Snowbirding: FAQs for Those Who Want the Best of Both Worlds

An older couple dances on the beach as part of their snowbirding lifestyle.
We have all the answers to your snowbirding!

Many people spend their working lives dreaming about retirement and wondering what it could look like for them. Some dream of moving south permanently to escape the harsh winters. And others prefer to stay in their homes to remain close to family. Another group seeks out a compromise between the two and opt for snowbirding. That means they stay at home during the warm months and move south during the cold ones. 

Snowbirding is a fantastic way to get the best of both worlds. However, it requires an immense amount of planning. Are you interested in beginning your snowbirding adventure? Here are a few frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers that can help you with your decision!

1.) Should I rent or buy a winter home?

The answer to this question depends entirely on your unique situation and financial options. But it’s often recommended to rent the first few times that you head to a warmer climate for the winter.

Purchasing a winter home right away can make you feel stuck. You may not actually enjoy the area that you have chosen if you haven’t had enough time to test it out. Some snowbirds have spent entire winters in different locations to see which communities they most enjoy. Ultimately, renting is a far easier option to test the waters. 

If you’ve settled on a community that you love, it may make more sense to buy a winter home. This can give you an asset that you can sell later. However, the downside is, it may also require you to spend more time maintaining your property. You may also be able to find a hybrid model, where you own the condo or property itself, but the community offers maintenance services for a fee.

2.) Which locations are most affordable for snowbirding?

Small home model on sand beach with blue sky background.

Because snowbirding often requires you to pay for two properties at once, or own two homes at a time, affordability is frequently top of mind for snow birders. Southern states, like Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas are often among the most affordable for snowbirding. Western states like Arizona and California tend to be a bit more expensive. 

Even still, there are pockets of southern states that are more expensive than others, and there are areas out west that are more affordable than average too. It can be overwhelming to try to find an area that is affordable and has everything you’re looking for. That’s why we created an affordability guide for more specific suggestions!

3.) How do you manage bills at both places?

A mature woman checking bills at home.

Ensuring all bills are paid at one residence is often overwhelming enough. The idea of managing two households simultaneously often seems like more of a headache than it’s worth. Fortunately, staying on top of bills is easier than ever with online payments or automatic payments through your bank.

Automatic payments are the easiest way to ensure that your bills are paid on time for both places. However, contact your utility companies for your winter home before you set up automatic payments. They may have solutions to pay less or nothing at all while you are away, which can save you hundreds of dollars. 

If you prefer to continue paying bills through the mail, you can also have the USPS forward your mail to your winter home. That way, you don’t miss out on bills and other important pieces of mail. It can take some time to get used to managing two sets of bills, but it becomes easier once you get used to it.

4.) How does health care work when snowbirding?

A senior man visiting a doctor and discussing health issues.

In your regular home, you are probably used to the network that your health insurance provides, and you have easy access to your doctor and prescriptions when you need them. When you move to a different state for half the year, some aspects of your health care may change. It’s important to plan ahead when snowbirding to avoid surprises and higher expenses. 

It may be helpful to speak with your primary care doctor about your plans to snowbird. They can work with you to create a plan to manage your prescriptions. They may be able to send your prescriptions to pharmacies in your winter city. Check to see if telehealth visits are an option if you just need to talk basics about your health while you’re away.

It may also be helpful to call your health insurance company ahead of time or use their online portal to find care that’s in your network in your snowbirding city.

5.) How do you prepare your home for your months away?

An open wooden door with a shiny door handle.

The idea of leaving your home unattended for a few months can be scary. However, there are several measures you can take to ensure your home is ready for your absence during the winter. Some important tasks to handle ahead of time include:

  • Getting your roof inspected for leaks
  • Cleaning out your gutters to prevent flooding
  • Insulating exposed piping
  • Draining water out of all the pipes
  • Arranging for snow removal services
  • Unplugging devices and appliances that don’t need to be powered

In addition, it can also bring peace of mind to have a friend or neighbor to keep an eye on the house while you are away. They can alert the authorities if they spot something suspicious, or let you know if there seems to be a problem.

Visit 55places for More Insight About Retirement Communities

Whether you’re looking for a place to snowbird in the winter, or you want a new permanent address in a 55+ community, 55places can help you find the perfect place for you! Look for communities in your desired areas and use filters to find the features and amenities you want within your budget. To get started, visit our home page and use our search tool today!

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We’ve gathered 25 of the best places for snowbirds, including cities in Florida, Arizona, California, Texas, South Carolina, and Nevada. For each entry, we’ve also provided a list of recommended 55+ communities in the area. If you’re ready to find your own winter retreat this season, here are some of the best places to consider.

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