The lifestyle of retired adults who travel south to avoid snow has been dubbed snowbirding. Snowbirds are usually senior citizens who are well off enough to afford to travel, and inventive and organized enough to manage two households or similar situations in order to experience seasonal migration.
Where Migrating Seniors Come From
They often hail from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, or even as far as Ontario. Most come from north of the Mason-Dixon line. However, heavy snowfalls found in higher elevations of Appalachian, Smokey, and Rocky Mountains are enough to send these retirees on the road south.
Where Snowbirding Seniors Go
Most can be seen in Florida or South Texas, but some head more westerly for New Mexico and Arizona. Some have even been found in Nevada, South Carolina, and even Mexico. Less end up in California as Snowbirds are sometimes known to be frugal.
The decision about where to land can involve available information about real estate, travel interests, hobbies, scenic preferences, and even location of family or friends.
Some Snowbirds With Family in Either the North or South Regions
A number of migratory seniors live near family members in either the north or south. During the portion of the year when they have family nearby, they celebrate events of note like holidays and birthdays, or even unbirthdays.
During the time they are away from the family, they tend to establish connections with an adopted community. They may sing in a choir or participate in community organizations as they would in their original community. Some use this time to follow particular interests of history, travel, learning, or other adventures to their liking.
What Snowbirds Do with Property while Gone South
There are any number of ways to handle the homestead while going south:
- Property manager
- Friend or neighbor
- College student house-sit if very responsible
- House sitter or house-sitting firm (they have it down to a science)
- Short-term rental
- Leave it empty
There are online sources of both ideas and people to help with managing property of Snowbirds while they are down south.
Advantages of Snowbirding for Seniors
- The best is no snow to shovel!
- Developing friendships and social networks in both the north and south
- Enjoying the best of both worlds
- Breaking the monotony of staying in one place
- RV’s can be relatively inexpensive
- Snowbirding can be started as a trial run to see how it fits with a particular person or couple’s individual preferences
- The lifestyle of a snowbird gives retirees something to look forward to with the change of seasons
- Sense of community with other retired snowbirds
Disadvantages of Being a Snowbird During Retirement
- Never being completely a permanent part of a community
- Missing family or friends or holiday activities
- The organizational obligation of keeping up two domiciles
- Finding someone to look after the main home while traveling
- Security and safety issues
- Possible increased financial burdens
- Additional cross-border issues for Canadians
A number of older adults find the life of a Snowbird to their liking since it lets them enjoy their usual familiar environment, yet leave when the snow falls. They enjoy warmer climates while their neighbors up north are shoveling snow. Many say being a Snowbird is the best of both worlds.
Interviews with Mr. and Mrs. Keith Armstrong in person and by email about their lifestyle as snowbirds in March and April of 2009.