Residency Calculator

If you are a U.S. Citizen, well, the U.S. Residency Calculator won’t be of any use to you. Lorraine and I, on the other hand, will have to be very careful about the number of days we spend in the United States.

When we first started planning out our retirement, we assumed we could be Canadian Snowbirds by just crossing the border to the U.S. in November and coming back to Canada in April. Enjoy moderate weather for twelve months of the year. Striking off one of my bucket list objectives for retirement: to never be cold again.

Perfect, eh? (Sorry about the Canadian stereotype.)

It turns out to be far more complicated than staying less than six months in the U.S. in any given year.

The substantial presence test, to avoid being considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes and goodness knows we already pay a ton of taxes in Canada, includes two very important points:

  • Physically present in the U.S. for 31 days in the current year
  • A three-year total of 183 days which includes all the days spent in the current year, one-third of the days spent in the preceding year and one-sixth of the days spent in the year prior.

That means only 120 days south a year to avoid being considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes. That means leaving in November and returning to Canada at the end of February. That means missing out on my bucket list objective to never be cold again.

February is cold in Canada. Very, very cold.

The U.S. Residency Calculator is helpful to determine whether you have to be a bit more formal in terms of staying in the U.S.

A Canadian can get an exemption by filing a Form 8840 with the IRS. This allows a Canadian snowbird to stay in the U.S. for up to 182 days every year without being considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes. To qualify, you have to be in the U.S. for less than 183 days in the current year, demonstrate a home in Canada in the current year (owner or renter) and establish a closer connection to Canada than the U.S. The latter can be demonstrated in terms of where you bank, pay taxes, keep your belongings, where your drivers license was issued amongst other things.

The 8840 form can be found on the IRS website here. The form should be filed before June 15 in the year after your 182 day stay in the U.S. although the Canadian Snowbird Association recommends proactively completing and filing a new 8840 each year and maintaining copies to indicate that you are entering the U.S. as a temporary visitor from Canada.

If a snowbird loses track of time and exceeds 183 days or more, then it is possible to file an exemption under the Canada – U.S. Tax Treaty. Sounds like a really complex process though which would require lawyers and fees. Best to keep it within 182 days. At least for now.

The Canadian Retiree Visa bill, H.R. 979: Promoting Tourism to Enhance our Economy Act of 2017, could see Canadian retirees being able to spend 8 months in the U.S. (owning real estate will not be required to obtain the visa). The bill has yet to pass but if it does, we will be applying for that visa. That said, every province in Canada has residency requirements to maintain health care coverage. In Ontario, we have to be physically present in the province for at least 153 days in any 12-month period. Not sure who is counting those days but I was somewhat surprised to learn that regardless of where you pay your taxes, you are a bit of a prisoner in your own province within Canada.

Who knew travelling in retirement could be so complicated?

Big Rig Map

I came across this big rig map during one of my searches on Google. Pretty cool interactive map and should prove helpful when we are travelling stateside.

I was looking for a Class A only site in Canada similar to the ones like this one.

I haven’t found any. I’m beginning to think that they do not exist in our country.

Felonius Gru

minions

We finally made it back home from Florida. Very busy week. Lots of meetings with important folks like Gru.

Returned home to near freezing temperatures so it was a good thing that we had put the coach into storage before we left on our travels.

Shamadon RV Resort

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Tomorrow we head off on our last expedition of the year in our coach, the Castaway.

We will be spending the weekend at Shamadon RV Resort in West Grey County, Ontario. The park is roughly a 5-hour drive from home. The owners convinced us to try one of their grass sites, Deer Meadow 211 (the upper left site in the map below). It is a large site, 60 feet by 80 feet. And private.

shamadonrvmap

There is rain in the forecast so I am not too keen on a grass site. Despite its prime location, it is also only a 30 Amp site. We can manage on 30 but the nights are starting to get colder and we may need to have a few more services online. So, we will see how things go.

We are picking up our youngest son from University on the way there. Driving through Toronto on a Friday afternoon is always fun, especially in a 40-foot coach.

I am very excited to see my son tomorrow. My oldest daughter and her family, including our two grandchildren, will be coming up to visit us on the Saturday. Even if the weather is off, this weekend will be awesome.

And then, the Castaway goes into storage for the winter.

So sad.

Lancaster New Holland KOA Review

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We were a bit late in finding a site near the Hershey RV show and we did not want to boondock at the show itself. We found a place to hangout for a few nights at the Lancaster/New Holland KOA.

Although the weather forecast was originally sunny and warm, we found a mostly cloudy and overcast weather pattern for our stay. No rain, but most of the scenery was tempered by a greyish mood to the light.

The New Holland area is home to Lancaster County’s Amish community. It is really quite a beautiful area and we will go back so that we can spend a lot more time here. The Discover Lancaster website is a good resource if you are thinking about travelling in this area.

We loved the area. We had a quiet campground with awesome views of the countryside. It felt private and it was also very quiet. The customer service at this KOA? About what I expected when reading the reviews for this campground. Mixed. If all you need is a place to park for a few nights and nothing else, then this place is fine. If you need anything outside of the basics, be warned. Bonnie, who has a bit of a reputation online, is not what I would consider to be a customer focused individual.

That said, we were gone for most of our time here. It took us about an hour to drive to the Hershey RV from this campsite. And we left early and returned late each day that we were here.

On our first night, we enjoyed a meal at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord.

Oh my goodness. What a place.

Good thing that we had not eaten very much that first day. So much great food!

Shady Maple is very popular so best to avoid it on the weekends.

So, without further fanfare, here is our review of the Lancaster/New Holland KOA.

First Impressions

Overall I would rate this park 7.5 out of 10.

We don’t mind paying more for a nice experience however this campground is overpriced. We paid $87 per night presumably for the view and the location. There is really not much else to this KOA. A basic gravel pull-through site with full hook-ups. Water pressure was low at our site and we elected to fill our freshwater tank and run off the internal water pump.

The park was well maintained. And it was very quiet. Not much in the way of kids probably because there is nothing for them to do here. Which suits us fine. We enjoy quiet and peaceful surroundings and this KOA delivers exactly that.

Getting into the Park

Be prepared for an adventurous drive getting to this campground. I have never seen such a convoluted route on a GPS. We were coming southbound on I-81 and spent almost 2 hours after leaving the Interstate to get to this KOA. We must have crossed every possible turnpike and roadway in this part of Pennsylvania. Tight roads, lots of hills, numerous small towns. If you are driving a big rig, well, let’s just say the drive to the campground will be a bit challenging.

This KOA is located in the country. It is near the small community of New Holland and it is actually a fair distance from Lancaster. We thought that we would have a relatively moderate drive of 6 hours or so. It took us more than 10 hours to get here. The toughest part of the drive was the last 2 hours. The Interstate was smooth for the most part although there was an extensive amount of construction work on the bridges of I-81 that proved interesting for a big rig. Someone needs to tell those highway folks to put the cones on the other side of the lane marker. We hit several areas where the cones were set inside our lane by a good foot or so making it very tough to stay between the lines.

Although complicated to get to this site from the Interstate, this part of Pennsylvania is truly beautiful. Wonderful vistas for the passenger. For the pilot, well I had to stay pretty focused on the driving.

Pulling into the KOA you will find a barrier just before the office. We were let in as we had arrived during office hours. The office check-in was quick. We received a basic map and a keycard with a stern warning to bring it back or pay a $20 penalty.

Sites

We were assigned X10 although any of the sites from X1-X14 are nice. Great views in front and not tightly packed. Sites 32-41 are also very nice. Similar views as the X sites. Access to the gravel sites is via paved road. Our site was level and we had no issues pulling in and getting set up. One well used picnic table and one fire pit. No trees in the X sites.

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Pros

Very quiet park catering more to older couples
Clean and well maintained
Good lot size and expansive views of the Amish countryside

Cons

Limited services and facilities so make sure that this park will work for you and your family
Lots of mixed reviews on the web in terms of customer service

Our customer service experience?

Well, we had rented a car from Enterprise. We needed to leave early Sunday morning and getting the car back to the rental agency would take us about 40 minutes out of our way. We had to make the drive home in one day and we knew from our experience coming down that the drive was more in the range of 8 – 10 hours.

Enterprise kindly offered to pick up the car at the campground. Leave the keys at the office, park the car outside the gate and they would come by and pick it up.

Only Bonnie would not support that kind act. Her view was that they were not in the car rental business and that they would not hold the keys nor would they allow the car to be left outside the gate.

Fair enough. But I really did not understand why this would be such an imposition.

We travelled all the way into New Holland to return the car and travelled all the way back before we could begin the drive home.

Not a big deal but just be warned. The reviews on this KOA are mixed and I can understand why. This won’t be the type of place that will look to go much beyond the basics.