How to Retire in Florida from Canada: 6 Crucial Steps (2022)

So you’re thinking about how to retire in Florida from Canada, and you’re curious about the process of doing so as a Canadian citizen? You’ve come to the right place!

Close to a million Canadians fly south to flee the winter every year.

In this post, we’ll discuss the steps you need to take to retire in Florida as a Canadian citizen:

  1. Figure out the Visa situation for Canadians
  2. What will you do about healthcare?
  3. What are your income sources?
  4. Figure out the costs of retiring in Florida
  5. What is the best time to move to Florida?
  6. What are the best cities to live in?

We’ll also provide some tips on making the transition as smooth as possible.

Can a Canadian retire in Florida?

How to Retire in Florida from Canada

If you’re thinking of retiring in Florida from Canada, you need to know the visa requirements.

Snowbird

The good news is that, as a Canadian, you won’t need a visa to stay in Florida for up to six months. This is perfect if you’re planning on making a temporary move during the winter months as there would be no changes to taxes, health care, and legal status.

Permanent Resident

If you’re looking to make a permanent move to Florida, you’ll need to apply for a green card. This process can take some time, so be sure to start early. There are a few ways to get a green card, such as family sponsorship or investment.

The latter, officially named EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, is more likely for Canadian retirees. The investment visa requires a minimum investment, which has recently been revised from US $500,000 to US $900,000 to account for inflation. 

How to get healthcare when retiring in Florida from Canada

How to get healthcare when retiring in Florida from Canada

When you retire in Florida from Canada, you’ll want to make sure you have the right healthcare in place. This is especially important if you’ll be spending part of the year in each location.

One option is to get travel insurance as a snowbird. This will give you access to healthcare when you’re in Florida, and will also cover things like evacuation and trip cancellation.

Another option is to get health insurance as a permanent resident. This will give you full access to Florida’s healthcare system.

What are the tax implications of retiring in Florida from Canada?

What are the tax implications of retiring in Florida from Canada?

One of the most important things to consider when retiring in Florida from Canada is the tax implications.

This is where the Substantial Presence Test comes in. Through their calculation of your stay in the United States over 3 years, you may be deemed a U.S. tax resident if you spend more than 183 days on US territory. This means you are subject to:

  • Filing U.S. tax return
  • Paying Income tax
  • Losing benefits such as Canadian health care

Florida is a no income tax state, retirees are exempt from paying state income tax on their pensions and social security income. However, you will have to pay federal taxes on all of your income.

What happens to your Canadian retirement benefits?

What happens to your Canadian retirement benefits?

When you retire in Florida, some of your Canadian benefits may still be applicable.

CPP

If you’re thinking of swapping snow for sand, you’ll be happy to know that your Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) benefits will continue to be paid, even if you move out of the country permanently.

Since CPP is a “member contributed plan”, it doesn’t matter where you live – you are always entitled to a benefit as long as you’ve made at least 1 contribution. This is great news for retirees who decide to relocate to warmer climates like Florida!

OAS

Your Old Age Security (OAS) pension is a monthly payment that helps seniors who have reached the age of 65 and meet certain income requirements.

If you have lived in Canada for at least 20 years after your 18th birthday, you are eligible to continue receiving your OAS pension even if you move to a new country.

If you have lived in Canada for less than 20 years, you will receive your pension cheque for 6 months after you have left and then it will terminate. However, if you decide to return to Canada, you can start receiving your OAS pension again.

OAS payments to a non-resident are subject to a default 25% withholding tax. However, thanks to the tax treaty between the U.S. and Canada, there is no withholding tax on your benefits.

Workplace Pension

If you contributed to an employer’s defined benefit or defined contribution pension plan, you will continue to receive your payments while outside of Canada.

If you left your employer before reaching the prescribed or maximum pension age, your vested pension funds may be commuted and transferred into a locked-in retirement account (LIRA/LRSP). This will allow you to have more control over the funds and how they are used.

Most provinces allow you to unlock your locked-in pension funds once you become a non-resident of Canada for 2 years. This will allow you to use the funds for other purposes, such as purchasing a home or starting a business.

What happens to your Canadian investment portfolio?

What happens to your Canadian investment portfolio?

● Non-Registered

If you have a non-registered account in Canada, any accrued capital gains are triggered when you leave the country.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will treat it as if you sold the investments at their current value, and you’ll have to pay tax on the resulting capital gains. This is known as a departure tax.

● TFSA

When you retire in Florida from Canada, you can keep your TFSA and continue to benefit from the exemption from Canadian tax on investment income and withdrawals. However, you cannot contribute to your TFSA.

● RRSP/RRIF

You can continue to hold your RRSP as long as the account is registered in Canada. This means that you can keep your RRSP/RRIF intact and have the income continue to grow tax-deferred for Canadian tax purposes. However, you will be taxed on the income earned in your RRSP/RRIF.

What are the costs of retiring in Florida?

One of the benefits of retiring in Florida is the relatively low cost of living. The average annual cost of living in Florida is about $55,000 per year. The average monthly cost for a one-bedroom apartment is $860, and the average cost of utilities is $133.

Typical Retirement Budget In Orlando

When you retire in Florida, you can expect to pay around $2,500 per month for a modest lifestyle. This includes rent or mortgage payments, groceries, utilities, and basic health care.

If you want to live a more luxurious lifestyle in Florida, you can expect to pay around $6,000 per month. This includes rent or mortgage payments, utilities, high-end grocery stores, country club memberships, and private healthcare.

It’s important to do your research and get an accurate estimate of how much it will cost you to retire in Florida. This will help you make sure that you’re financially prepared for this major life change.

Best places to retire in Florida

Best places to retire in Florida

The Sunshine State is a popular destination for retirees, thanks to its warm weather, beaches, and relaxed lifestyle. But before you make the move, it’s important to do your research and find the best place to retire in Florida for your needs and budget.

There are plenty of options when it comes to retirement communities in Florida. Some of the best places to retire in Florida include Naples, Sarasota, Fort Myers, and Orlando.

These areas offer a wide range of activities and amenities, as well as a friendly and welcoming community of retirees.

If you’re on a tight budget, consider moving to a smaller town or city. There are also plenty of affordable retirement communities in Florida that offer all the amenities you need.

Best time to move to Florida

Best time to move to Florida

If you’re dreaming of a warm-weather retirement, you may be wondering when is the best time to move to Florida.

The short answer is: it depends. Floridians enjoy plenty of sunny days year-round, but there are certain times of year that are more popular with retirees than others.

If you’re looking to avoid the cold winter weather, consider moving to Florida between December and March. However, keep in mind that this is also the busiest time of year for Florida’s tourism industry, so prices for accommodations and airfare may be higher.

If you don’t mind a little heat, consider moving between April and November. This is the “offseason” in Florida, so you can expect cheaper prices and smaller crowds.

Useful tips and resources for retirees in Florida from Canada

  • Currency exchange

Many snowbirds prefer to do large conversions from the Canadian dollar to the greenback when the exchange rate is more favorable.

  • USD in your portfolio

Another option for retirees is to hold U.S. securities that pay out U.S.-dollar dividends or interest as you will be transacting in USD while in Florida.

This website has tons of information on all things retirement, from finding the right community to understanding your Medicare and Medicaid options.

This website is a great resource for Canadian retirees living in the U.S. It includes information on everything from health insurance to taxes.

Always consult with a professional to get an understanding of your current financial situation and your retirement goals.

Conclusion

How to Retire in Florida from Canada

There are a lot of things to think about when retiring in a new place, but thankfully, Florida is a great option for Canadian retirees.

With beautiful weather year-round, plenty of activities and attractions, and a strong economy, Florida is an excellent choice for anyone looking to retire.

Next, check out our retirement guide to ensure you’re on track, whether you choose snow, sand, or a mix for your golden years.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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