Best Places to Retire: Our Ideal Snowbird Pairings

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

July 1, 2013 — Note: Earlier this spring we asked our members for their ideas for future article subjects. We received some terrific suggestions (see “Downsizing, Renting, Affordability Dominate Your Suggestions“). This article is the second we’ve written on those suggestions; the first was “12 Steps to Downsizing Success“.

Many people’s retirement dream features an escape from winter, made possible by timely moves south and north to escape brutal climate extremes. For those who can swing it, snowbirding makes for a great lifestyle, although it does complicate the task of finding the best place to retire. That’s because snowbirds not only have to decide where to go to escape the winter chill, but they have to pair that with the best choice to spend the summer. There is a further complication as well: which location lets them experience the charms of autumn or spring to best advantage. This article will explore some of the key considerations for deciding your ideal winter and summer locations, as well as recommend some of our top snow bird pairings. We also encourage our members to use the Comments section to share their ideas on what makes for the best snow bird choices for living in 2 places.

People who live in the midwest, northeastern U.S., or eastern Canada generally have the strongest desire for the snowbirding retirement lifestyle, since that option provides an escape from their region’s brutal winters. In our experience the lower the winter temperatures, the more the desire to get away. Of course many folks living in the far west or northwest often like to get away from the non-ending dark, dreary, and wet days that can come with their winters.

Some considerations to think about
How warm do you like your winters? This is a key consideration that often depends on what you want to do when you are in that warm place. If you plan on going to the beach or deep sea fishing in the continental U.S. in January, anything but southern Florida or San Diego will be too chilly. However if you just want to be outside and are willing to put on a sweater or light jacket on the occasional cold days, South Carolina, Georgia, northern/central Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California will be just fine. In northern Florida and Phoenix it can dip into the 30’s occasionally, but most days are quite pleasant.

What about the summer season?
Retirement is such an opportunity that it might be time to think out of the box – here is a chance to move to a different summer location from where you live now in the summer. You might want more, or perhaps less of a contrast from the winter lifestyle than you have now. If you are moving to a new state to get a better tax situation, for example, that might free up your thinking about where to live. With diminished ties to the New York suburbs, for example, why not move to Cape Cod or a lake house in New England or the upper midwest for the summer season? Complicating your decision is that some locations are great for the summer, but you wouldn’t want to be there for the spring or fall.

What is it you want to do?
Choosing a summer and a winter location is a lot about what you want to do in each place during that season. You also might want to introduce some contrast in your 2 lifestyles. Snowbirding might be a good opportunity to spend some time in a city, foreign country, or traveling from place to place in an RV. You might want more of a rural lifestyle for part of the year, or pair the beach with the mountains. It is possible to structure your snowbird pairing to take advantage of contrasting opportunities.

Tax considerations – and renting vs. owning
You tax situation can be a big factor in your choice of snowbird pairings. Many people choose a low tax state like Delaware, Tennessee, South Carolina, or Florida to escape heavy property and income taxes in the Northeast. But you do have to be careful to meet the letter of the law, or risk being assessed fines or back taxes.

If you rent in Florida and own in New York State, you might have trouble persuading the Empire State you don’t owe income taxes there, no matter how many months you reside in FL. Some states might have a better Homestead provisions to keep your property taxes under control. We never recommend moving for tax reasons alone – it is a factor but hardly the only one.

Some communities might have a more attractive rental market than others, which could influence your choices.

Fort Myers active adult community

Active adult community or general community?
Snowbird living gives you the option to experience different lifestyles. We can see the appeal of living in an active community for one season, and a town or city in the other season. If you really want to live in an active adult community, you will be best off trying an area that has a lot of them, like the Carolinas, Florida, Arizona, and Palm Springs, CA.

Distance between
Does it matter to you if there is a big or a little distance between your 2 homes? For example we have several sets of friends who have 2 homes that are less than 10 miles apart (the summer home is at the beach or lake, the winter home in town). Whereas there are other people who make seasonal changes between Seattle and Miami, or New York and Hawaii. The trip between South Carolina and Ohio is not so bad, but Toronto to Key West, or Seattle to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, those are epic journeys. Fortunately if you can fly or hire someone to drive your car (and/or pets) between locations, the distances are not so important. As you age, the advisability of long car journeys diminishes.

How long will you be a snowbird in each place?
This has several implications, including climate and tax residency. For example if you only want to get away for the month of January or February, you probably don’t want a winter location that runs the risk of several cold snaps. Likewise a lake in Michigan isn’t for everyone once fall begins. Which state will you live in long enough to establish and maintain residency? When you age to the point that only one residence is possible, where will you want to be?


Budget
Some places like Southern California are just too expensive for most people to consider for seasonal retirement. Of course some people do reverse the seasons to try to get better pricing in a desirable area off season, or by renting out their place in the high season. Others go the creative route by living in an RV or working in exchange for free rent. Still others look for bargain areas, like Central Florida, Alabama, or South America.

Other considerations
Family and friends are important. If you already have friends and/or family who live in a place suitable for snowbird living, that can make up for other limitations, like perhaps a slightly cooler winter than you wanted.

Some of our ideal snowbird pairings
We chose these pairings because they offer a lot of contrast. But every person’s taste is different, we would love to hear your favorite, even if it just a dream.

Riverhead (Long Island, NY) and Key West (Florida)
Both of these beautiful places are near the water.

Seattle (WA) and Palm Springs (CA)
Seattle offers an exciting but manageable urban environment, it contrasts well with the desert resort atmosphere of Palm Springs.

Charlevoix (Michigan) and Lake Chapala (Mexico)
With this pairing you get a pastoral area and lake in Michigan along with a more exotic lake deep in Mexico.

Chatham (Cape Cod, MA) and Turrialba, Costa Rica
In this duo you get perhaps the prettiest town on Cape Cod with Costa Rica’s “Little Switzerland”.

Brunswick (Maine) and Venice (Florida)
How about a great Maine college town with an important art museum, matched with one of our favorite beach towns in Florida?

Pittsburgh (PA) and Asheville (NC)
Pittsburgh makes all the best places to retire lists for its affordability, cultural attractions, and friendly people; its paired here with the most popular retirement city at Topretirements.

Madison (CT) and Vero Beach (FL)
This pairing offers one of CT’s prettiest seacoast towns (with railroad access to New Haven and NYC) along with a low key beach town on Florida’s Atlantic Coast that is loaded with some very interesting active adult communities.

Claremont (CA) and Lahinch (Ireland)
Claremont, the city of trees and PhD.’s, has seven colleges that spice up life there, whereas in the coastal town of Lahinch you can tune your golf game at one of the world’s top courses, followed by a meal and a Guinness in a real Irish pub.

College campus at Claremont

Boulder (CO) and San Juan Islands (WA)
This double feature matches the Rocky Mountains and the Univ. of Colorado with an incredibly beautiful group of islands near Seattle.

Parting Shots
The good news is that your retirement is a blank canvas. Sure, you probably have limitations like budget, allergies, family locations, and ties to an existing area. But it is always worth remembering – you don’t have a job any more, almost anything is possible. All you need is persistence and creativity and you can probably find the snowbirding lifestyle that works for you.

For further reading:
Snowbird’s Leaving for the Winter Checklist
How to Find a Great Snowbird Rental for the Winter

Comments? Please share your ideas and experiences about the best snowbird pairings in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on July 1st, 2013

81 Comments »

  1. Tax Considerations:

    Regarding NY: The problem with owning in NY and owning a vacation property in another state is that when you die..NYS will attach everything you own and take a piece of it if they can.

    This has happened to several people I know when their parent’s die and they own two homes-one in NY and the other in another state- Some how the Welfare State finds out someone died and they eventually start attaching everything. This applies even if you rent in NY and own somewhere else. They force you to hire an attorney and prove everything.

    My suggestion would be if you plan on buying a vacation home in another state from where you currently live, check both state’s tax laws or consult with a tax attorney before you buy. Could be the best bang for your buck…especially if you live in NY, Mass or CA

    by Snowbird Pairing — July 2, 2013

  2. Boulder and San Juan is an odd pair…where do u spend the winter? I guess this works if u r a skier and like a cold winter.

    I’m considering Tucson for the winter and upstate ny for the summer. Or Tucson for the winter and northern Wisconsin for the summer. Or maybe cottonwood for the winter. And la for the summer. Basically, somewhere in az as my winter and permanent residence, and a bunch of different places where either family or friends live, as temporary summer places.

    by Ginger — July 2, 2013

  3. My husband retired a few months ago.We are considering two residences when I retire. We live in the front range of CO now (Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland area), and are considering spending winters in AZ. We will probably test the waters by renting in AZ before buying anything. We currently also have a condo in the mountains in Steamboat Springs CO and we love it there so we have to see how that location will fit in our plans.

    by Kathy — July 2, 2013

  4. We already have a beachfront summer vacation home in Sea Isle City, NJ. Which is between Cape May and Atlantic City. It’s a low maintenance house, so we will keep that. We are thinking of selling our large winter home in West Chester, PA and downsizing, moving to the St. Augustine, FL vicinity, also a beachfront, for about the same price as the winter home. We don’t mind the chilly weather, just no more rough winters with blizzards like we have been used to. The only risk is a hurricane to one or both of the homes, since they will be both on the beach.

    by Dave — July 2, 2013

  5. Well, after 436 inches of snow in 2011-12 in Valdez Alaska, we decide to call it quits and retire. We previously lived in Las Vegas so purchased a nice home (repo) in a Del Webb community in North Las Vegas (Aliante). Our idea was to live there in the winter (mid Oct – mid May) then take our 36′ fifth wheel, and truckand head north to explore our country.
    So we left Las Vegas May 30th (just in time…it was 117 there yesterday) and have travelled through California, and are currently on the beautiful temperate coast of SW Oregon. (76 here yesterday)
    So, this has worked well for us so far. It seems that once you have the parts of this lifestyle in place, (home, truck and RV) there really doesn’t seem to be that much difference in the monthly cost of living. of wintering in Las Vegaas or RVing in the summer. It’s simply a matter of tradeoffs. Fuel bills in Las Vegas in the winter are extremely low. We leave there in May, so we don’t get the off the chart air conditioning bills. We’ve found many places in our RV travels that are located in stunning locations (Florence Oregon for instance)and charge as low as $450.00 per month (we apply the a/c bill we don’t get to pay for this) for an RV space that generally includes all utilities, basic cable and wi-fi.
    So, we plan to move around and explore our beautiful country for the next several summers while wintering in North Las Vegas. This year it’s California, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Utah. Next year , it’s the midwest, and then the east coast and Florida. We retired from Alaska after 15 years, so don’t need to go there…

    Hope this helps someone out there. 😀

    by Jack McCay — July 2, 2013

  6. I think we have the best of both worlds. we spend our winters where we live in Sarasota FL and our summers at our lake house in Lake Lure NC (outside of Asheville). I am retired while my Husband is still working (He is a commercial pilot so able to commute from anywhere). We thought long and hard about where we wanted to be. This fits us perfectly. The drive is 11 hours so we can easily go between the two places when we like. I have always been more of a mountains type while my husband has always loved the beach and the islands so now we are both happy!

    by gail williams — July 2, 2013

  7. I have a small 3 season place in Ak on the Kenai Peninsula for Spring-Fall and a Winter place in Nevada. Both states have tax advantages and are near some of the best scenery in the country. I have learned, however, that renting seasonally in the Southwest makes more sense than buying and will move that direction in the near future. Seasonal rentals are plentiful if you search early and do your due diligence beforehand.

    by DLH0 — July 2, 2013

  8. :smile:Wow! How cool that you paired the San Juans with Boulder. We are retired profs living in Boulder but have been visiting Port Townsend and the San Juans for years. I think we would aim for winter in PT or Friday’s Harbor. It is grey but nothing compared to the 9-11 feet of snow in Boulder, and i told my hubby that if Boulder resembles Shangrila, then the San Juan Islands resemble the Isle of Avalon! All misty and magical. Perfect pairing of two breathtakingly beautiful places for those who don’t mind the long distance travel in between! thanks for a creative article. Kathy Anderson/Boulder, Co.

    by kathy anderson — July 2, 2013

  9. We’re still in the process of deciding, but current thoughts include splitting time between NM (maybe near Santa Fe) and Puerto Rico (we currently own a small vacation home on the island of Vieques). Seems like the best of both worlds if you like the beauty and majesty of the desert but also the attraction of the sea! Half the year in dry temps and half in humid temps. We’ll see! 🙂

    by Anne B — July 3, 2013

  10. My wife and I have a nice large condo in Mazatlan,Mexico and spend winter there from November through May. The people are friendly and we enjoy the colonial style centro area with it’s great restaurants, plazas, and fantistic European style theater where we have seen everything from a fantastic Elvis inpersonator to great symphonies and dance companies. We drive from our present home in the Sacramento, California area back and forth to Mazatlan. It is an easy 4 day drive, although I do tire of the ugly and monotonous desert in southern CA, AZ,and Northern Mexico. We are now trying to sell our home and get out of California and its high taxes and broken government. We are having a difficult time trying to decide where to go for the summer. One thought is to live in Vancouver,WA witch has no state income tax and shop across the Columbia River in Portland, OR where there is no state sales tax. any thoughts on Vancouver? Martin

    by Martin Koester — July 3, 2013

  11. My wife and I were born in and have worked in upstate New York for most of our first 55 years. I retired at 55 and she at 60. We have a year-round capable camp on a small lake in the northern foothills of the Catskills (about 180 miles NW of NY City) which we stay in from late April to late November. My wife’s family has been going the Gulf Coast of Florida (halfway between Sarasota and Ft. Meyers) since the mid 70’s and we now own two condos down there in the same complex, renting one of them out during the peak winter months. We have relatives in Maryland and Virginia that we stop and visit with during each of our two seasonal commutes (including Thanksgiving) and also have friends who have already moved to VA and TN whom we also visit. We just got back from a three week trip to France and plan to go to Italy in the Fall of 2014, where we are considering getting dual citizenship, for which we are eligible through my deceased father-in-law’s lineage, which will make travelling, staying longer, and the possibility of owning property in Europe easier. We are considering a move from our summers in upstate NY to the eastern mid-south (Virginia/North Carolina) due primarily to the extraordinary tax situation in NYS. The utility costs and the taxes in NYS are excessively burdensome despite our relatively frugal lifestyle.

    I have thought about New Zealand and Costa Rica however our family ties, despite cyber connectivity, seem to keep us in the States.

    by Tom Pritchard — July 4, 2013

  12. Lived the pairing of Vail, CO (residency) winters and Malibu, CA summers for several years and found two residences just not to personal liking and the locations were not a factor in this conclusion. Seemed something was always at the other location. Many people have loved Vail as their summer living location because the summer are pristine with low humidity. Neither state CA nor CO had any favorable tax advantages. We stopped leaving Vail in the summers and stayed year round when summer tourism began to become brisk and Malibu became more and more expensive.

    by Dean-Ross — July 4, 2013

  13. Congratulations – very well done! Really enjoyed reading and particularly that you’ve included some of your ideal pairings. Also like the visual image of the “blank canvas” reference included in Parting Shots.
    After reading what others have shared, my favorites may look a bit too much like ‘me too’ in some respects but I actually had these pairs picked when suggesting snowbird pairs as a potential topic of interest.
    Since I’ve been fortunate to work on both coasts (never more than 15-20 miles from the ocean) for a number of years during my career, as well as in the Midwest right out of undergrad, my pairs run north-south across the lower 48. Though having just returned from Alaska, I can’t resist including in a far west pair was well. So here goes!
    Far West
    Anchorage, AK in Mat-Su Valley with Kona, HI somewhere on the Big Island coast north of Captain Cook
    The land of the midnight sun is captivating in summer and there are AK tax advantages; Kona coast is dry and less developed with climate largely a function of altitude.
    West
    Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA with Laguna Hills, CA
    The tax advantages of WA residency and proximity of OR amenities and shopping have been discussed on this site; southern Orange County can be more affordable compared to some other CA options and the area is beautiful year-round.
    Midwest
    Holland/Grand Rapids, MI with Austin, TX
    This part of Michigan ranks high in Places Rated and the proximity of Lake Michigan makes it very attractive in summer; TX holds tax advantages and Austin and it’s lakes hold a lot of appeal.
    East
    Norwich, VT/Hanover NH with Jupiter/Tequesta, FL
    The Ivy League intrigue of Dartmouth, the wilderness of the Appalachian Trail, and the tax advantages of NH; the best year-round weather in FL with near constant trade winds from ocean to land (documented by windswept native trees). It’s no mystery that Jupiter Island is home to so many celebrities – from Celine Dion to Tiger Woods; you don’t have to have megabucks to live on the mainland just west of the island but you can enjoy the same weather and tax advantages of claiming FL residency!

    Thanks again for this focus on snowbird pairs. Maybe one day I’ll live to paint that canvas with the best weather I can find all year long!

    Editor’s note: Thank you Clark for your kind words about the article and especially your wonderful suggestions for snowbird pairs. They are terrific!

    by Clark — July 4, 2013

  14. We’re in Summerville, SC Del Webb right now and unless you like living around NOTHING but very CLOSE to your neighbor, don’t bother checking it out. there is road way in, and one road out for several communities in this complex, as well as a large high school and grade school at the entrance.
    The grounds are very pretty but there are no restaurants, movies, shopping unless you drive to Summerville. This is about 12 miles away and once there, you will scratch your head and wonder where the town went!! To drive to beautiful Charleston SC is about 45 min. and the traffic on 26 is awful so you’re looking at an hour or more.

    by Sue — July 4, 2013

  15. Hi Sue ..just read your comments about Summerville ..we looked there a few years ago and our home sale in NY was grim ..looks better so are planning some more looking and trips..but was good to hear youe comments being so true helps others alot..and sure sounds like a trip to beahes..that concerns us..how about medical availability?
    finally, Del Webb is opening another 55 in Beaufort that we plan a visit to..and we are lookin for feedback..so hve a wonderful day and good luck..
    Robbie

    by robbie — July 5, 2013

  16. Robbie
    We spent an evening in Beaufort 2 days ago and loved the city. Ate outdoors at a restaurant along the water and walked the streets with the old Southern houses. This town has a lot of character and we will return. Didn’t know they were planning a 55+ plus there. We’ll look into that.
    The houses at Del Webb in Summerville are built VERY cheaply. The houses in Del Webb Hilton Head are built much better, and they admit to that. You might want to check that area too. It is 15 min. to the beach and 20 to Savannah.

    by sue — July 5, 2013

  17. Robbie, forgot to mention hospitals. Savannah has a good hospital and there are several in the Hilton Head area.

    by Sue — July 5, 2013

  18. I retired early, and am a young widow. I lived in the East coast and the South most of my life! I decided to live in Phoenix, Az in the winter, and spend the summers in San Diego, Ca.I feel now, I have found the best of both worlds. Arizona is my primary resident, and I get to enjoy the beautiful desert for about 8 months, and then I can escape to the wonderful fun by the ocean when it is hot in the desert I didn’t plan it this way, because I always thought I would end up in Florida, since I lived Funny how life takes you in different directions!

    by Loralee — July 5, 2013

  19. Loralee your lifestyle sounds like exactly what I am looking for! Arizona in the winter and so. cal for the summer. Hope I can make that work! I am jealous!

    by Ginger — July 5, 2013

  20. Thanks for the great article from Topretirements! Noticed that most readers’ comments seem to be from married couples — as a single retired male (62) my situation is a little different — and thought there might be some others in the same single boat.

    My ideal pairing: NYC and Pensacola, FL — with New Orleans, LA added as a possiblity once I’ve had a chance to try it out for actual living. Have been living/working in NYC for 30 yrs and own a small apt — living here is not as expensive as a lot of articles claim if you already own an apt or house — the problem (as a reader above stated) is that NY State seems to come after everyone for a piece of what you’ve worked hard for once you’re gone. Great incentive to check out other options now!

    Being single, am not yet ready to give up the social/cultural options in NYC (or another larger city) — but definately want to go someplace warmer for the winter — and with better tax advantages. Was in the Navy in Pensacola, FL over 30 yrs ago and liked it then –beautiful beaches etc. and its location on FL’s far west panhandle, close to southern Al and LA is a plus for trips/visits to nearby southern states. The attraction of New Orleans — in addition of course to the great food which doesn’t have to be expensive — is the friendliness of the people (including lots of visitors from all over), cultural/sports activities, and of course warmer winter.

    Especially liked this article because it recognizes that we all have different situations and wish lists — and a creative pairing of places could be a great way to go. Have learned from experience that it’s better to try a place out by actually living there and experiencing it “on the ground” before making any real estate investment. And some places may be more affordable/available as rentals anyway. Hope everyone finds that special place or combo of places!

    by Bill — July 5, 2013

  21. Thanks Sue for Blufton comments..we are going to plan a trip there..and proximity to beach and medical was a good note..the new Del Webb there is “The Haven at New Riverside” in Blufton ..they have 11 home designs that are very different for Del Webb..and agree Summervile seems out and we have other reasons..specifically, it is too remote in the sense of available stores etc in somewhat close proximity..and surrounding area did not impress us..and definetly the beaches were almost an hour trip..and were told traffic nightmare in vacation season..the medical we looked at was in Charleston and seemed too spread out for areas with Doctors Offices..and North Charleston has been in the pop high crime rates for years sometimes number 1 in USA..so good luck in your endeavors..

    by Robbie — July 6, 2013

  22. Robbie, is there a new Del Webb community coming to Beaufort? The Haven at New Riverside has been in Bluffton since 2007? The community is a little bit remote, taking 15 minutes to a grocery store and shopping. It can become tiring after awhile.

    by Barbara — July 6, 2013

  23. Robbie
    The new Del Webb is the South side of Sun City. They are building there now. The North side is the old Del Webb and is across the highway from the south side, connected by a bridge over the highway. The Haven is not new.

    by Sue — July 6, 2013

  24. Barbara and Sue thanks for info..i thought it was new..but I see been there since 2007..and we still plan a visit but your info helps..we did visit Sun City and was not so interested at the time several yrs ago..Florida was on our ‘good place’ list til we found the difficulty getting homeowner insurance and respective high costs..still looking at the possibility..and pretty sure Summerville is not ourchoice..sure seems difficult to lock our mind in a location..but Delaware still is on our list..we will continue to share our info and thoughts..as we have learned so much from blogs on this site..

    by robbie — July 7, 2013

  25. Robbie check out Vitalia at Traditions in Port St. Lucie, FL. This is a 55+ community within the planned community of Traditions. Very active and building a new clubhouse. The homes are reasonably priced especially for an active 55+ community with prices ranging from the $170’s – $230’s, the largest being about 2400sf. No problem getting homeowners and it is not expensive, the homes are block built. The HOA includes lawn care, WiFi, basic cable, pest control and sprinler water system. Shopping and all conveniences are only 1 mile away within the community, and even more shopping and restaurants 2 miles away, sure saves on gas. Please also share on your findings in Delaware. We are looking for a home near the Jersey shore without the high taxes and we have a home in Vitalia also.

    by Barbara — July 7, 2013

  26. Robbie and Sue…my wife and I are very familer with the area of Hilton Head Bluffton and Beaufort..Sun City in Bluffton is in two different counties with the newer part on the north sidein Jasper county very new and very nice…The homes are built much better and the have several designs one that we like is the Frederick Bay. We have also looked at The Haven but ruled that out quickly as not as surrounded by shops and amenities as we would like..The only problem we see with Sun City is you can not have a fence…We have 2 Greyhounds and they require a fence..Short of that they have everything clubs, shopping etc..The people we met on several trips there were very nice and helpful..The other 2 places we have narrowed our final 3 places are Hilton Head Lakes just 3 minutes from Sun City toward I95..New community surrounded by lakes just beautiful and the place is debt free, if you go there see Matt Peebles a really nice guy who will show you around he is one of the owners…The other place is Hampton lakes about 10 minutes east of Sun City towards Hilton Head…also very nice but little more pricey 350K-1 million beautiful clubhouse and the people really do a lot of things there at the marina and clubhouse..We are from Kentucky retired recently at age 60 and will be moving to one of those 3 places within the year..will be doing a reverse mortgage purchase witch will allow us to buy our dream home for about 35 cents on the dollar..For example a 400K home will cost us a one time payment of 155K….great option for us..We visit there 4 times a year now as I have 3 rental properties on Hilton Head now..As a matter of fact on our way there July 26th for a couple of weeks..Hope this helps..Email me with questions at: paul.schmidt@twc.com

    by paul — July 7, 2013

  27. Does Del Web build retirement communities on Long Island N. Y. (Suffolk County

    by Ed Krinsky — July 7, 2013

  28. Ed, you can see the locations of Del Webb communities at http://www.delwebb.com. You’ll see there are ones in NJ, CT, and MA, but not in Long Island at this time.

    Jan Cullinane, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

    by Jan Cullinane — July 8, 2013

  29. Paul
    I found your information very helpful, thanks. My husband and I just left DelWebb Hilton head. Jasper county has a higher tax rate than Beaufort, but I don’t know what Jasper’s is, do you?

    by Marilyn — July 8, 2013

  30. On one side of the street the older and main part of Sun City is Beaufort county and on the new part was Jasper county. The taxes on the new section are a little higher but I believe they have some benefits that make up for that..

    by paul schmidt — July 9, 2013

  31. Marilyn –
    We have also been to Sun City Hilton Head. The taxes in Jasper county are higher than those in Beaufort County. As an example, I have been told that a $250K house would have taxes of $1,100. in Beaufort county and $3000.00 in Jasper County. We are definately considering HH. All the current building is taking place in Jasper county. We will not let that deter us, as both are less than what we currently pay

    by Pauline — July 9, 2013

  32. Pauline and Paul,
    Thank you for your responses. We also are considering HH and chose a house plan that we liked.

    by Marilyn — July 10, 2013

  33. Very interesting and helpful article and responses. I am an active 66 year old single female that plans to retire from the Federal government next year; I live in VA. Want to find a place first to try during the winter that would welcome single seniors. Maybe go for 2-3 weeks. I would love to be in a warm place close to the water. Any suggestions?

    by Mona — July 10, 2013

  34. Why have the expense of 2 places? Arizona has the best weather 9-10 months out of the year; if the summers are too hot, then travel north and rent for a couple of months. A lot more economical than owning 2 homes and paying taxes, maintenance etc.

    by jimmy j — July 11, 2013

  35. Jimmy J, I live in Arizona, and I totally agree with you…we have everything here you could want. Great place to retire!!

    by Kayleenea — July 12, 2013

  36. Mona: I’m a 62 yo single female in NYC. A close friend is a 64 yo single female in Alexandria VA. We are looking to combine households when we retire (she’ll have to wait a few years for me). We are going to check out Sarasota, FL the first week of December. It seems to have everything we are looking for. We also want to check out GA and NC. Anyway, we are renting a 2 bed 2 bath condo in Sarasota that we found on VBRO. When we finally find the right fit for us, we will be renting not buying. Neither of us want to have the responsibilities of home ownership once we retire. Anyway, I would recommend checking out Sarasota, Fl if you like beach and culture, best of both worlds.

    by Stacey — July 12, 2013

  37. Stacey,

    I agree – Sarasota is wonderful, and love that you and a friend are combining households!

    Looking forward to hearing about your visit to Sarasota

    Jan Cullinane, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement

    by Jan Cullinane — July 13, 2013

  38. Marilyn and Pauline,

    Actually Buaufort county has a tax rate and mill rate of .0475 and Jasper county has a rate of.1450 so for a 200K home would be 1160.00 for Jasper and 380.00 for Beaufort…Jasper is the new part of Sun City Hilton Head there are some excemptions and discounts a retiree can get so it really isn’t much of a difference..Jasper’s tax base is rapidly expanding so I would expect it to be more stable in the coming years ..

    by paul — July 13, 2013

  39. Jan: Thanks! BTW I love your book….have it on my kindle.

    by Stacey — July 13, 2013

  40. Thanks so much, Stacey. I really appreciate hearing that!

    by Jan Cullinane — July 14, 2013

  41. Thanks Paul

    by marilyn — July 14, 2013

  42. @Martin Koester: Not Vancouver! Booooring. 20+ minutes east of Vancouver are some wonderful wooded communities (Battle Ground, Yacolt, Amboy) and north of Vancouver are some scenic small-town areas as well. In any event you will soon tire of driving across the bridge unless (a) for social/cultural events, or (b) for big ticket items which would save you a whole lot in taxes. Your idea is good; just expand your search a bit to get out of the boring ‘burbs of Vancouver.

    by Karen — July 18, 2013

  43. Thanks Karen. We are really looking for a small town/city that we could easily walk to shops and restaurants from our home, not looking for “mall city”. We will check out your suggestions. I believe the 205 bridge is better than the 5 bridge. Are we correct?

    by Martin Koester — July 24, 2013

  44. Wow, I love the contributor who summers in Asheville, N.C. and winters in Sarasota, FL. I grew up in Asheville and now live in Sarasota. Florida towns lead our nation in both elderly population and the proportion of residents born outside the state. Believe it or not, according to the Population Reference Bureau, Sarasota also has the highest proportion of senior citizens in the United States–that’s a full 30 percent.

    by Steve Fortosis — July 26, 2013

  45. What a wonderful article! And I’m also enjoying all the great comments.

    by Kathy — July 28, 2013

  46. I notice several of the comments about “Underrated Towns” say “too hot” or “too cold”.
    How about a survey asking “If you could spend the summer in one area, and the winter in another, where would you suggest?”
    An ancillary question would be, “In which state would you establish residency?”
    For me, a residency in a snow- and income-tax free state in the winter (South Texas or Nevada; Florida); and a hurricane/tornado free state in the summer – Northern New England, Michigan, Montana, etc.

    by OldNassau — September 3, 2013

  47. Great article, but there are a few more issues that one should consider:

    My parents were snowbirds for many years, splitting there time between Florida and the Chicago area, where family lived. My folks stopped traveling when they were in their 80s. I think that I learned something from their experiences and hope to apply those to my retirement (retired three years ago and temporarily located in the Florida condo where they had lived)

    It seems to me that snowbirds need to consider where there primary residence would be, not only because of the tax considerations, but as a place they would settle once they become too tired of traveling or the aging process makes it impossible to travel. This part of the snowbird duo would be the place where they can set down some roots, thus it might be the place where they spend more time from the beginning. The choice of a primary residence might be based on the location of one’s family, the availability of services for the aging, healthcare, and the ease with which one can become a part of a community, if one relocates permanently….both to support and be supported by a community.

    The more seniors their are in a community, the more services there are. We found that Illinois had very little for seniors and that may well be the case where seniors are not a large or visible part of the population. Florida communities, and likely other states with a lot of retirees, provide senior services, but more importantly, there are numerous volunteer activities that provide opportunities for seasonal visitors to provide needed services within the community or to pursue interests through clubs, etc. There are also more likely to be opportunities for exercise, most of which are quite accepting of a wide variety of ages…not just seniors. The age-range of the running group that I run with is 14-80 years old!

    So weather, taxes, and stores may just be the beginning or the search for the ideal duo. I’ve added a few to the mix. I might add political climate, too…but that’s another post!!

    by Lynn — September 5, 2013

  48. We plan to live in Florida near the Gulf coast for eight months and live in our RV in Maine (where we grew up) for four months – that is, until we get too old to travel. We are currently checking retirement locations in Florida.

    by Norma — September 6, 2013

  49. […] For further reading: Sandy’s Adventures Part II: How to Find an Affordable Warm Winter Place to Retire Our Ideal Snowbird Pairings […]

    by » How to Find a Great Snowbird Rental for the Winter Topretirements — December 10, 2013

  50. […] advantages? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below. More Snowbird articles: Ideal Snowbird Pairings How to Find a Great Snowbird […]

    by » Horrible Winters Make More Boomers Consider Becoming Snowbirds Topretirements — March 3, 2014

  51. Hi, Looking for a 55+ community in Florida. I was told Leesburg or St. Pete are great areas. Could anyone confirm? Selling our home in New York and looking to spend the summers in the poconos. New York taxes are a mess and we would make Florida my new home state.Thanks

    by Al — March 27, 2014

  52. […] further reference: How to Find a Great Snowbird Rental for the Winter Our Ideal Snowbird Pairings (Summer and Winter) Sandy’s Adventures Part ii: How to Find a Great Snowbird Location for the […]

    by » Snowbird’s Leaving for the Winter Checklist - Topretirements — October 15, 2014

  53. Hello!
    This is an interesting website.. I extremely impressed from your awesome information that is very useful for me.. I want to find more information like this.. Thanks for the great article from this blog.. Thanks for provide senior services, but more importantly, there are numerous volunteer activities that provide opportunities for seasonal visitors to provide needed services within the community or to pursue interests through clubs, etc.. I appreciate this so much.. I am thankful to you.. Keep it up..

    by Karan — November 21, 2014

  54. I am thinking of moving to the Sun City, AZ Dell Web. community full time. Hear the summers are really hot. Can any one that lives there year round tell me about the summer heat plus any information on the community would be helpful. Is it a nice place to live? I am a widow and love to swim.

    by Nan — November 22, 2014

  55. We retired to a 55+ community many years ago on the Gulf coast of Florida.
    Our home is on a man made lake. We have no children.
    We like our lifestyle of staying here year round & traveling to Fairfield Glades Tenn.
    We love 55+ communities for safety, friends & activities.
    We have traveled on cruise ships to Caribean, Mexico. We also travel overseas /cruises ocean, river & independent travel. We have seen 5 continents.
    We have friends that have 2 homes, both in 55+ communities ( NJ & Fl) and divide the year, due
    to family. They dislike travel. They have 2 sets of part time friends, but works out fine.
    Everyone needs to figure out their own style of retirement.
    So many options depending on your health, family/ friends & your interest.

    by Jeanne — November 22, 2014

  56. To Nan:
    I moved to Phoenix full time about 4 years ago and really love it. It does get very hot in the summer for about 4 months, the rest of the year it is awesome. Beautiful sunsets, and lots of things going on to do and get involved in. Great healthcare, and reasonable cost of living. i also am a widow and I found it easy to meet people. As far as Sun City, I have heard it is very friendly and lots to do. I know a lot of people in Trilogy at Vistancia, another 55 and over community, and they absolutely love it there, I have been to many of the events at Trilogy and am thinking of moving there myself There are a lot of single women at Sun City, so you would have no problem meeting new friends, You might consider going out there and staying for a week or two and see if it fits your needs. If you need a real estat agent that knows a lot about Sun City, i could help you with that…Best of luck!

    by Loralee — November 22, 2014

  57. My husband and I would like to spend a couple of weeks to a month in AZ this coming Feb. to see if we would like the area and become snowbirds in the coming years. We are having a hard time finding a place to rent. If anyone knows of someone who has a place we could rent for a week or two or month at a reasonable rate please let me know.
    Thanks.
    Karen M

    by Karen M — November 22, 2014

  58. Loralee

    Thanks for the information. I am planing a trip to see Sun City, Az in the spring 2015 and will need to contact a real estate to show me some homes so a contact person would be great. Thanks Nan

    by Nan — November 22, 2014

  59. We retired this August 2014 to the Albemarle Plantation http://www.albemarleplantation.com in Northeast North Carolina. We are loving it! Golf, boating and a beautiful place to live on the picturesque Albemarle Sound. We sold our house in the Boston area to get out of the snow and high costs and downsized to a great one story southern style home without a mortgage. We are only a day’s drive to go up north to visit the grandkids and yet can live in a moderate climate. The plantation owns all the amenities and has a good grasp on the HOA costs. The experience and skill of the Board members is quite impressive. We are run as if we were a modern corporation with no waste and plenty of reserves. The people here are very friendly and we have made so many new friends in such a short time. We just hosted a party for 30 people in our home for the newcomers club. Right now real estate down here is a bargain compared to other places and up north. My boat is very happy in the marina year round. I would welcome comments and questions. –Living the dream–

    by Charlie — November 24, 2014

  60. Charlie,

    Sounds like you found your dream place. I checked the website and yes, it looks like a heavenly place but somehow I can’t find more information such as how big is the community (I love the fact that it is residents owned), nearby medical facilities, nearest international airport, etc., and of course, does it snow much (I assume it snows a bit)?

    We’d like to plan a discovery tour soon. However, the only time I can come up with in the coming year is in mid or late January. Is this a good time to visit? If not, we will have to wait till next fall.

    Anyway, thanks for your inputs. Any useful information will be highly appreciated. We’d like to find a retirement place ASAP but as you know, it’s easy said than done!

    by Mingchen — November 24, 2014

  61. Honestly, I think it’s sort of sad that the gap between rich and poor in this country has gotten so huge that some people have two homes and other people have none and sleep underneath interstate bridges.

    by Charlotte — November 25, 2014

  62. Mingchen, yes we get some snow, but it is usually gone in a day or so. I left my snow thrower behind in Massachusetts. There are about 1000 house lots here with about half built upon with houses. January is a good time to come to see what it is like in the winter. We are not tropical however, we still get the 4 seasons.

    by Charlie — November 26, 2014

  63. Wow, retirement homes in Albe Marie Plantation.
    Condos from $123,000 to $185,000
    Homes from $240,000 to $785,000
    You gotta be kidding me !
    Must be a haven for Physicians, Denists, and CEO’s,
    What average retiree has that kind of money?

    by botch57 — November 27, 2014

  64. Great article, and I have really learned a lot from reading all the comments. Thanks everybody!

    My parents lived in Ohio, and they had a small travel trailer. Every January and February, they would drive down to Florida with the trailer in tow. They would spend two weeks in a state park, and because the trailer was unhitched, they could take day trips all over the area. About every two weeks, they would move to a state park in another part of the state and explore it.

    I live in Phoenix, and love it. I even love the summers, because I have a pool. But I know a lot of people who own cabins in north-central Arizona in towns such as Prescott, Cottonwood, Jerome, Flagstaff, Payson, Heber, Snowflake, Show Low, etc. where they go during the summers and some weekends. That makes a great option for seasonal migration, because you’re only 2-3 hours from your primary home.

    Now, I have a question for the seasoned snowbirds: What challenges do you have, and what tips can you offer, for dealing with some of the logistical issues? For example:
    Do you have someone live in or frequently check on the residence you’re not currently living in, or do you have no problem with leaving it empty and unattended for months at a time?
    Do you have any issues with maintaining continuity with your health care professionals?
    How do you handle mail delivery? Do you just submit forwarding notices every time you migrate?
    How much stuff do you move back and forth each time you migrate? Or do you essentially own two of everything?
    What other challenges do you face?

    Thanks!

    Dave Hughes
    retirefabulously.com

    by Dave Hughes — November 27, 2014

  65. I retired kinda young and moved to Phoenix, Az four years ago, and love it! As Dave mentioned the summers can be blistering, but for me I rent a place for a month or so in San Diego to escape some of the heat out here! It only takes me 6 hours to drive there! I do know that a lot people here go to Flagstaff and Prescot, which is really close, for the summer. We are so close to a lot of areas to escape for a little break. It’s in the 80’s here on Thanksgiving weekend…do not miss that cold East coast weather one bit!!!

    by Loralee — November 28, 2014

  66. Regarding the “shot” at Albemarle Plantation from Botch57, condos priced from $123,000 and single-family homes from $240,000 will not appeal to CEOs, dentists and physicians; they are priced too low. Those prices are super-reasonable for a community like Albemarle, which offers an excellent golf course and other amenities, a location on the water, and a reasonable distance from the population centers of the northeast. Botch, what is your perception of what an “average retiree” can afford? I have visited and reviewed more than 100 golf communities in the Southeast, and those prices at Albermarle are among the most reasonable I’ve encountered.

    by Larry — November 28, 2014

  67. Larry,
    I agree. I checked out the house prices at a community in Lake Keowee in NW South Carolina. They started in the $800,000’s and went to the 2 million dollar level. Now that’s a community for the wealthy!

    by ella — November 29, 2014

  68. Wow Larry, visited more than 100 golf communities? Maybe you can give me some tips of what places are worth visiting. We would like to relocate within a year. Love Keowee Lake area (too remote from everything but the most likely place for us at the moment) and will visit Albemarle Plantation soon. I love mountains and water and golf is a must. Any other places on your “must” see list? Thanks.

    by Mingchen — December 4, 2014

  69. Mingchen-have you visited Tellico Village in Loudon, TN? It is located outside of Knoxville and has what you are looking for.

    by LisaJ — December 5, 2014

  70. Mingchen, it all depends on your price range. Lisa is correct; Tellico has a very good reputation, although I did not visit it when I stopped at nearby Rarity Bay five years ago. I have visited the three major golf communities on Lake Keowee — Reserve, Cliffs (multiple locations on the lake) and Keowee Key, the oldest. Keowee Key is one of the most affordable golf communities in the Southeast, on a dollar-per-square-foot basis. You can find some waterfront homes in the $300s, which is unusual in my experience, and wooded-lot homes in the high $100s. I suspect there are two reasons for the relatively low prices: 1) The community is 40 years old, and many people prefer “newer”; and 2) Duke Power has a nuclear plant just four miles up the lake, which intimidates some folks (although any of my customers interested in the area have not shown any concern). Homes at The Reserve and The Cliffs start in the $500s and go up significantly from there. Funny you should mention Albemarle Plantation, which was one of the first golf communities I visited when I started my business almost 10 years ago; I am planning a swing through eastern North Carolina to revisit Albemarle and Scotch Hall Preserve and to make my first visits to Cypress Landing, which looks interesting, and Brook Valley, whose golf course was just purchased by the McConnell Golf Group and added to their portfolio of 10 terrific courses in the Carolinas. A member of one McConnell club has access to all the others. I am happy to share more info at your request. You can access my email address through my web site. You will also find an online questionnaire at the site; if you fill it out, I’ll be pleased to share some thoughts about which golf communities match up the best with your requirements. (Apologies to Top Retirements if I have lapsed into commercialism, but Mingchen did ask.)

    by Larry — December 5, 2014

  71. Hi Karen,
    Are you still checking this blog?
    My parents have an EXTREMELY reasonably priced small “park model ” in the Apache Junction area for sale (or rent), They were snowbirds there for about 20 years . Now they have it for sale, because they can no longer travel that far.
    I’ll be sure to check this blog again for contact info if you, or anyone else is interested.

    by Caps — December 6, 2014

  72. Hi Caps,
    Would love some more info on this place.
    Thanks!

    by Karen M — December 7, 2014

  73. Larry- what is your website address? I would love to learn more about the different communities. Thanks for all the information you have provided, it is very helpful!

    by LisaJ — December 7, 2014

  74. Karen……do you have a contact email or # ?
    I haven’t been there, but my sister has and could answer more of your questions.

    by Caps — December 7, 2014

  75. This is what I do know:
    It is a 55+ community.
    It has an outdoor swimming pool.
    It has a community and club room for pool playing and parties.
    You can park your own RV there too.
    It is very inexpensive.

    by Caps — December 7, 2014

  76. My wife and I wants to find out all the expenses of renting one bedrom home or apt, or condo during the winter time may be for 3 Mo. or more depends… as we live in AZ the hot & sunny summer ! Please send me some cities in states for us as retiries…. Thanks
    Ben

    by Ben Kallu — December 27, 2014

  77. This question came in from Rami, who seems to be looking for the total opposite of a Year Round retirement place:

    Is there any arrangement to get guaranteed accommodation for 6-8 weeks in each site for the total of one year?
    we are a couple who would like to move to a new place e every two months!

    by Admin — January 8, 2015

  78. Lisa, I apologize for being offline for the last month. Per your request, my website is golfcommunityreviews.com. Thanks for asking. Larry

    by Larry — January 9, 2015

  79. I am planning on being a snowbird next winter (wish I had done it this year!) I own a small house in the Northeast, where temps get below freezing and we have a lot of snow. Does anyone completely shut down their home? Drain hot water heating system, and other water pipes, turn off electric? I cannot decide if I should do that so I have no worries about freezing and pipe bursts if my heating system fails due to either power loss or some other reason. Some say thought that it is not good to let your house go completely cold. Any feedback or suggestions would be welcome. Thank you.

    Editor’s comment: This is a good question that many people have. It is discussed in some detail in our “Snowbird’s Leaving for the Winter Checklist” article and the resulting Comments. http://www.topretirements.com/blog/home-and-garden/snowbirds-leaving-for-the-winter-checklist.html/

    by Lee — February 3, 2015

  80. Ok, thank you. I will head over to that link. Lee

    by Lee — February 3, 2015

  81. Hey hey!

    Great blogpost! I really enjoyed reading it, since me and my husband are retiring in an year and are in the process of choosing a destination.
    Thinking sequentially, we’d be choosing a warm place with no winter 😀 and near to a big city.
    We have already looked around and l’ve almost chosen Pompano area, South Florida. Friend of ours bought a condo there ( Sabbia Beach Condos – http://sabbiabeachcondos.com/ ). We’re paying them a visit and gonna decide afterwards if its our place 🙂

    Christina

    by Christina — December 13, 2015

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