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The Canadian Snowbird Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Living Part-Time in the USA and Mexico, 4th Edition, Revised and Updated

ISBN: 978-0-470-15375-8
352 pages
November 2007
The Canadian Snowbird Guide: Everything You Need to Know about Living Part-Time in the USA and Mexico, 4th Edition, Revised and Updated (047015375X) cover image
Each year, more than a million Canadians, affectionately dubbed "Snowbirds," migrate to southern climes to enjoy warm weather and sandy beaches. The strong Canadian dollar is making the trip more affordable and attractive than ever. But post-9/11, Canadians face tighter security, higher health costs, and higher fuel costs when traveling to the US. Canadians must budget accordingly. Especially for first-timers, how can they properly plan their trip to ensure a worry-free time away from home?

Among the topics this book includes are: the Snowbird lifestyle; financial planning; what documents you need to enter the US; what types of insurance and coverage are recommended; ensuring you have an up-to-date will; how US tax law applies to Canadians if money is earned or property sold; snowbirding in Mexico and Costa Rica; plus FAQs, checklists, and sources of further information.

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Chapter 1: The Snowbird Lifestyle 1

Introduction 1

Snowbirding in the United States 2

Snowbirding in Mexico 3

Snowbirding Outside the U.S. or Mexico 3

Key Factors to Consider 6

Tips Before Leaving Canada 18

Chapter 2: Home Exchanging as a Snowbird Option 21

Introduction 21

What Is a Home or Vacation Exchange? 21

Profile of a Typical Exchanger 22

A Vacation Home Provides Flexibility 23

Simultaneous and Non-Simultaneous Exchanges 23

Home Exchange Websites and Catalogues 24

What Information Is in the Home Exchange Listing? 25

Passive or Active Marketing 26

Exchanging Without a Car 26

Insurance Coverage 27

Getting Expanded Personal Liability Protection 28

Documentation to Sign with Exchangers 29

Long-Term Exchanges 29

Preparing for Your Exchange Guests 29

Tips Before Leaving Canada 31

Chapter 3: Financial Planning and Money Management 33

Introduction 33

Potential Financial and Other Risk Areas 33

The Financial Planning Process 39

Government Pension Plans 41

Employer‑Funded Pension Plans 46

Your Own Tax‑Sheltered Pension Plans 49

Are Your Deposit Monies, RRSPs, RRIFs, and Annuities Protected Against Default? 55

Using Your Home as a Source of Additional Income 58

Tips Before Leaving Canada 66

Chapter 4: Immigration and Customs 69

Introduction 69

Personal Documentation Options 69

Be Prepared When Entering the U.S. 72

Immigration Regulations 76

Customs Regulations 85

Tips Before Leaving Canada 92

Chapter 5: Housing and Real Estate 95

Introduction 95

The Purchase Process 96

Buying a House 102

Buying a Condominium or Townhouse 108

Buying a Timeshare 123

Buying a Mobile Home/Manufactured Home 126

Buying a Recreational Vehicle (RV) 127

Perils of Selling Your Own Home Yourself 130

Tips Before Leaving Canada 134

Chapter 6: Insurance Needs and Options 135

Introduction 135

Out‑of‑Country Emergency Medical Insurance 135

Homeowner Insurance 147

Home Office Insurance 158

Mobile/Manufactured Home Insurance 159

Automobile Insurance 159

Recreational Vehicle (RV) Insurance 161

Automobile Roadside Assistance and Other Coverage 161

Life Insurance 161

Travel Insurance 162

Tips Before Leaving Canada 162

Chapter 7: Tax Issues and Options 163

Introduction 163

Do U.S. Income Tax Laws Apply? 163

Types of U.S. Residency 168

Cross‑Border Marriages Create New Issues Relating to Residency 170

U.S. Tax Numbering System for Canadians 172

Rental Income from U.S. Real Estate 173

Selling of U.S. Real Estate 175

U.S. Gift Tax 176

U.S. and Canadian Taxes on Death 178

The Canada‑U.S. Tax Treaty 179

Your U.S. Bank Interest Will be Reported to Canada Revenue Agency 183

Strategies for Reducing U.S. Estate Tax on U.S. Vacation Property 183

Deadlines for Filing with the IRS 187

Tax Credit for Out‑of‑Country Emergency Medical Insurance Premiums 188

Where to Get Tax Advice and Information 188

Tips Before Leaving Canada 189

Chapter 8: Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning 191

Introduction 191

What's in a Will? 192

What Happens if There Is No Will? 193

What Is a Living Will? 194

Preparing a Will and Selecting a Lawyer 195

Granting Power of Attorney 200

Selecting an Executor or Trustee 202

Benefits of Using a Trust Company as Executor or Trustee 206

Estate Planning and Trusts 209

Tips Before Leaving Canada 214

Chapter 9: Selecting Professional Advisors 215

Introduction 215

General Factors to Consider 215

Selecting a Lawyer 218

Selecting an Accountant 219

Selecting a Financial Planner 221

Selecting a Realtor 230

Other People Providing Financial and Investment Advice or Information 233

Tips Before Leaving Canada 236

Chapter 10: Snowbirding in Mexico 237

Introduction 237

Popular Snowbird Destinations 237

Preliminary Factors to Consider 239

Entering Mexico 243

Insurance Matters 245

Transportation Tips 248

Buying Mexican Real Estate 249

Bringing Back Goods from Mexico 250

Where to Get Further Information 252

Tips Before Leaving Canada 254

Chapter 11: Permanent Retirement Outside of Canada 255

Initial Considerations 255

Issues to Consider 269

Tips Before Leaving Canada 269

Chapter 12: Answers to the Most Commonly Asked Snowbird Questions 271

Relating to Health Insurance 271

Relating to Travel 272

Relating to Customs 275

Relating to Financial Transactions 276

Relating to Taxation 278

Relating to Wills and Estates 280

Relating to a Permanent Move Outside Canada 281

Appendix A: Sources of Further Information 283

Appendix B: Helpful Websites 289

Appendix C: Retirement, Financial, and Estate Planning Checklist 295

Appendix D: Property Assessment Checklist 311

Index 323

Further Information, Seminars, and Reader Feedback 333

About the Author 335

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Douglas Gray, LL.B. (Vancouver, B.C.) formerly a practicing lawyer, morphed into a consultant, columnist, speaker, and author of 24 bestselling Canadian books on real estate, small business, and personal finance. He is the author of many popular real estate books, including Making Money in Real Estate, Real Estate Investing for Dummies for Canadians, and 101 Streetsmart Condo Buying Tips for Canadians. His website is: www.snowbird.ca
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