Today’s Poll

Practical Financial Solutions: Should you ‘exchange’ your shorts for a snowsuit next winter?

Roger Higgins
By Roger Higgins
October 2nd, 2016

You’re a snowbird and for years you’ve rented a condo in southern climes. What a great way to relax and enjoy life while avoiding Canada’s frosty winters! But this coming winter may turn out to be less (financially) relaxing for you than most.   
Around April is the time when many snowbirds make the decision about where they’ll be living when they head south. They make their decisions, sign their rental agreements and pay their deposits – in other words, they are “locked in”.

That’s exactly what you did last April and then … the exchange rate continued to drop. Now, that rental deal that looked quite economical in April will look a lot less attractive this fall and winter.
So, what do you do when April 2017 rolls around?

Do you roll the dice and secure a condo rental for winter 2017?

Or do you “exchange” your shorts for a snowsuit and “exchange” a pîna colada on the beach for a Canadian slushy at home?
With uncertainty on whether the exchange rate will improve any time soon, you may be inclined to forego your southern sojourn next winter – but you have other options.

You could opt to rent for a shorter period or wait past next April to see if you can get a better rental deal:  Because of the exchange rate, condo avails may be up and demand may be down prompting rental agencies to lower their rents (especially those that rely on snowbirds to boost sales).

Here are some other tips for getting more from the lowering loonie on your next trip south:

  • Explore the exchange rates offered by boutique currency exchange companies. The Canadian Snowbirds Association provides a currency exchange program that offers very competitive rates.
  • Buy U.S. dollars over the year whenever the loonie goes up.
  • Open a U.S. dollar account at a bank that offers no-cost transfers from a Canadian U.S. dollar account to a U.S. dollar account in the United States.
  • If you’re flying, consider doing so from a U.S. border airport where airfares may be cheaper.
  • Check out more affordable destinations away from the usual southern “hotspots”; the exchange rate and cost of living may be more favourable in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and other non-traditional southern locations. 

It’s an unavoidable fact:  No one can predict the future with 100% accuracy. The key is to be prepared for whatever comes.

That’s why planning for the most economical snowbird sojourn is important – and why total financial planning for all your retirement years is even more vital.

Talk to your professional advisor to ensure you have the best plan for you.

This column is sponsored by Roger Higgins, a BA, CFP Division Director for Investors Group in the Kootenays. For all your financial planning needs, contact Roger at 250-352-7777 of email at

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