Retiring Abroad: Client Spotlight series

Milestone Wealth Management Ltd. - Nov 25, 2016
The Client Spotlight series within our Retiring Abroad posts continue.  These are responses from our very own clients who are retired and living in Canada and around the World.  We have asked them to comment on the same five topics: climate, sports..

Milestone's Client Spotlight series

The Client Spotlight series within our Retiring Abroad posts continue.  These are responses from our very own clients who are retired and living in Canada and around the World.  We have asked them to comment on the same five topics: climate, sports & recreation, cost of living, ease of access and health care. We hope this will provide some great insight into what it is truly like to retire and live in cities abroad.  


Client Spotlight #5:  Kelowna, BC and Yuma, Arizona - by Bill & Trudy

Today’s post comes to us from a couple who moved from Alberta upon retirement to just outside of Kelowna, BC.  They also spend most of their winters in Yuma, Arizona, so they are able to provide us with a perspective from two unique retirement destinations.

Kelowna Tourism

Penticton Tourism

Yuma Tourism


CLIMATE:  The weather in the Okanagan is, on average, considerably warmer than in Alberta.  The summers are hotter, spring comes earlier and the fall stretches longer - approximately one extra month on each end.  The winters in this part of B.C. are warmer than Alberta’s as well, with the normal average between –5 and +5 C.  The lows seldom get below –15 C.  The one difficulty that people from the prairies have is the lack of sunshine during the winter.  The temperatures are moderated because of the lakes that do not freeze over, but this does create valley fog.  The Okanagan will have foggy/cloudy weather from late November to late February.

SPORTS & RECREATION:  There are a wide variety of recreational facilities dotted throughout the Okanagan.  Due to the large number of seniors that live there, much of these are geared to this demographic; skiing (downhill and cross-country), curling, golf, swimming, sailing, tennis, hiking, and many others.  An example is slow pitch - from north of Vernon to Osoyoos there are 30 – 35 “fifty-five plus” teams.  Every community of course has its own array of facilities, thus the availability of these activities does vary a bit, depending on the area.

COST OF LIVING:  The cost of living is a probably bit higher in the Okanagan than in cities like Calgary and Edmonton.  Some key items:

  • Income tax: for those making less than $130,000/year,  BC is a little lower
  • BC does have a 7% sales tax
  • BC does charge a medical services fee,  $130/month for most, but less or nothing for those with income of less than $30,000
  • BC gasoline prices are always higher
  • BC has provincial auto insurance, which had previously been higher than Alberta’s average, but is likely on more level footing now.  
  • House prices in the Okanagan are relatively high, but not too much out of line with cities like Calgary. There is a 1 – 2% land transfer tax, of which potential buyers should be aware.

EASE OF ACCESS:  This of course depends on where you’ll be travelling to.  For those heading back to Alberta it is a seven or eight hour drive at minimum, but only three to four hours’ drive to Vancouver. 

For those that plan to do some flying, Penticton has a small airport for domestic fights only.  Kelowna has the only major, international airport in the Okanagan.  Driving distances to the Kelowna airport are approximately:

  • Vernon:  30 minutes
  • Peachland : One hour
  • Osoyoos: 2.5 hours 

HEALTH CARE:  Health care in the region is very good with major hospitals in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton.  Most major operations can now be performed locally.



CLIMATE:  Yuma is situated in the Sonoran desert; expect it to be hot and dry.   In late fall (mid-November), the average daytime temperature is in the 30C range, cooling off for December and January to the low 20’s.  Temperatures then climb again in February, up to the 30C range again by March.

SPORTS & RECREATION:  A lot of the recreation is specific to the park/community in which you reside.  Golf, biking and hiking are generally quite popular, and there are a handful of swimming pools open to all, but a good many other activities vary in availability depending on the park or community in which you live or are visiting.  

COST OF LIVING:  Contrary to what some claim, not everything is “dirt cheap” in Yuma.  The relative cost of things for Canadians of course varies with the currency exchange rate, but in general, items that are produced overseas are only a little less costly.  Gasoline is cheaper; some clothing is less expensive.  Food is comparable, except for the produce produced locally, which is cheaper.  Electric power is more expensive. 

Housing: this varies a lot dependent what your standards are:

  • RV’s can be parked in the desert all winter, with no services, for a nominal fee.  Parking in a RV park with full hook-up and recreational services costs from $600 to $800/month.
  • Park models (1 bed room mini homes approx. 400 ft2), permanently set up in a park, costs somewhere between $3000 to $6000/year.
  • Homes are generally cheaper than in Alberta, but can vary a great deal as well.

EASE OF ACCESS:  Yuma is roughly a three day drive from most places in Alberta.  Most people that fly choose to land in Phoenix or Palm Springs, as these tend to be cheaper.  From either of these, it’s roughly a three hour drive to Yuma.  One can fly directly to Yuma as well, but it is more expensive. 

HEALTH CARE:  Health care services are good, but everyone should have medical insurance before entering the US.  Many people cross the border to Mexico for dental and glasses.  The prices are much less than in Canada, but those who have not been to Mexico before should be aware that the hygiene and equipment standards are nowhere near what we are accustomed to in Canada.