Before And After

Happy Canada Day!

A blast from the past. Literally. Just six months ago, we were freezing in Kingston. The weather was colder than the North Pole.

And now, we are warmer than Miami:

43 Celsius means that the temperature feels like 109 Fahrenheit. That is really, really hot.

An RVer told me that one of the most important things that he learned while traveling in his coach was to follow the weather. Avoid the extremes in heat and cold.

For the past 61 years, I’ve lived in a country of extreme weather patterns. I have found the past few winters to be much harder now that I am older.

Although Canadians are not as overtly patriotic as some other nations, I am very blessed to live in such a wonderful country.

As great a country as Canada may be, we still plan on escaping the harsh winters. In just four months, we will begin our travels through the southern U.S. in our motor coach.

Luxury Taxes on RVs

Preserving capital is a rallying cry when thinking about our retirement years. We’ve done well but the shift into retirement means a bit more focus on the expense side.

I’m not concerned about the expenses we can control. I am more concerned about the expenses that we do not control. And most of those expenses are influenced by government either in the form of taxes or monetary policy.

With monetary policy, the Bank of Canada loves to devalue the Canadian currency when the economy is bumpy although some pundits like to draw a close linkage between the value of CAD and the price of oil.

With the recent battle over trade with the U.S., CAD has fallen.

Since February, CAD has gone from a high of .82 against the USD to a low of .75.

With various fees, it means that $1,000 CAD gets us about 715 USD. We lose about 28 percent due to currency valuation compared to parity. Thankfully, costs and taxes are somewhat lower in the U.S. however, whenever CAD falls below about .88, we pay a premium.

We will be paying more in real terms for our trip south. Those currency expenses I cannot control.

I came across this article in Australia. The Queensland government is putting a two-percent tax on vehicles worth more than $100,000 and weighing less than 4.5 tonnes. This impacts people who might want to purchase mid-range motorhomes in retirement.

In British Columbia, Canada, we have such a luxury tax on vehicles. Being Canadians, though, we like bigger taxes then those issued by the Queensland government. We get them to kick in at a lower price — $55k is a luxury car in British Columbia — and make them really bite when the price of the vehicle gets up there. $125k will net an 8% luxury tax. $150k will net a 13% luxury tax. Ouch!

From the British Columbia government:

Luxury surtax applies to passenger vehicles when the value for tax exceeds:

$55,000 to $55,999.99 — 7% PST plus 1% Luxury tax
$56,000 to $56,999.99 — 7% PST plus 2% Luxury tax
$57,000 to $124,999.99 — 7% PST plus 3% Luxury tax
$125,000 to $149,999.99 — 7% PST plus 8% Luxury tax (effective April 1, 2018)
$150,000 and over — 7% PST plus 13% Luxury Tax (effective April 1, 2018)

Reading the tax material further, I find that seniors wishing to purchase an RV in retirement in British Columbia will not be impacted by this luxury surtax:

For tax purposes, a passenger vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle designed primarily as a means of transport for individuals. For example, trucks and vans larger than three-quarter ton, camperized vans, motor homes, buses and motorcycles with engines of 250 cc or less are not passenger vehicles.

In Ontario, the province where I live, the NDP party, running on a platform that included high taxes, wanted to introduce a similar vehicle luxury tax to British Columbia. They did not indicate a percentage, only that, if elected, they would put a surcharge on all vehicles over $100,000. I suspect that all vehicles would also include RVs.

Fortunately, the NDP was not elected. Voters in Ontario were tired of 15 plus years of tax and spend government.

Taxes. Another expense that I cannot control.

Taxes and monetary policy will, no doubt, continue to impact our finances during our retirement years.

A 13% luxury tax on our motorcoach would have been a significant financial challenge. Bad enough that we had to battle with the dealer on hedging our currency risk — we had our coach custom built and CAD was volatile during the 9 months from when we placed our order until we received our motorhome.

We were able to fix the price on order as opposed to on delivery.

CAD did fall further during that time so we wound up not losing money due to currency fluctuation.

Talking About Retirement

Retirement is coming up soon. A little over a month now and I will be retired, whatever being retired means.

To some of my friends, it is shocking that I would retire. To some of my friends, it is even more shocking that we would head out in a motorcoach for months on end in retirement.

As news of my retirement went out to my company, I received lots of congratulations and pretty much the same two questions: 1) What are your plans? and 2) What will you do next?

To me, once the financial planning is done, the tougher part of getting ready for retirement is dealing with the following questions:

  • How much structure will I need in my day-to-day life to feel comfortable?
  • How important is it that I be validated for what I do in retirement?
  • How important is it that I be paid?
  • Is there something that I am sufficiently passionate about that I would be willing to invest significant time and energy in it in retirement? If so, what steps do I need to take to make this a reality? What obstacles should I anticipate?

I’ve thought through these questions and I do not have answers for all of them. Frankly, I’ve had so much structure and so many demands on my time over the years that I really want to have a bit of a break from it all and not commit to anything too soon.

Although feeling mostly excited about our future, I do have days where I am frightened about the change.

A bit of a roller coaster ride for sure especially as the last few weeks at work are at hand.

The Four Phases of Retirement

“Everyone says you’ve got to get ready financially. No, no. You’ve got to get ready psychologically.” — Lee Iacocca

The countdown to retirement on our RV Castaways website has changed from months to days. I must be getting close to retirement now.

88 days.

Dr. Riley Moynes, a fellow Canadian, has published a book, The Four Phases of Retirement, to show me, and others approaching retirement, what to expect.

The first phase is called “Vacation Time”. Extended travel, hobbies, time with family are all hallmarks of this phase. Some retirees never get past the first phase. Perhaps those of us who intend to travel mostly full-time in their motorcoaches hold on to this phase for as long as possible.

Moynes calls the second phase the plunge into the abyss of insignificance and considers this phase to be one of the top traumas that a person will face in their lifetime.

The loss of structure, identity, relationships, purpose and a sense of power can lead to starting the third phase of retirement, the trial and error stage.

If you are to accomplish anything with what time remains, it needs to happen soon. The relevant question is how will you contribute. So, you might try a few things. And if it works out, you enter the fourth and final phase of retirement, reinvented with purpose.

Moynes was asked what percentage of retirees get stuck in the first phase of retirement. He claims that he knows only two people who have remained in the first phase and who claim to be happy there. According to a Harvard study that he cites, the unhappiest retirees had not gone on to do anything productive beyond pleasing themselves.

An interesting and perhaps controversial read. It certainly made me think about what happens next in retirement although I am really looking forward to the first phase. I expect Lorraine and I will continue to be productive contributors to our family, friends and community and I will do everything I can to avoid spending much, if any time, in phase two. Plunging into the abyss of insignificance does not sound like much fun!

You can learn more about the four phases at Moynes’ website here:

The Way South

We have now made a few bookings for our trip south. We will be leaving from Sherkston Shores RV Resort — identified as point 2 on the map above. Point 1 is where we are living right now.

The plan is for Lorraine and I to take the coach over to our dealer mid-August. We have a bit of a punch list:

  • Side radiator lower grill guard almost disconnected from body of coach
  • Oasis hot water heater pump failure — this one is a known defect by the manufacturer
  • Full wall slideout uneven — literally rises up a quarter inch or so after slides are deployed — this was not resolved during warranty by the dealer and is still outstanding
  • Full length of Girard Awning Casing on top of passenger side of coach overhangs coach body by about an inch
  • Levelling jack leaking hydraulic fluid (passenger side front)
  • Small puncture in roof membrane requires repair
  • 483 RSB – Recall 17V 420: Driver Passenger Shade
  • 486 TSB – MCD Remote Shade Motor Replacement
  • 488 RSB – Recall 17V 497: Battery Cable May Rub Against Frame (potential fire hazard)
  • 493 PIB – Freightliner Lightbar: instrument panel odometer value may reset and not match the engine ECU odometer value

We also need to get our towing system in place for our new toad. For the towbar we are installing a Blue Ox baseplate, a Blue Ox KarGard, a Blue Ox Towbar, and a Patriot Braking System.

The dealer wants the coach for about a month. We will pick it up from the dealer mid-September and head over to Sherkston Shores and hang out there until the end of October.

We then make three stops over five days on our way down south. Point 3 on the map above will be at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park. Looks like a nice place. The first drive will be 6 hours on the road not including breaks.

Point 4 on the map is our next stop. We will spend two days at the Mountain Falls Luxury Motorcoach Resort. I suspect that this will be a stunning place to rest up after a second long day of driving. Roughly 7 hours between Stonewall Jackson and Mountain Falls without including any breaks.

After a two-night layover, we will head over to point 5 on the map above: Hilton Head Island Motorcoach Resort. Another 6-hour drive without including any breaks.

From there, we take a longer drive over to Myakka River Motorcoach Resort. A little over 8 hours on the road without including any breaks.

And then? A whole month in the sun and warmth.

Why take the drive down so quickly? Well, we want to enjoy as much of our time as possible in the south. 4 relatively long days behind the wheel will be worthwhile once we pull into our site in Florida.