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Discover & Learn

Part 1: Finding a rental unit that suits your needs.

As winter approaches, like many snowbirds you may already be dreaming of the sunshine, sandy beaches and warmer temperatures down south. If you’re considering a long-term U.S. rental this winter, keep these points in mind before signing an extended-stay rental agreement.

Long Term Rental Options for Canadians

Canadians looking for long-term U.S. rentals have several accommodation options including:

  • Condos
  • Mobile homes
  • Apartments
  • Time-shares
  • Detached homes

Think carefully about your needs and how you prefer to spend your days in the U.S. Doing so can help you select the right type of accommodation for your time away. Your budget, hobbies, physical condition and even your family size factor into the type of rental accommodation that could best suit you.

Rental Accommodation Features to Consider

Your rental unit should include features that support your lifestyle while in the U.S. Consider the following as you review each rental listing.

Space

  • What’s the square footage of the unit? Although making do with a “too small” unit might not seem like a big deal for a week or two, when you’re renting for several months it could make the difference between feeling comfortable or cramped.

Condition

  • Review the pictures and details of the rental carefully. How old is it? Is it well-kept? How current are the photos? While assessing a rental unit’s condition online or by reviewing brochures can be tricky, look for signs of mold, mildew, worn or outdated fixtures and furniture. You don’t want to spend your time away dealing with repairs.

Price

  • How does the price compare to other nearby rental units? Does the price include utilities such as water, electricity, or even Internet? Watch out for deals that seem too good to be true — they could prove more trouble than they’re worth if there’s a problem with the unit or location.

Nearby Amenities

  • Check the distance from the rental to the activities and amenities you need and want. Many Canadians like close proximity to shopping, restaurants, golf courses, beaches, waterways or sports complexes. Having amenities nearby may boost rental prices, but a longer drive to amenities could get you a nicer or bigger unit for the same price.

Elevator Access

  • If you’re considering an apartment or condo unit, consider looking for one with an elevator. Carting luggage, golf clubs, beach bags and groceries up and down several flights of stairs regularly might get old fast.

Additional Guests Accommodations

  • If kids, grandkids or other family members or friends plan to visit during your extended vacation time down south, choose a rental with additional guest accommodations. Look for units with additional bedrooms, or complexes that offer separate rental units. And while you’re looking, consider if your guests will need parking spaces.

5 Ways to Find Long-term Rental Options

Since the nicest units and most popular destinations may book up fast, start searching for your perfect long-term U.S. rental well before you plan to leave. Find extended stay U.S. rental options through the following:

Word-of-Mouth: Ask friends, family members and neighbours about their experiences and review any images they have of the rental complex and/or units so you’ll have an idea of what to expect.

Local Realtors: Once you’ve decided on a destination, search online for a local area realtor to help you find a long-term rental unit.

Rental Companies: These companies operate in many U.S. states popular with Canadians, such as Florida and South Carolina. Search them out online and view listings you’d like to learn more about before contacting them.

Online rental classifieds: Local online classified sites may offer privately-owned units for rent, while national sites like Homeaway.com or Vacationrentals.com cover country-wide winter rentals. You can also check out offerings on airbnb.ca by searching “monthly rental” plus your destination.

CARP listings: Members of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP) can review and book long-term U.S. rental accommodations online from the comfort of their own home.

Review the Rental Agreement Rules and Regulations Carefully!

Before signing your extended stay rental agreement, read over the rules and regulations carefully so you’re familiar with any restrictions. Typical rules include:

  • No pets.
  • No smoking in units.
  • Requirement to register overnight guests.
  • Additional charges for extra parking space(s).
  • Rules against parking a camper/trailer in the complex parking lot or unit driveway.
  • No barbecuing on apartment or condo balconies.

Reviewing rules and regulations regarding your rental unit and/or complex before you head south reduces the likelihood that you’ll have to deal with unexpected charges or issues that could add stress to your extended U.S. stay. If anything is unclear, it’s best to call or email the landlord or rental agency to ask.

Also be sure to check on the cancelation policy due to unpreventable forces like hurricanes. Read the fine print of your rental agreement carefully to see whether you’ll get a refund of some or all of your deposit if bad weather conditions prevent you from travelling to and/or staying in your rental unit.

Minimize headaches and inconveniences by planning ahead for your extended U.S. winter stay this year. Think about what you want out of your time away, and do some research to help you choose the right long-term vacation rental option for your lifestyle. Also make sure your legal documents, such as Power of Attorney, are valid in the state you plan to visit.

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