Although it’s highly likely you’re downsizing when moving into a retirement residence, it doesn’t mean you can’t bring things with you or still personalise your space. Here we talk of what that space could look like and include:

  • Size of Space: while suite sizes in retirement homes can be more than 1000 sqft, they’re few and far between. More than likely, you’re looking at a studio (a contained living and sleeping space like a hotel room) being an average of 330 sqft. Some homes have smaller than that at under 200 sqft, and some studios are 600sqft plus. One bedrooms can be as small as 480 sqft, or as large as 850 sqft. All private suites come with closet space, a bathroom, and some boast balconies, patios and kitchenettes. It’s super important to remember that your suite in a retirement home is not where you’re to spend 24 hrs of your day! It’s not like an apartment building where every tenant has their own space and that is it. In a residence, the whole home is your home, and your suite is for sleeping, personal hygiene and maybe when you want to watch your favourite TV show. The home’s amenities and common spaces are also yours – so take advantage of the gardens and the sun lounge; of the library, Chapel and theatre. You’ll be having your meals in the dining room and there will always be social programming to enjoy.

  • Inclusions: Your suite will more than likely be unfurnished if you’re moving in permanently. While there are some occasions when you can rent furniture, or the residence may loan you some items initially, you’re generally expected to bring your own bits and pieces. A general rule of thumb for a studio space is; single bed (sometimes a double or queen depending on space), a bedside table and lamp; a dresser and a television, and an easy chair. Again, depending on space, you may also fit a bookcase or a chest of drawers and maybe a dinette set. Standard inclusions will be blinds, a call bell system, grab bars in the bathroom, a thermostat for heat or AC that you can control the temperature, and a sprinkler system. Flooring is more often than not now a linoleum or laminate covering that is very aesthetically pleasing and more sanitary than carpet. Those homes that do still have carpets are switching them over, but if you prefer carpet, you can ask if they have any options available.

In larger studios and one bedroom spaces that are on an independent floor, it’s very common to have a kitchenette, and a handful of homes have full kitchens. Kitchenettes will include counter space, cupboards, usually a sink, microwave, bar fridge – or again, some offer full size fridge/freezer. You wouldn’t bring pots and pans, but some flatware and plates and cups. You can also bring a coffee maker, kettle and a toaster as they are automatic shut off. In a one bedroom, you’re going to get a sitting/living area and then a separate bedroom. You’ll be able to bring more furniture and may have a couch or loveseat, a separate chair, a coffee table, a sideboard, books case…

Don’t forget in any space, you can personalise it further; pictures on the wall, plants, sometimes ahead of a move in you can ask for a change of wall colour, as long as you agree to pay the cost of reverting it to the standard light grey/cream when you leave. The one thing you don’t want to bring though are area rugs as they are trip hazards and not recommended.

  • Be innovative: Don’t forget that even if you’re in a much smaller space, you can store upwards as well as outwards! Use wall space where you can, and also make use of perhaps corner spots where a piece of furniture can’t go but where shelving could. In the main closet or bedroom closet, there is often sheving, but if there isn’t, Ikea has some budget friendly options for cube storage that you could incorporate. As well, an innovative piece they also sell is labelled as shoe storage but we know many people who use this to store magazines, papers, bits and bobs that need a place, but you don’t want them to clutter up your surfaces. Here is the example.

  • Bathrooms: Unless you’re opting for a semi-private room where you’ll share room space, as well as a bathroom with another, all suites come with a private bathroom. Their size, much like room size will differ, as will appearance. Some may have raised toilet seats and walk-in showers with built-in seating. Some may have cut outs, where there is a slight step into a ‘tub’ but it’s no longer a bath. All should have grab bars by the toilet and in the bath. Sinks may be enclosed in cupboards, but others have nothing beneath, making it easy to come right up to if you’re in a wheelchair or using a walker. Some may also have sliding pocket doors so there is no physical opening in or out with a regular door, which can also make for a bigger area.

However, one of the biggest things that is not always thought of, is the turning circle area within a bathroom space. Is there sufficient room to easily move a wheelchair or a walker around safely, allowing you the ability to access what you need while using your support aid?

If you’d like more details on suite options, sizing, pricing and availability, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 613-421-6073 or