Retiring gives seniors an unprecedented amount of freedom that offers them a multitude of new ways to enjoy themselves. One of these new options is the ability to avoid the cold months by becoming snowbirds. What are snowbirds? Snowbirds are seniors who spend their winter months, called wintering, in southern and often warmer states. They can achieve this in a few different ways. Some choose to outright own two homes. Others pick a rental property and rent it for only that part of the year. Finally, some purchase an RV and travel the warmer states.
Snowbirds are seniors who spend their winter months, called wintering, in southern and often warmer states.
Before you start looking for your winter home, there are a few positives and negatives to weigh. The realities of wintering in warmer locations aren’t all sunshine and beach shores. There are some real considerations that may make it not worth becoming “winter guests,” as they are famously known in Florida.
The Benefits of Being a Snowbird
First, what are the benefits of traveling to warmer climates in the winter? The primary reason many seniors do it is because they’re escaping the cold. While this may seem purely for comfort, it can also be for health and safety reasons. The cold winter weather has been directly linked with a rise in heart attacks, chiefly among seniors, which can be avoided by escaping to warmer weather. Let’s not forget the safety risks of snow removal, like falling and strains, not to mention heart attacks.
The cold winter weather has been directly linked with a rise in heart attacks, chiefly among seniors, which can be avoided by escaping to warmer weather.
Then you have to consider winter storms, which can present dangerous conditions like freezing temperatures, power outages, and deadly travel conditions. Comparatively, winter in popular snowbird states like Florida is actually a great time to visit. Popular destinations like Orlando average from the low 50s to the low 70s with a small amount of rainfall and the least amount of average humidity. So, you can have warmer weather without the dangerous heat that the summer can sometimes reach.
The warm weather can also help you stay fit throughout the winter, helping you avoid seasonal weight gain. While it’s certainly possible to stay fit, even when the weather outside is frightful, there are not as many options as in warm weather.
If you’re concerned about where you’ll stay, you could always investigate a snowbird community!
If you’re concerned about where you’ll stay, you could always investigate a snowbird community, small housing or rental communities that are geared toward seasonal visitors. You can also check out affordable seasonal rentals in other areas popular with snowbirds. Finding a community of like-minded adults can help you avoid isolation and meet new people. Some communities will also host events and activities for members.
There are several other benefits of wintering in warm weather, like the relaxation that comes with an extended vacation or the benefits of traveling, that, when considered together, make it worth the effort for many Americans. That said, it’s not all positives.
The Negatives of the Snowbird Lifestyle
There are certainly some cons that make being a snowbird prohibitive or impossible for some people. While these potential barriers are not always insurmountable, they need to be considered before setting off. Among the most significant negatives of spending winter in a warm location are the financial factors.
Keep in mind, you may need to pay mortgage or rent on two homes at the same time.
While you may save money on heating your regular home, you’ll almost certainly end up spending more money in the long run. Keep in mind, you may need to pay mortgage or rent on two homes at the same time. One way to cut this down a bit is by only renting your winter home a few months of the year, but you’ll still be paying for your home back north. At the same time, if you own both properties, you’ll likely need to have two insurance policies to cover both homes. Then, you must also pay two sets of taxes on both homes, as well. Even if you go the RV route, you’ll need to pay for a place to park it, usually in an RV park.
If you have a pet or would like one, the snowbird lifestyle can become more difficult.
If you have a pet or would like one, the snowbird lifestyle can become more difficult. Traveling with a pet can be difficult and may limit your options of places to stay. If traveling with the animal isn’t an option, you’ll need someone to take care of them while you’re away. We wouldn’t suggest leaving a pet behind, however, since it defeats the purpose of having a pet.
Even if you don’t have a pet, you’ll still want somebody to check your home to ensure it survives the winter. While you may not need to worry about keeping the house warm enough to live in, you should still keep it heated enough to avoid frozen pipes. You can also ask a friendly neighbor to keep an eye out for any damage.
Medicare Coverage for Snowbirds
If you have Original Medicare, you’ll be covered anywhere that accepts Medicare assignment in the United States.
Finally, before setting off for your snowbird home, you should ensure your health insurance will work wherever you’re going. If you have Original Medicare, you’ll be covered anywhere that accepts Medicare assignment in the United States. The costs become more complicated if you have a private health care plan, like Medicare Advantage. In these cases, your plan may be limited to a network, with less coverage for certain services.
If you are a snowbird and discover that your Medicare Advantage plan doesn’t cover an area you plan to be living in for an extended period of time, it may be wise to pick a new Medicare Advantage plan that does or return to Original Medicare and purchase a Medicare Supplement.
● ● ●
For many seniors, spending the cold, dark months of winter somewhere sunny like Florida is a dream come true. There, snowbirds are a tourism phenomenon that, when you consider the benefits, is completely understandable. But, with the costs and considerations that need to be made beforehand, becoming a snowbird is not a decision to be made lightly.