Home care or retirement home? A simple cost comparison

The latest edition of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation survey into Seniors’ Housing in Alberta has been released, including vacancy rates, rents, and other data.

As home care providers in Calgary, we’re always keen to see what the overall landscape is for seniors and those about to retire wishing to move from a totally independent living lifestyle to one that includes extra support.

The latest figures on seniors’ housing

The headline figures from the CMHC survey reveal:

  • a drop in vacancy rates for standard spaces in Calgary retirement homes from 18.9% to 15%
  • demand for units up by 4% as more people require spaces
  • far fewer 2 bedroom suites available than one bedroom (560 v. 2235 in Calgary)
Average rents for retirement home spaces

Average monthly rents for standard spaces are currently:

  • $3,168 for a private or bachelor space/unit
  • $4,169 for a one bedroom standard space/unit
  • $5,345 for a two bedroom standard space/unit

The CHMC define a standard space as:

“A space where the resident does not receive high-level care (that is, the resident receives less than 1.5 hours of care per day).”

In short, more seniors are looking for limited spaces, and paying over $4,000 a month for a one bedroom retirement suite – if they can find one. So it’s no surprise that many people are looking at home care as a desirable and cost-effective way to provide the level of care they require, in the comfort and familiarity of their own home environment.

Facilities verses familiarity

Most of the retirement homes and assisted living communities in Calgary offer a comfortable environment with lots of facilities and activities included, from exercise classes to movie nights, swimming pools to snooker rooms. Most also provide up to three meals a day, and have staff on hand to help if required.

However, moving from a spacious family home to a retirement or assisted living unit will inevitably involve some serious downsizing. Comfortable as they are, most senior community buildings have very limited storage space, and much of what is familiar and loved may have to be left behind. This could also include a beloved garden or even pets, if not allowed into the new living space.

Many seniors would much prefer to stay in their own homes, if at all possible – and that’s where we can really help. Our caregivers come to your or your loved one’s home, and take care of you there, whether you need personal care, medication assistance, help with mobility or just some companionship. You can stay surrounded by familiar objects and spaces, and still get the support and help you need.

Our specially chosen Vytality Trade Partners can also help adapt your home to be more suited to your needs, from ramps and rails to help mobility, to renovated bathrooms with walk-in showers. Others can help with everyday services form gardening and snow clearance to shopping and transportation. All it takes is just one phone call to us here at Vytality and we’ll arrange everything. So you get the services you need, as our specially negotiated discount rates, saving you both time and money.

Time to talk

According to the CHMC survey, retirement homes in Alberta offer an average of 1.5hrs individual care per day. After that, it’s deemed to be heavy care, and that costs extra. Our home care services offer a minimum two hours of 1 to 1 care, plenty of time for necessary personal care plus quality interaction time. Our caregivers come in to be with you, and just you, to do what needs to be done and more importantly, what you’d like to do, from a simple chat to a game of chess! And if you want us to come for a longer period of time, or more than once a day, we can do that too. Just call us with your requirements.

Own home or retirement community: which is more cost-efficient?

We’ll be the first to say that retirement communities and retirement homes do provide a lot onsite, such as restaurants, lounges and games rooms, so much so that some have the look and feel of smart hotels. However, hotel-style living comes at a cost, as seen from the figures above. Also, most of these spaces for seniors in retirement are rented; you don’t own them as you probably own your family home. For many, that means selling the old family home to fund their new retirement home costs.

So, here are the major comparisons you might like to make when judging which is more cost-effective for you:

Rental costs

Home care allows you to stay in your own home, and so not pay the rent element of a retirement community unit or suite. So you keep the monies you have invested over the years in your home, and liberate that investment when you eventually sell, if you wish to.

Utilities and maintenance

You will need to continue to pay for utilities on your own home, including heating, aircon, water and electricity, as well as municipal taxes and home insurance. You’ll also ned to budget for maintenance and repairs, from furnace servicing to repainting your house. These costs are often included in retirement rentals.

Food costs

Wherever you live, you need to eat well and healthily. Retirement home food may not always be as good as home-made, and will inevitably cost more overall. If you don’t want to eat in one night, or skip a lunch to be with family, you are unlikely to be able to reclaim the cost of that meal. At home, you can cook what you like, when you like, or have one of our team prepare your meals for you. Or you can order in food or pop out to your favourite diner – we’ll even organise a taxi or an Uber for you.


Many retirement homes paint an idyllic picture of constant companionship and never being alone – but for some that’s just the problem! You might prefer to have company when you want it, not 24/7 regardless of whether you want it or not. Our home care package offers just the right mix of companionship and independence. So you can visit your friends or have them over for tea or beers – and if we’re coming later to visit you, we’ll even do the washing up!

How to compare care costs

There are many other factors to take into consideration, but it basically comes down to this:

  • At Vytality at Home’s current rate of $35 per hour, you can enjoy 2 hours of one-to-one care, in your own home, every day, for $1,960 per month.
  • If you live in a 2+ bedroom home that you own outright, you would pay an average of $5,345 per month to rent an equivalent 2 bedroom space/unit/suite with communal facilities, services and spaces, and 1.5 hrs average of care per day.

So, the difference in costs could be up to $3,385 per month.

Your care, your choice

In reality, care is about so much more than just dollars and cents. Many retirement buildings offer a fixed cost for a reason – it’s fixed. You can’t choose who provides your care, the time of day you receive care, or even the range of services available.

With Vytality’s in-home care, it’s always about your choice. You can:

  • choose your caregiver
  • select the times and duration of your caregiver visits
  • choose the types of services you require
  • add extra services or change timings via our app

You can even choose to have Vytality provide those extra care services if you are already in a retirement community. We can provide home care services wherever your current Calgary home may be!


at Vytality we firmly believe that having the choice of living at home in comfort is priceless – for you and all your family.

Call us for home care choices

If you’d like to discuss home care as an option for yourself, your parents or a relative, call us. We’ll visit you in your home to make an assessment, free of charge, and talk you through your personalised care plan options. You choose what’s best for you now, and if you need to change anything, we’re just a phone call or a tap on our Vytality app away!

539, 5940 Macleod Trail SWCalgary, AB