A wooden cutout of a house with a "For Rent" tag attached to it

Snowbird rentals aren’t for everyone, but for many, they’re the perfect way to try out a migratory lifestyle.

Winter weather is not for everyone. Once you have settled into retired life, you might find that you dread the thought of snow and bitter temperatures. You're certainly not alone. Many retirees and active adults leave behind their regular residences for a warmer climate when temperatures begin to drop. This migratory group has earned the name of snowbirds.

If you're ready to join the flock, you have plenty of planning to do. Where do you want to spend your winter? What kind of place do you want your home away from home to be? How do seasonal rentals work? What about your regular home? While taking up the snowbird mantle takes some careful preparation, this handy rental guide can help you get started.

Picking a Destination

Waterfront villas surrounded by palm trees beside the beach in the Florida Keys

Where do you see yourself spending the winter?

Heading south will take you to warmer weather, but where do you see yourself spending the winter? The top snowbird destinations include:

  • Arizona: Arizona is known for its dry heat. With temperatures reaching up to the mid-60s in the winter, this southwestern state offers a welcome respite from wind chill and layers.
  • California: Winter in California can still be chilly, particularly in the northern part of the state, but it can feel warm for snowbirds traveling from the Midwest of the Northeast. Plus, you have the option of beautiful ocean views.
  • Florida: Florida is probably the first destination you think of for snowbirds. The Sunshine State is home to sandy shores and a warm, humid climate that makes shorts a wardrobe staple all year long.
  • Nevada: Nevada might conjure up images of weekend trips to Las Vegas, but this Southwestern state is also a popular destination for snowbirds fleeing the cold.
  • South Carolina: With coastal cities like Charleston, South Carolina is the beachy getaway that many snowbirds crave.
  • Tennessee: Not all snowbirds are interested in the beach. For those who want a mountain escape with warmer weather, Tennessee is the perfect fit.
  • Texas: Texas is an enormous state, offering snowbirds plenty of different options for winter getaways. The state’s great cities offer plenty of culture and relaxation.

Setting a Budget

A blue piggy bank surrounded by coins on a tropical, sandy beach

Setting your budget is one of the most important steps.

If you're planning to rent a winter home, setting your budget is one of the most important steps. Some of the top budget considerations include:

  • Rent: Rent is an obvious cost of temporarily relocating to a snowbird destination. How much rent can you comfortably afford for the duration of your trip, while also paying your bills back home?
  • Transportation: How are you getting to your rental? Flights or gas factor into your budget, whether you are flying or driving. If you do fly, will you need to rent a car to get around?
  • Activities: What are you planning to do while you enjoy the warm weather? Are you content to lounge by the pool or on the beach? Or, are you planning some fun activities? (Grandparents who head to Florida for the winter might love the opportunity to take the grandkids to Disney World.)
  • Maintenance: While renting means you won’t have to worry about maintaining your winter home, you do need to think about your permanent residence. Do you need to pay someone to shovel the sidewalks or keep up with any other routine maintenance while you are away?

Keep in mind the costs of snowbirding when you plan your seasonal escape. While price might seem like an obstacle, it's possible to stick to a budget. Think about your destination, the features you want in your rental, and the length of your stay.

Finding a Rental

Colorful Adirondack chairs on a deck overlooking a beach

For some snowbirds, renting in a 55+ community will be ideal.

Once you know your desired destination and your budget, you can start your search for the perfect rental. For some snowbirds, renting in a 55+ community will be ideal. These communities cater to active adults, offering a host of amenities within easy reach of the properties. You can have dining, exercising, swimming, and socializing within walking distance of your rental. Other snowbirds might like the idea of a more open search.

 You can search for rentals online through sites like:

Rental sites like this have filters for nearly anything you could imagine, including location, price, length of stay, amenities, and pet-friendly status.

Getting Ready to Take Flight

An older woman with grey hair packing a suitcase on her bed at home

The timing of your winter getaway is up to you.

Once you have your destination set and a rental in mind, you’ll need to think about when to travel. Plenty of snowbirds are preparing to take off in 2021, but the timing of your winter getaway is up to you. Do you want to be here for the holidays and then head for warmer weather? Do you want to invite family to your rental for Christmas? Do you want to head home as soon as the first signs of spring make an appearance, or do you want to stay until winter is a distant memory?

No matter the timeline of your trip, it's important to keep your permanent residence in mind. When you leave your home behind for months at a time, there are some important steps to take to keep everything in order for your return. Expert snowbirds are used to the lock and leave process, but it can be a little worrisome for first-timers. A few simple steps can help put you at ease. Remember to:

  • Turn off your water
  • Set your thermostats to an appropriate temperature
  • Double-check your smoke alarms
  • Unplug major appliances
  • Schedule mail forwarding

Depending on your budget, you can also look into finding a house sitter to stay at your home for the duration of your trip. Or, you can ask a family member, friend, or neighbor to periodically stop by to check on your home.

Buying as a Snowbird

Silhouettes of a man and woman relaxing in lounge chairs beside the beach

55places can help you find a home in the snowbird destination of your dreams.

Renting as a snowbird can give you a taste of warm weather life during the winter without the commitment. But after renting, you might daydream about having a place you can come to every winter without having to worry about securing a rental. If you're ready to buy, 55places can help you find a home in the snowbird destination of your dreams.