Communities in Essex County Enjoy ‘Southern’ Lifestyle
By ELLEN ASHTON-HAISTE
Forever Young News

When you have seven months of really great weather and five others that aren’t too bad, it doesn’t get much better for active retirees, says Murray Johnson, a resident in Cooper’s Mill adult lifestyle community at Belle River, Ont.

And, when you can sell your house in one of Canada’s major metropolitan areas and buy a comparable one for half the price, that’s attractive, particularly in the current economy, says Phill Young, who relocated from Edmonton to the town of Lakeshore, just outside Windsor, three years ago.

These are just a couple of reasons the Windsor-Essex County region, with its half-dozen adult lifestyle communities, is becoming a magnet for Canadians across the country looking for an ideal retirement home.

Indeed, the moderate climate in Canada’s southernmost region – on the same latitude as northern California and Rome with average above-10 C temperatures 223 days a year plus 2,000 hours of sunshine annually – and reasonable housing prices – Conference Board of Canada and CMHC surveys have found it among the most affordable in the nation – are major drawing cards for retiring boomers, says Krista Del Gatto, executive officer with the Windsor-Essex County Real Estate Board.

In fact, a coalition of the real estate board, local home builders association and Chamber of Commerce has been actively promoting the region as a retirement destination, under the brand “100-mile peninsula” and with a website at retirehere.ca. Since its 2008 launch, the initiative has recruited more than 500 households, most in the 50-plus demographic.

Other drawing cards include proximity to the U.S., waterfront lifestyle – the region is bordered by the Detroit River, Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie, and a plethora of friendly welcoming towns, all just a 15-minute drive to big-city amenities, Del Gatto says.

“There’s a variety of things we can do and places we can go within a very short distance,” Young says. “There’s a lot of activities, golf, wineries, fruit and vegetable growers. It’s an area that’s very pretty with all the water. The pace is slow. Crime isn’t a major issue. The quality of life here, particularly as a retiree, is really wonderful.”

There are also several active adult lifestyle communities and more being planned, Del Gatto adds.

  • Cooper’s Mill is selling in its final phase of what will be 150 maintenance-free, one-floor ranch townhomes on Lake St. Clair, walking distance to the beach and marina.
  • Seven Lakes Estates is being built around the 18-hole championship golf course, with detached homes backing onto the fairways and semi-detacheds offering course views from the front. The homes have great curb appeal with recessed garages and designs conforming to urban building guidelines, says sales representative Vince Pupatello.
  • Another golf community is Fairways at Pointe West, at Amherstburg, a collection of ranch-style homes backing onto the course.
  • The Villas at Hillside Park is a neighbourhood of ranch homes within the city of Windsor but surrounded by acres of lakes, woodlands and parks, with walking trails just steps from the backyards.
  • Eastgrove Village, a community of townhomes at Leamington, is one of the oldest adult lifestyle communities in the area, now sold-out of new homes but touting potential resales.
  • Boblo Island, the one-time famed amusement park in the Detroit River between Amherstburg and Grosse Ile, Mich., is now a marina-resort community that’s a popular retiree destination, offering a choice of attached and detached homes and condominiums.
Loving the Lifestyle at Cooper’s Mill

“Neighbours look after neighbours” at Cooper’s Mill.

So says Murray Johnson, a seven-year resident of the adult lifestyle community in Belle River. “You’ve always got somebody to look after your property if you go away for the winter.”

The Johnsons moved to Cooper’s Mill to get into a single-floor home. But, once there, people were the bonus.

“It’s marvelous here … there are just wonderful people. It’s an amazing community.”

There’s no clubhouse yet – though Johnson, current president of the Homeowners Association, hopes that’s in the future – but a Good Neighbours Club, up the street, fills the bill.

“The girls go and exercise. We’re there for dinners. There’s cards every day. It’s like our clubhouse,” Johnson says.

“The people here are all doing the same thing. We’re mainly retired. We were looking for something like this.”

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