Best Places for Snowbirds to Retire
Are you or have you ever dreamed of being a snowbird?
We’re talking about living in one location most of the year, but “heading south for the winter” and living somewhere warm during the winter.
Being a snowbird gives your bones a break from the cold. It lets you avoid the calamity of snowfall — cleaning off the car in the morning, shoveling or paying someone to shovel the driveway or walkway, driving through snow and slush. It allows you to live your dream retirement life — sun, sand, golf, anything else outdoors — even when it’s below freezing “back home.”
For so many reasons, it’s great to be a snowbird retiree. But unless you buy an extra property in a warmer climate, or rent for several months, it’s not always easy to do. And for those who have been doing it for a while, you may be getting sick of the travel and wondering why you can’t just be in paradise all year round.
Let’s talk about some of the best options for becoming a snowbird, and some of the best places for snowbirds to retire in the United States.
Best Places for Snowbird Retirees to Spend the Winter
Winter months bring short days, long nights, cold temperatures, and of course snow and ice. It’s only reasonable that many of us would prefer to spend the winter somewhere warmer.
Lucky for us, there are plenty of places in the United States that get either less than six inches of snow a year or none at all. This is snowbird territory, and it also happens to have some of the most attractive places to retire. Most of these regions are located in the southeastern United States. Here’s an overview of some of the best places for retirees to spend the winter.
- Florida: It’s called “The Sunshine State” for a reason! Snow and cold weather are practically unheard-of in Florida because it’s so far south. In fact, you’re lucky if you experience any flurries in even the far northern reaches of the state! Other popular retirement cities, like Boca Raton and Vero Beach, have never seen such weather. This is the first one our list because it’s the most obvious.
- Georgia: Just about all of Georgia is a great place if you’re looking to avoid snow almost completely. On average, the entire state gets less than six inches of snow a year, which means you’ll have blue skies and green lawns for most of the winter. Even a relatively northerly location like Gainesville and other Atlanta suburbs stay much warmer and drier than not!
- Alabama: Alabama stretches across the same latitudes of Georgia, and as a result the weather and climate is very similar! Alabama offers more Gulf Coast living compared to Georgia’s Atlantic coasts, and cities like Huntsville and Spanish Fort are highly popular retirement locations for snowbirds looking to avoid the cold.
- The Carolinas: Both North and South Carolina are great choices for snowbirds, as they’re not much farther north than Alabama and Georgia. In fact, it’s only the very highest reaches of North Carolina, near the Virginia border, that gets much snow, and even then, the average is around six to 12 inches at most. That’s still not much. Some great spots for snowbird retirees in North Carolina are Matthews and Columbus, and South Carolina boasts fantastic neighborhoods like Rock Hill.
We chose these areas because in addition to being warm in the winter, they are also attainably affordable for retirees, with decent costs of living compared to other parts of the country, and friendly tax systems.
How to Be a Snowbird in Retirement
If you want to live the snowbird life to its fullest, you need one very important thing: a secondary home where you can spend up to half the year. This can be a tall order for some retirees hoping to become snowbirds.
Renting is obviously an option, though it can require trying to cement long-term deals for the same property year after year, or spending every year trying to find a new place to live for a few months. Plus renting a winter property carries the same pitfalls renting did when you were just starting a family — you’re paying money each month without building any equity. The better option is of course to buy.
Some snowbird-hopeful retirees opt to downsize their main home, to move to a smaller and cheaper house, condo, or even apartment, with the idea that the sales profit can pay for at least some of both a warmer weather and cold weather property. This can work if your current home is worth enough and you’re interested in buying two new properties and paying sales tax on them and paying to maintain them.
But there are other options as well, both of which involve moving into a retirement community. Let’s explain.
Leveraging a Retirement Community Network to be a Snowbird
One option for those curious about how to be a snowbird is to join a network of retirement communities. Using Acts Retirement-Life Communities as an example, we operate 27 campuses across nine states. Each consists of desirable amenities, resort-style activities, fine dining, and more.
Networks like ours allow residents of one campus to visit other campuses, much like taking a vacation. That means you can live in a beautiful community in Southampton, Pennsylvania for one part of the year, enjoying the mild summer and proximity to the Jersey Shore, even hanging around to watch the leaves change in picturesque Bucks County. Then you can visit Boca Raton, Florida for a week when the days turn short, and the weather turns cold. You’ll receive the same consistent quality service at both since they’re operated by the same company, with the same devotion to loving-kindness. Your dining plan options even transfer!
Retire from the Snowbird Life and Pick the Better Location
The other option is to actually stop being a snowbird. What we mean is that, at some point, the packing up and moving for a portion of the year gets tiresome. You have to unpack everything in your new location, then do it all again a few months later. If you don’t leverage a retirement community network, you have to pay for two properties when you’re only living in one at a time or pay inflated rental costs at the height of the season.
When you’re tired of the dual lifestyle and are ready to settle down, pick your preferred destination, perhaps one of the best places to winter for retirees, and enjoy ideal retirement living every day of the year.
This too is a good opportunity for a retirement community. You can sell your home and put everything you pay on property taxes and home maintenance into living your best life. Still travel when you want, spoil the grandkids, and indulge your love of golf. You get to be on a vacation that never ends, where every night offers the comfort of your own bed. It’s perfect.
Check out any of the Acts communities to see how to live your best retirement in comfort and ease, no matter what time of year it is.