Barry Choi: Prices are up, but snowbirds can still save on their winter escape – Toronto Sun

Strategies to help fight the high cost of heading south

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Ways for snowbirds to save this winter

After two winters of travel restrictions and lockdowns, much of the world has opened up. This is welcome news for snowbirds that are looking to escape the Canadian winter, but they may be in for some sticker shock.

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While inflation is coming down from its peak earlier this year, prices will be higher than last winter. Some vacationers already face the rising costs.

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The Canadian Snowbird Association, a not-for-profit advocacy group, told CBC that its membership numbers have remained steady over the past few years. However, they have noticed that more Canadians are selling their U.S. properties, likely due to the higher costs of maintenance and upkeep.

If you’re heading down south this winter, you’ll need to prepare yourself for a more expensive stay, but there are still ways to save on travel, accommodations and the cost of living.

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Prices are up across the board

If you thought inflation was bad in Canada, the U.S. reported an 8.2 per cent increase in September compared to the previous year.

While the Federal Reserve has already increased interest rates five times this year to combat inflation, and more hikes are expected, it would be unrealistic for Canadians to think that prices will suddenly drop this winter.

If you are considering selling your vacation property and renting instead, you might not see a lot of savings.

That’s because rental prices have gone up across the state of Florida, which is one of the most popular snowbird destinations. According to a recent report from Apartment List, rent prices were up 22.5 per cent in Fort Lauderdale, 15.6 per cent in Miami, 10.2 per cent in Orlando, and 6.3 per cent in Tampa year-over-year.

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Besides the rising costs due to inflation and demand, there’s also currency conversion to worry about. The Canadian dollar is sitting at around 73 cents U.S. A year ago, the Canadian dollar was worth 80 cents U.S. While it is only pennies, it adds up over a winter, especially with added cost of living.

How to save on your winter escape

Despite rising fuel costs, it’ll likely still be cheaper for you to drive south instead of flying.

As of October airline inflation is up 42.9%, outstripping the rate of inflation for products such as gas or groceries.. If you are unable to find a reasonably-priced flight it may make more sense to drive.

The added advantage of driving down is that you’ll always have access to a vehicle, so you won’t need to spend money on taxis, rideshares or a rental.

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As for accommodations, vacation homes will likely have set prices, so you can’t do much about that. But you could consider renting an RV. The benefit here is that you get your travel and accommodations all in one cost.

If you don’t want to invest in buying an RV you can always rent one. CanaDream has a winter sun seeker package where you can rent an RV for 30 to 60 nights for $3,999 + taxes.You could also rent from a friend or arrange a private rental for the winter.

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Consider a more distant location

Instead of focusing on areas such as Florida, where there will be lots of demand, consider travelling further abroad for added savings.

Belize has become a popular destination for expats and snowbirds since you can live comfortably in parts of the country on a budget of about $2,000 per month.

Attractions such as the Caribbean sea, ancient Mayan ruins, and the Belize Barrier Reef draw people to the country. It’s also worth noting that English is the national language in the country, so you won’t encounter any communication barriers.

Caye Caulker is a popular spot for snowbirds since it’s a short water taxi ride from Belize City, where the international airport is located. There is also San Pedro, where you’ll find some of the best resorts in the country.

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Another country worth considering for Canadians is Mexico since there’s easy access by air, great food, and good health care. What makes Mexico appealing is that many cities and towns have different vibes, so you can choose one based on your preference. Interior cities such as San Miguel and Cuernavaca have long been expat communities.

If you head out to the coasts, such as Baja California and the Yucatan Peninsula, you’ll be closer to the water and warmer temperatures. Rent typically costs more when you get closer to the water, but you can save by finding a property that’s a bit inland. You can expect to spend about $1,500 to $2,000 a month in Mexico during the winter, but those costs could go up if you’re looking for something more upscale.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.