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How to Become a Snowbird

Updated on July 7, 2013
I Hate Winter
I Hate Winter | Source

Are You a Snowbird?

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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.

Haboob Entering Phoenix
Haboob Entering Phoenix | Source

Climate

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!

Affordability

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!

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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.

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Healthcare

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!

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  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Thank you LongTimeMother - I appreciate your comments. My husband and I visited Australia a few years ago and we had a wonderful time!! We snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef (which was on my bucket list) and it was AWESOME! I will look forward to reading your hubs.

    Hugs,

    Carol

  • LongTimeMother profile image

    LongTimeMother 4 years ago from Australia

    lol. I live in Australia and we only have snow in the mountains at ski resorts where everyone flocks for fun, so we don't really have snowbirds here. However it is starting to feel like winter is on its way here and I'm already planning a trip north to visit one of my adult kids where the winter weather is warmer.

    Good advice and voted up. Thanks.:)

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hello Kitty! Nice to see you here.

    We have a little winter home near Phoenix, AZ which, unfortunately, we are in the process of selling. Our finances just won't allow for us to have two homes - so one has to go. I have a cousin who lives in Florida and would love to visit there some day. We try to fit in as best we can when we are visiting the U.S.A. There's nothing worse than a yappy, know-it-all tourist!!

    As you are so knowledgeable about things on the "woo-woo" side of life I'd be interested to hear what you think of the hub I wrote about my supernatural dream! It still blows me away every time I think about it!

  • kittythedreamer profile image

    Nicole Canfield 4 years ago from the Ether

    While I LOVE this hub, being that I live in Florida (one of the hotspots for snowbirds)...I'm not always a fan of the snowbirds because they come down here and drive like they're on vacation (I guess cuz many people are LOL). That being said, you should come down...we wouldn't mind having you at all! Blessings.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Thanks so much Eddy - I very much appreciate you voting and sharing. Have a great weekend!

    Big Hugs!

  • Eiddwen profile image

    Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

    A brilliant read Carol and I vote up and share.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    Eddy.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hello Jackie! Nice of you to stop by and to comment. I know what you mean about wet weather. I was raised on the wet coast of B.C. and we used to call it the Season of Sog! Depressing!!

    Thanks again,

    Carol

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hello Stephanie and thank you for your kind comments. We are currently near Phoenix, AZ and are enjoying being snowbirds for at least one more year. The travel medical insurance sure can get pricey!

    Thanks again,

    Carol

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

    Interesting write, well done. Good thing spring is on its way to keep me from going stir crazy. I don't get snow but all the dead trees and wet weather are worse than snow! Voting up.

  • Stephanie Henkel profile image

    Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

    We've been snowbirds for quite a few years in our RV and have tried several of the destinations you mentions including Arizona, Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. They each have their good points. You bring up many good point for those who might be choosing a more permanent winter destination as things like weather, social activities, crime rate, medical care are all important factors. Nice hub with great advice and points to ponder!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Oh good for you!! I wish you many years of happy snowbirding! Thanks for your comment and for stopping by.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Good suggestions. We are three years away from having this freedom and I can hardly wait. :)

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

    Thanks so much, yes I need a holiday! lol! seriously, I do feel a bit better today now thanks!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Hi Nell - I'm so glad to hear from you!! I hope you're on the mend and that you're starting to put that horrible experience behind you!! You deserve a vacation after all that!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

    Hi, I wish I could escape the winter! we have had really bad snow, luckily I was taken ill when it melted, but if it had been last week it would have been worse, luckily we don't have really bad winters where I live, but I would love to escape to warmer climates! lol!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 4 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    How in the world did I miss your comment?? I'm sorry Wilderness....I have only just found it today. As for driving on icy roads in an RV - I don't blame you one bit. Our kids and grandkids live a long distance away from us so it's easier for us to head out on the road for extended periods of time. We do have friends who come south for a month or so. When it comes time to return they watch the weather reports and choose a safe window through the storms.

    Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your comments very much.

  • wilderness profile image

    Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

    With the kids gone and being retired we have considered becoming snowbirds in the RV. This winter was particularly cold and snowy and it has brought that thought up again, but we've decided that it really isn't for us.

    Cost is a factor; maintain two "homes" will be expensive and we do want a real home to come back to. More important, though, is that our children and grandchildren live very near us and we would miss out on a great deal there.

    A week or two, a month, isn't out of the question, though, with the biggest problem being getting there and back in the RV. I refuse to drive over icy roads, just not seeing a real reason to risk that, and it could always be a problem.

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 5 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Thanks Jenb! I appreciate your comments. We didn't get as far as Floriday in our wanderings in our RV but you never know....

  • jenb0128 profile image

    Jennifer Bridges 5 years ago from Michigan

    Interesting hub! My parents are snowbirds too (or as I like to say, they're migratory). Florida is their winter home, and I'm sure they'd agree with everything you wrote!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 5 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Well now I'm going to have to suss out where you call home! Thanks for your comments Mr. Wolf!

  • Byron Wolf profile image

    Byron Wolf 5 years ago

    Great info and advice for people wanting to get away from the snow. I'm sort of the other way - I want to go someplace colder when the heat sets in! I wonder if there's a Summerbird Association? :D

    Voted up!

  • onegreenparachute profile image
    Author

    Carol 5 years ago from Greenwood, B.C., Canada

    Thanks for your comments and your vote mperrottet. I appreciate you stopping by. My husband and I used to live full-time in a 40' class A motorhome. We found, because of our finances, we weren't able to travel as much as we wanted. We reluctantly sold our MH and purchased a very nice (and quite large) park model here in B.C. and another single-wide in Arizona. It's a wonderful way to spend our retirement!! I wish you many happy years of travel.

  • mperrottet profile image

    Margaret Perrottet 5 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

    Great hub, and good advice for future snowbirders. My husband and I snowbird by camping in a travel trailer. You're right about travel insurance - we are retired and on Medicare, but cover ourselves with a medigap policy so that we can get care anywhere we go with no problems. Voted up and useful.

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