Tips for snowbirding on Vancouver Island

Consider an extended-stay hotel suite in the heart of Victoria for the ultimate Canadian snowbird experience.

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satanoid/Creative Commons

satanoid/Creative Commons

Vancouver Island’s mild winters offers an alternative for snowbirds who may dislike the heat in the U.S. sunbelt and/or those who would rather stay in Canada 0ther reasons, including healthcare. Southern island residents enjoy a lot more time outside during winter since temperatures are manageable and snow is rare. When it does snow, it rarely lasts long although it is chaotic since few are accustomed to winter driving. Generally the more temperate weather means it is safer to walk to stores or participate in various activities without the fear of slipping on snow or ice.

A quick Google search using the terms “extended stay hotel + city name” will provide a list of many hotel options for snowbirds considering Vancouver Island. Ideally, extended-stay suites are in the heart of a city like Victoria where it’s easy to walk to amenities as well as enjoy the beautiful and active harbour area. Downtown hotel prices range from $2,400/month for a one-bedroom suite with a city view up to $4,200/month for a two-bedroom executive suite with water views.

Before booking your trip consider these steps:

Negotiate a deal with the hotel. The published rates can be improved for multi-week stays.

Confirm the kitchen amenities. Some suites provide kitchenettes whereas others include full kitchens with regular sized appliances and all the necessary dishes, pots, pans and cutlery.

Confirm laundry amenities. In-suite laundry may be available or the hotel will offer separate shared laundry rooms. Ask about the hours of operation and security features. After all, you don’t want your wardrobe to disappear from the dryer.

Research parking options. If you are renting or bringing a car, ensure that parking is included in the room rental.

Account for pet costs. Pets are permitted in many of the extended stay hotels, however, an extra fee, often per pet, will apply. The typical fee is about $100 per week.

Consider the tax implications. Hotel taxes can vary and an extended stay may trigger a tax rebate. These rules change frequently so do not assume anything. The tax differences can be quite substantial (in the range of 10%). Double check the rules as it would be disappointing to find that your stay was ineligible for a rebate because you were one day short of qualifying.

Check whether breakfast is included. The breakfasts probably won’t be your preferred option every day, but the convenience is great when you need it.

Also confirm that your smoking/non-smoking preferences have been met and whether WiFi Internet access is available at no extra cost. Before leaving home make sure that your prescriptions are filled for the duration of your trip. Check the provincial health care coverage rules. Although these vary by province, if health care services are required you may need to provide payment at the time of your appointment and then be reimbursed by your home province after completing the necessary paper work. You may also want to leave the car at home. Driving through the mountains can hazardous during the winter months. Plus, living without a car is very easy in Victoria. Walking is popular—even in the winter months the streets are energized with people. For longer distances consider using public transportation and taxis. Visiting other areas in B.C. can be done with a rental car or a vacation package that includes transportation.

Lee Anne Davies has worked as a consultant for insurance, wealth management, banking and financial education companies. She has a PhD in Aging, Health and Well-being and a Masters of Arts (MA) in Gerontology and Health Studies from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from Athabasca University’s Information Technology Management program. She’s also successfully completed the Canadian Securities Course and the Professional Financial Planning Course. To read more from Davies, visit her blog Agenomics.

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