Retirement offers the opportunity to travel, live a leisurely lifestyle, and enjoy time with family and friends. For some active adults, that also means the chance to live part of the year in one place and part of the year in another. Snowbirds travel like birds, spending warmer months farther north and colder months farther south.
Florida, Texas, and Arizona are usually thought of as typical snowbird states, but many other states also offer residents the chance to escape the winter blues. Here are five underrated snowbird states.
Active adults who want to snowbird to the southwest may want to consider Nevada as an alternative to Arizona. While casinos and nightlife dominate the public’s imagination when it comes to Nevada, right outside cities like Las Vegas and Reno, the desert offers beautiful hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities. Most of the state’s 32 active adult communities are in the Las Vegas area. Here, residents can enjoy close proximity to Lake Mead, the Grand Canyon, and Red Rock Canyon. Also, the city itself isn’t at a loss for golf courses, parks, museums, or art galleries.
Nevada is also a very tax-friendly state. Active adults don’t need to worry about where their income comes from for tax purposes since the state has no income tax. Property taxes are also low, while sales tax is slightly higher than average. Homes are also affordable in Las Vegas in particular, with average home prices below $200,000.
Active adults looking for a home in Nevada or the Las Vegas area have many options. At the very large community of Sun City Aliante, prospective homebuyers can find two-bedroom, two-bath homes in the mid $200s with many amenities for the 55+ residents of Sun City and even more amenities within the Aliante planned community. At a smaller community like Quail Estates West, homebuyers can find two-bedroom, two-bathroom homes in the mid $100s with amenities including a clubhouse, an outdoor pool, and walking trails.
New Mexico is another option for southwest snowbirds. This laid-back state also offers hiking and outdoor opportunities in national and state parks. The landscape has inspired and continues to inspire famous artists, which Albuquerque's arts and culture programs highlight. Albuquerque also provides a unique history of Native American culture and life in the southwest.
New Mexico is not as tax-friendly as Nevada or Arizona. While the income tax is one of the lowest in the nation, both Social Security and private retirement income are partially taxed. However, homes are affordable in New Mexico and average in the mid $100s.
The state’s 7 active adult communities are all located in the Albuquerque area. At Jubilee at Los Lunas, the largest age-restricted community in the area, homebuyers can find three-bedroom, two-bath homes in the mid $200s. Here, homeowners enjoy resort-style amenities including a clubhouse, an outdoor pool, and a fitness center.
South Carolina provides a warm winter retreat, with many homes along the coast. Known for its Palmetto trees, the state is home to 93 active adult communities, almost half of which are located in the coastal part of the state. The coastal region boasts world-renowned golf courses, and residents also enjoy beaches, watersports, and boating in places like Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, and Charleston.
For snowbirds, South Carolina provides financial incentives for people over 60 and retirees. South Carolina doesn't tax Social Security income and offers up to a $15,000 deduction for other retirement income. South Carolina also has a lower cost of living than the U.S. average, with home prices about $60,000 lower than the national average.
Many South Carolina communities offer affordable homes with ample amenities. At Cameron Village in Myrtle Beach, prospective homebuyers can find three-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family homes for around $250,000. Residents of Cameron Village enjoy the on-site swimming pool and tennis courts, while six golf courses and the beaches are within a 15-minute drive. At Lakeside Crossing, homebuyers can find three-bedroom, two-bath homes for around $150,000. The community includes resort-style amenities like a clubhouse and fitness complex.
North Carolina is another underrated snowbird state. While North Carolina offers attractive beaches and coastal living, retirees also love the mountains in the western part of the state. These homes can be more than just a summer or winter getaway. They offer both a cool respite from summer heat or a cozy mountain home without too much snow in the winter. The state also has the benefit of being centrally located on the East Coast, so residents can easily travel north or south.
Like South Carolina, North Carolina doesn't consider Social Security income as taxable. However, other forms of retirement income are taxed at a flat rate of 5.49%. The median home value is about $175,000, while the cost of living in rural parts of the state is lower than in cities like Raleigh or Charlotte.
The western part of the state includes 23 active adult communities of all sizes with many types of homes. At Connestee Falls, an active lifestyle community in Brevard, prospective homebuyers can find single-family homes in wooded neighborhoods in the low to mid $200s. The community also offers many amenities, including a clubhouse, a fitness center, a golf course, and 13 miles of hiking trails. At a smaller community like Riverwinds, homebuyers can find two-bedroom, two-bath homes in the mid $100s nestled in the mountains with easy access to hiking and outdoor recreation.
For homebuyers who want to go a little farther south on the East Coast, Georgia is another underrated snowbird state to consider. Like North and South Carolina, Georgia offers mountain and coastal living. The majority of Georgia’s 92 active adult communities are located in the Northern Georgia region around Atlanta. However, for many retirees or snowbirds, this region may not have as much appeal as other parts of the state. The Atlanta area is notorious for bad traffic, and the higher cost of living may not appeal to retirees. Head north of Atlanta, and you'll find that many of the 55+ communities provide a quiet neighborhood nestled between large lakes and the mountains.
Georgia’s cost of living is exactly average for the United States. However, the average home is about $180,000 lower than the national average. Atlanta’s home prices are on average much higher than the rest of the state. Residents over 65 also get many tax benefits. Social security income is not taxed at all, and those over 65 receive a deduction of $65,000 on all types of retirement income.
In Northern Georgia, a large community like Sun City Peachtree provides residents with resort-style amenities like a clubhouse, a golf course, and walking trails in wooded surroundings. Here, prospective homeowners can find two-bedroom, two-bath single-family homes in the low to mid $200s. Along the coast, Peppertree Crossing offers attached and single-family homes from the mid $100s to the high $200s. The age-restricted community also offers resort-style amenities like a clubhouse, an outdoor pool, and tennis courts.