How to Retire to Canada

Always dreamed of spending your retirement in Canada? Here’s how to make it happen.

So you want to retire in Canada? The bad news is that there are no immigration programs that would allow you to simply move to Canada after you retire unless you are already a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

Most of the immigration programs are aimed at bringing young professionals into Canada, so it’s much harder to qualify for an immigration program if you’re no longer in the work force. Potential immigrants are selected based on how they can contribute to the Canadian economy, taking into account their educational background, professional experience, technical qualifications to determine employability and ability to support themselves. While this is probably discouraging, there are still some options if you’re willing to put some time and possible money into it.

Start a business

If your idea of retirement includes operating a business, then you may be able to immigrate to Canada through one of the entrepreneur or investor programs offered through the various provinces, known as the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNP). You have the option to either establish a new business venture or to purchase an existing business. These programs vary slightly between each province, but generally all require that you become an active managing partner in a new or existing business located within that province. Each require that you prove your net worth, an ability to contribute a certain amount of equity into a business, and to make a sizable deposit to that province that would be held by the government for a specific amount of time or until your business plan has been fully executed.

Financial requirements differ depending on province, ranging from a personal net worth of $150,000 to $1M. In addition to liquid assets, you would also be required to invest a significant amount of capital into your new business. As you can imagine, the more economically stable provinces require a larger investment as compared to the province with smaller economies.

Priority is given to applicants that are most qualified and thought to have the greatest potential to establish themselves in that province and to make the biggest contributions to the economy. Just because you may meet the technical requirements does not guarantee your entry into the program. The purpose of these programs is to contribute to the economy and to create jobs, so your business plan would need to address the creation of new full-time jobs for Canadians, not just for yourself or family members.

Get hired

Since it’s so difficult to qualify for immigration programs as a retiree, the best method is to plan ahead and attempt to become a permanent resident before you’re ready to retire. As a permanent resident, you can live and work in Canada and would have access social benefits like health care coverage. You can maintain permanent residency status indefinitely by living within Canada for at least two years within a five year period.

The easiest way to retire to Canada is to move there before you’re ready to retire with with a valid job offer from a Canadian employer. There are two ways that a job offer may be able to get you an invitation to Canada: with a work permit or through the Express Entry program

If you can find a company willing to sponsor your work permit or issue you a job offer, then you can move to Canada with your spouse and dependent children. Depending on your situation, you may be able to apply for Express Entry and receive permanent residency with the job offer, or you may only be able to move to Canada as a temporary worker with the work permit (though you might be eligible to apply for permanent residency status through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC) after working in Canada for a year).

While skilled worker programs typically favor young professionals, having a valid job offer will get you an additional points on your Express Entry profile. Not all jobs are created equal, so this may only benefit you if your professional experience is in specific fields:

200 Points

  • Skill Level 00: Management – high level management jobs including legislators, senior government managers and officials, and senior managers in one of the following fields: financial, communications, business servicers, health, education, social and community services or member organizations, trade, broadcasting, n.e.c., construction, transportation, production and utilities

50 Points

  • Skill Level 0: Management – almost any type of job that includes manager or supervisor in the title will qualify
  • Skill Level A: Professional – most office jobs will qualify. Often these types of jobs will require some sort of degree, but that’s not necessarily a requirement
  • Skill Level B: Technical – these jobs often require an Associate’s degree or apprenticeship of some kind.

You’ll also receive additional points if you obtained any degrees from a Canadian institution:

  • 15 points for a 1 or 2 year diploma or certificate
  • 30 points for a degree, diploma, or certificate that required 3+ years of full time study such as a Master’s, professional degree, or PhD.

These points are in addition to whatever other points you’re able to gain from your professional background, education history, language skills, and age. Your current age is an important factor, since you get less points for every year you’ve lived above 30 and zero points for age after 44.

Serious about moving?

Get the full story in our book. Find out everything you need to know about moving to Canada without an immigration attorney, from applying for residency, to getting across the border, and getting settled in your new life.

Go back to school

While it might not be your first choice, you’re never too old to go back to school. As a student at a university in Canada, you’ll be able to bring your spouse (or common-law partner) and dependent children with you to Canada during the length of your program. Once you’re accepted into a valid program at a designated learning institution in Canada, you’ll be eligible for a study permit. That will allow you to live in Canada for the length of your studies plus 6 months following the completion of the program.

During your studies, your spouse or common-law partner can apply for a work permit for the same period of time that your study permit allows you to remain in Canada. This will allow them to find full-time employment while you are living together in Canada.

After graduating from a program that is at least 8 months long, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) which will allow you to seek employment in Canada. For programs that are between 8 and 24 months long, you can get a work permit for whatever the length of your study program was for (for example, if the program was 18 months long, then you can get a work permit for no more than 18 months). For any program that lasted 2 years or more, you can get a work permit for up to 3 years.

If either you or your spouse is able to obtain a valid job offer from a Canadian employer while working legally in Canada with a work permit, you could then apply for permanent residency through Express Entry as skilled workers.

Family ties

If you are the parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, they can apply to sponsor your immigration through the Parent and Grandparent Program, which allows for only 10,000 applications per year. If you have other family members over the age of 18 that live in Canada as citizens or permanent residents, then they might be able to sponsor you through the Family Class program if they are unmarried, have no other family members in Canada, and have no living parents or grandparents.

You’re not necessarily out of luck if you aren’t related to any friendly Canadians. You could try talking your children grandchildren into immigrating to Canada through the Express Entry program as skilled workers. Once they obtain their permanent resident status, they’d then be able to sponsor you. It’s not the fastest process, but it can be done.

Your family member must promise to support you financially for 3-20 years, so they will need to meet certain income requirements, ensuring that you would not need to apply for social assistance in Canada. Depending on family size, they will need to demonstrate proof of minimum income for the previous 3 tax years:

Size of family Quebec All other provinces
1 $22,590
2 $30,495 $38,272
3 $37,650 $47,051
4 $43,301 $57,125
5 $48,192 $64,791
6 $73,072
7 $81,355
Each additional member $4,891 $8,271

Your family member must be eligible to sponsor you and none of the following conditions can apply to them:

  • Has ever received government financial assistance (with the exception of disability)
  • Defaulted on a court-ordered support order (alimony, child support)
  • Has been convicted of a violent crime, crime against a relative, or sexual offence
  • Defaulted on an immigration loan
  • Is currently in prison
  • Has declared bankruptcy and is not yet released from it
  • Has sponsored another family member for immigration but failed to financial support them

If you want to live in Canada temporarily and are parent or grandparent of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for a super visa which will allow you to live in Canada for two years. A super visa isn’t forever and you’ll have to prove that you do plan to return to your home country at the end of your eligible stay. In order for your child or grandchild to sponsor your super visa, they will need to meet certain income criteria to prove that they would be able to support you financially. You will also need to pass a medical exam and have valid Canadian insurance coverage for at least a year.

Other Options

If you don’t qualify to move to Canada, there are other countries that make it easy to retire to.

While you may not be able to make the permanent move, there are some temporary options that might work for you.

How Express Entry Works

Exactly how Canada’s skilled worker program works, including how much it cost us and the timeline for our application.

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These 9 ways will bump up your comprehensive ranking system (CRS) points without breaking the rules.


There are so many immigration pathways and scenarios, it can be confusing to figure out the best choice for you — or even what programs you qualify for.

Luckily, we have a simple quiz that will help you sort through the options.

We moved to Canada without an immigration attorney or consultant and you can, too.

Now that we’ve successfully immigrated to Canada from the US using the Express Entry program, we’ve writing the guides we wish we’d had.

Get the full story

What other prospective immigrants have said about our book,
Moving to Canada: A detailed immigration guide from two Americans who’ve done it.

If you want the step by step process on how to immigrate to Canada, here it is. I found the book easy to read, inspiring, and very informative.

Laura J.I.


Useful for getting a general overview of the process all in one place, rather than searching around the internet.

R. Marshall


This book is clearly exhaustively-researched. Each section gives detailed information on how to begin the process of moving to Canada, with super informative with real-world examples and step-by-step instructions. I found the section on health care and taxes especially informative!

Briana Rubin

We are an American couple planning our immigration to Canada through the Express Entry program. This book has been very helpful to aid us in planning and organizing all the steps and timelines for the immigration process. It also has lots of other great information about the actual moving, landing, and transitioning process. If you are a professional looking to navigate through the Canadian immigration program this book is well worth the read. We actually are using it as a reference as well, keeping pages bookmarked and using the spreadsheets and timelines, costs, etc as a model for our own documents.




A lot of the other books about moving to Canada talk about what it’s like to live in Canada, whereas this book talks about how to actually get there. A must have for anybody thinking about immigrating.



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