MoneySense magazine says P.E.I. is one of the top 11 least expensive places in the world to retire in.
An impressive list considering P.E.I. is on that list with Costa Rica, Belize, Italy, Uruguay, France, Argentina, Vietnam, Panama, Thailand and Ecuador. According to the magazine, people can retire in any of those aforementioned locations for less than $30,000 a year.
The news was met Thursday with mixed feelings in that it is a blessing and a curse.
Linda Jean Nicholson, executive director of the P.E.I. Senior Citizens Federation, says it’s a double-edged sword.
“I was pleasantly surprised, of course, because we know we’re senior-friendly. Now the world knows,’’ Nicholson said.
“It’s wonderful to know that we’re senior-friendly . . . but we do have our challenges with meeting the needs of our current seniors and we don’t want to increase that challenge.’’
The challenge Nicholson refers to is that if the demand for affordable seniors housing is noticeable now, imagine what it will be like as baby boomers move into their elderly years and with the attention media such as MoneySense magazine give it.
After attending a meeting recently of provincial and territorial ministers responsible for seniors, P.E.I.’s Community and Services and Seniors Minister Valerie Docherty emerged saying seniors’ housing was a prevailing concern and the ministers are keen to work with the feds to address it.
Time is a factor, too. The federal-provincial affordable housing agreement, which provides assistance to seniors, people with disabilities and low-income families, expires in March 2014, and the ministers are looking to Ottawa to renew it when it does.
The P.E.I. government is having a hard time keeping up with demand. Some 718 Island seniors are waiting for housing, mainly in Charlottetown and Summerside.
“We can’t afford to have an increase at this point and time so I would call (the news) a double-edged sword,’’ Nicholson said.
Charlottetown developer Kelvin McQuaid sees it as an opportunity, one his family is trying to help fill with the seniors-friendly projects at the former Sherwood Greens property.
“Demand is going to go up and demand is really strong right now. I think that P.E.I. is starting to put a better product on the market all the time,’’ McQuaid said.
The multi-phase project the McQuaid’s are working on offers pre-assisted living, assisted living, conventional housing and community care.
“A lot of our competitors are doing the same thing, a really good job with their accommodations. I think P.E.I. is starting to have a really good reputation for having excellent accommodations.’’
McQuaid points to Andrews lodges in Charlottetown, Stratford, Summerside and Montague as examples of existing quality accommodations.
“We think the demand is going to be really good. A lot of new units are coming on the market so I don’t think it will be a problem to fill them.
Docherty told The Guardian recently that creating more structures could create problems down the road.
“The fear, of course, is we’re going to peak, but then we’re going to start to come down, and in 30 years’ time, we don’t need all these empty buildings, if we can help it,’’ the minister said.