An elderly couple using their computer to travel

How to make the change from empty nester to snowbird

With the kids grown up and out of the house, you finally have some time to yourself. You can do what you want with the house, and you can now focus on yourself and on doing the things you want to do. For many empty nesters, this means travelling – finally crossing off a few bucket list travel destinations, having new travel experiences and even heading south for the winter.

It is usually at this time in life when empty nesters become full-fledged snowbirds. However, before you pack your bags and head south, there are a number of important things you should do to ensure you have a smooth transition:

  1. Read up about the lifestyle: The snowbird lifestyle is not for everyone. Some people prefer taking multiple vacations during the year rather than spending a few months out of the country during the winter. Are you up for essentially relocating twice per year? Are you willing to put in the time to look for a place to stay and ensure everything is taken care of at home before each trip? Are you healthy enough to make the trip?
  2. Know the rules: The Canadian and US governments are getting more strict about tracking snowbirds’ travel habits. It’s very important to fully understand the immigration and travel rules and the implications on being taxed (in Canada and potentially in the US), how your access to provincial health care may be affected, your need for medical travel insurance and which items you are and are not allowed to cross the border with.
  3. Research locations: Florida is the default location for many snowbirds. However, there are other popular places worth considering, including Arizona, Texas and even Mexico. If you are looking for a permanent residence, it’s recommended that you check out a few locations and spend time there before making a decision.
  4. Get your finances in order: Being an empty nester and a snowbird are very different from a financial perspective. Keep in mind that you will need to factor in the cost of rent, food and activities, but you will also have to consider the costs you have back home, as well as transportation costs to and from your winter home. “The cost of driving to the Southern States is about $700 each way if you include gas, food and hotel charges for three nights,” says Julie Cazzin on MoneySense.
  5. Get medical travel insurance: Emergency medical care in the United States can cost thousands of dollars if you don’t have travel health insurance. Every provincial health care provider is different in terms of what they will reimburse for emergency medical costs while you are outside the country. “For instance, B.C. reimburses only $75 for emergency in-patient hospital care while Ontario covers up to $400 a day,” says Cazzin. Explore your travel health insurance options and make sure you have adequate coverage for your trip.

If you are planning on making the transition from empty nester to snowbird, contact Blue Cross today to get a free quote for snowbird travel insurance.