It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Until the COVID-19 crisis came along. And that changed everything didn’t it?
When this pandemic began we left Florida a month earlier than planned.
Because of fear. Because of border closures. Because of government.
We came back to a country that was still very much in the grip of winter and we spent two weeks in quarantine and then another month after that parked in the lot of a motorcoach dealership, uncertain as to whether we would have any place to park our coach. Governments had initially allowed campgrounds to open and then shut them down. We were in limbo for the better part of a month.
Our site did open on May 1st. For the following two weeks we enjoyed the wonderful weather that one can only find in Canada during early May.
This was exactly the weather that we were hoping to avoid in retirement. That and the stress and anxiety that goes along with being uncertain about where we might be able to park our coach.
Government has made it impossible for us to plan our travels this year.
There is no plan by government to re-open the border. The so-called temporary closure of the border, in effect for a 30-day period, continues to be extended. 30 days at a time.
The latest one, August 21st, has already been extended to September 21st and, no doubt, will continue to be extended indefinitely. Never in my life did I imagine that our government would suspend our mobility rights. Except, for some odd reason, travel by air.
29 bipartisan members of the United States Congress issued a formal request to the Canadian Public Safety Minister, Bill Blair, to plan for the re-opening of the Canada-US border.
The members of Congress made this request:
That the United States and Canada immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border based on objective metrics and accounting for the varied circumstances across border regions. We understand the importance of prioritizing the safety of our communities as we all navigate the complex calculation of minimizing public health risks and resuming economic activity. However, the social and economic partnership between our two nations necessitates a clear pathway forward.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Minister, responded with a statement that the absolute priority is the health and safety of Canadians saying that decisions about Canada’s border are made by Canadians, for Canadians.
Translation: we aren’t going to open that border anytime soon. We aren’t even going to plan to re-open.
The letter from Congress was issued on July 3rd. At that time the United States had the highest number of infections in the world at roughly 2.2 million with 120,000 deaths.
As of yesterday, the number of infections in the United States was roughly 5.5 million with 171,000 deaths.
With those numbers, we know that the border is unlikely to open when we have to leave our site in two months time. We know that many snowbirds will not be travelling south this year. We know that it takes time to find housing.
We had to make a decision about where we would be sleeping this winter.
We signed the papers yesterday. We have a house.
But just for six months.
We have rented a beautiful home on the lake close to our current location. If we have to spend a winter in Canada, we might as well do it in style.
The coach will go into storage until the spring. We will return to our current site next year. And then we will see where things stand.
Worrying about whether we will have a place to park our coach was not the game plan in retirement. If the COVID-19 crisis continues unabated with governments imposing lockdowns on travel, we will have to revisit whether this is how we want to be spending our time in retirement.
One of my friends suggested that we buy a house and hold it for a year or two instead of renting.
Most Americans would be shocked at what passes for real estate in this part of Canada. Want to see what a million will buy you in Toronto?
It’s just as silly throughout most of the Greater Toronto Area. Even the area where we are currently parked. Real Estate in the densely populated areas of Canada has become a Ponzi scheme, a bubble just waiting to burst.
Until we make a decision on what happens next in our retirement journey, I am not willing to put millions into real estate. Not during a global pandemic. Not during an economic depression. Not during a period of crazed speculation with overinflated housing prices.
Much easier for now to lease for a few months.