So you’re coming up to your 60s, the kids are gone, the mortgage is paid off and that nest is feeling pretty empty. Someone mentions a retirement community and you shudder: Nursing care, no privacy and enforced group activities? No thanks!
That’s where Cottonwood Manor comes in. The condo was built in the mid-’90s as an alternative to the usual seniors’ communities. “It was the idea of Bill Anhorn and Bob Perry, two of the most determined individuals you can imagine,” says Manager Doug Dickson. Their plan? To create affordable housing for independent retirees, and place a community centre – the North Shore Community Centre – on the same site.
“It allows for everyone to engage on their own terms,” explains Dickson. “We’re essentially a condo building for seniors – we don’t offer nursing, catering or housekeeping though of course, you can arrange for those things. But if you feel like coming down for coffee or cards, come down – there are a lounge and library. If you’re stuck for something to do, go to the community centre and see what’s available. The Kamloops Adult Learners Society offers a lot of courses at the Community Centre – everything from a literature series on Dante’s Inferno to fraud prevention, plus the Centre holds exercise classes like yoga and Zumba. The courses are open to the public so you can develop a wide circle of friends of all ages. You get to participate and socialize while retaining your independence, privacy, and own space.”
There are 144 one- and two-bedroom condos, ranging from 790 sq ft to1,300 sq ft. 120 are owned and 24 are for rent, with 19 of those reserved for lower-income seniors. Every unit has extra storage space, dishwasher, fridge, stove and air conditioner. Owned units have washer and dryer too, while for rentals, there are coin-operated laundry facilities on site. Each condo has a balcony or patio, many with views of the Kamloops scenery.
Dickson believes that as well as the community aspect, Cottonwood’s great advantage is its location. “We’ve got pretty much every amenity you could want within two blocks: grocery stores, restaurants and banks, and it’s flat and easily walkable. We’re also close to nature – a lot of our residents walk down to McArthur Island every day for exercise,” he says.
Condos don’t come up for sale or rental often, so Dickson says the best thing to do is become a member of the cooperative at a cost of $250, which allows you to join the waitlist. If you’re no longer interested in Cottonwood, you can cancel your membership and be refunded $200.
“We have many long-term residents here – a few have been with us since we opened,” says Dickson. “It’s a real testament to Cottonwood Manor that around 50 per cent of our residents move here because of word of mouth – to live near friends who are already enjoying happy retirements with us.”
5 ways to enjoy the retirement you want
Words of wisdom from Doug Dickson, Manager of Cottonwood Manor and the North Shore Community Centre.
1. Plan ahead
Great retirements don’t happen by accident. As well as all the legal, financial and logistical planning, you need to consider where you want to spend your post-work years. Sought-after locations like Cottonwood Manor often have long waitlists. “For our condos, I recommend you become a member of the cooperative at a cost of $250, which allows you to join the waitlist. If you’re no longer interested in Cottonwood, you can cancel your membership and be refunded $200,” says Dickson.
2. Ask around
Chances are you have friends who are ahead of you on the retirement journey, so check out what they’ve planned, where they’re living and if they like it. Fifty per cent of Cottonwood Manor residents moved there because of a personal recommendation – a testament to how happy the community is.
3. Think about what level of support you’ll need
Most retirees these days are in good health, and don’t need or want a conventional facility with nurse support and catering – they simply want to downsize their homes and enjoy being part of a community. Cottonwood Manor is for exactly those kind of retirees. Residents have their own private condo units, but the building offers plenty of opportunities for socializing should the residents feel like it. The North Shore Community Centre is on site, offering a wide range of classes and courses – everything from literature and quilting to Zumba and nature appreciation. It’s open to the public, so you’ll get the opportunity to meet even more people of all ages and backgrounds.
4. Consider how far you can downsize
Your current home may be large and sprawling, but chances are when you retire, you’ll want something smaller, perhaps without the commitment of maintaining a garden. The 144 condos at Cottonwood Manor range from 790 sq ft to1,300 sq ft. A mix of one- and two-bedroom units, 120 are owned and 24 are rentable, with 19 of those reserved for lower-income seniors. All have extra storage space, dishwasher, fridge, stove and air conditioner. Owned units have a washer and dryer too. Each has a balcony or patio, many with views of the Kamloops scenery.
5. Remember, location, location, location
Dickson thinks Cottonwood Manor offers the best of both worlds in terms of location: a couple of blocks from amenities like grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, and banks, but also close to nature – it’s walking distance from McArthur Island. The terrain is flat, so regardless of your age or mobility level (residents at Cottonwood Manor range from their 60s to their 90s), you can get to where you want to go.
Cottonwood Manor is at 730 Cottonwood Avenue. For more information, visit Cottonwoodmanor.ca, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 250-376-4777.