Carefree renting vs. costly home ownership: When senior living makes sense!

Property assessments were recently mailed out to BC home owners, and many BC residents saw a dramatic jump in value that’s likely to lead to higher property taxes this year. It’s not the only rising cost for home ownership: everything from mortgage rates to groceries to utilities have been affected by inflation.

For seniors on a fixed income, even a small change can have a big impact on the monthly budget. And those costs are inspiring some seniors to consider alternative living arrangements.

“Last year I made the decision to explore senior independent living. I took a tour of Berwick and was impressed with what I saw and could see myself living here,” says Sally Heather. “When we discussed the monthly rates I wasn’t sure if I could afford it. I was given a package outlining all that Berwick provided including a form where I could outline my current expenses and compare them with what I would pay at Berwick. Much to my surprise, I found that what I was currently paying was more than what I would pay at Berwick. I have since been able to save money each month. It was certainly the right decision for me.”

All-inclusive resort-style living

With its stunning architecture, spectacular location, expert staff and plentiful services, you might assume that Berwick is outside the average senior’s budget. But a quick look at the numbers may surprise you.

“When you consider everything that’s included, the monthly rent at Berwick Retirement Communities is actually very affordable,” says Lesley Sikorski, Director, Sales & Marketing at Berwick Retirement Communities.

Remember — once you move into Berwick you’ll no longer have to pay for basic cable, internet, heat and electricity, because they’re all included in your rent. Right now you may have a gym membership or pay for weekly fitness classes, but those are included in your Berwick rent as well. And of course there won’t be any property tax surprises, Strata fees or insurance premiums either.

“For me moving to Berwick was never a consideration. I had always owned my own home and that is what I planned to do when I moved to Berwick. After I investigated the Berwick advantages, I decided I would try it and now it would be difficult for me to consider making a change,” says John Bertagnolli. “At Berwick I have my meals, my housekeeping, my laundry service and most importantly I have found a building full of new friends I can visit with while enjoying the exercise room, the coffee breaks and the many other advantage of retirement living. Berwick has changed my lifestyle – for the better!” 

As we age, many of us hire help for things like house cleaning or landscaping. Some seniors increase their food budget to accommodate pre-made meals, take-out or meal delivery, or start taking taxis to medical appointments. At Berwick all of those things are covered — the Berwick About Town Car can take you to appointments, the Red Seal Chefs prepare nutritious meals seven days a week, and fresh linens are delivered to your suite every week.

“I moved in July into one of the larger two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites. I , too, did the math, and the totals were so close! If I had chosen a smaller suite, I’d be saving even more. And there are so many activities going on that I am sure I’m saving money over those as well,” says Glennis Zilm.

‘Like a cruise ship’

 Take a closer look for yourself! Examine the detailed cost breakdown of all that’s included in your Berwick rent and contact Berwick to get a cost comparison form to do your own number crunching. Click here to access our cost comparison form:18594 Berwick Parksville Insert Sheets – Jan2023 Update

“I moved into Berwick in July 2020. This was done after considerable research and number crunching to convince myself that it was do-able, considering my pension, my savings, the sale of my condo, and the savings of the monthly cost of taxes, utilities and condo fees,” says Norm Woods.

“After two and a half years, I’m convinced that I made the right decision. Independent Living means I’m free to come and go as I wish. I’m still living alone but there are always fellow residents close by to chat and socialize with. The best part: everything in provided in the monthly rent including all meals, utilities, weekly cleaning and laundry service. It’s like living on a cruise ship without being on the water. Granted, the rental costs do increase each year but usually in line with taxes and living costs associated with owning and maintaining one’s own home.”  

Ready to learn more? Staff and residents of Berwick are always happy and proud to show off their home. To book a tour, click on the location you are interested in and fill out our contact form! Follow Berwick on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates!

People of Berwick – Catching up with Berwick Qualicum Beach Executive Chef Joe

#People of Berwick – In the Kitchen with Joe Thomas, Executive Chef Berwick Qualicum Beach

When Joe Thomas moved to the Oceanside Community of Parksville, BC in September 2022, he was looking for a job where he could make a difference. Recognizing his passion for working with older adults and his talent in the kitchen, he was compelled to apply at Berwick Qualicum Beach. In just four short months as Executive Chef, Joe has already had a significant impact on the community, elevating the dining experience for the residents and creating a kitchen culture that is described as creative, fun, motivating, and positive.

Joe’s values of putting the customer first and respect always, have made him an easy fit for the Berwick family.  From the moment he walked into the Berwick kitchen, he instilled an attention-to-detail culture that has not only enhanced the dining experience for residents but created a sense of pride in the team. Britta Newmann, General Manager of Berwick Qualicum Beach says “Joe walks the talk! He follows through on his commitments to the residents, staff, and management team. His sense of humor lightens the most challenging situations.“ His leadership style has allowed the food services team to develop great pride in their work which shows in the plates they are serving. Joes describe his team as “dedicated and fun” and praises their “ability to maintain professionalism and standards in the kitchen at all times.”  

When asked what the most unusual part of working at Berwick Qualicum Beach as Executive Chef is, Joe said “Cooking for the same people every day, twice a day. It keeps you on your toes.” Berwick Qualicum Beach has 113 Residents who enjoy the daily choice a of variety of dining venues with grab-and-go, Bistro, and Dining Room options. Joe stays motivated by continuing to be relevant with culinary trends and implementing as much as possible into what the kitchen team produces at Berwick Qualicum Beach. To date, the Christmas in Paris-themed dinner has been his favourite event to create a menu for, “from the brie and cranberry tart, the Duck Confit, and the crème Brulee for dessert. It was an amazing night.”

These large-scale events come together with teamwork from all departments. It is evident in speaking with the team at Berwick Qualicum Beach that Joe’s leadership shines through at these theme events, not just in the meal creation but in the entire event process. Lyndsey Booth, the Director of Hospitality, says “We work well together; we bounce ideas back and forth and ultimately come up with the best goal for the success of our team. We often laugh and are constantly teaching one another.” Krysta Robins the Community Relations Manager told us “Joe brings energy and passion to the team. His connection and visual presence have created an engaging dining experience for our residents.”

Not only does Joe enjoy creating an elevated food and meal experience each day for the residents, but he also has a passion for coaching, developing, and mentoring his staff as well as building connections with the residents. His fellow chefs in the kitchen say that he “brings a positive attitude, an elevation in food quality, support of his staff’s growth and development,” and that they appreciate the change in the culture he has created, “more of a sense of ease, a fun environment.” Further to the positive impact joe has had on his staff, Sheri says “Joe is often seen in the dining room, talking with residents. He’s always open to feedback and follows through with requests from residents on things they would like to see on the menu.” This has gone a long way in developing a strong sense of trust between food services and the residents.  

When Joe isn’t in the kitchen creating delicious, healthy meals for the lucky residents of Berwick Qualicum Beach you can find him “traveling throughout central and South American or touring our beautiful country in (his) motorhome.” Joe is also a musician playing various instruments and enjoys cliff jumping at some of the many local watering holes on the island. 

Berwick is grateful Joe’s passion and sense of purpose landed him at Berwick Qualicum Beach. His dedication to his craft is evident in everything he does. The future looks bright as Joe expressed his excitement about his next big passion project, releasing Berwick Qualicum Beach’s first wine list and elevated menus for parties in the private dining room. We hope to see you there!



Make 2023 a Purposeful and Active Year

It’s hard to believe that a new year is here! This is a great time to set some intentions for yourself on how you would like to live your life. Leading a life with purpose and intention can make you feel more fulfilled, happier and positive. Older adults often feel that they lose a sense of purpose after retirement, but living with purpose does not have to end. Here are some ways that you can find purpose in this stage of life and make 2023 a purposeful and active year. 

1. Eat Well

March is National Nutrition Month, a perfect time to learn about healthy eating habits. Take the steps to make intentional decisions about eating well and fueling your body with a balanced, nutrient-dense diet is critical across the lifespan, helping us feel out best and reduce our risk of chronic diseases. At Berwick, every meal is a social occasion which is why residents and their loved ones look forward to a culinary experience that feels as personal as their own home cooking that also offers & encourages healthy eating habits.


2. Move your body

A body in motion will age better than one on the couch. Consider these tips for exercise as you age. We have so many Berwick fitness classes of all types and levels, from chair yoga to Pilates, Zumba, Barre, Aqua Fit, Tai Chi, Pickleball, Ball Drumming and so much more. We’re constantly amazed at how strong and active the Berwick residents become by participating in the wide variety of our fitness classes. 

3. Meditate

Meditation is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. People also use the practice to develop other beneficial habits and feelings, such as a positive mood and outlook, self-discipline, healthy sleep patterns, and even increased pain tolerance. Science is showing that regular meditation can improve our health as we get older and can show a significant improvement on attention, memory and verbal fluency. Studies also found that meditation can positively impact insomnia, anxiety, and heart health

Mindfulness and meditation are regular programs on our active living and wellness calendars. 

4. Pursue a new hobby

Learning a new language, enrolling in a college course, learning about wine, diving into digital photography, joining a choir group, channeling your inner artist! Whatever interests you, say ‘yes’ to doing something you’ve always wanted to do. If you want to improve your chances of aging well, consider exploring a new hobby. Sign up for that pottery class you’ve always wanted to take. Join a creative writing seminar. Take up photography, knitting or painting, and join a group of fellow artists to improve your social network and to share with others the exhilarating feelings of creating art.

5. Indulge in new experiences

Older adults can learn multiple new skills at the same time in the right environment and with the right beliefs, and doing so may improve their cognitive functioning considerably. We have seen residents come out of their comfort zones, and observe that they feel fearless about new challenges. Berwick’s Active Living Teams heavily focus on providing a variety of ways for residents to indulge in new experiences during regular programming.

Having a purpose in life may help people maintain their function and independence as they age, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. People in the study who reported having goals and a sense of meaning were less likely to have weak grip strength and slow walking speeds: two signs of declining physical ability and risk factors for disability. Purposeful living has already been linked to other aspects of wellbeing, like a longer life, lower risk of disease, better sleep and healthier behaviors.

What are you waiting for!