When you’re setting out on your first trip, you’ll probably want to retain your Canadian residency.
This makes travel health insurance much cheaper, and tax filings much more straightforward.
So in the rest of this guide, I’m going to assume you’re a Canadian citizen and a resident of a Canadian province.
Lived in the same province for several years? Apply for extended provincial health coverage
If you’ve been living in the same province for several years (except Quebec—see below), no need to read the rest of this article.
Just make sure you’ve got your health card with extended health coverage (for keeping your provincial health plan while spending a year out of the country), and a driver’s license or other form of government ID, and you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Some provinces have better options for long-term travel
You know how I said in part 1 that you don’t actually need to research anything if you’ve got your lifestyle set up properly? Quebec residents are an exception.
You’ll have to do more research if you live here, because most of the banking and travel insurance solutions I’m going to recommend later aren’t available in Quebec.
Quebec also has a much higher income tax rate (compared to nearby provinces like Ontario).
For these reasons, I recommend moving to Ontario or BC. I love Quebec—Montreal is possibly the best city in the world—but you won’t reap any of the benefits if you don’t actually live there!
Unfortunately, if you move to Ontario (like I did last year) you need to spend 3 months here before you qualify for the provincial health plan, and another 3 months before you’re allowed to leave the province for more than a few days.
So I couldn’t start my Thailand trip until six months after I got here, even though I was ready to leave after three months (and will be paying Ontario taxes for the entire year). Something to consider!
Check your eligibility for extended health coverage
To retain your Ontario health insurance plan (OHIP) coverage each year, you must spend at least 153 days per year in Ontario (which comes to just over 5 months).
You can get for extended coverage, which allows you to spend two years outside Canada with OHIP coverage, but only if you’ve spent at least 153 days a year in Ontario in each of the two years immediately before you leave the country (from the ServiceOntario website).
So rather than spend all of 2020 traveling, as I had thought I might do, I have to spend at least 5 months in Ontario… which is going to take a major bite out of my budget. If I’d known this earlier, I could have moved back to Ontario two years ago. Sigh.
Next: How much money do you need to travel? (Coming soon)