From Empty Nest to Dream Homes

From empty nests to dream homes, more and more boomers are moving on up.

By Lisa Bendall

If you ask Anthony DiCenzo, 52, getting older means you can finally afford the luxury home of your dreams. Seven years ago, DiCenzo, a lawyer-turned-land developer and builder, bought his 8,000-plus-square-foot Oakville mansion for relaxation and entertaining. A heated, covered patio allows him to be outside in inclement weather, and the two-storey family room has a built-in media centre and overlooks the water. The lower level boasts an indoor spa and wine cellar.

“I couldn’t afford this in my 30s,” DiCenzo admits. For him, the best thing about living in his dream home is not what’s inside, but what’s outside. “I’ve always dreamed of living right on the lake,” he says. “I sit in the backyard every night and listen to the waves on the shore.”


Price Range: $700K to $16M

Population 182,520
Need to Know High-end homes in Oakville are in fierce demand. Here is a Lake Ontario town with not one but two harbours, as well as art and cultural centres, hiking and biking trails. Residents here eat well: at the spring fundraiser Oakville Taste, attendees sample gourmet creations by more than a dozen chefs, bakers and brewers. And no luxury estate is complete without a membership to the private Oakville Club, where members sail or play tennis and squash. “I built my first home here 20 years ago and never looked back. Oakville was great back then, and it’s even better today,” says DiCenzo.

From the Realtor “A luxury home is about enjoying friends and family. This is not your first home; you’re moving up. Oakville has a high demand in the building of luxury homes.”
— Christopher Invidiata, the Invidiata Team/RE/MAX AboutTowne Realty Corp., has specialized in luxury real estate for close to three decades.



Price Range: $2M to $55M

Population 135,711
Need to Know Barrie residents here are treated to a stunning view across the lake, not to mention opportunities for water sports. It is home to award-winning chef Marco Ormonde, who worked at acclaimed Toronto restaurants before coming to Barrie and opening The North Restaurant and, more recently, a catered banquet hall. Barrie also has its own art gallery, two performing arts theatres and a range of community and fitness centres. Is it any wonder a luxury realtor recently listed a 14-acre waterfront Barrie estate with a $16-million price tag?

From the Realtor “A lot of people over 45 buy luxury homes because they want their family to keep coming together. With the space, you can put in a pool. Indoor sports courts are becoming very popular, too. In Barrie, you have the best golf courses, fine dining.”
— Bernice Whelan, broker, Bernice Whelan Realty Inc., specializes in high-end real estate.

Price Range: $400K to $1.3M

Population 5,840
Need to Know This riverside town southwest of Ottawa is small in population but strong in spirit. It’s known for its lively festivals and convivial bridge clubs. Many of its downtown boutiques and restaurants are designated as heritage buildings, protecting the very quaint streetscape. The Stone Cellar Restaurant, for example, dishes up duck à l’orange and rack of lamb in a beautiful historic stone building. For less than a million dollars, you can buy a mansion in Perth that would cost many times more in a Toronto neighbourhood.

From the Realtor “The entry level for a luxury home is very affordable, and it provides a beautiful lifestyle. We’re seeing people who moved away years ago to seek their careers in larger cities and are now retiring in their late 50s, early 60s, saying, I’m going back to where I began.”
— Pauline Aunger, Broker of Record, Royal LePage Advantage Real Estate, is in her 35th year selling real estate.