Although Canadians continue to retire earlier than age 65, Statistics Canada reports that a significant number of workers are not ready to leave work and settle for the stereotypic rocking chair existence that used to epitomize retirement. The median age of retirement has dropped from 64.9 years between 1976 and 1980 to 61.0 years between 1996 and 2000. However, more than 255,200 Canadians at traditional retirement age were employed at the time of the 1996 Census -- that's 1 in 13 persons in this age group. As analysis of the 2001 Census data continues, demographers expect to see this proportion increase.

A recent Statistics Canada article summed up analysis of work patterns among Canada's most seasoned workers this way: “It seems very likely not only that working seniors (those over age 65) will account for a substantial proportion of the workforce in the near future, but that they may become the rule rather than the exception."

Those working after age 65 were almost four times more likely to be self-employed than their younger counterparts. In 1996, 46% of +65 employed persons were self-employed compared with only 13% of workers aged 15 to 64. If this pattern continues, home-based businesses may become an increasingly popular aspect of retirement. As well as offering a convenient work site, home-based businesses provide credibility, income and tax deduction benefits that may allow a higher standard of living and accommodation than is common today for many retirees.

How you live and work will have a bearing on your health, level of activity and financial stability later in life. For example, Stats Can explains that “because farmers usually live where they work, they tend to stay active on their farms longer than others in the labour force...some farmers remain involved in farming with their adult children, while others may enter agriculture as a hobby after retiring from the general labour force." Occupations with workplace and time flexibility like sales and accounting are also popular with mature workers.

Instead of settling for traditional retirement housing that isolates retirees from the mainstream, you may want to stay where you are or relocate for other reasons later in life. You may want to or need to work or start a business, so considering employment choices when selecting the type of housing and location may be essential.

The growing popularity of alternative work arrangements, including self-employment, home-based businesses, flex and part-time employment and online activities, make staying at work increasingly attractive for those determined to stay active and independent. The government expects Canada's large, well-educated and aging baby boom (those born between 1947 and 1966) to fuel this trend further.

By 2012, the first wave of baby boomers will begin turning 65. By then, that arbitrary age may no longer mark an ending or a milestone in careers and employment. As work continues to play a role in all phases of life, questions about where and how we will live become more relevant. What changes will we see in housing design and home ownership in the process?

It's never too early to begin thinking about what type of housing will best support your plans for future employment or business ventures.

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