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Snowbird Concerns Winter 2020-21
June 25, 2020
12:48 pm
Nehpets
Ontario
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If you are a Florida (as we are) or other warm climate destination snowbird, with the information we have at this time, how do you assess the chances of being able to return to your warm destination this coming winter?

The concerns as I see them:

    Covid-19 resurgence and infection risks, while being 1500 miles from Canada with local medical facilities potentially overwhelmed
    Political instability following November elections, and the potential disruptions regardless of who wins
    Emergency out of Country medical insurers potentially excluding coverage for Covid-19 related claims
    Border closures and/or Canadian travel restrictions

Are there other factors I have not considered?

Stephen

June 25, 2020
1:44 pm
Kidd
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Do you buy health insurance coverage? Will they offer coverage and at what cost? If the border is closed, they can not fly you home... $$$$

The exchange rate between the Canadian $ and the usa might be bigger. Once our budget numbers are released (a trillion plus in debt) our dollar may drop down into the sixties.

June 25, 2020
1:46 pm
rhvic
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That about covers the main points.

You won't find me in Florida, or anywhere in the USA, for some years to come.

June 25, 2020
2:55 pm
Loonie
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Those who fly to their destination are likely to incur significantly higher fares and/or added fees. I read, for example, that dentists are now charging an extra $25 fee for covid protection.
Similarly, there could be other covid fees that the traveller will encounter which could be avoided if stayed home.

Travel health insurance may also be more expensive or have a covid exclusion or coverage limitation.

It is sort of implied in what you have written but I would also not underestimate the impact of widespread misinformation, much of it apparently intentional, that seems to be spreading through the US. Florida appears to be a favourite habitat.
Their infection rate is unconscionable for what they deem to be "the greatest country on earth".

Similarly, I would rate the possibility of civil unrest as a serious concern. It's not just post-election per se. Voter suppression attempts are already rampant. I am not 100% confident there will actually be an election. If there is, it will be fraught with issues. Inauguration could also be a problem.

If you own your own place down there, it will probably be easier than renting. You won't have to contend with increased prices and sanitation issues. You can stay close to home if need be and hopefully avoid infection or other threats.

You might want to consider safety and security of food, water, power and gasoline supplies. I am not aware of issues in that region, but I simply don't know.

Personally, I don't go there though. Haven't been in Florida, in particular, since 1963!

June 25, 2020
3:16 pm
Doug
British Columbia, Canada
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Nehpets said
If you are a Florida (as we are) or other warm climate destination snowbird, with the information we have at this time, how do you assess the chances of being able to return to your warm destination this coming winter?

The concerns as I see them:

    Covid-19 resurgence and infection risks, while being 1500 miles from Canada with local medical facilities potentially overwhelmed
    Political instability following November elections, and the potential disruptions regardless of who wins
    Emergency out of Country medical insurers potentially excluding coverage for Covid-19 related claims
    Border closures and/or Canadian travel restrictions

Are there other factors I have not considered?

Stephen  

It's a good question, Stephen. I would say the level of risk is between moderately high and high on a six-point rating scale. As of now, the Canada—U.S. border is closed through the end of July. I expect it to remain close through the end of August if not September, at minimum. Government officials will not be slow to close all international borders again in a future second or third wave of COVID-19, nevermind a different virus (one far worse than the amped up flu that COVID-19 is), as the public will not stand for their being cautious on border closures, again.

If you spend even one day longer than the stipulated time limit, you potentially would see your RRSP, RRIF, and TFSA assets become taxable on your becoming a non-resident for tax purposes.

For this reason, I strongly advise against vacationing outside of Canada for at least the next 3-5 years. Park the RV, and stay in Canada. Winters aren't so bad. sf-cool

Edit: Nevermind the out of country travel insurance restrictions. I didn't factor that in to my assessment. They will be sticky on and/or extremely slowwalking on non-COVID-19 claims, and premiums will probably double.

Cheers,
Doug

June 25, 2020
3:17 pm
Nehpets
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Kidd said
Do you buy health insurance coverage? Will they offer coverage and at what cost?  

Retiree coverage for out of Country emergency medical insurance from former employers is generally more liberal in its underwriting than individually purchased coverage like Medipac etc.; however, based on the experience of this past April, some carriers of individual policies surprised their clients with a fine print exclusion that withdraws coverage when the Canadian govt issues a travel advisory. That caused a scramble for many Canadian snowbirds to return to Canada in April.

If the border is closed, they can not fly you home...

In our case, we drive, but in the event of a medical crisis, a repatriation flight might be in order...certainly something to bear in mind.

The exchange rate between the Canadian $ and the usa might be bigger.

A good reason to monitor exchange rates and buy during times when exchange is favorable.

rhvic said You won't find me in Florida, or anywhere in the USA, for some years to come. 

What is your warm weather winter destination, if any?

I understand your sentiment, and our own desire to return to our winter home in no way suggests support for the lunacy that has captivated the U.S. The fact is there are precious few options, in my view, for a warm climate winter destination with easy access and a moderate cost of living.

We restrict ourselves to our local community, our circle of friends, both American and fellow CDNs and avoid involvement in local politics....essentially choosing the destination for the weather.

Until now, a pandemic combined with political instability and civil unrest were not factors to be considered.

Stephen

June 25, 2020
3:32 pm
Nehpets
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Loonie said
..........
Similarly, I would rate the possibility of civil unrest as a serious concern. It's not just post-election per se. Voter suppression attempts are already rampant. I am not 100% confident there will actually be an election. If there is, it will be fraught with issues. Inauguration could also be a problem.

If you own your own place down there, it will probably be easier than renting. You won't have to contend with increased prices and sanitation issues. You can stay close to home if need be and hopefully avoid infection or other threats.

Agreed, Loonie, that the potential for civil unrest is even greater than the COVID concern, which itself cannot be underestimated. The South is a stronghold of support for radical elements and they all have guns!

Additionally for those of us who drive, we have to drive fifteen hundred miles along which it's anyone's guess what might be encountered.

And you are quite right, in our own home, in our gated community we are relatively safe, but we do have to occasionally go out for groceries etc thereby increasing risk.

Doug said stay in Canada. Winters aren't so bad.

I used to say that too..when I was forty!sf-laugh

Stephen

June 25, 2020
3:51 pm
Bill
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I know of a guy who closed on a large 4 bedroom house in Arizona right before the border closed, I'm assuming he can't get down there to move in, haven't checked with him. Can you fly to USA if you have a home there?

And I'm guessing Canadians are still able to fly home if they're still out of country, there are some airports where international flights are still coming to as far as I know. So it seems to me the problem will be more about getting there, rather than getting back if the borders close again while you're down there.

June 25, 2020
3:58 pm
Dean
Slocan Valley, West Kootenays, BC.
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rhvic said

. . .

You won't find me in Florida, or anywhere in the USA, for some years to come.  

    ⬆ DITTO ⬆

I wouldn't even Dream about going Anywhere there ... Especially FLORIDA ❗❗

Thank our Lucky Stars we live in Canada.

sf-cool " Live Long And Prosper " sf-cool

June 25, 2020
4:32 pm
cruzinalong
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I have several friends that feel the same way.

Nice to get away. Nice to be home.

June 25, 2020
6:33 pm
AltaRed
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I would not go anywhere in Mainland USA. Out west, a lot of folks take a month in Hawai. They have done a fine job controlling covid-19.

June 25, 2020
11:11 pm
Loonie
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Something else has occurred to me based on what was said above.
I wouldn't count on a medical flight home.
First, if you are in the ICU with a ventilator, you are stuck there. Nobody is going to send you home until you are stable enough to endure it.
Second, air ambulance will not pick you up unless there is a bed available at your destination. The hospitals here will not volunteer a bed if hey are at or near capacity, which they often are for a number of reasons aside from covid - including seasonal flu. If there is a second or third or continuing wave (I don't consider the first one over), there is not going to be a bed available, never mind the question of exposed personnel entering Canada. Consider too that the end is not yet in sight for the first wave in the US, and in some areas the outlook remains grim. it's the fire that never quite goes out and gets rekindled regularly, it seems.
So, if you were sick or injured for any reason and needed air ambulance, you could be SOL.
This did happen to someone i knew, perhaps 10 years ago, and as far as I know, this has not changed. That's the only reason I know about it. As far as I know, the situation hasn't changed. This could arise at any time, of course, but the risk is higher during a pandemic.

I can't help but think of the "hanging chads" fiasco of the 2000 US election in which Florida and its dubious and blatantly partisan electoral machinations were centre stage in a drama that went on for for weeks. In that case, led on by Al Gore, people were persuaded to accept the verdict under the "rule of law", even though it appeared to a great many people to be a sham. The rule of law has taken quite a beating since then. I can't imagine people will be as compliant if something parallel happens this time.
Florida is not just a hotbed of radical gunslingers; it is a highly contentious and important state in determining the outcome of federal elections.

One of the good things about owning your own place and using your own wheels is that you don't have to make this decision until the last minute. And you are right that you should be relatively safe in your enclave, although not free from worry. Surely they must have some services to buy and deliver your groceries in a state full of old people?

I would keep an eye out for whatever the Florida government might come up with to make it more attractive to tourism this winter. Florida is absolutely dependent on tourists. Will they give up and throw in the towel or will they offer something to address your concerns?

I think I could imagine some of your trepidation about those 1500 miles. My experience was long ago now, and I was a wide-eyed teenager. There are new highways and routes now. But I have two solid memories of that long drive. The first was going through part of Atlanta and being scared by the local atmosphere, which seemed vaguely threatening. The other was an argumentative white racist in a motel in North Carolina. It was Christmas Eve and we were socializing with other guests around a Christmas tree in the lobby, with "good will to al" and so on.
These incidents were jarring. I'd never met such people before. You never know who you are going to run into. This is a bigger concern if you happen to be a person of colour.

Maybe it's time to dust off your ice skates, snow shoes and/or X-country skis, invest in quality snow tires and winter boots, and curl up in front of a roaring fire with a cup of cocoa!
.

June 26, 2020
5:55 am
Nehpets
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Loonie said
Something else has occurred to me based on what was said above.
I wouldn't count on a medical flight home.
............
Maybe it's time to dust off your ice skates, snow shoes and/or X-country skis, invest in quality snow tires and winter boots, and curl up in front of a roaring fire with a cup of cocoa!

Your points are well taken, Loonie, and these are the very thoughts I along with many of my Canadian friends who live in the same community are mulling over these days.

We may have to re-evaluate our plans in the coming months and years and begin shopping for replacements for those winter clothes we disposed of so many years ago (sigh).

Stephen

June 26, 2020
7:22 am
rhvic
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Nehpets said

rhvic said You won't find me in Florida, or anywhere in the USA, for some years to come. 

What is your warm weather winter destination, if any?

I understand your sentiment, and our own desire to return to our winter home in no way suggests support for the lunacy that has captivated the U.S. The fact is there are precious few options, in my view, for a warm climate winter destination with easy access and a moderate cost of living.

Stephen  

I suppose my winter destination is where I already live - on the west coast. Mind you, this is not an inexpensive place to live, so not a vacation destination for most. Still, very little if any snow to shovel.

AltaRed was suggesting Hawaii - a consideration there is their current two week quarantine period, so any stay would need to be a month or more to make it viable.

June 26, 2020
8:40 am
AltaRed
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Hawaii is dropping their 14 day quarantine period effective Aug 1 if a covid-19 test within 72 hours pre-travel is negative. https://www.hawaiitourismauthority.org/news/alerts/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/

It is not clear whether this will apply to International travellers yet, or only out-of-state, but I suspect clarity will be ongoing as time progresses and the rules will change to accommodate the million visitors or more that they need for their tourism industry.

My main point if one has been following the Hawaii response to covid-19 is that it has been thorough, responsive and pragmatic relative to most other states. It seems like it will be the safest place to travel too IF one is willing to travel through airports and get on a jet on which one has no idea where it came from on its prior trip and whether it has been properly sanitized.

We have done the Florida, Arizona, and Southern California thing before and none of those places have any appeal to us. But I do understand there is something for everyone. We can't imagine owning property anywhere ex-Canada with the obligatory feeling we must travel there because we own it, but we also do not feel the need to be away 3-5 months either.

We won't be traveling out-of-country at all this coming winter unless things change a lot for the better and it will be a last minute decision come January.

June 27, 2020
6:18 pm
Jon
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I can assure no one will be traveling anywhere out of country (province too) for leisure for a very long time because it is almost a certainty that the disease will have a second, and a third wave.
This is because when COVID die down in one place, it spread to another place and spread like wildfire, which allow the disease to be spread to another place again.

Fortunately, contagious disease generally become less deadly overtime, as the deadlier strains tend face greater difficulty to spread as those strains are more likely yo kill off its host prematurely.

June 27, 2020
7:14 pm
Bill
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After all these months of general fear global death toll is about 497K, i.e. 1 out of every 15,600 people, about 33 hours worth of new births - and almost all of them being elderly folks who were likely to die relatively soon anyway due to other underlying conditions plus their age. For the vast majority of people there are either no symptoms or they just get under the weather for a while, there are improvements almost daily in treating this thing too, so we'll end up just adding it to our list of remote risks of being alive and life, including travel, will get back to normal soon enough.

June 27, 2020
10:16 pm
Loonie
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The situation in Florida with covid-19 is out of control. And Trump wants to decrease testing so we will know even less about the numbers of cases and deaths in future. But even Mike Pence doesn't want to go there now!
Younger people are increasingly being infected as many won't stay away from others as readily as their elders.
Florida's senior population is very high, at about 20%, with an extra million in winter bringing it up to about 24%.

I'm sure Stephen can figure out the risks for himself. He didn't ask our opinion about whether it was a good idea to go. He asked about factors he should consider.
Here are some current ones:
https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/florida-bans-drinking-at-bars-as-daily-coronavirus-cases-approach-9-000-1.5001339

At this time, things are getting worse in Florida, not better, and this reflects negatively on the likelihood of dealing with it successfully in future. They certainly aren't out of the first wave yet, never mind second, third, etc.

June 28, 2020
4:18 am
Briguy
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Bill said
After all these months of general fear global death toll is about 497K, i.e. 1 out of every 15,600 people, about 33 hours worth of new births - and almost all of them being elderly folks who were likely to die relatively soon anyway due to other underlying conditions plus their age. For the vast majority of people there are either no symptoms or they just get under the weather for a while, there are improvements almost daily in treating this thing too, so we'll end up just adding it to our list of remote risks of being alive and life, including travel, will get back to normal soon enough.  

Infection with coronavirus may not go away for a person even after they are "cured". It may be more of a chronic disease for some people.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/27/can-you-catch-coronavirus-twice-what-we-know-about-covid-19-so-far

“[We are] at the beginning of describing what may be a complex picture of chronic disease that may ensue from the initial infection – coming and going in relapsing waves, sometimes almost like a kind of chronic fatigue syndrome,” he said. “[These cases] may reflect examples of virus not fully cleared, or alternatively, some kind of damaging post-hoc disturbance to immune or inflammatory function"

Also, this is likely to become like influenza, a disease that keeps reoccurring every year, and will never go away unless they can discover an effective vaccine that won't lose effectiveness through mutation of the virus. There never has been an effective vaccine developed against MERS and SARS, the ones that were developed produced antibodies, but when the test animals were later exposed to the disease they developed a much more severe response due to priming of their nervous system. So it's unlikely we will get an effective vaccine. eg. one article
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/22/why-we-might-not-get-a-coronavirus-vaccine

June 28, 2020
8:25 am
AltaRed
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Bill said
After all these months of general fear global death toll is about 497K, i.e. 1 out of every 15,600 people, about 33 hours worth of new births - and almost all of them being elderly folks who were likely to die relatively soon anyway due to other underlying conditions plus their age. For the vast majority of people there are either no symptoms or they just get under the weather for a while, there are improvements almost daily in treating this thing too, so we'll end up just adding it to our list of remote risks of being alive and life, including travel, will get back to normal soon enough.  

The problem is bigger than that. Several studies/follow up show that many people who have had covid-19 end up with permanent organ damage of various types, including lungs (as if they had been smokers), heart damage, etc. That healthy 30 or 40 year old is no longer all that healthy post covid-19 and is likely to have a shortened life span and/or be a further burden on the health system. Significant rates of infection in the work place will disrupt operations in many industries and businesses. Imagine trying to run an assembly line when an outbreak sidelines a third of one's workforce. A real test is going to be automotive manufacturing where assembly lines count on hundreds of suppliers also running assembly lines. I hope some institution is monitoring how well the auto manufacturers (and others) are going to be able to get back into business and operate 3 shifts a day continuously.

Covid-19 is not just a 'little flu' for a large portion of the population. It can be life altering, if not life shortening.

There are thus real economic costs to covid-19 outbreaks regardless of whether it is mostly seniors' lives who are sacrificed prematurely.

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