“I’m lovin’ the lifestyle options, connecting, volunteering, attending the University of Windsor and even working at a wonderful estate winery. There’s definitely something special going on here.”
When Stephanie Thomson wound up her executive career in one of Toronto’s high profile professional firms in 2012, she had no idea a dramatic lifestyle change would soon follow. But an e-mail blast promoting Ontario’s southernmost destination, temperate peninsula lifestyle and incredibly low real estate prices sounded very appealing.
A visit to the Windsor and Essex County region opened her eyes to a special place known for its 105 miles of waterfront communities, a wealth of amenities and unique proximity to the U.S. border, Detroit and Michigan, just one mile across from downtown Windsor.
Her curiosity led to the scenic and historic waterfront town of Amherstburg, and Bob-Lo Island, a privately-owned community of exclusive stately residences, townhomes and condominiums a five minute ferry ride across the Detroit River.
“It was, literally, love at first site,” says Thomson, relaxing in her spacious and well-appointed town home. “The timing was perfect and so was the lifestyle. Moving here has added 10 years to my life….both physically and financially.”
Stephanie not only managed to ‘localize’ herself through the Amherstburg library and by joining a book club, she became a volunteer and spokesperson on behalf of the WEARCI initiative, contributing her time in support of their mission to stimulate economic growth by promoting the region’s active and affordable retirement lifestyle. In 2014, she was appointed to the not-for profit’s board of directors and in her spare time assists with customer service at one of the 21 award winning estate wineries that dot the peninsula.
“An undiscovered gem is how I describe it (Windsor-Essex). There is waterfront everywhere. Wherever you are (in the region) the waterfront is spectacular.”
It was a full-page ad in a Toronto newspaper that caught Carl Hulme’s attention five years ago, touting the benefits of living in Windsor-Essex. He lived in Orangeville at the time and didn’t know anything about this region in southern Ontario. But he was intrigued. A community surrounded by water, close to a major U.S. city, where one could buy a waterfront home for a fraction of what it would cost in Toronto. “I had to come see it,” Carl said. “Everyone in Toronto goes north (when they retire). We thought we’d go the opposite direction.”
By that point in his life, he wanted to slow down. He’d been travelling the world as vice-president of a multinational company and was rarely home during the week.
Carl and his wife Rita bought a waterfront home in Oxley, spent two years remodelling it, sold their home in Orangeville and moved here. Two years ago, they opened a British store and gift shop in Harrow as a diversion. The business that was to be open two or three days a week has turned into a six-day-a-week operation, with three employees beyond Carl and Rita.
“An undiscovered gem is how I describe it,” Carl said of the Windsor-Essex region. “There is waterfront everywhere. Wherever you are (in the region) the waterfront is spectacular.”
Carl said his 23-year-old son recently bought a home in the area. “There’s no way had we stayed where we were he’d be able to do that. Just an impossibility.”