Snowbirding Planning Guide: 5 Things Snowbirds Need to Know About Migrating to a Warmer Climate (Plus the Top Snowbird Destinations) by 30Seconds Mom
The snowbirding lifestyle offers many benefits: you get to enjoy nice, warm weather all year long, you have numerous opportunities for outdoor activities and you meet like-minded people. These are the main reasons why millions of Americans migrate south each year.
Until recently, retirees made up the bulk of snowbirds. However, lifestyle shifts, including the growing popularity of remote working, are making this type of temporary relocation a possibility for other categories of people, too. If you’re interested in becoming a snowbird, here are some things, and the top snowbird destinations, to consider.
1. Pick Your Destination Based on Your Preferences and Expectations
How do you envision spending your winter months? Are you primarily interested in beaches or are you the kind of person that enjoys hiking through the woods? Do you prefer small towns or a middle-sized city with plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining out? You need to answer such questions prior to selecting a location for your winter months.
STORAGECafe, a nationwide self storage marketplace, came up with a top 100 best destinations for snowbirds, analyzing factors such as average winter temperatures, the availability of seasonal housing units and access to beaches, golf courses and parks. Other aspects that were considered while making the ranking are safety and health-related indicators, internet speed and the availability of self storage, as many snowbirds prefer to keep their seasonal belongings at their destinations and travel light each autumn.
Boca Raton, Fla., emerged as the best snowbird destination. Its appeal comes from a variety of sources, including the amazing natural setting, ideal winter temperatures in the mid-70s, plenty of housing options and the easy access to outdoor hotspots, including beaches, parks and golf courses. Other Floridian cities, such as West Palm Beach, Fort Myers and Clearwater, also made it into the top 10 best destinations for snowbirds.
But Florida is not the only state with great destinations for snowbirds. Mount Pleasant, S.C., Honolulu, Hawaii, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Gilbert, Ariz., are all top choices for sun lovers, each offering unique experiences.
However, if you’re more interested in a particular feature, you should be sure to prioritize that when you select your go-to place. Avondale, Ariz., has the most parks among the top 100 best destinations for snowbirds – a whopping 9,900 square feet of park space per capita – so, if you love spending your days strolling through restful public gardens, that’s an ideal spot for you. If, however, you enjoy the sand and the ocean more than anything else, Huntington, Calif., offers more than 100 miles of beaches. Just be ready to explore!
Photo: A harbor in Huntington, California.
In terms of affordability, some of the best destinations are in Texas. Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen are the most affordable snowbird cities in our ranking, with average October to March rents of $730, $745 and $777, respectively. California, on the other hand, has some of the most expensive snowbird destinations in the country.
Once you have selected the destination that suits all your requirements, you need to start planning for the actual relocation and take steps to ensure that your primary residence will be safe while you’re gone.
2. Winterize Your Home
The last thing you need after a few relaxing months away is to return to a home with broken pipes or a damaged roof. That’s why it’s essential to prepare your home properly before hitting the road. Make sure you clean your gutters thoroughly and inspect the roof to be certain there aren’t any leaks that might get worse over the winter. Insulate exposed piping and exterior faucets and drain all the water from the pipes in the house before you leave. Contact a professional to find out the best ways to protect your boiler or furnace while you’re gone. Also, you should arrange for snow removal services at your property and ask a friend or neighbor to contact you in case they notice any issues at your home.
3. Set Up Automatic Payment for Your Bills
Set up automatic payments for the bills you will receive while you’re gone. If you are planning an extended winter relocation of around six months, you should contact your utility providers to find the best solutions for your situation. It certainly doesn’t make sense to pay six months’ worth of cable you’re not using. Make sure your bank has branches near your winter home or, if not, find a solution – either by going fully online with your bank accounts or opening a new account with a local bank.
4. Arrange for a Temporary Change of Address
You don’t want to miss important mail, so you should change your address temporarily with the USPS. It’s a very simple and straightforward process that you can do online. Your mail will then be forwarded to your new address. The same operation can be done at your local post office location, if you find it difficult to complete the process online.
5. Plan Your Health Care
Contact your primary care physician and decide how to proceed with prescriptions you might need while you’re away. Usually, you should be able to have your refills ordered by your physician and pick them up as you need them at chain pharmacies. Research some reliable health-care options at your destination and have the contacts from your doctor and dentist at hand in case you will need them to send over your medical history. Also, reach out to your health insurer to verify the portability of your insurance plan to a different state.
And, most importantly of all, enjoy your snowbirding time! A little bit of planning and research will allow you to relocate to warmer regions and spend your winter doing outdoor activities instead of being confined in your home by Northern cold and snow.