Nearly a million people travel from colder parts of the United States and Canada to Florida, Arizona, and other Sunbelt states for warm weather each year. For these snowbirds, seasonal migration provides the best of both worlds: a chance to preserve links to family, friends, and familiar locations, while also enjoying a change of scenery and a respite from the frigid winter weather.
As we age, it might be more difficult to handle cold temperatures. A trip on the ice is more likely to injure elderly people, and shoveling snow might become too physically demanding.
Moreover, why not take advantage of the better weather without work to bind you? It allows outdoor lovers to keep healthier through increased physical exercise, such as golf, tennis and walking.
There are several benefits to becoming a snowbird, but hurdles and additional costs should be considered before packing.
Your winter residence might be a tiny house, condo, mobile home, or prefabricated home (including its smaller cousin, the park model). In addition to the expense of purchasing a second house, you must include the price of appliances, dishes, and furnishings in your budget. You will need to cover both properties, and the insurance premiums for the property you leave vacant for lengthy periods may grow significantly.
A home or apartment can be rented for numerous months, which allows for spending each winter in a new location. In many regions, rentals are in high demand, so you may need to reserve a year in advance.
Whether you purchase or rent, don’t forget to account for travel expenses, especially if you occasionally go back home for a special event or emergency. If you want to fly to your sunny location, you will likely need to hire a car or transport your vehicle through a car shipping service.
A recreational vehicle (RV) might make transferring your clothing, pets, and other belongings easier. You will also have the flexibility to stay in various locations, and you may utilize your RV for additional vacation throughout the year. RVs range from half-million-dollar palaces on wheels (similar to rock star tour buses) to modest vacation trailers. If you choose a travel trailer, you will need a powerful car capable of towing it. There is also the expense of renting a campground or RV park space.
A recreational vehicle provides another factor to consider: local transportation. Once you reach your destination, it will be difficult to maneuver your RV to every location you like to visit. You will leave your site unoccupied, have difficulty parking in some areas, and receive terrible gas mileage. As many people do, you may tow your car behind your RV or hire a car shipping service to get your automobile to your location.
You could pay more taxes. You must pay property taxes in both locations if you own a snowbird residence. Depending on how long you remain in your new state, you may end up paying income taxes in two states. States have distinct residency and estate, and inheritance tax regulations.
If you do not intend to return home by April 15, you must make arrangements to collect your tax documents at your snowbird destination.
You can utilize email and automatic bill payment for most of your communication and bill-paying requirements, but you will still get a few items by conventional mail.
Mail forwarding options include:
- USPS forwarding.
- Third-party mail forwarding services.
- Having a neighbor or relative forward mail on your behalf.
None of these is flawless. The optimal solution for you depends on whether you will stay at the same location or travel to several locations. Some RV parks may not receive mail addressed to temporary guests; if this is the case, you must use a post office’s General Delivery address.
While you are away from your permanent residence or snowbird residence, there may be no point in paying for cable, internet, and phone service, but stopping and starting service can be difficult. Inquire whether your utilities support hibernation.
You may prevent many issues if you can locate someone trustworthy to house-sit for you or at least check on your house regularly. However, there are further factors to consider.
Winters can be severe in some parts of the country, so if you live there, you must keep your heat on at a lower degree to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting or contact a plumber to empty all your pipes and shut off the water at the source. Unplug all your appliances, which may require you to empty your refrigerator and freezer.
If your neighborhood or HOA requires you to shovel snow, you need to hire someone. Similarly, you may need to hire somebody to mow the lawn, manage the chemicals in the pool, water the plants, and control weeds.
You may probably bring your dogs or cats with you. However, this may restrict your housing options. If you have other pets, such as birds, fish, or turtles, you will need someone to visit your house frequently or locate individuals willing to foster them while you are away.
You should cancel your newspaper delivery while you are away, but you will need to ask a neighbor to remove the fliers, and free community papers taped to your door or thrown onto your driveway.
If you are 65 or older and enrolled in Medicare, you should be able to get medical treatment anywhere in the United States. If you have private health insurance, you will need to determine if there are doctors and hospitals at your destination who are part of your network. You must bring your complete medical records, including medications, or check with your primary care physician to see if he or she would share them with a doctor in your snowbird destination. Consider how you will acquire medication refills, particularly if you use a mail-order pharmacy that automatically distributes a three-month supply.
If you intend to purchase a second home, you should rent for at least one season. Before committing to a single place, you will likely want to explore renting in several other areas. This is especially true if you consider making your snowbird home your permanent residence and selling your current primary residence.
Numerous websites can help you find rentals, such as VRBO.com and AirBnB.com. Search engines can also be helpful. Large active adult communities in Florida, such as the Villages and On Top of the World, have community bulletin boards and real estate agents who cater to the rental market.
You will have greater success locating longer-term (three months or more) rentals; the earlier you begin your search, the better. Numerous individuals reserve their winter rental as early as January of the preceding winter.
Nothing on this list is impossible, especially in today’s electronically interconnected society. Over one million individuals migrate seasonally and have done so for decades. However, a successful snowbird lifestyle is considerably more complicated than merely taking a long vacation.