Retirement in Canada vs. the USA: A comparative look

This is a big week for North America. This past Monday, July 1, was Canada Day, commemorating the 146th birthday of Canada, and this Thursday, July 4, is Independence Day, recognizing the 237th birthday of the United States.

These two countries, joined by history, geography, language and culture, are allies and friends, but some differences remain. In commemoration of the national birthdays of both Canada and the United States, has prepared a statistical report comparing the state of retirement in both countries.

How do Canada and the U.S. compare for retirees?Canada, with a population of about 35 million, has an estimated 5 million citizens aged 65 and older, representing about 14 per cent of the population. The United States, with an overall population about nine time greater at 315 million, has about 42 million people aged 65 and older, representing slightly less, or around 13 per cent of the overall United States population.

In terms of life expectancy, a Canadian can expect to live to just under 81 years old, while their American counterpart is likely to live slightly less, to about 79.5 years old.

When it comes to pensions, Canada has received high grades for its government-sponsored retirement funds, being ranked sixth in the world, and the United States was slightly behind, ranked in ninth place overall.

On the health front, while the passage of the Affordable Care Act – popularly known as Obamacare – has stoked an internal debate in the United States about the nature of the health care system in that country, and its comparison to Canada.

However, data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows neither Canada nor the United States as being first-class health care providers. The WHO ranks Canada’s health care system 30th in the world, compared to the United States, which ranks 37th globally.

But comparing retirement in Canada and the United States is more than just a matter of numbers and spreadsheets. The biggest question any Baby Boomer and prospective retiree must ask themselves is where they want to retire.

Many retirement rankings have claimed Central American countries are the best spots to spend the golden years, but the lifestyle of an expatriate is not for everyone, so a discussion with a retirement advisor and family members is the most appropriate first step.