July 17, 2018

Your Guide to Becoming a Snowbird: How to Avoid Cold Winters by Driving South

While many folks in the coldest regions of North America begin adding layers to their wardrobe as winter approaches, some decide to beat the cold altogether by becoming a snowbird. “Snowbirds” are individuals who technically call the colder regions of North America home, but travel south during the winter months, much like migratory birds.

The demographic is largely made up of retirees who have the freedom to spend the warmest parts of the year in their home communities, but leave when the weather becomes inclement.

For many, it offers the benefits that come with good weather, in addition to allowing them to retain close ties at home. With some straightforward planning, creating the snowbird life is a totally attainable goal.

Adopt a Mobile Lifestyle

Beyond the weather changes, snowbirds are driven to adopt the lifestyle in the interest of a higher quality of life, and to expand their travel experience. Indeed, research by Princeton University points out, “They (seasonal migrants) enjoy better health, have higher proportions married, and are less likely to be employed than those who are not temporary migrants.”

Thus, there’s a lot of incentive for those deciding to make the change. For the retired demographic, it provides the chance to escape a climate that can wreak havoc on immune systems, in addition to no longer having to navigate the peril of life (for months) in bad weather.

It’s worthwhile to note that, on the rise, are younger demographics adopting the snowbird way of life. This is largely possible because remote work is increasingly becoming an option for professionals across many industries. Technology is removing the limitations that have traditionally kept individuals from extensive travel

Thus, the snowbird lifestyle is also a means for younger, still-employed people to take advantage of travel experiences that can bolster their enjoyment of life. They’re largely taking a hint from the traditional snowbird community, and utilizing the freedom to enjoy pleasant weather all year round.  

Find Your Wings

For the up and coming snowbird, planning should begin with making choices concerning how you’ll travel, and what type of accommodations you’ll want to utilize while away from your permanent dwelling.

Fly there and ship your car. Some snowbirds opt to fly to their winter destination and have their vehicle shipped there. These snowbirds are the individuals who typically have an established second-home in their winter location. Conversely, some fliers have a vehicle in each location, and store the off-season vehicle while not in use.

Drive and camp. Another option, best for the most adventurous at heart, is to drive the vehicle, and camp while traveling to the destination. It’s a great path for those who are hoping to make as much of the journey south, as they do the destination. In this scenario, one would need to consider how best to store the camping material during the timeframe outside of your trip.

RV. A great many snowbirds RV because it provides the benefits of all the aforementioned methods of travel and lodging, in one. In an RV, you can take your time and make travel a sight-seeing endeavor. Additionally, upon arrival one need not give a second thought to lodging.

In the warmer months of the year, depending on whether or not one has access to the space needed for the RV, the best option may be to invest in storage for the vehicle to keep it in the best possible condition, and thus prolong its lifespan.

Make Plans for Your Home While You’re Away

If a snowbird intends to keep their home instead of selling it, then it is important to plan out how their home will be cared for during the winter months. There’s nothing like frozen pipes to ruin the good vibes brought on by a warm weather home away from home.

When leaving a house in cold weather for long portions of time it’s important to: 

  • Shut off the water to prevent freezing pipes.

  • Lower the thermostat and water heater temperatures.

  • Unplug appliances so they don’t pull energy.

  • Suspend unnecessary utilities (like trash).

  • Set up mail forwarding or another plan.

  • Close off your fireplace to prevent pest access.

 

The alternative to leaving your home completely, is to utilize it to gain an extra source of income. Many now use Airbnb to do just that. If you do decide to lease out your home you will, of course, need to have someone nearby who is willing to prepare the space for guests, and secure it when it is not in use.

Additionally, in either case, it’s important to decide what items you feel comfortable leaving behind when traveling. If you own a large, valuable item like a boat that can be seen from the street, or smaller items of value that you would not feel comfortable leaving in the home while strangers are there or even in the event your home will be empty, opting to store them elsewhere is a smart solution.

While you may have favorite hiding spaces for items, the reality is that a thief with experience is likely going to think of all the same places in your home to look for valuables.

Some of the most common items a thief looks for are: 

  • Jewelry

  • Electronics

  • Firearms

  • Tools

  • Liquor

 

Additionally, ABC News reports that a car is stolen every 43 seconds in the U.S. and when they interviewed a former car thief, he noted that one of the biggest reasons a car thief decides whether to steal or move on, is where the car is parked.

No one should leave a car or any other vehicle in an unsecured area, for long periods of time, where a thief will have easy, private access after nightfall.

Modern storage options make it easy to eliminate this concern from the picture. Smart Stop Self Storage offers sizing options that begin at the size of a hall closet — perfect for small valuables — all the way up to space large enough to safely leave behind a car, boat, or RV.

The snowbird lifestyle is appealing because it allows individuals to leave behind what is likely their least favorite thing about where they live: bad weather. There is no doubt that it does require some careful planning and thought.

But that effort ensures that the winter brings with it all the joys of the summer, if not moreso. Ultimately, it allows for travel, for diverse experiences, for weather that lets you enjoy the outdoors all year long, and perhaps even a perpetual vacation.