How to Become a Snowbird
Are You a Snowbird?
Have you had enough snowy, cold winters to fill your boots? Do you watch your neighbours, friends or relatives disappear in October or November only to return home tanned and relaxed in the spring? Isn’t it time you considered the life of a Snowbird?
Becoming a Snowbird is far easier and less expensive than you might think. My husband and I have been relaxing near Phoenix, Arizona for the past five years and we wouldn’t have it any other way. All you have to do is follow a few simple steps and you too can permanently hang up your snow shovel!
Choosing a Winter Destination
A few of the most popular U.S. winter destinations for Snowbirds are: Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, and Texas. You might choose your destination city in these states based on climate, affordability, size of the city, availability of services - or all of the above.
On the other hand, you might want to spend your time where friends or relatives have settled and are content to go with their recommendations. Your choice should reflect your needs and wants but, in the end, your budget will play a critical role in your decision. Do your homework and you won’t regret your choice. My best advice may be: Try before you buy! Vacation rentals are always available.
Do I want maximum temperatures? Do I mind humidity or would I prefer a dry climate? Check community websites, weather websites or Chamber of Commerce websites for average winter temperatures and conditions.
It has been our experience that some destinations can be windy. If you don’t mind wind and dust this won’t concern you. Keep in mind that wind in some areas can be almost constant and can force you indoors, cause home or RV damage and the accompanying dust will blow into every crack or crevice! Also, if you have asthma, dust may be of particular concern for you.
Other areas can be hot and humid. Remember, humidity usually means living with air conditioners and bugs. Bug spray just might become your next best friend! Winter destinations in Florida are known to be humid – but they do have beautiful beaches!
Can I afford a more expensive destination like Hawaii or Palm Springs or does my budget demand a more modest price range? Check local real estate websites for pricing.
It has been our experience that most cities have areas to fit everyone’s budget. A word to the wise – be careful! Safety should also be a major consideration. A quick check on the Internet will show you how each city fares in regards to crime. An inexpensive area in an expensive city is priced that way for a reason!
Which City is For You
Will I want theatres, plenty of restaurants, sports venues, and night life? Or will I prefer a smaller destination with a quieter lifestyle?
Some smaller cities have all of the above on a smaller scale or are near a large city center while some large cities have quiet, more secluded neighbourhoods to choose from. Again, a quick check on the Internet under a city name, Chamber of Commerce website, or community website will provide the information you need.
We have always preferred to be located in a quieter area. We quickly learned that while some locations can be on the edge of a city they can also be quite near or even next to farm land. Sounds peaceful? We thought so too until the crop dusters started flying over our park, raining pesticides everywhere! Farm odors can also spoil a lovely day.
Checking for nearby airports may also be important for you. I remember one memorable month we spent close to a Navy Air Training Facility. At first it was exciting! After a while, the helicopters, jets and huge bombers were annoying and our pets were traumatized!
Increasingly, we have heard of problems which can occur in locations near the Mexican border. While I have not experienced this, I have heard some scary stories. As drug cartels take over more Mexican cities, violence is spilling over the border. You may want to take this into consideration.
Some Snowbirds will have health concerns and may want to choose their winter destination with health-care in mind. Your doctor’s office may have relevant medical information for you. Chamber of Commerce websites and telephone directories on the Internet will provide you with health care information.
If you are Canadian, as we are, you will definitely want to search for Travel Health Insurance. Even if you are fit and healthy an accident could cause bankruptcy! There are many health insurance companies out there. Some are more expensive than others, so please compare prices. Rates will be determined by your age and your health. Fill out the forms honestly as a pre-existing condition could cause your claim to be denied.
Articles written by the Canadian Snowbird Association are very informative and can be found at: http://www.snowbirds.org/index.php
I trust I have shed some light on the process of becoming a Snowbird and I wish you a long and happy winter escape!