“Lately, it occurs to me…. what a long strange trip it’s been” – Grateful Dead
We thought it was all figured out… We would “retire” from teaching to live in Southern California, find another mode to make enough money to see us the 5 to 7 years until old age benefits began and live our life while still able to enjoy it. We would get catastrophic health coverage just in case, while we sought part-time employment that offered medical benefits (yes there are companies that do offer their part-timers benefits). In the mean time we would pursue and perfect our respective arts, photography and writing in the goal of selling them.
It sure seemed like a great plan… but, life always has a way of throwing things in our paths that can change everything …
We had considered the possibility of “snow-birding” 6 months in Canada and 6 months in the US. The only problem was … we had no residence in Canada and could ill afford one. Little did we know… life has a way of throwing things…
Shortly after we applied for catastrophic health insurance and two weeks before that application was underwritten and we were covered (BUT the insurance company sure as heck accepted our $$$ immediately!) we discovered that both Til & I (as a spouse) could be covered under BC health insurance within three months of Til returning to Canada as a permanent resident. We could get 100% health coverage – including vision and dental for less than 1/2 the cost of our $8400 per year; $15,000 deductible ‘Catastrophic’ policy (catastrophic, alright… to our bank account if we got sick) in the US.
We could afford to rent a home for the time we were in Canada and NOT spend any more $’s than we would have living in the US full time (and over-paying for “worthless” health insurance). The only catch? We would be required to live in BC for 6 months of every year. Besides BC highways being a biker’s paradise and BC being a fisherman’s dream and a photographer’s heaven; we figured that we could endure that ‘burden’.
Snow Birds we would become! BUT, in the mean time we would return home to California and wait until April to head north as we needed to find a place to live in Canada and submit the application for my permanent residency.
OR so we thought!
One week after our return to California, we received a call from our best friends in Canada telling us of the opportunity for taking care of the fishing lodge they had been winter care-takers of (for 6 previous years). We had expressed interest in replacing them if they ever decided not to return. There is no pay, BUT there is no rent or utilities to pay either. And other than being on premises to insure nothing freezes up in the main lodge if power goes out ( a fairly frequent occurrence); we have no other responsibilities.
Within 10 days we had packed up our belongings; made arrangements for temporarily renting out our California home (figured we might as well make a few $ while up north); traveled to spend a few days with my folks in WY (and pick up a few cold weather things like ski’s, snowshoes, hats, gloves, parkas, and Sorrels) and crossed the border into Canada.
Canadians we have become … Til once again… And me? Once an expat, i guess always an expat. But at least now I can spend 6 months (instead of 2) every year back “home”.
So, we are “settled” now… But, you never know… “it occurs to me…. what a long strange trip” it might still be.