When people talk about snowbirds, several images may come to mind. Ornithologists probably picture the namesake bird, which is small, plump, dark on the top, and white on the bottom. Unlike human snowbirds, these winged creatures spend their winters in higher elevations. People who consider themselves snowbirds travel to warmer climates in the winter, to areas with sun, sand, and inviting bodies of water. Traditional destinations like Florida and California make this list, but a willingness to look outside these boxes can find you some surprisingly affordable retirement communities to nest in.
Yes, we're talking about the Gulf Coast. This coastline borders the Gulf of Mexico, touching the “Gulf States” of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. These beaches are less developed than some of the more touristy areas and have sugar-soft sand, beautiful clear water, and laid-back cultures. Best of all, you'll find that living here costs less than you would think, with costs of living that are significantly lower than national averages.
Florida’s Gulf Coast is a very popular retirement destination, and it's divided into the Northwest Panhandle Region, West Central, and the Southwest Florida region. Familiar towns like Clearwater Beach, Tampa Bay, Naples, and Sarasota are highly sought-after by active adults and other homebuyers, so the cost of living here is generally higher than other Gulf Coast States.
There certainly are many more affordable places to snowbird on the Gulf Coast, so let’s start looking outside of Florida to see what we can find.
1. Shreveport, Louisiana
Located about five hours northwest of New Orleans, Shreveport’s cost of living is 22.5 percent lower than the national average. Its population is over 193,000, and the median home cost is just $102,600. This low housing cost number is the main reason why Shreveport topped our list.
Shreveport and Bossier City comprise the biggest metro area in northern Louisiana. The Red River divides these two cities, and there are many attractions at and close to its waterfront, like the Sci-Port Discovery Center, Great Raft Brewery, and the Eldorado Resort Casino. There are also plenty of restaurants, concerts, and an exciting arts scene.
Nearby 55+ Communities
Low $200s - Mid $200s
This friendly 55+ neighborhood was completed in 2006, and it has 165 resale single-family homes on a 40-acre, gated property. Willow Lake was built with 10 models sized from 1,400 to over 3,000 square feet. These offer two to three bedrooms, two- to two-and-a-half bathrooms, and two- or three-car garages. There's a fishing lake, walking trails, and a 4,700-square-foot clubhouse on the grounds for residents to use.
Low $200s - Mid $300s
Cypress Bend has 316 new and resale single-family homes, isn't age-restricted, and is designed for active adult lifestyles. These homes offer first-floor master suites, and the homeowners’ association (HOA) takes care of common area maintenance, trash pickup, and lawn care. This gated neighborhood offers 10 floor plans ranging from 1,642 to 2,610 square feet, with three to four bedrooms, two to three baths, and attached two-car garages. Nearby attractions include The Golf Club at Stonebridge, Cypress Black Bayou, and the Louisiana Boardwalk shopping center.
2. Gulfport-Biloxi, Mississippi
Home to blues music, pretty beaches, and soaring mountains, Mississippi’s Gulfport-Biloxi area has a cost of living that is between 15.9 and 18.8 percent lower than the national average. The Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula Metro Area has commercial, industrial, and residential areas, and out of the three, Gulfport is the most appealing place to live. This beach community provides a nice alternative to the Florida Gulf Coast beaches, with popular seafood restaurants, watersports, and family activities. The average price for a home in Gulfport is around $112,400, and the population hovers at about 71,318.
Nearby 55+ Communities
This new active adult community broke ground in 2018 and has 19 new single-family home floor plans. Copperleaf at Arbor Pointe’s models range from 1,964 to 2,542 square feet and have options like porches, kitchen nooks, great rooms, fireplaces, and first-floor luxury master suites. This appealing neighborhood is just 30 minutes from Memphis, and close to attractions like Latimer Lake and Wedgewood Golf Club.
Mid $100s - High $100s
With only 90 attached resale homes on a gated property, The Village of Brambles provides active adult homeowners with a peaceful, secure, and low-maintenance lifestyle. The two models are 1,185 and 1,584 square feet, with two or three bedrooms, two baths, and two-car garages. And for a smaller community, The Village has nice amenities too. A private clubhouse offers residents an exercise room, a catering kitchen, and a banquet room; there are also parks and trails on the grounds.
3. Lafayette, Louisiana
If you’re not familiar with this city, it's about an hour west of Baton Rouge, and its cost of living is 12.3 percent lower than the national average. And according to statistics, it never snows here. Lafayette is in the southeastern part of the state, and this small city is home to the University of Louisiana and traditional Cajun culture. This “Bayou Country” city has a population of about 126,000 people, and the average home costs around $159,100.
Nearby 55+ Communities
High $100s - High $200s
This affordable Epcon Communities-built neighborhood has 76 new and resale attached and single-family homes. Village Charmant is not age-restricted, but this gated community offers private courtyards and desirable amenities. There's a community clubhouse and swimming pool, and residents gather here and elsewhere for crawfish boils, holiday parties, socials, and game nights. The three attached models range from 2,226 to 2,843 square fee, with two to three bedrooms and bathrooms and attached two-and-a-half-car garages.
Below $100k - Low $300s
The Greens at Pelican Point is a 55+ neighborhood within the Pelican Point master-planned community in Gonzales, Louisiana. There will be 130 new and resale attached and single-family homes when work is completed, and residents can use the wonderful amenities that are part of the larger community. The attached models are about 1,700 square feet with two bedrooms, two baths, and attached two-car garages. The single-family models are sized from 1,640 to nearly 3,473 square feet with two to four bedrooms and bathrooms, and attached two- or three-car garages.
4. Mobile, Alabama
The city of Mobile is in southern Alabama, close to the center of the Gulf Coast. Its cost of living is 18.1 percent lower than the national average, and it is a vibrant port city, with a historic seaport and nearby suburbs. Mobile’s average home cost is $120,500, and the population is at around 191,000. Two of its best-known attractions are the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and the Mobile Museum of Art.
Nearby 55+ Communities
High $100s - Mid $200s
The affordable, established 55+ community of Oyster Bay Village is a welcoming neighborhood with 92 attached resale homes. They range from 1,343 to 3,192 square feet and have two or more bedrooms, two baths, built-in appliances, private patios, and one-car garages. There’s a community clubhouse, with meeting and game rooms, a catering kitchen, an exercise room, an indoor pool, and an outdoor patio. Oyster Bay’s HOA fee provides for lawn care and outside maintenance.
Low $200s - High $200s
With 359 new and resale single-family homes and indoor and outdoor amenities, LiveOak Village offers 55+ adults year-round, resort-style living. This gated community has eight floor plans ranging from 1,230 to 2,100 square feet, which include two or three bedrooms, two baths, and attached garages. It's easy to become involved with the community, as there are ongoing events and activities like movie nights, the travel club, potlucks, and water aerobics.
5. Laurel, Mississippi
Laurel is about two hours north of Biloxi, and it has a cost of living that's 23 percent lower than the national average. Like Lafayette, Laurel does not receive any snowfall. The median home price in Laurel is just $112,400, and the population is about 18,000. This small southern town underwent a renovation in the early 2000s, and now has charming new shops, restaurants, and other businesses.
Low $200s - Mid $200s
This private community of 148 new and resale attached homes is on a gated property that's less than half an hour from the Memphis Airport. There are two attached models, sized at 1,325 or 1,925 square feet with one to three bedrooms, one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half baths, and attached garages. There are also two single-family models at 1,700 or 1,850 square feet with two or three bedrooms, two baths, and attached garages. There are no age restrictions here, and homeowners make good use of The Oaks at Parkview’s outdoor pool and community clubhouse.
Below $100k - Mid $200s
You can get great value for your investment at Pickwick Pines Resort, a gated community of 400 new and resale single-family homes. It's just outside of Tennessee’s Pickwick Lake, and its location is perfect for a second home. The homes range from 600 to 3,000 square feet, with one to three bedrooms, one to three-and-a-half baths, and two paved parking spots.
Pickwick Pines is not age-restricted, and residents can enjoy the Resort Lodge and an activities center. Highlights include an exercise room, a banquet room and catering kitchen, a covered veranda, a performance stage, activity rooms, three outdoor swimming pools, and two tennis courts. You'll also find an auditorium, walking and biking trails, and boat storage on the grounds. Community activities include pancake breakfasts, potlucks, musical performances, fitness classes, and cookout competitions.