outstanding credit card balance.
  • Lesson 2:   Live within your means, stick to your budget. A general guideline for determining your monthly budget is to allocate 50% towards your fixed monthly costs (e.g. rent/property taxes, food, utilities, etc.).  Then another 20% towards some type of savings be it short term loan repayment or long term (e.g. retirement).  Lastly the final 30% could be used for yourself to buy clothes, entertainment etc. Download a free copy of money management software and track your expenses against your budget.
  • Lesson 3:  When you are ready and saved enough for a down payment, buy that first house/condo. Grow your personal equity value.
  • Lesson 4:  Ensure you save 10% of your earnings every month for your retirement investment plan.  Participate in your company’s matching contribution plans.  Many companies will match any contribution their employees will make to a Defined Contribution Plan.
  • Lesson 5:   Be sure to set up an emergency savings account equal to 6-8 months’ worth of your expenses.  Be prepared for that unexpected expense requirement.
  • Lesson 6: When you have saved that first $100,000, find a reliable Financial Planner/Advisor who can grow your savings through the stock market with diversified blue chip company shares which pay out healthy dividends with growth opportunities in the stock price and its dividends. Make use of all of the tax avoidance investment opportunities available. In Canada, we have Registered Retirement Saving Plans (RRSPs) and the Tax Free Saving Accounts (TFSAs). Similar offerings exist in the USA and these should be taken full advantage off, again with the guidance of an experienced and trusted Financial Planner/Advisor.  Keeping in mind, that any non-registered investments/savings, depending on your marginal tax bracket, for example, interest from Savings Accounts, Guaranteed Investment Certificates and Bonds, are taxed at the highest level when compared to capital gains or corporate dividends.  Thus all the more reason to invest in a diversified dividend paying stock portfolio.  You not only avoid paying higher income tax on your dividends you can also enjoy a 50% tax break on any capital gains you achieve if and when you decide to sell any of your preferred or common shares.
  • Lesson 7:  Real estate investment opportunities are out there but there is risk with over inflated market values, troublesome renters and unexpected maintenance expenses. However, there are Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) stocks that deal with commercial real estate investments which pay out reasonable dividends and can appreciate when real estate markets are up. Best of all, there are no calls in the middle of the night from renters.
  • Lesson 8:  Life insurance is really required when you get married and then even more when you have children. Term insurance is the right choice. Our mortality is something we all have to deal with.
  • Lesson 9:  Learn how to prepare your own tax return.  Purchase an Income Tax preparation software package and enter your own information and find ways to avoid paying tax through helpful tips and hints provided by the software. Income tax avoidance is totally legal.  Income tax evasion is illegal.  Everyone who wants to manage their own money needs to understand how much and why they pay income tax.

These are some very basic money management lessons that served me fairly well.  Granted there is always room for additional risk/reward options given your age and as opportunities present themselves these can be pursued with an open mind, again with the guidance of a reliable and trustworthy Financial Planner/Advisor.

In an upcoming blog posting, I plan to conduct an interview with my personal Financial/Investment Advisor where I will document her responses to some key questions on what’s involved in financial planning and investment advice for one’s retirement.

Let the Journey Begin

The alarm clock buzzes, it’s 6 AM and time to get up for work.  Your trip into the city is a long one.  If your driving it’s survival of the fittest.  If you’re using public transportation then maybe you’re just dreaming of the day when this whole rat race thing will end.

As the work day lingers on, whether it be meetings on top of meetings, a never ending list of emails to read and respond to, or a job jar so full, you’re ready to simply surrender.  But then your mind will occasionally wonder to that ultimate day when you will finally have a stress free life.

However, dreaming about leaving the work place for some kind of retirement is one thing. Being able to take action on that dream is a whole other matter.  In fact for many, that decision to retire is one filled with uncertainties and actual fear.  Procrastination will tend to creep in. Perhaps the most important issue that rises to the top of the “fear list” is how can one afford to retire and maintain a decent standard of living?  How long is one even able to live and enjoy that stress free life?  Could one actually outlive their retirement income stream?  All legitimate concerns.

Fear of the Unknown

Actually the first fear that one always seems to deal with is our mortality.  We all know we only have so much time on this wonderful planet and we need to use that precious time wisely. When I mention the word retirement I am absolutely not talking about old age nursing home life.  I am talking about a whole new chapter in your life.  A chapter where one can recharge and be the person you always wanted to be.  I am talking about making every day count for something.  I will post more on that subject in the future, but for now, let us deal with the financial affordability concern with retiring and recharging.


The best way to alleviate the fear of retiring is to perform some rudimentary research on what’s really involved.  There are hundreds of websites that deal strictly with the affordability question.  There are a few good books on the subject as well.  I particularly liked the book by Charles Schwab – You’re Fifty – Now What?.

If you are fortunate to have earned a pension, then “Hello Pension, Goodbye Tension”. There are so many retirement calculators out there, all you need to do is “Google” it.  The bottom line is  everything depends on how much you have saved, how much you’re going to inherit or how much your defined benefit pension will be worth at retirement.  When I performed my research into the whole affordability question, I could not believe how many so called experts had differing views on what’s actually required.  I mean 60%-80% of your current income.  Come on, that’s a huge range to factor in.   If you are or have been saving for your retirement, I cannot stress enough the importance of engaging a trusted Financial Planner/Advisor to help manage your money.   Manage it, or it will manage you!

I found the best tool to determine whether one could afford to retire, whether it be early or later, was to simply develop a monthly income vs. expense budget.  Thankfully several expenses can or will be eliminated once working life ceases and retirement begins.

In today’s fast changing corporate world, several companies are offering early retirement incentives.  The decision to retire early is not an easy one.  It’s one thing to answer the affordability question, but what about the lifestyle after retirement.  What on earth does one do to stay active and healthy?  I highly recommend reading Ernie Zelinski’s book,  “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”.  This book is filled with lots of tips to help you keep active and to live every day stress free.

The Honey Do List

I remember when I first retired and everyone warned me that just wait until your spouse gives you the dreaded “Honey Do List”.  Well it turns out that list will likely contain a job jar that only lasts about 4 months.  OK, then what?

Part-Time Work

After completing all of my “Honey Do List” in about 2 months, I decided to look for a part-time job.  There are lots of part-time jobs for the semi-retired – again just “Google” it.  But I certainly did not want to re-create another stressful part-time job situation.  After all, I was pleased to leave that life behind.  After thinking about several job opportunities, I decided my true passion was to get away from an office job and to work outside in the fresh air.  I applied to be a greens keeper at a local golf course.  After all, I was already used to getting up early for the long commute into work.  This golf course was only 10 minutes away.

What a weird feeling it was, having to develop a resume for a job I had absolutely no experience with.  After handing in my resume, I was called the next day for a job interview, sitting outside on a picnic bench where the golf superintendent asked me a few questions and boom, I was hired.  To make a long story short, I worked at that golf course for 7 years, cutting greens, approaches, tee decks, changing hole locations on the green, top dressing the greens etc.  I could not believe the joy I had, knowing that at the end of my shift, I could actually state clearly what I had achieved.  Amazing!

The transition from a working career to a part-time job made the whole process virtually seamless.  I loved every minute of it.  I highly recommend it for anyone who is thinking of retiring early.

Suggested Books to Read

How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free by Ernie Zelinski

You’re Fifty – Now What? by Charles R. Schwab 


So You’re Retiring – Now What?


For some of us, retiring has been a long desired destination.  However, we all know by now, that it’s more of a journey than a destination.  I realize that retirement is not for everyone and it’s very much a personal decision on whether to retire early or as late as possible.  Now, thanks to the internet, information and knowledge can be shared instantly throughout the world.  If you are reading this blog you are one of many who have learned that knowledge is power –  power to overcome any doubts, worries, anxiety or even procrastination.  My goal is to provide you with some of that knowledge to help you on your retirement journey that can be both exciting and fulfilling.

About the Author

My name is Vance Page, as a baby boomer, I was both anxious and worried about retiring.  So many variables to think about.  Why should I even think about retirement?  How does anyone deal with it all?  When is the best time to give up your career and start a new one?  What on earth will you do with yourself?  Who can you rely on for some direction and guidance?  Where should you move to or even move at all?

Well, after retiring early at the age of 56, I have spent the last 8 years experiencing the retirement journey and believe me I am recharged.  I would like to share these experiences with you through this blog.  Hopefully, this could help relieve some of the anxiety and worry about this whole journey.  Granted my journey will be different than yours, nevertheless, it should provide you with a benchmark of what could be expected and more importantly, a very positive feeling of things to come.

What to expect from this blog

My goal is to be as transparent as possible in the upcoming blog posts.  For example, here are some of the topics on my retirement journey that I would like to share with you:

  • The early research into what’s involved in retiring
  • The financial affordability concern and how to deal with it
  • Downshifting from work life, to part-time work, to an active lifestyle
  • Golf anyone?
  • Time is your friend – use it wisely
  • Second guessing – reliving work memories
  • Fear of the unknown
  • What about downsizing?
  • Looking into Active Lifestyle Community living
  • Keeping the body moving and the mind active
  • Meeting new people, new neighbours and making friends for life
  • Volunteer to do something, anything
  • Venture into the new and challenging
  • ….and many more

I am very excited about my venture into something new and challenging through these blog postings.  So, welcome to Retire and Recharge.  Enjoy the ride!