Is it safe to go home yet?
Are the temperatures in the 70’s (or the 20’s as we say in Canada)?
This year spring came late to Canada but it’s time snowbirds. Time to come home as the forecast is getting much better.
There is a lot of cross-border travel between Canada and the United States. In winter, most of it is going south. But in spring it’s coming back north as Canadians return home from wintering in the warmth.
If you’re one of those Canadians lucky enough to have a place in the sun during the more challenging of our months, coordinating your return home to Canada will involve more than a few details.
Here are 7 tips to ease the transition.
7 Tips for Snowbirds Returning Home to Canada
- Be aware of the deadline. If a Canadian spends more than 182 days (basically, half a year) in the US you will run the risk of being considered a US resident and be expected to pay US tax. If you head south in November, plan to be back before the end of April.
- Get everything working at home again.
- Manage your mail. If you had your mail forwarded from home to your southern home you’ll have to get this stopped. You may also want any mail going to your US home to be forwarded to Canada.
- Reactivate your Internet. Arrange to have it working before you get home. You’ll be surprised how much you miss it if you don’t.
- Flying? Save by being flexible on your fly date: When planning your return home to Canada choose a non-holiday week to travel and look for the best deals within the entire week. Often flying on a Tuesday or Wednesday is less expensive. By looking at the prices over a week you can see the best day to fly. Sign up for airfare alerts in advance of your trip to be notified of seat sales to your destination. Read Get the Best Deals on Flights: Here’s How and How to Make Money from Overbooked Flights: 10 Tips.
- Pack medication where it’s handy. If you’re flying that means in a carry-on. If you’re driving have it in an overnight bag.
- Driving? Check the long-term forecast. If you’re driving home the weather can be very important. Snow in April is not unheard of. So check the forecast to have confidence that you’ll be driving at a preferable time. You can also read these two posts for solo road trips: A Winter Road Trip Alone: 32 Tips You Need to Know and A Road Trip Alone: be prepared with these 10 tips.
- Make money from your property in the off-season. If you own a southern property, why not make money from it while you’re away? You’ll want a reliable property manager to represent you in your absence and then use a site like Airbnb or VRBO. The income earned will help cover the costs of your property while you’re away.
- If your home will be unoccupied for the summer strip the beds, wash the sheets and drape them over your furniture as dust covers. Clean out the fridge completely, turn it off and leave the door open. Unplug all appliances. Suspend services like your newspaper, Internet and cable. Set your thermostat to setting higher than you would normally to save power. Lock your windows and doors and close all drapes and blinds.
- Coordinate the payment of your US bills and accounts. Until recently, to pay a U.S. bill from a Canadian account required a draft for $7.50 and then mailing the funds across the border. Now, with only a few clicks through services like TD U.S. Bill-Pay, a U.S. bill can be paid online or through the TD app for tablet and smartphone for only $2.50.
- Prepare for the border. The Canadian borders see a significant uptick in traffic in April when snowbirds are returning home. Be prepared with:
- Your passport in hand.
- Receipts from purchases made outside of Canada. If you’re bringing gifts home, don’t wrap them unless you don’t mind a border officer being the one to open them.
- A list of any food, plants and animal products you’re bringing in. Raw poultry products from North Dakota, Indiana and Missouri are not allowed in Canada.
- Patience to wait at border. In fact, get there very early in the morning if possible.
And finally, take comfort in your return to the Canadian dollar. Not only are you coming home to warm weather but also a more affordable lifestyle.