The coach is now parked at the dealership where it will stay for the next six months. Grounded due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures.

Travel restrictions.

Border closures.

Let’s poke at that a little shall we?

More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March but less than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine — the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from the requirement.

The Canada Border Services Agency provides data each week on the number of people arriving in Canada by land or air, saying “most” people entering the country must quarantine for two weeks.

Of the 4.6 million people that crossed the border into Canada, 1.1 million people were considered non-essential travellers and ordered to quarantine.

That means less than 25 percent of travellers coming into the country since March were required to quarantine. The rest? Well, COVID-19 apparently does not infect essential travellers. They can come and go as they please.

Many snowbirds in the RV community were hoping that the border closure was temporary and they waited as long as possible before making alternate arrangements.

Some, like ourselves, found temporary housing to sit out the Canadian winter. Others took their rigs west in search of a less severe climate. Which, in Canada, means a few regions in British Columbia, several thousand kilometres from where we are presently situated.

There were a few RVers that decided to leave their coaches behind and fly south. Travel by land is banned, travel by air is not. COVID-19 apparently does not like to fly.

A few tried to arrange for their coaches to be driven south.

It turns out that the process to have a U.S. company drive a coach south is fraught with challenges and we know of several RVers that ultimately gave up on that approach.

We will ride out the Canadian winter in a house and hopefully return to our coach and our retirement dream next year.

We are fortunate.

We have a beautiful property to enjoy until then.

Back To Sticks And Bricks

Moving day went well although a pretty long day especially for Lorraine. She kept at it until well after midnight I suspect. Packing the coach went much faster than unpacking into a house. We’ll be emptying boxes for several days.

We had a beautiful fall day for the move. Here are a few pictures of the new place.

The winter house for 2020/2021:

Our view:

We have our own dock which, of course, we won’t use because we do not have a boat. And we have a large swimming pool which, of course, we won’t use because it is closed for the winter.

We have two sunrooms to enjoy the lakefront views. Here is one of them:

It is a beautiful house and I am certain that we will enjoy it over the next six months. A bit like being on vacation.

What was the very first thing I checked when we entered the house for the first time?

Speed of the Internet of course.

We are on a 1 Gbps unlimited Internet service. Getting over 650 Mbps on the wireless devices on the 5G WiFi band.

That made me very, very happy.

One of the few things that I miss about having a house.

New Home

We are moving. In two days. We get the keys to our house about ten days earlier than expected. And that helps us out significantly. Our site for the coach closes this coming Sunday. We did not expect to get into our house until the following Sunday. We thought we might be back to our dealer’s parking lot for that week.

Thankfully the dates are all lining up although it does mean quite a bit of work over the next few days.

Packing the coach will start tomorrow. Pretty much everything in the coach will be coming with us to the house.

We will start moving our things into the house on Wednesday and Thursday.

The coach will get a thorough cleaning on Friday and then we will take it to the dealer for winterizing and storage.

We won’t live in it again until May 1, 2021.

It seems so far away.

This will be our new home for the next six months.

It is a beautiful house right on the lake in a quiet, secluded community not too far from where we are currently staying.

I definitely did not expect to be coming off the road this soon.

The U.S. border continues to remain closed to Canadians and some pundits think it might stay that way all through 2021.

I hope they are wrong.

Hard to do this lifestyle when you can’t travel south in the winter.

Welcome Home

Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is the only thing that really matters. Or is it?

Canada is now faced with both a tragedy and a crisis. The tragedy is caused by COVID, a respiratory virus. It has the potential to cause the deaths of tens of thousands of Canadians, overwhelmingly old and infirm.

The crisis is caused by our attempts to control that virus. The crisis has the potential to cause severe and lasting damage to the fabric of our country’s economy, education, social and cultural institutions, and mental health that will have repercussions for our public health for decades.

The tragedy is a natural disaster that saddens me and saddens us all. The crisis is a self-inflicted wound that frankly terrifies me. It offends social justice, because the burden of the crisis falls disproportionately on children, young families and blue-collar workers. The more we focus exclusively on COVID, the greater the danger to our public health.

Richard Schabas, Former Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario in testimony to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health receiving evidence concerning matters related to the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let’s take a look at one crisis. It involves a retired couple, full-timing in their RV. They had been living together for the past 18 months. And they were residents of two different countries. The male is a Canadian and the female is an American.

They were somewhere in California when governments elected to shut down the Canada/U.S. border back in March. The couple knew that if they attempted to return to Canada that one of them would not be allowed to enter the country. They stayed in the States.

For the Canadian, time spent in the United States would soon become a problem but fortunately the Canadian government made this announcement in early June:

The Government of Canada remains committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. The Government recognizes however that the temporary border measures put in place to fight the spread of COVID-19, while necessary, have created challenges for some families.

The Government has therefore been looking at ways to keep families together and support unity while respecting the need for continued vigilance and border measures at this time.

The Canada Border Services Agency is announcing that as of June 8, 2020 23:59 EDT, foreign nationals who are immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents, and who do not have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or who do not have reason to believe they have COVID-19, will be exempt from the prohibition on entry to Canada if entering to be with an immediate family member for a period of at least 15 days.

Foreign nationals who are admitted into Canada pursuant to this exemption must quarantine for 14 days.

An immediate family member refers to a person’s:

a) spouse or common-law partner;

b) dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, or a dependent child of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;

c) dependent child, as defined in section 2 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, of a dependent child referred to in paragraph (b):

d) parent or step-parent or the parent or step-parent of the person’s spouse or common-law partner;

e) guardian or tutor.

All foreign nationals who have COVID-19 or exhibit any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 continue to remain prohibited from entering Canada.

Perfect, they thought. We can return to Canada as a common-law couple without any concerns.

Not so perfect when they arrived at the border.

Turns out that they needed to prove they were a common-law couple by providing documents showing a common residence. Living together in an RV full-time does not count, at least not to the border agent they encountered.

He was now in Canada at that point and he was not allowed to re-enter the United States. She was not allowed to enter Canada. Their full-time home was their RV. The RV was not allowed to re-enter the United States.

She was left alone and homeless at the border. He had to take the RV and leave her behind. She ultimately found her way back to California to stay with friends.

Ironically he could book a flight to go see her. And perhaps they will get married in the States. With a marriage certificate in hand, they might have better luck returning to Canada.

But I doubt it. Marriage of convenience and all that.

Full story here.

Form 8840

Taxes. Likely not a surprise but among all 61 provinces and states in Canada and the United States, the highest combined personal income tax rates in North America are in the 10 Canadian provinces. Canada has a progressive system that really kicks in as income goes up. Someone with income over $200,000 CAD in Ontario would pay the province’s combined top tax rate of 53.53%. The top rate in New York is lower at 45.82% and that rate doesn’t kick in until income goes over $1 million USD.

It is a bit of a shock when the government leaves you with less than half of your income after tax. It would be even worse if, as a Canadian snowbird, you had to pay taxes in both Canada and the United States.

We carefully track our time in the United States as overstaying our welcome can result in being deemed a U.S. resident for tax purposes. We would be required to pay taxes in the United States even though we are not U.S. citizens. There are other issues with overstaying and with new systems in place at the border all Canadian snowbirds should be careful to track their days and respect applicable tax and immigration laws.

The IRS uses an odd and confusing test to determine whether a Canadian snowbird should be considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes. If you spend 31 days in the U.S. in the current calendar year and 183 days during the three-year period covering the current calendar year and the two preceding calendar years on a weighted basis then you may be taxed. To arrive at the three-year total you have to add all of the days spent in the current calendar year plus one-third of the days spent in the preceding year plus one-sixth of the days spent in the U.S. in the year prior to that.

Much easier to use this U.S. Residency Calculator from the Snowbird Advisor website.

Our result:

Uh oh. We may be considered a U.S. resident for tax purposes.

To avoid being taxed in both countries, we need to file a Form 8840 Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens. You can download that form over here.

It is a short questionnaire which determines whether you have a closer connection to your home country.

Questions cover the following:

  • Where your permanent home is
  • Where you keep your belongings
  • Where your family lives
  • Where you’re registered to vote
  • Where your drivers license was issued
  • Were your banking and financial accounts are located
  • Where you’re covered by a government health plan

You can continue to enjoy up to 6 months in the United States year after year as a Canadian snowbird provided you file the 8840 form prior to June 15 in the year following the year in which you qualified as a U.S. resident for tax purposes. If you fail to file on time, you may be considered a U.S resident for tax purposes and subject to other penalties.

We completed our forms this past week-end and we will send them on their way today. One form for me. One for Lorraine. Two separate envelopes, one for each form. Copies on file in the coach.