The Solo Snowbird is a greatly useful blog that features “travel tips, life hacks and musings for the solo sunshine seeker” (as their slogan says). Written by snowbirds for snowbirds, this website provides fundamental information for all those “migratory creatures” that head south once the leaves start falling off the trees… check out their checklist.
Use this checklist as your guide before leaving for your winter home.
- Arrange for a house sitter / check your home insurance. The best scenario is to not leave your house unattended. There are many sites, besides recommendations from friends, where you can find reliable and trustworthy house sitters (paid and unpaid). This is important in the event of weather damage or to reduce the chances of a break-in while you are away. There is also the option of using a property management service that will check up on your home and do other tasks such as water plants, etc.
WARNING: The majority of house insurance policies DO NOT cover your house when it is left unattended for an extended period of time (check your policy). However, you may be able to purchase a rider to cover these periods, so talk to your agent.
- Prepay your home’s utilities (or arrange for an automatic payment via credit card or a pre-authorized account debit). These include hydro (electricity), gas, water and garbage pickup. Nothing would be worse to return and find water damage from burst frozen pipes because the heat had been turned off!
- Vehicle Insurance. If you are heading south for the entire winter and leaving your main vehicle behind, you might think cancelling your car insurance is a good idea. THINK AGAIN…you may be putting your car at risk. At the very least make sure you have fire, theft and other perils coverage. This is usually referred to as “storage” insurance. Talk to your agent.
On the other hand, if you are driving your own vehicle to Mexico, make sure you get the extra coverage you will need for the time you will be spending there. A excellent online source with great rates is Mexico Insurance Online.
- Post Office notification for mail delivery. Have the post office “suspend” delivery of your mail for the time you will be away. For a nominal fee you may be able to either have your mail temporarily redirected to a friend or relatives house, or have it held until you return. Check out your local post office as well as mail services such as Mail Boxes Etc for your options.
- Stop the newspaper. If you’re one of the few that still have your newspaper delivered to your door, make sure you notify your carrier that you will be away. Nothing is a bigger red flag to the bad guys than newspapers piling up on the porch!
- Financial security. Before leaving, advise your bank and credit card companies as to the dates you will be away and where you will be located during that time.
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