For those adventurous and deal-seeking snowbirds, here are 10 money tips to keep in mind.

With rising home prices in the U.S. Sunbelt and our ever-shrinking loonie, Canadian snowbirds are expanding their migratory reach, seeking sunny places to land in the Caribbean and central America. They’re not only finding warm weather, beautiful beaches and interesting cultures but attractive property deals and a more affordable cost of living. For those adventurous and deal-seeking snowbirds, here are 10 money tips to keep in mind.

Where we’re buying In 2014, Canadians invested an estimated $5.2 billion in vacation properties stateside, with the majority buying in Florida (41 per cent), Arizona (16 per cent), Hawaii and California (seven per cent each) and Nevada (six per cent). While that’s still a lot, it represents the lowest amount we’ve spent on U.S. properties since 2009 and another year in which buyers from China purchased more U.S. real estate than Canadians.

Budget for the lower loonie

Why have U.S. sales slowed? In a recent survey, 65 per cent said the weak dollar had a “moderate to significant” impact on their decision not to buy. To illustrate this point: on Jan. 1, 2013, the Canadian dollar was at par with the U.S. greenback. At press time, it was worth $0.75. So, a $200,000 vacation condo in Arizona would cost you over $67,000 more this year than it would have two years ago.

Lawyer up

Buying property in foreign destinations can be a legal minefield. In Mexico, for instance, foreigners cannot own beachside property unless they set up a bank trust. Although that may sound dodgy, Steve Corfeld, an ex-pat who sells real estate for Century21 in Cabo San Lucas, assures skeptics that “Canadians have been doing it this way for decades, and no one has ever been expropriated from their land or had it taken away by the Mexican government.” His main advice: get all legal documents translated.

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