Key Factors When Selecting a Retirement Residence

Key Factors When Selecting a Retirement Residence

People often ask, "What are the most important things to look for when searching for a retirement home?"

The answer to this is rather difficult since there are so many factors that are so very important when searching for a new home. Many of these factors are based on personal choice and personal needs. Some residences may disagree, but there is no 'best retirement home in Toronto' or 'best retirement home in Ontario' or any other city or province. Everyone needs something different and what might be best for one person, may not be best for another. Choosing a retirement home is indeed a very personal decision and typing 'best retirement homes near me' will only give you a list of those who pay to advertise and homes in your area - there are no unbiased rating systems that would give you what you would be asking that search sentence to find.

The good news is, there are so many choices available that there will be a 'best retirement home for you' if you take the time to look around and explore senior housing in the area you want. To help you choose from the plethora of options and ensure your needs can be met, we have created a document of "Visiting Tips" containing hundreds of questions to ask and things to consider when searching for a retirement home (visiting tips for long-term care are included in that document as well). It is available in our Online Store for purchase. However, if I had to narrow it down to the three most important factors to keep in mind or questions to ask, they would be:

1. Can my needs be met now and in the future? (Change is hard for anyone. Seniors should not have to keep moving if their health declines and so you want to know how long you can stay - if a home will ask you to leave the minute you require extra care, then it may not be the place for you.)

2. Can I afford the monthly rent and the extra costs for things that are not included (TV, phone, incidentals, transportation) - and if my needs increase can I afford the costs for extra care? If you can't, then don't even look at it. It will just show you what you can't have - not what you can look at as a possibility.

3. Talk to residents and families - they are your best ambassadors - only they know what daily life is like - Do they like the home and is it meeting their needs? - why or why not? If you can't speak to any residents or families while you are on a tour, ask the administrator to provide you with references that you can call on your own.

For other ideas on questions to ask and things to consider, please see our extensive list of downloadable questions in the Online Store section of this website.

If you are looking for assistance locating a home or resources for your loved one, you can reach out to our consulting team at or visit our consulting page for more information. Our Discover 3 program offers decision-makers and seniors, an opportunity to have a professional consultant identify 3 housing solutions based on their needs. If you need more information on care options for seniors, retirement community, or long-term care visiting tips and/or if you are interested in organizing your loved one’s information using our Care Planning Workbook, visit our publications page for a list of options and downloads.
For additional questions, feel free to contact us at is Canada’s largest unbiased seniors’ housing database, offering consulting services, and both seniors’ service and housing directories for professionals, seniors, and their families.


59 other articles by Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW