The Homestead

Settling in. The jacks are down and we will stay planted in Ontario for the six months that we are in Canada. We’ll still do a bit of travelling while we are in the province. Ontario is, after all, a pretty big place. How big, you ask? Well, you have come to the right website for the answer to that question.

For my American friends, Ontario is about the same size as Texas and Montana, combined.

Ontario is larger than France and Spain, combined. Ontario is 3 times the size of Germany, 4 times the size of the United Kingdom (more than 8 times the size of England) and over 15 times the size of Ireland.

Most of the 13.5 million people in Ontario live within 100 miles or so of the U.S. border. There are vast expanses of Ontario that constitute a wilderness devoid of any human life.

Yes, Ontario is a big place to hang out for six months.

We had a few concerns coming back to Canada in our coach.

The first concern was finding a nice spot to park the coach. We originally planned to store the coach and rent a nice condo near the water somewhere. But it is very challenging to find a nice furnished condo for only six months. There are some really nice options if we were willing to rent for a year. Nothing really for snowbirds.

We could buy something I suppose. We just do not want to be tied down to a house right now.

Nice spots for coaches in Canada? Let’s just say that things are a bit rustic here in the Great White North compared to the United States.

We have found a pretty nice spot just north of Toronto and we think it will work out just fine for the six months that we are here.

The second concern, which might sound a bit trivial, was Internet access.

We are both quite active on the Internet and having a reliable, high-speed connection is important. Although not really high-speed, I have been able to jury-rig a setup where we get a consistent 5 Mbps service for our devices in the coach. Although I would prefer a higher download speed, say 10 Mbps or more, we can make do. I have been able to make it work fine under load when the park is at full capacity due, in part, to me using the 5G band and some VPN bonding when required.

The third concern was tranquility.

We are older and we are not partiers. I’m generally to sleep by 10pm. We prefer a calm environment. In Canada, most parks are family parks. And I have no issue with family parks. I just prefer to be in a calmer location. Where we are is limited to two adults only per site. This offers us a spot that is really quite nice and peaceful. We just came out of a busy long week-end and we really did not notice it in this area of the park.

Once the weather improves, I will take a few shots and a video of our location. We have a nice spot, far nicer than we expected. We are very happy to be here and, of course, very happy to reconnect with our family and friends after our time away down south.

Making Money On The Road

We are retired. And financially independent. We are currently full-timing in our retirement years. We hope to do so for many years to come. But things might change. A serious illness or an untimely death. A desire to pursue a new dream or adventure. Life is too short not to follow your dreams in retirement.

I have noticed a trend though. And the trend looks like this. Younger couples, sometimes with a family, sometimes without, decide to drop out of the workforce and go travelling full-time in an RV.

They quickly find that the money to sustain the lifestyle has to come from somewhere and, still being younger, the investment assets are often insufficient. In other words, they find that they still need a job.

And so they go out seeking different ways to make money on the road. Some run businesses from their RVs. Some find a job and simply substitute a trailer for a house and commute to work.

And, increasingly, some go online and attempt to make money with a YouTube channel.

I came across this video from the RV Odd Couple. They seem like very nice people. They have faith. They are trying to make their way in life full-timing in an RV with a young child.

I was curious as to what they had learned in the first six months of full-time RV living and what had annoyed them so much. A tiny bit of strong language here and there.

At around 8 minutes and 50 seconds in, they tell us that they were annoyed that other high-profile RV YouTubers were not responding to their emails and not embracing an opportunity to connect with them.

Personally, I do not connect YouTubing with the RV lifestyle. The vast majority of people that I have met in the RV community do not run websites or YouTube channels. Of the few that do have an online presence, most are doing so as a way to stay connected with friends and family and as a hobby.

There are a few that try to monetize their online platform. And of that few, there are a small number that can make a decent living selling content. I follow many of them. They are not living the RV lifestyle as we do. They are working full-time jobs producing content for the RV community while living out of an RV. And some of them eventually leave the RV lifestyle and try something else.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with monetizing a YouTube channel. It is a business model and, if there is demand and a willingness to pay for content, then you get a financial reward.

For $200, you could take this course and likely learn most of what you might need to learn to build and make money from a YouTube channel. From another family living full-time out of an RV. Fair exchange. Money for information.

There was no YouTube back when I was starting out. Perhaps I might have bailed from the workforce sooner and started my own YouTube channel: Cruising’ with the Cleavers. Hmmm, maybe I should send Marc an email…

Choices

“You have choices you can make.”

Those six words, from September 24, 2017, had a profound impact on my life. Funny, isn’t it? I mean, despite what anyone might say, we tend to live our lives almost as if we are asleep, going through the same daily routines that give structure, and perhaps some form of meaning, to our existence.

I shared those six words at a seminar I gave last week.

I used this photo that I had taken of a site at Hearthside Grove Motorcoach Resort in Petoskey, Michigan as a backdrop to a story.

We absolutely loved being at Hearthside. One of the best spots we have visited with our motorcoach. And we absolutely loved being in our coach and enjoying the freedom that this two-week vacation allowed.

All too soon, that enjoyment and that freedom had passed. We had to pull up our jacks and return to the life we were living at the time.

As we were leaving Hearthside, we bumped into a wonderful couple. Here is a video snippet of our departure from Hearthside and the conversation that I had with Gary.

“We are so sad to be going, I have to tell you.”
“Then don’t go.”

“I’d love to stay longer.”
“You have choices you can make.”

He was absolutely right. I had been immobilized with fear. Safer to keep working, and doing what I had been doing for the past forty years or so. The future, unknown, uncertain, was out there and I had kept putting it off.

Following your dream takes courage.

We made the decision to retire as we drove home from Hearthside. “You have choices you can make.” Those six words made all the difference to me.

There is a metaphor about life. The waterfall. As we get older, we hear it. The sound of the waterfall. It becomes louder and louder. The river of life ends at the waterfall. It is coming, sooner now, but we don’t know when we will reach it. The waterfall reminds us that the life we live is short.

Follow your dreams before your life runs out.

I received an email from one of the participants at the seminar and he made the following comment:

Dreams and means fight, reality and routine settles in! BUT listening to you is putting another log in the fire.

To which I can only say, you have choices you can make.

Snowmaggedon

How cold is it?

The news in Canada is simply chilling.

I remember the cold. And the snow.

Before retirement, we spent our winters huddled inside our igloo, fervently praying for spring to arrive. Spring inevitably would arrive, sometime around August. By then the ice on our lakes and rivers would melt for a few days before winter started again in September.

But I digress.

Many Canadians flee the harsh winter temperatures during their retirement years and head south. Even with a currency that the Government of Canada loves to devalue. The loonie is currently trading around 75 cents to the US dollar.

Lorraine is spending the day today at the Snowbirds Extravaganza show in Lakeland, Florida.

This is the largest mature lifestyle show in North America. A two-day event, the show can bring out 30,000 or more attendees to the RP Funding Center.

The demographic for this event swings a bit on the older side for me. I was not particularly interested in attending and so I agreed to stay back with our golden retriever.

Lorraine will provide me with an update later this evening.

Canadian snowbirds are an important economic contributor to the state of Florida. Consider the following impact of Canadians coming to Florida:

  • Canada is Florida’s number one source of international tourism.
  • 3.5 million Canadian’s visited Florida in 2017, spending over US$6.5 billion.
  • Tourism generated more than half a billion dollars in tax revenue, more than enough to fund the public safety, transportation and library systems of Florida’s major counties.
  • In 2017, Canadian’s purchased more than US$7.0 billion worth of real estate in Florida, contributing to a Canadian real estate portfolio in Florida of roughly US$53 billion.
  • Real estate purchases in 2017 contributed an estimated additional US$67 million to county tax bases, with existing properties owned by Canadians generating an estimated US$508 million for counties in Florida.

Overall, trade and investment between Canada and Florida creates over 600,200 jobs in the state.

Snowmaggedon in Canada is a good thing for Florida.

On My Own

Guarding the fort for a few days as Lorraine travels across southern Ontario tackling a few tasks that we need to clear off before we head south.

One of them we should have looked after while our youngest son was still at home.

I posted about our experience updating our Nexus records online here. Nexus is a trusted traveller program that we highly value and we wanted to make sure that my change of employment status to retired was registered with them. Lorraine and I went in, updated all of the relevant information required by the two governments, interviewed again with the border officials from both countries and all is well with our Nexus membership.

Our youngest son has to go through the same process only this time at Pearson Airport. Could take the better part of a day I suspect. Pearson is a very, very busy place.

Lorraine will make the three-hour drive out to Toronto, stay overnight with family, and then take Matthew out to get his Nexus records updated tomorrow. Matthew will be joining us in Florida over Christmas and the Nexus card will make his travel a bit easier.

Yours truly gets to safeguard the coach along with our trusty golden retriever.

I have yet to find a better guard dog.