August 23, 2021

Ontario “Golden Girls” team up to share costs of retirement living

A group of Ontario seniors have, according to Reader’s Digest Canada, come up with a unique way of beating the high cost of retirement living.

Like the Golden Girls of TV fame, the four women – all single seniors and friends – decided to move in together and split living costs.

The four had independently begun to realize living costs were going to be tough. All were either widowed or divorced and living in “empty, too-big suburban houses.”

They also did not want to move into an expensive retirement home and live amongst strangers, the article notes.

Quoted in the article, Louise Bardwich, one of the four, began to realize that “depending on the extent of care she might need one day, a spot in a seniors’ home could end up costing her between $2,000 and $6,000 a month on average, which would quickly eat up the money she’d saved working as a college administrator in Toronto and, later, as a management consultant,” the article states.

“I thought of myself 20 years out, did the calculations and realized it wasn’t in the cards,” states Bardswich, then a widow in her 60s, Reader’s Digest reports. “I was not going to be able to afford that,” she tells the magazine.

Reader’s Digest cites that fact that a 2020 survey conducted for Home Care Ontario found that 91 per cent of the province’s seniors “wanted to age in their own home, not an institution. They also didn’t want to burden their families, calling their children every time they needed the lawn mowed or driveway shovelled.”

So in 2016, the four chipped in $275,000 each to buy a large home in scenic Port Perry, Ont., northeast of Toronto.

Ah, you may ask, recalling days of sharing apartments during college or university, what if somebody won’t play ball on the bills?

“Before they moved in, the four women drafted and signed a lengthy legal agreement to solidify the details of their co-living arrangement. They’d each pay $1,700 a month to cover property taxes, home insurance, utilities, Internet, cable, maintenance, snow removal, weekly cleaning services and the cost of food and wine, both of which they share freely. The agreement also stipulated what would happen if one of them left the house (the other women could buy her out, or she could sell her share to an agreed-upon buyer). Later on, they also discussed what would happen if someone got a boyfriend (this would be okay, so long as everyone liked him and he helped around the house),” the article tells us.

Five years later, the Golden Girls – Ontario edition — are planning for future health concerns. “We don’t know what our lives are going to look like five years down the road,” states Beverly Brown, one of the four, in the article. “It’s nice to know that there are other people around. If I took a tumble down the stairs, I wouldn’t be lying on the floor for three days waiting for my kids to figure out that they hadn’t heard from Mom.”

The article goes on to list other examples of seniors moving in together to share costs, and even consultancies that have sprung up to help aid in the process.

There’s no question that innovation is key when it comes to making ends meet in retirement. The example of the Ontario “Golden Girls” shows that there doesn’t have to be a cookie cutter approach to senior living – new ideas can make things work, and can save hard-earned retirement dollars.

Their situation underscores the need for retirement saving now, while you are still working. No one can predict the future, other than to say it will almost certainly cost more than the present. That’s a reason why the Saskatchewan Pension Plan may be a good option for you. The SPP will gather up the dollars you contribute, invest them professionally in a low-cost way with a stellar track record, and – when it’s time to see if you too will be a Golden Girl – will help you convert those savings into retirement income. Be sure to check out SPP today, as the plan marks its 35th year in business.

Join the Wealthcare Revolution – follow SPP on Facebook!

Written by Martin Biefer

Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing and classic rock, and playing guitar. Got a story idea? Let Martin know via LinkedIn.

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