20 Reason to Retire
Illustration by Darryl Funk.
Quiet, Beautiful Spaces
A quiet neighbourhood means more to a satisfying retirement than you might have thought. Research shows that people can get used to an ugly street or even cold weather—one US study showed that people in Minnesota are happier than people in Florida. What can ruin the sunniest climate, however, is the noise of traffic, neighbours or industry. Finding a quiet place isn’t that hard in Saskatchewan, even if you want to live in a large town or city.
OK, the people living next to Mosaic Stadium might have to be excepted here—but only for part of the year.
A Place to Fulfill Your Purpose
Monumental stone walls, massive gardens, architectural oddities and wonders—this is what retired people get up to in Saskatchewan. Grand exhibits aren’t for everyone, of course. Some retirees spend their energy on philanthropy, art, or even political activism.
Experts in retirement say that identifying the purpose or purposes you will have after your career is vitally important. Even if not being at home very much—say for international travel—is part of your plan, Saskatchewan is an excellent home base. Well connected airports take care of that. The costs of establishing a retirement base in our province can be significantly less than elsewhere which can leave more of your resources for personal pursuits.
In fact, the many “retired” people in Saskatchewan are the subjects of so many Prairies North stories. I have a few ambitious projects myself lurking in the back of the shed for a later day.
Clean Air to Breathe
Everyone loves clean, fresh air. Saskatchewan’s agricultural landscape has a reputation for its pure air and despite changes to farming techniques and increases in natural resource exploitation, this is still a reality.
According to a Heart & Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan report from 2008, our province enjoys significantly purer air than our neighbouring provinces. By the Foundation’s rigorous standards, we score a “B” for our air compared to our neighbours who score in the “D” to “F” categories.
OK, don’t be smug—they’re still our neighbours.
New Zealand has been celebrated as having the best air in the world. A World Bank research project in 2008 compared air quality around the world by measuring atmospheric particulate matter in major centres. Saskatchewan showed very similar high quality air to that of New Zealand.
It shouldn’t be too long before we can grow kiwis here, too.
Overall, Canada is one the best countries in the world for air quality and the prairies are at the top of the list for good air—and that even includes our cities.
Easy Access to Things You Like
Churches, community centres, parks, favourite places to shop and many other things that make retirement enjoyable need to be easily accessible. When choosing the community that will suit your retirement preferences, it will not be hard to find one in Saskatchewan that makes getting where you need to be quite easy.
Of course, this is Saskatchewan. People love to get out and are slightly hardier than most when it comes to getting to a social event. I was invited to a Shrove Tuesday supper by one of our senior readers in the depths of winter not long ago. She and a church full of her friends were undaunted by the cold. Who could resist making it for sausages and pancakes when it’s -20?
I’m starting to think that cottage communities are going to become a stronger political voice than the cities in this province. Maybe the best thing we could all do is make our move to the lake now instead of waiting. Word is getting out that the last refuge for cottage areas where you can truly get away from the noise and bustle of everyday life is right here in Saskatchewan.
Where else can you still buy into cottage country for less than the price of a new car?
The Right Pace
It is common to hear people celebrate the “slower pace of life” that you’ll find in Saskatchewan. And that’s fine and dandy if that’s what you want. But if you want things to move quicker that is up to you. Saskatchewan seniors are extremely active.
There is, of course, a time and a place for the slow pace—say, talking to a neighbour in the middle of Main Street with your respective engines shut off so you can hear each other. Others will simply wave and move around. Road rage here is when you spill your coffee in your lap.
Contact with close family members is considered a significant factor in overall wellness as people age. Recent trends in Saskatchewan suggest that more young people are finding good reasons to come back to Saskatchewan to build careers and raise families. Retirees can look forward to seeing more family nearby as our economy grows.
Being free to work, sell the products of your labour and move from place to place as you like can’t be under-estimated. Recent reports from the federal government indicate that some significant changes are coming for seniors across Canada. For many seniors, withdrawing from the workforce at 65 is not attractive or desirable. That choice, it seems will be in the hands of individuals. With the need for capable, experienced people in the workforce, part-time or full-time work can be a profitable option.
Health benefits from gardening are well-documented. Properties, both urban and rural, with ample room for gardening are abundant. Community gardening, and beautification projects also bring people of all ages together to work and create community.
There is never a shortage of fresh produce, in the city or in the country. The old joke about zucchini harvest season being the only time we lock our car doors in Saskatchewan—for fear of receiving “gifts” of the veggie—is quite nearly true.
The “locavore” movement has blossomed in Saskatchewan in the last decade. Farmers’ markets across the province sell nutritious local food.
One of the main reasons people want to move to tropical or semi-tropical countries is the exotic food in those places. Saskatchewan is starting to produce new fruits as well as cheese and meat products that are worth hanging around for. Sylvain Charlebois and Chris Yost, professors at the University of Regina, wrote a recent report showing that Canada ranks fifth out of the industrialized nations for food safety.
Affordable land is attracting a whole new generation of entrepreneurial farmers to Saskatchewan so you can expect more high quality food in our culinary future.
Besides, everyone knows perogies were perfected here.
I have met several local farmers complaining of sore muscles these days. There is nothing too unusual about that except that the discomfort is being caused by yoga and massage. Walking programs, curling bonspiels and even hockey for more mature players seem to be growing in popularity.
And you never have to travel too far to find some kind of dance lessons taking place. Ethnic and contemporary instruction is pretty accessible.
A 2011 ranking of 180 cities in Canada placed Regina at 28th for its arts and culture presentation.
I’d argue that. The world’s best performers come here and we get to see them in small venues with small, respectful audiences. Intimacy means a great deal.
Saskatchewan as a whole enjoys a remarkable diversity of music, dance, visual art as well as food and ethnic celebration. Cities and small towns not only attract the most talented performers, they produce them.
Saskatchewan lies deep inside a large zone in the northern great plain that scientists have identified as a disaster safe area. Earthquakes, life-threatening floods, disease outbreaks and terrorist attacks are highly unlikely here.
Violent crime statistics are, thankfully, on the decline in Saskatchewan.
Quality of Government
No, this does not mean that you like the current administration. It means that the law is upheld, your property is secure and when you double-park so you can get into the Tim Horton’s lineup faster, you have the courts before whom you can argue that it was an emergency. They’ll understand.
For whatever reason, we are always surprised to learn that 75 percent of the world can’t be sure their government won’t change the law when it suits them.
Blossoming Local Wines
Wine—yes, wine moderately consumed—is considered by most cultures a health-enhancing part of a diet. Many people even take that seriously enough to look for a wine-producing region to which they can retire. Saskatchewan can now be added to that list of regions.
Though fruit wines have in the past gained a poor reputation, our vintners have brought their craft into a highly respected realm. Some are even blending grape wines to add to their collection of saskatoon berry, cherry or rhubarb varieties. Fruits that are extremely high in antioxidants—these are the cancer fighting, age-defying substances found in high-altitude, Mediterranean wines—are also being grown for wine in Saskatchewan.
As orchardists continue to experiment with fruits that are new to the prairie and grapes that haven’t been tried here before, the selection of local wines will expand. And wine tours, which will also increase as new wineries spring up, will follow.
It’s hard to find an optimistic outlook on health care anywhere these days. For a retiree in Saskatchewan, the statisticians who are generally locked away in windowless rooms in nameless buildings have a bit of good news.
Regionalization—the ongoing process that has brought us larger health facilities in fewer centres—is helpful. Dr. Lynn Sibley, who works with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, says this shift to larger centres just means a necessary shift in where you choose to live. Being close to a regional centre, a city like Yorkton or North Battleford, for example, is a good choice. This can still allow you to be in the country or, in some cases, even at the lake.
Is this the time to re-tell the story of how in 1995 I suggested fleets of helicopters to service Saskatchewan residents’ health care needs? People laughed then.
A Community for Volunteers
Saskatchewan runs on volunteers, people say. And many of them are seniors. Studies have been done on the effects volunteering has on people and the results are good news—though they will hardly be surprising for people who regularly give their time. Volunteers tend to weigh less and to stand a lower likelihood of suffering a heart attack. Communities of every size welcome volunteers and the opportunities are varied enough that everyone can find something they like.
Now is a good time to think about the kind of housing you will need in Saskatchewan. Housing starts in 2011, particularly in various kinds of multi-dwelling construction, were up by 43 percent in early 2011 over the year previous—the second highest increase in Canada.
Saskatoon and Regina saw increases of 168 percent and 106 percent respectively. Multiple unit construction rose 87 percent in June of 2011 over the year previous.
This trend in new housing is creating more options in a province that still has one of the lowest housing costs in Canada—$251,000 on average compared to the $365,000 nationally.
We’ve known for a long time that being in natural spaces is connected to longevity. Saskatchewan’s cities are relatively small by comparison providing quick and easy access to nature for birdwatching, hikes, or photography. Birdwatching is a good one—we have more than 200 species of birds here!
Heck, in my experience living rurally, nature (in the form of wild creatures) can want to live a little too close!
Retirees can take time to study subjects they care about. With two universities and well-established colleges, courses are available in almost every community, small or large. Time to get that PhD!