04/19/2013 10:15 EDT | Updated 06/19/2013 05:12 EDT

Cheaper Windsor lures retirees away from costly GTA

A campaign to attract retirees to Windsor and Essex has worked, according to the local real estate industry.

Kim Gazo, the President of the Windsor Essex County Real Estate Board, says 942 families preparing for retirement have moved to the area in the last four years.

Gazo is on a committee that markets Windsor as a retirement destination at trade shows. She admits there are challenges when attempting to encourage people to move here.

"Where is it?" Is a question Gazo said she is often asked. "It helps if I have a map to point to."

However, Gazo said there's one selling point that always catches people's attention.

"House prices. Definitely the house prices," she said.

Her own real estate portfolio features homes that sell for $250,000.

"To build that same unit in Toronto would up near the million dollar mark."

Another real estate agent has had good luck selling homes to retirees from Toronto. Brenda Hawtin, an agent with Valente Real Estate, said the area has a number of factors working in its favour.

"Nine times of out 10 the people [from Toronto] are selling expensive homes or condos," according to Hawtin. "So they can come here and buy one of these places and still have quite a nest egg, which, of course, they're going to spend down here in the Windsor area."

Gazo agreed.

"Over three years, a home buyer will average $15,000 in renovations," she said. "And 942 families represents over $42 million put into the economy."

Building a retirement nest egg wasn't the only reason Norman Theriault moved to Windsor from Pickering. But he isn't complaining about the additional cash. He sold his home for more than $700,000.

"I bought this one [in Windsor] for around $300,000," he said with a smile. "It left me with a little bit of money. Which when you're on a fixed income is well worth the effort of moving."

Theriault said there were some reservations. For instance, he couldn't initially find a doctor in Windsor.

The campaign to market to Windsor to retirees started four years ago in the Greater Toronto Area.

The campaign to lure retirees to Windsor is moving to other parts of the province with a trade show in Waterloo next month.