If you don’t have the time to research senior housing options in Oakville and Burlington, Welcome Home Transitions has done the work for you. Learn about aging-in-place, care continuum and the types of apartments where seniors live, including information on availability and affordability.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Care continuum and its Impact on Aging-in-Place
Demystifying Seniors Apartments in Oakville and Burlington
Apartments where seniors live – Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs)
Senior Apartments for Low Income Earners in Oakville and Burlington
Over-55 Seniors Apartments
Over-55 Adult Lifestyle Communities
Given the current state of real estate market in Oakville and Burlington, many baby boomers and older adults are selling their homes and looking for senior retirement housing options that fit their changing lifestyles. Here is the information you need to know if you’re planning a move to a seniors apartment in Oakville and Burlington in 2021.
Aging-in-place simply means an older adult continues to live in their home as they grow older, as opposed to moving into a congregate living setting designed with older adults in mind. Many older adults want to live at home for as long as possible. According to a Sotheby's 2020 Generational Real Estate Trends Report, 54% of baby boomers and older homeowners with plans to sell their current home, and move to a different primary residence, expect to move into a condominium. 29% expect to move into a single-family home, while 18% expect to move into an attached or duplex/triplex unit.
When aging-in-place, many older adults hire care services, or access government-funded in-home services through their Local Health Integration Network, or a combination of both. Other types of services needed include home maintenance tasks, shopping and meal preparation, transportation services and financial-related tasks.
There is a concept known as the care continuum for older adults. This refers to having access to the necessary care services so an older adult may complete their activities of daily living (ADL). Care services range from assistance with dressing, hygiene, managing their medication to more intensive services to address mobility and cognitive challenges.
As a person progresses along the care continuum, their care needs often evolve. Given the cost of hiring in-home care services, families and older adults are faced with the reality of higher costs as care needs increase. Based on a survey of local staffing agencies, around-the-clock care services is estimated to be $6,000 per week or over $300,000 annually.
Often times, it is the prohibitive financial burden of acquiring in-home care services, and the lack of access to publicly funded support, that drive an older adult’s decision to seek alternative senior living options. Depending on the older adult’s financial circumstances, aging-in-place may not be financially viable over the long-term.
There is a lot of confusion about what constitutes a ‘seniors apartment’. For example, over-55 adult lifestyle communities and apartments, registered condominiums, life lease housing, properties operated by non-profit organizations, and housing co-operatives, are being marketed as seniors apartments. Older adults also choose properties where there are no age-related restrictions, where residents consist of singles, families and older adults, leasing a unit from a landlord or property manager.
Here’s an example of a way to explain naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs). My friend, Mary, rents an apartment in south Burlington. It’s a nice location, and she loves living there. It was worth the wait – she was on the building’s waitlist for almost five years, slowly working her way up the list before securing a market-rent unit. Because she knew it was a good fit for her lifestyle, she got on the waitlist before she retired.
One of the best things Mary says about her apartment is the number of older people in the building. It’s not a seniors building per se as there are no age-based restrictions but the majority of residents are older adults. She’s got an active social life (pre COVID-19 pandemic, that is). Joining in card games and exercise classes with other residents, walking to the nearby senior’s centre for art classes and the library. And there’s a bus stop across from her building entrance that takes her to the Appleby GO train, so she can make a trip into Toronto whenever she wants to see her city friends. She also joined the local church with her neighbour from down the hall. It’s no surprise that there’s a long waitlist as people rarely move out.
Mary’s building in Burlington is an example of a NORC. These are communities where older adults, like Mary, either remain, or move into, when they retire. They are often defined as housing developments that are not planned or designed for older adults, but which over time come to house largely older people.
Many of my clients are looking for NORCs in Oakville and Burlington. It’s important to know that finding and accessing a NORC like Mary’s is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Understanding the composition of the residents is not easily attained unless you know someone who already lives there or you're working with a senior living advisor like Welcome Home Transitions. And consistent with Mary’s experience, NORCs are highly sought after, and many have waitlists.
In Toronto, there are 489 residential buildings classified as NORCs and many more senior retirement housing properties. These communities exist in various forms and locations including neighbourhoods of apartments, co-operatives, social housing, registered condominiums, and single-family houses. In Oakville and Burlington, there are many types of senior retirement housing properties, but not all are classified as NORCs.
Some of older adults are looking for affordable senior living options. Some seniors apartments consist of market-rent units while others are a combination of both market-rent and Rent-Geared to-Income (RGI) units, also known as subsidized or assisted housing. It is very challenging to access RGI units in Oakville and Burlington due to the high demand and years-long waitlists.
RGI units generally involve a housing subsidy or benefit to qualifying households to make rent affordable. For example, the rent for an RGI unit may be a percentage of the household's total monthly income, before taxes and adjustments.
Accessing RGI housing involves an application process. In Oakville and Burlington, an assisted housing program is managed through the Halton Region agency called Halton Access to Community Housing (HATCH). Contact HATCH if you’re interested in applying for the program.
Oakville and Burlington have about 12 buildings designated for people over-55, over-60 or over-65 years, who are able to live independently. Many of these properties are operated by non-profit organizations. Some properties offer a combination of market-rent units along with RGI units. Some properties have age restrictions while others are designed to accommodate a combination of singles, families and older people.
If you’re interested in these properties, you should commence the application process as soon as possible. Some properties operate with a three-year waitlist for market-rent units (as of January 2021). Unfortunately, given the popularity of these properties, some properties have stopped accepting new applications for the foreseeable future.
Many of these adult lifestyle communities are planned and managed by a real estate developer. Often these age-restricted communities provide residents with organized activities, common areas and shared facilities. Properties may be designed with older person’s needs in mind, as well as providing easy access to amenities such as health care services. The ownership structure of these housing arrangements varies. From condo ownership, where the buyer owns their unit with monthly fees, to a life lease arrangement with indefinite usage, to a standard landlord/tenancy rental contract. My advice is to engage a qualified legal representative to review the arrangement, including restrictions on its use and sale.
Oakville and Burlington have a number of properties marketed as over-55 adult lifestyle communities. Some of these properties operate as non-regulated retirement homes providing a limited number of care services and meals to residents requiring assistance. Other properties are designed exclusively for independent living purposes.
Real estate developers are increasingly designing leasehold-type properties with baby-boomers and older adults in mind. Marketed as luxury apartments, these properties are conveniently located near major transportation networks, with high-end finishes, in-unit laundry facilities, common areas for entertaining friends and families, with large storage lockers, and underground parking, amenities top of mind for those people downsizing from their family homes.
Based on recent pandemic, there is a better understanding of the transmission risks associated with airborne viruses and bacteria. Some new developments are incorporating protections like antibacterial services and filtration systems. Properties are being designed with individual air exchangers in each unit and in common areas, continuously circulating fresh air through the ventilation system.
Oakville and Burlington have about 10 properties in the luxury category, with several built within the past five years. Market-rent reflects the increasing demand for these type of units, particularly as baby-boomers and older adults downsize from their family homes.
If you’re interested in learning more about senior apartments in Oakville and Burlington, contact Welcome Home Transitions to discuss your options today.