Senior Apartments in Ottawa: The Top 10 Things to Look For

When Seeking Senior Apartments for a Comfortable Retirement, Consider These Important Details to Find the Right Place for You

When choosing a new place to live upon retirement, you shouldn’t have to settle. Everyone leads different lifestyles, and senior apartments should reflect that diversity. Whether you want to stay in and read, or go out for a game and a beer, you should have the freedom to do what you please when you please—because it’s your retirement after all, and you’ve earned the luxury to do so.

While this list of what to look for may seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember what you want for your new home, not what others think you may want or need. So when choosing senior apartments in the Ottawa area, consider these necessary factors that will help you decide if the new place is worthy to call home.

Living Expenses

Of course, you’ll need to consider the monthly costs of senior apartments to see if the expenses fit your budget. Thankfully, many places have fixed monthly costs for the rent, services, and amenities—including food—so you won’t have to worry about being hit with unexpected costs that pop up once in a while. These fixed expenses make budgeting in retirement much easier.


When choosing the location of an apartment, you should consider your personal preferences first. Here are a few of the things you can ask yourself to see if the residence suits your location preferences:

  • Is the building in a nice, walkable neighbourhood close to shopping and transit?
  • Is it located in the city, or just outside the city?
  • Are you close to family and/or friends?
  • Are there plenty of things to do and see in the area?
  • Does it have restaurants, arts, culture, and entertainment venues nearby?
  • Is it close to nature, walking, and biking trails?

Services and Amenities

The services and amenities offered should be suited to your desired interests and lifestyle. Remember, this is your retirement, so you should be able to enjoy it however you please.

Upon researching senior apartments, ask the staff these questions:

  • Are there fitness facilities?
  • What health and recreation programs are there?
  • Are there games and activities?
  • What type of dining services do they offer?
  • What type of housekeeping services are there?
  • Are there social and entertainment areas, such as restaurants, pubs, and audio-visual rooms (i.e. movie screens, projectors, theatres)?

Health and Medical

Some senior apartments in Ottawa offer medical care on site. These are especially convenient since you won’t have to travel far to seek health care. In terms of the health and medical service offered, ask:

  • Can your doctor meet with you on site?
  • Are there nurses on staff 24/7?
  • Would you have to move if your health needs changed?


If you follow a healthy lifestyle, it’s often easier to move somewhere that can nourish your interests and activities. See if there are fitness classes and wellness programs available at the residences you’re researching. If so, then you won’t have to go far to continue enjoying your healthy lifestyle. Some places are also near community centres that offer health and wellness classes and programs.


The type of food served at your new residence can make a huge difference in your overall satisfaction. You don’t want to have to eat out all the time because the dining services don’t serve what you like. Ask these questions regarding the types of food offered to see if you will enjoy the food:

  • Do they have food options for your dietary restrictions—such as specific allergies, or meat- and dairy-free diets?
  • What types of meals do they serve? (Ask to see a menu if available.)
  • What is the dining experience—individual dining or a social gathering?

Your Apartment/Suite

Since this will be your new home, you want to make sure it meets your standards of living. Just because you might be downsizing doesn’t mean you have to give up everything. Figure out if the apartment suits your lifestyle needs.

  • Can you fit your favourite belongings and furniture?
  • Do you have a kitchen?
  • Are there in-suite laundry machines?
  • Do you have your own outdoor area, such as a patio or balcony?
  • Is there a living room area to entertain guests?

Lifelong Learning Opportunities

Learning is a lifelong process, and having access to education is a great way to spend some of your free time in retirement. If you’re interested in taking lifelong learning courses, ask:

  • Do they offer courses?
  • Are the courses available on-site, or at a nearby school or community centre?
  • What types of courses are available?

First Impressions

While our first impressions may not always be 100 percent accurate, it’s important to have a good first impression of the place over a bad one.

  • What was your first impression of the building? Do you like the design and landscape? Are there security features?
  • What was your first impression of the staff? Were they friendly, helpful, and welcoming? Do they engage well with the residents?
  • What was your first impression of the residents? Were they friendly with you and the others? Did they seem to be enjoying the place?


A sense of community both inside a residence and in the surrounding area can significantly improve your quality of life, no matter where you choose to live. In regards to the communities both in and around the senior apartment complex, ask:

  • Do residents engage socially and frequently?
  • Do residents participate in activities together, and are there interactions both on-site and off-site?
  • Is there a strong sense of community amongst neighbours?
  • Is there a positive community in the neighbourhood/town/region?
  • Would you feel comfortable talking to neighbours and forming friendships?

Although this list may seem long, there may be even more things you want to look for when searching for apartments. Make your own list of everything that comes to mind and make sure to ask every question when you meet with staff. It is okay to ask a lot of questions because moving to a new place isn’t always easy, and the staff will understand. But you can make the move easier if you’re sure and satisfied with the place you’ve chosen as your new home.