What to Consider Before Becoming a Winter TravelerNeal
If you full-heartedly detest snowy, stormy, subzero winters then you’ve probably considered becoming a snowbird. Traveling south every winter to states like Florida, Arizona, Texas and California can help you escape the grueling cold temperatures of winter months. The best part is that you’ll still be able to see your friends and family where you currently live as soon as the happy summer weather returns in the north.
There are, however, many things you’ll need to know before making the lifestyle change. Being a snowbird might seem fun, but it isn’t for everyone. Some people would rather tolerate cold winters because they prefer a stationary lifestyle where they don’t have to bother with moving arrangements every year.
What Kind of People Become Snowbirds?
Obviously people become snowbirds because they prefer nicer weather, but migrating to chase better weather every year isn’t something everyone can do. Most people can’t take time off work every winter to migrate south, which means that the snowbird lifestyle isn’t even an option for a large percentage of northerners who prefer sunshine.
Because of the issue with holding a job while traveling, snowbirds were usually retirees in the past. Nowadays, more people are deciding to become snowbirds before retiring. Some people suffer severely from seasonal affective disorder and try to escape the winter blues. Other snowbirds are location-independent business owners who long for an adventurous lifestyle.
Planning Your Migration
Sunny weather all the time might sound absolutely delightful, but in reality everything is always give-and-take. Living in two places can easily become an organizational nightmare if you don’t know how to go about it. Here are a few things you’ll need to think about.
Every detail of your travels must be carefully thought through. You’ll want to maintain a lifestyle that you find pleasurable, but you’ll still have to think about budget. What you can afford to spend annually will have a large impact on how you’ll live as a snowbird.
If you’re not the financially savvy type, your best option will be to talk to a financial planner. Starting out by talking to a professional who can determine a realistic budget based on your income and fixed expenses, as well as walk you through paying taxes, is always a good place to start.
But before you can plan your budget, you’ll have to think about what kind of life you want to live. Just taking a moment to distinguish between things you absolutely don’t want to live without and things that would be nice to have could save you a lot of effort. After careful consideration, you might find that you can’t even come close to affording the life you want – no matter how you run the numbers. In that case, seeing a financial planner would be futile.
Owning Property vs. Renting
Of course, you’ll have to consider the costs of everyday life for both places you’re planning to live.
If you still own property up north, you’ll have budget for property tax and regular home maintenance.
Renting your place out also isn’t the best option. Finding tenants who are satisfied to move out once summer is back probably won’t be possible. To top it off, tenants could potentially cause damage to your furniture and other belongings. All this makes renting your place out a very tricky thing to try.
But if no one is staying at your place during winter, someone will still have to take care of some basic maintenance, like shoveling snow, watering plants and pool maintenance. You could hire a responsible person to stay in your place while you’re gone (that’s to say if you can find one). But if your place will be empty all winter, you’ll need to get a plumber empty water pipes so that they don’t burst when they freeze over.
This brings up another important question. Will you buy a home in a warmer state, or rent a place? Buying will cost you more in property tax and maintenance, but finding a fully-furbished place to rent a few months at a time isn’t always easy.
Cars And Transportation
To solve the problem of where to live, many snowbirds take to the road in an RV. But while many people see it as the ideal solution, others aren’t so keen on the idea of living in an RV for months at a time.
You might not like the RV idea yourself. But to living in a proper home will bring about another thing to consider. How will you arrange for transportation where you’re going? You’ll need to have your car with you throughout the year if you’re planning to move about freely.
Your first option is to drive your car down to your winter location every year. But the problem with driving back and forth every year is that it will add mileage to your car. Just one year of migration could add thousands of miles. Your car’s value will decrease faster and you’ll have to service it more often. Add fuel expenses to that cost and you’ll soon see driving your car is an expensive arrangement.
Try Car Shipping
Shipping your car won’t be cheap. You’ll have to book plane tickets and pay for a car shipping company to move your vehicle every year. But surely you’ll agree that catching a flight instead of driving is far more convenient. The best part is – despite the fact that car shipping isn’t cheap – it’s usually still cheaper than driving. You won’t have to book hotels along the way, your car won’t need to be serviced more often and you definitely won’t have to dread the trip south every year. With car shipping, you can enjoy a hassle-free winter in a sunny state without having to worry about the cost and effort to drive all the way!