Preparing for Snowbird Winter #2

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Preparing for our second winter as snowbirds, handling items that are different than our first year

In a couple of days, my husband and I leave our Manitoba home to spend our second “snowbird” winter in Arizona. Planning has been simpler this year than last. Last year, our first year as snowbirds, we had to figure out what preparations were needed and investigate options for dealing with them. This year, we use what we learned last year. But, as it turns out, there are a few new and different things to consider.

This winter, we are renting a home in a 55+ manufactured home community. The company that owns and manages the community requires background checks on all renters. We filled in several forms, provided a photograph of our dog, and paid for criminal checks.

Internet access and a land line with free North American long-distance were included in last year’s rental. This year, although there is wi-fi access in the 55+ community common area, there is none in the rental unit itself. I’ve made arrangements with the community’s Internet supplier. A router should arrive on the same day we do. There is no phone included in this year’s rental. We will get a cell phone in Arizona.

In Manitoba, your driver’s licence comes up for renewal every 5 years. At that time, you have your picture retaken and show up in person to renew. My renewal date is in February, when we will be in Arizona. The system allows for renewal up to 45 days prior to the renewal date, but no sooner than that. There is a process in place to accommodate snowbirds and others away from home for an extended period. At the agent’s office, I had my photograph taken and completed forms giving the agency permission to renew on my behalf. They will mail my temporary paper licence to our Arizona address. The temporary licence is valid for 45 days beyond the renewal date, during which time the plasticized card is prepared and mailed out. I’m crossing my fingers, hoping there won’t be a period of time when I am without a valid licence in hand.

Note: In Manitoba, where car insurance is government-run, vehicle registration and insurance follow the same schedule as your driver’s licence, and a similar “snowbird” process exists to take care of registration and insurance renewal in advance.

Because of particular circumstances last year, we had travel emergency medical coverage without making special arrangements. This year, we’ve had to investigate options and purchase additional coverage. Emergency health coverage is important for all Canadian snowbirds. Emergency out-of-country doctor and hospital care may be partially covered by your provincial plan, but only to limits of provincial rates. You are responsible for differences and that amount could be substantial.

Specific plans and costs vary by individual needs. Your age and existing health are considerations. Compare plans. Asking a broker to find the best plan for you may be worth considering. Make sure you know what will and won’t be covered before you leave the country. Preexisting conditions may be handled differently by different plans. Costs can be reduced by increasing the deductible.

For information about the preparations we made for our first year, see the following:

Snowbird Preparation Part 1

Snowbird Preparation Part 2

Snowbird Preparation Part 3

Packing for Winter

I investigated options to handle an unexpected situation that occurred last year. Should I, in the first months of our stay in Arizona, receive a cheque which would be stale-dated by the time we return home, I can mail the cheque to my branch and ask them to deposit in my account. Legal changes have occurred this year allowing Canadian banks to institute remote cheque deposit via image capture, but few have the process and infrastructure in place yet. Until that is in place at my bank, the only option is to mail in the cheque.

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