Now that we are in the middle of the Summer season, many of us are looking forward to our family vacations. We decided to keep this month's newsletter light and focused on helping you get the most out of your time away.
Peter, Richard, Claudio and Joanna
Buying a vacation property
by Jim Yih - July 2013, retirehappy.ca
Summer time is a time for vacation and for some it's a time to dream about investing in a vacation property instead of throwing money out the door on some potentially expensive holidays.
More and more Canadians own more than one property and many of these are vacation properties. Buying vacation property is something that should be well thought out because of the financial impact it can have on your retirement planning. Before you buy vacation property here are a few things to think about
Where do you want to own?
There is no shortage of options when it comes to vacation property. You can look to one of the nearby lakes. Many Canadians are snapping up deals in Arizona, Nevada, Florida and other parts of the US. According to the National Association of Realtors, Canadians are the largest foreign buyers of property in the U.S., representing 23 per cent of all sales.
Last year, we took a family holiday in the Okanagan and it was amazing to see how many Albertans have invested in vacation property in BC. We even got drawn into the allure of owning vacation property in BC and started to look around at the options and possibilities.
Vacation at different times (and in different places)
We've been to the Okanagan for three years in a row and really enjoy the climate and the lifestyle. Every time we go, we think more and more about the idea of vacationing in the same place. The weather was perfect, there were no mosquitoes, and it's just really relaxing there.
That being said, we also like the idea of going to explore other parts of Canada, North America and the world for that matter. It's important to really think about whether you are the type of person that likes routine, consistency and enjoys vacationing in the same place every year or whether you prefer to try different things and see new places.
How much time will you spend there?
Vacation property makes more sense if you plan to spend a lot of time there. For me, I have flexible summers but I'm not sure it's practical to spend more than 2 or 3 weeks away. It's tough to justify the cost of buying vacation property if you can only spend 2 or 3 weeks there. For snowbirds who like to go to the same place for the entire winter, buying may make more sense than renting.
Do the math
When we went to Kelowna and Vernon last year, we actually looked around at some options for vacation property but every time I did the math, I realized it was not going to be prudent financially. One of the places we thought about was $300,000. The annual cost to own the property, which includes the mortgage, strata fees and property taxes, is $16,000. We can take some pretty nice holidays for $16,000 per year.
As much as we may have loved this place I could not rationalize the numbers. Before you get caught up in the sexiness and all the emotional and lifestyle reasons for owning a vacation property, remember to see if the math makes sense.
Adding up all the extras
Buying a vacation property will likely cost more than just the cost of the place. What about the property taxes, utilities, maintenance, etc? What about furniture and renovations? Have you budgeted for extra insurance, security, cleaning, etc? And what about the extra car, or boat and all the other toys that go along with vacation living?
Do your homework
Buying vacation property can be really sexy but don't get caught up in that sexiness. Make sure you do your homework like:
- Understanding the tax implications of owning vacation property in Canada, the US or some other international destination.
- Is there opportunity to rent the place out? Do you really want to become a landlord? How much extra work would it be to rent out the place when you are not using it?
- What happens if you die with foreign property? Are there estate implications?
- If you need a mortgage, how will debt impact your retirement plan? Many baby boomers are retiring with debt and some of this debt is due to the purchase of other property including vacation homes.
- Is renting vacation property more economical than buying?
Practice vacationing before you buy
Probably one of the best pieces of advice I was given in my temporary search for vacation property in the Okanagan was to stay in a few different places before you buy. It's so important to get a good feel for the people, your neighbors, the community and your environment. I've seen many people who are surprised how many people buy impulsively only to have a rude awakening later.
This list is far from exhaustive so be sure to do your homework before you buy vacation property.
View original article here.
Room for savings: How to get the most bang from your travel accommodation buck
by Jane Canapini - July 2013, brighterlife.ca
Want to stretch your vacation budget? Discover your accommodation personality and check out these online options to save a lot of cash.
It's a sad reality: Canadians don't get a lot of vacation time. In fact, a survey by Mercer human resources consultants found that we receive less holiday time than any other developed country in the world, averaging only 19 days a year.
This explains why, with precious little time for travel, we treasure those days, and try to get the absolute most out of them. It's also why so many of us include travel in our retirement plans, hoping to spend some of that new-found free time exploring the world.
But unless you're planning on staying in hostels or couch-surfing around Europe, travel doesn't come cheap.
Fortunately, finding affordable accommodation is possible; in fact, the options are many and varied, and don't involve sacrificing those creature comforts you've come to love - like having your own bathroom.
For most of us, where we stay is going to take up a large amount of our research time online, for good reason: Depending on where you go, accommodations can represent nearly a third of your total travel budget, not counting your airfare, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association. So researching where to stay is time well spent.
If you're responsible for shopping for your family, you have plenty of experience comparing options, evaluating quality and finding value for your dollar. You just need to apply those same skills when shopping for accommodations online. But you'll also need to understand your ''accommodation personality."
Not only where but also how you stay is a reflection of who you are and the kind of experience you want when you travel. Do you like the consistent service offered by a four-star hotel, or do you prefer to live like a local for a more grassroots experience? Do you rely on a helping hand, close at hand, or are you more independent? These preferences are going to dictate where and how to look for places that fit your accommodation personality and, in turn, help you find the value you're looking for. We've uncovered five basic accommodation personalities:
1. For the hotel traditionalist: BackBid
If you like to know exactly what you're getting, this site offers a great way to save money after you've booked a specific hotel. Register your existing reservation with BackBid, and other hotels at the same star level near your already-booked location can offer you cheaper rates to help fill their empty rooms. If you prefer the new rate, you just cancel your previous hotel room booking and take the cheaper alternative. The best part is, you'll know exactly what is being offered before having to make a decision.
2. For the roll-the-dice traditionalist: Priceline
If you're a control freak, this may not be the perfect site for you, since it's a blind auction and you won't know exactly where you're staying until after you've paid. Place a bid for what you are willing to pay for a hotel in a specific area and star-rating, and see if your price is accepted. If it is, your booking is confirmed immediately - often for 40% less than regular rates. The downside (here's where the control freak part comes in) is that if you don't like the hotel you're booked at, it's too late to change your mind, since you've already been charged.
3. For the people person: bed and breakfast (In Canada, BBCanada)
For travellers who like a more personal experience, B&Bs offer good value because you aren't paying for larger hotel amenities, plus the price includes breakfast. And while there might not be a concierge desk, most hosts are usually happy to offer recommendations for favourite restaurants and attractions from a true insider's perspective. Most cities have bed-and-breakfast association websites, so simply search for B&B associations by city name, and you'll usually find multiple options.
4. For the think-global-stay-local adventurer: Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO)
If you like the idea of living like a local, this site offers private residences in cities around the world, which their owners rent to travellers. Because you can cook for yourself, this is a great way to save on extended stays, or if you travel as a family and don't want to eat every meal at restaurants. But remember, these are individuals who are renting to you, not companies, so use the site at your own risk, and make sure you feel comfortable with the terms being offered.
5. For the mi casa, su casa house-swapper: HomeExchange
If you are willing to leave your home in someone else's hands in exchange for theirs, this is one way you can literally stay somewhere without paying for the roof over your head. House swapping is essentially an accommodation barter system, where you exchange your house with another member in the network, for a mutually agreed-upon timeframe. Accommodations don't get much cheaper than this.
Whatever your travel style, spending a little time online can save you a lot on your trip. Because no matter what your budget may be, there's always room for savings.
View original article here.
6 Free Things to Do With Your Family This Summer
by Alan Schram, - July 2013, canadianfinanceblog.com
Now that kids are out of school and summer is in full swing, you might be looking for something to do to keep everyone busy and make sure they're having fun. Here are some free things you can do with your family this summer:
1. Go to a local water park
Most larger cities have free public water parks that they open up in the Summer. Usually, the bigger the city, the larger the water park, and if you're really lucky the'll have a couple available for you to go to. If you're not sure if you have one locally, check out your city's webpage to find some details. Even if your city doesn't have one, a nearby one might.
Water parks are a great excuse to be outdoors. If you have kids, as long as there is some water splashing the quality of the facilities doesn't really mater, so don't be put off by an "old" or "small" park. Just get out in the sun with your family. Even if you don't have kids, or if your kids have long gone, water parks are a great place to sit and people watch on a nice sunny day.
2. Go to the beach
Unless you are stuck in the middle of the desert, chances are good there is a beach pretty close nearby. It may not be a swimming beach, and it may not be the biggest beach, but going on an adventure to the local watering hole can be fun for the whole family.
Watching wildlife, or splashing around in the ocean, or building sand castles and finding cool rocks are all perfectly legitimate reasons to be outside as a family. Bring some sunscreen and bug spray just in case, and if you want to get crazy, bring a picnic lunch with you as well.
I have few better memories than spending time at the beach when I was young, so you can make those same memories with your family today.
3. Go for a hike
Now that the woods are open and clear of snow, take some time to traverse your local geography.
One of the houses that I used to live at was back right onto a pretty popular hiking trail. It was a great opportunity to use the land's natural features to spend some quality time with my family, and I'm sure your hometown has some great opportunities nearby as well.
It doesn't have to be a big hike, and no one will judge you for driving most of the way to the top. Bring a hat and some water if the heat is strong, and make sure you're prepared to encounter wildlife.
4. Go the library
Summer heat getting to you? Want to spend some time in a nice cool indoor location without paying a dime? Head to the local library with your whole family and plan to spend a couple hours inside.
Scope out some comfy chairs and read a book, or play games with the kids by giving them a theme or an author and getting them to find the best book to match. Most libraries will even stock magazines these days, so take advantage of old back issues and plan out future purchases, your dream house, or an amazing garden from the available periodicals.
As long as you stay quiet and obey the rules of the library, nobody will mind you spending a hot afternoon indoors.
5. Build a fort
Got some scrap lumber and an old tree? Got some giant cardboard boxes and some tape? Want to turn lawn furniture into a lawn fortress? Turn your backyard into a construction zone and get to building an amazing fort.
It can be permanent, it can be temporary, it doesn't really matter. The point is not to create an award wining design, it's to be creative and outdoors with your family. Have a large family, or have the neighbour kids over? Create two fortresses and go to war with nerf guns or tennis balls.
Spend a day "shopping" for fort supplies by driving around town picking up "free" stuff on the side of the road, or bugging box stores for giant boxes. Personalize the forts with whatever you can find laying around the house. Soon your back yard will be the envy of the entire street.
6. Have a water fight
Too hot outside, too hot inside, and don't want to go anywhere? You don't have to have the latest and greatest water gun on the market to have a water fight in your own backyard. All you need is something that holds water and a bit of energy.
Combine this with the fort making to have an incredible all-out war. Assault the forts with water balloons, sneak attack the opponent with a bucket of water from the porch.
It doesn't matter how old you are, you move pretty quick when someone is chasing you with freezing cold water straight from the tap. Calm down after and catch your breath with some iced tea in the shade before starting round two, and time will whiz by without you spending a dime on entertaining your family this summer.
What are you doing with your family this summer?
View original article here.
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