When we say snowbirds, of course, we’re referring to that significant part of the retired population who live in one or more parts of the country and travel to the warmer temperatures in the winter months. Places like Florida and Arizona are popular sites for people from the north to migrate to when the temperatures start to drop, and winter makes its entry with snow and ice, dangerous roads and dreary afternoons inside.
Of course, these same places that have warmer temperatures in the winter months can become oppressively hot or humid during the summer, so the migration happens in reverse. We have been snowbirds for two winters and enjoy this type of lifestyle immensely. We appreciate the seasons and stay in our New York home through Christmas and New Year’s but, then, after the holiday decorations are put away, we head for warmer surroundings.
It was actually rather comical as we got on the highway and headed south for the first time and saw how many people our age do the same thing. The RVs and trailers are in abundance and the rest stops are full of fellow snowbirds who give a knowing smile and nod as they pass you by on their way to or from their vehicles. You begin to look for the tell-tale signs that you’re in the company of a fellow traveler. The cars that are fully packed with the white haired, smiling drivers are usually dead giveaways that you’re in the company of a like-minded sun seeker.
The destinations vary with each car or vehicle. Some are actually travelling with their winter home. Huge Recreational Vehicles or Trailers are very common on the road these days and many look quite comfortable. Although we are not owners of this type of “home on wheels”, we can see the advantage of having one. Instead of staying in one location, you get to travel and see the country. Many of the RV parks have great amenities and, as we’ve made our way in our own travels, the people we talk to are very happy with the lifestyle they’ve chosen and wouldn’t trade it for anything. They don’t want to be “pinned down” and have to go to same place every winter. Plus, owning a second home can add a burden that many people just don’t want as part of their retirement lifestyle. A trailer or RV is ideal for them.
There are even people who traveled outside the country and ended up living in a different country. They did it because they had the courage to explore new places and found something they loved.
We opted for something a little bit different, but it’s been working out very well for us. When we were planning out our summer vacations as a young family, we took advantage of one of those offers where you get a choice of free airfare or accommodations for a couple of nights in exchange for sitting through a presentation on timeshare. Just the mention of this term can send people running and screaming in the opposite direction and we can see why that would be. But, for us, it has worked although there have been some painful lessons along the way. Our first purchase led to another one and we began to talk about acquiring enough to allow us to stay for a whole winter. Over time, we did exactly that. We’re happy with our choices but we realize it’s not for anyone and there are definitely some minefields to avoid. Anyone who ventures into this market should be very well armed with information but that is also true if you’re considering buying a winter residence or one of the big RVs you see on the road.
We find the life of the snowbirds to be a very attractive one. It’s not without problems and adjustments do have to be made, but it has given us the opportunity to see different parts of the country in a unique way. Even the journey down and back up can allow you to see different sites you would not have encountered by travelling to the same place year in and year out. There is nothing wrong with that and please don’t think we are being critical of anyone who has opted for that way of life. It’s all a matter of preference. We have found our choices to be the right ones for us. Some of the places we stay during our winter sojourn have been absolutely luxurious. We have hated leaving some of the locations, but we also know we can come back and stay even longer. One of our favorite places is right on the shoreline in Jensen Beach, Florida while another is across the state on the panhandle in Destin. We’ve watched waves from our balcony in Oceanside, California and walked the beaches in Galveston, Texas. We have lived a much more active and healthier lifestyle by making our way out of the cold winter of the Northeast.
We like being snowbirds. But we do know it isn’t for everyone. We also know the way we have managed our winter destinations may not be what others are looking for. The point to remember is to look at all the options and see what will work best for you as you look for ways to Enjoy Retired Life.