As much as I adore Canada and Canadians; as much as I am proud of my birth in Montréal, Québec (which in my mind legitimizes me as a Québecois with the same singularity as my sister enjoys for having been born in England). And as much as I am insurpassably proud of my Loyalist legacy on my father’s side of the family from New England to New Brunswick; and of the American relationships from Massachusetts to Michigan to California on my mother’s side of the family; and of the depth of real Ottawa blood and the Franco-Ontarian heritage in my partner and his family. As much as all this, I’m pleased that today we began in earnest the investigation of where to overwinter south of the 49th Parallel beginning next November 1st until the following April. Not only can I bear the deprivation of winter; but more importantly and more bluntly, time is running out.
What sparked the seemingly overzealous examination was that the place we’d initially thought to secure on Key Largo is now taken for the season. This did not entirely surprise or disturb us. There is a reason we’re accustomed to making these arrangements often more than a year in advance. Indeed we had already rented a place on Key Largo but had to withdraw last March when COVID hit.
In general, getting a place for a six-month period is not common. Most places are naturally owned by individuals who routinely use their place themselves for short periods during the winter – such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, March Break and Easter. Similarly there are those long-standing tenants who have regularly stayed for one, two or perhaps three months and they enjoy priority for renewal. The six-month rental in one place (as opposed to two or three alternately) is not only to avoid having to move about but also to gain the entitlement to avoid sales tax on the rental (“six months plus a day” technically).
There are other realities. Owners die. Property is sold. Basically things change from year to year.
The other reality is that for a six-month rental it is preferred to locate in a predominantly residential condominium or gated community to avoid the appearance of being in a hotel where interlopers come and go over short periods of times, say a week or more, and there is never a feeling of belonging to a community. Tourists seldom interact with locals and if you don’t believe me, ask yourself when was the last time you dined with a tourist. The more long-term commitments are commonly a prerequisite for the better-managed condominiums; but there are consequently fewer opportunities available.
All this merciless reasoning is currently for naught because of two things: one, the Canadian border is closed to other than mandatory travel; and, two, our private medical insurers have not agreed to cover us. Until those two conditions are relieved we are farting in the wind! No, don’t get me started on that one! You know what I mean!
It nonetheless stimulated me to exchange dialogue earlier today concerning various choices. After looking at places like Siesta Key, Venice and Bonita Springs we’ve decided to re-visit Longboat Key. Not only do we know and like the area we have the advantage of not having to question the suitability of a choice from afar since we are acquainted with the entire small barrier island. We also appreciate having welcome access to shopping (grocery and retail), manicurist and pedicurist, hair salon, dentist and optician, not to mention all the favourable outlying areas in Sarasota, Anna Maria Island and Cortez Village. As well we have a number of northern friends from Canada and the United States who themselves spend part of the winter on Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.
We have opened a conversation with an estate agent on Longboat Key regarding a property. The estate agent must first communicate with their principle but it encourages me overall to know at least that we’re moving in that direction! In this heartless pandemic any opportunity for enlargement is welcome!
Meanwhile it has been business as usual, the car wash, the aimless daily ambulation to Renfrew County and back, a mid-afternoon cycle 5.47 km but who’s counting, picking up medications (and chatting with the pharmacist about pills and diets), buying the same groceries as always, blips of socializing from afar in the garage, television, reading, writing, listening to music and playing the piano, having the grandfather and carriage clocks oiled and drinking coffee. Thankfully I am easily diverted. We have several other items on the go and we thrill to the evolution!