One RV and Home Free

Home is where we park it. We have been full-timing in our coach for just over a year now. I’ve been asked to do another seminar on the RV Lifestyle for my friends at the Hitch House, a large motorhome dealer in the Toronto area, at the end of October. And I thought it would be helpful to share our experience in making the transition from living the sticks-and-bricks lifestyle to living the RV lifestyle.

With so many irons in the fire right now, getting this seminar prepared for delivery is going to be a bit challenging. I used to do many keynote presentations during my corporate career and, unlike many, I always enjoyed public speaking. However, I knew that it would often take a day or two of focused effort to prepare for a one-hour session. I’m going to have to squeeze that time from somewhere over the next week. Wish me luck.

We encounter very few Canadians that live full-time in a motorcoach. It is far more common to see that lifestyle in the United States. I suspect part of that is due to our cold weather climate, part of that is due to the lack of available sites in Canada especially between October and May (most shut down) and part of that is due to cost considerations.

Many Canadians are apprehensive about being in the United States for an extended period of time due to healthcare concerns or perceptions  about the culture. Many Canadians are content to spend their retirement years on the front porch. The RV lifestyle is certainly not for everyone.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our time in our coach and I hope that we have many more years to live this way. Eventually we will come off the road and home will be wherever we find a spot.

Time and health matter far more to us than a house at this stage of our lives.

Canadian Snowbirds Act

Is it actually going to happen? This has been a long time coming and, even though my hopes are up a little bit, the act might stall and never get signed into law.

For those of us full-timing in Canada, getting an extra two months would be wonderful although restrictions to health care coverage in Ontario would reduce that extra time to just one more month.

Care to see how we are held hostage in our province?

Here are the rules concerning our health care coverage:

You may be out of the province for up to 212 days in any 12-month period and still maintain your Ontario health insurance coverage provided that you continue to make Ontario your primary place of residence.

To maintain eligibility for OHIP coverage you must be an eligible resident of Ontario. This means that you must :

  • have an OHIP-eligible citizenship/immigration status; and
  • be physically present in Ontario for 153 days in any 12-month period; and
  • be physically present in Ontario for at least 153 days of the first 183 days immediately after establishing residency in the province; and
  • make your primary place of residence in Ontario.

If you plan to be outside Canada for more than seven months in any 12-month period you can keep your OHIP coverage for up to two years if you:

  • have a valid health card
  • make Ontario your primary home
  • will be in Ontario for at least 153 days a year in each of the two years immediately before you leave the country

One cannot make this stuff up.

For us, the advantage of the Canadian Snowbirds Act is that it would simplify the tax issues with the U.S. government. Because of U.S. tax laws, Canadian snowbirds could be subject to double taxation even when they stay within the six-month limit. Every year, we need to file a closer connection to Canada form with the IRS to ensure that we are not taxed as resident aliens. This bill would increase the pleasure visa to eight months and include a tax provision which would eliminate any potential U.S. tax implications.

Here is the press release on the U.S. Senate bill:

On September 18, 2019, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced the Canadian Snowbirds Act, S. 2507 in the U.S. Senate. This bill would allow eligible Canadian retirees to spend up to eight months vacationing in the United States annually – two months longer than the current six-month limit.

This legislation is the companion bill to the Canadian Snowbird Visa Act, H.R. 3241 which was introduced in the House of Representatives in June by Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL-22).

To be eligible for this extension, travellers will need to satisfy the following criteria:

  • Have Canadian citizenship;
  • Be 50 years of age or older;
  • Maintain a residence in Canada;
  • Own a residence in the U.S. or have a rental agreement for the duration of stay;
  • Will not engage in employment in the United States; and
  • Will not seek government assistance or benefits.

Both the House and Senate bill also contain a tax provision which will shield snowbirds from negative tax ramifications in the United States. Despite spending more than six months in the U.S., those who are approved for this extension will be considered non-residents of the U.S. for tax purposes.

Before this extension can be signed into law, it must first be passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

I’ll keep watching the status of the bill. Perhaps one day it will become law.


Regrets? I’ve Had A Few

13 Reasons You’ll Regret an RV in Retirement. Someone passed this over to me. And I clicked on the link. Perhaps you did as well.

Let me save you some time. Here are the 13 reasons.

  1. They are expensive
  2. They require upgrades
  3. They depreciate
  4. They are costly to fuel
  5. They have to be insured
  6. They require you to have extra health insurance
  7. They require you to manage your sewage waste
  8. They offer tight living quarters
  9. They are not easy to drive
  10. They are not easy to park
  11. They are expensive to repair
  12. They don’t have a lot of storage space
  13. They can make you isolated from people

Quite the list and certainly people should think carefully about the implications of embracing any type of major change in their retirement years.

Some retirees long to travel the world in a sailboat. I suspect the same 13 regrets would apply.

Some retirees long to relocate to a new country. At least a few of those 13 regrets would apply.

Some retirees stay planted in their hut. And a few of those 13 regrets would apply.

Regret is a negative emotional state that involves blaming ourselves for a bad outcome, feeling a sense of loss or sorrow at what might have been or wishing we could undo a previous choice that we made.

In other words, regret is a state of mind.

A colleague of mine had retired and passed away only a few months later after coming down with pancreatic cancer. He prepared his own memorial service before his death and he used a familiar song to make a point:

I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve traveled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this
I did it my way.

Embrace your dream, whatever that might be and make it your own.

No regrets. Especially in retirement. The clock is ticking. Death is not that far away now.

It could be an RV, a sailboat, or a log cabin in the wilderness. Whatever it is, no regrets.

And, if you do have regrets, make a change before the clock winds down.

It is up to you.

No Hut

Two years without a hut. We still get puzzled looks from some people when we let them know that we are currently home free. Home ownership is so deeply embedded in the Canadian culture that it almost goes without saying that, in Canada, a house is a wonderful investment. We always looked at housing as a place to live. Whenever I took the time to include all of the costs associated with owning a house, we never experienced a compelling return. Our houses did appreciate but overall there wasn’t much of a profit to be had when selling. Especially when moving on to the next house.

As we debated our plans for retirement, we knew that owning a house in the country was not what we wanted. What we did know is that we wanted to be south during the harsh Canadian winters. We did not want to own two houses, one in Canada and one in the southern United States. We wanted the freedom to move around.

That was part of our reason to buy a coach. We could have a wonderful condo on wheels for our travels stateside and downsize into a smaller property somewhere in Canada.

But then we asked ourselves why would we buy a house in Canada in our early retirement years if we were only going to live in it for, at best, 2 or 3 months of the year? Could we live out of our coach year round?

The short answer is yes, we can and yes, we did.

We do not miss owning a house. We currently rent an apartment. Our youngest son lives in it. And, after whatever period of time, when we decide to come off the road, we will find someplace nice for the latter part of our retirement.

We do not know what that looks like just yet. We will tackle that transition whenever it comes along.

Two years and I haven’t thought much about the house we sold. A distant memory from a different time.

I did take a look back on some of our photos of the house when I was prepping this post.

It was a nice place. We used it for a period of time and then the house went on to someone else. Eventually every house, like the many other things that we buy in life, will go to someone else.

Except my guitar collection.

Those guitars I will take with me when I leave for heaven.

One Year Ago

One year ago. My last day in the office. My last day in the corporate world. I had spent the past ten years of my career as a Chief Information Officer in the financial services industry. The role was challenging and often quite stressful. Deciding to retire was not easy. Aside from the financial considerations — have we saved enough? will we have enough? — there was also a sense of fear and apprehension. What will happen next? Will we be okay?

One year ago we took the last walk to the office.

A photographer captured that moment as we were approaching the main entrance for the corporate retirement celebration. It all felt a bit unreal. After all, I had been working for most of my adult life and now we had arrived at this point: the end of work.

Lorraine and I have been married just over 40 years now.

The years pass but we have travelled through life together. Always together.

We really had no idea what our future would look like back then.

At the time I wanted to be a musician. Still playing after all these years.

And now, one year into retirement, what does the future look like?

We are living a nomadic lifestyle in our coach. And we are loving it. We are in a new community in Canada. And we are loving it. We will be returning to Florida in a few months. And we love being there.

One year into retirement and we are doing just fine.

I can hardly remember the years spent working. I gave it my best shot and we have finished the stage of life known as work. We finished that stage well.

We are now at the start of the stage of life known as retirement.

Yes, mortality does make itself known at this stage of life. But the gift of time has allowed me to become far more active in my volunteer work in the areas that I am most passionate: music and audio.

Lorraine and I have far more time to build relationships and we have made so many new friends since the start of our retirement.

Retirement one year later has been awesome.