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Part 2: Money Matters

*Note: all figures are in USD.

As winter approaches, like many snowbirds you may itching to head south and spend a few months in a warmer climate. Yet before you do, be sure to take care of a few money matters including budgeting, researching your insurance options, carefully reviewing your rental agreement, and planning your U.S. banking.

If you’re considering a long-term U.S. rental this winter, keep these financial points in mind before signing an extended-stay rental agreement.

Budget Accurately for Long Term U.S. Rental Costs

Budgeting accurately for a long-term U.S. rental means estimating your average monthly winter rent based on your destination and required accommodations.

For example, in Florida, monthly rent for a two-bedroom Sarasota apartment is around $1200, while a two-bedroom Fort Lauderdale rental can cost about $1700. In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, you can expect to pay in the $1300-per-month range for a two bedroom unit. If you like the idea of an extended winter stay in Arizona, the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom Phoenix apartment is around $950 USD.

With beaches, warm weather and city amenities, Texas has become increasingly popular with Canadians in winter months. In a city like Corpus Christi, a two-bedroom unit rents for an average of $981. Another popular winter destination for Canadians is California. Its best to budget for at least $1000 per month for a 2 bedroom rental in Palm Springs.

Do I Need Tenants Insurance?

Tenants (or renters) insurance can protect your personal belongings in a rental unit. Depending on the terms of your rental agreement and the items you plan to keep in your rental unit, you may want to speak to an insurance professional about getting tenants insurance before heading south this winter. And don’t forget to ask them whether their insurance policy would cover any deposit or payment loss if bad weather (like hurricanes) causes a trip cancellation.

Typical Deposit/Payment Terms

According to an article on snowbirdadvisor.ca, many landlords require a $500 USD deposit to hold a rental unit, plus the remaining amount in full, 60 days prior to your arrival. Some agencies or landlords will accept payments via PayPal, while others prefer a cheque in U.S. funds. Keep in mind, cheques are not date honoured in the U.S. If you provide post-dated cheques for the full stay, there is a chance they may all be cashed immediately.

Depending on the local area bylaws, you may also have to pay a cleaning/security deposit. Once a landlord receives payment in full, the landlord will instruct you where to get your key.

Also consider the financial impact bad weather conditions may have on your long term U.S. winter travel plans. Check on the refund policy in case bad weather conditions prevent you from travelling to and/or staying in your rental unit.

Managing Your Finances in the U.S.

Getting a U.S. based bank account will help simplify finances during your long term winter stay. With most U.S. based bank accounts, you can access U.S. cash at ATMs, write cheques (like your deposit and rent cheques) in U.S. funds, or pay for expenses in the U.S. Some Canadian banks offer U.S. based accounts and even allow you to manage these accounts with online banking — allowing you to take charge of your money even while away.

Do what you can to address your financial needs before heading south for your extended U.S. winter stay. That way you won’t have money worries on your mind when you should be relaxing.

More from the Renting in the U.S. Series: