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Are You Still Planning to Snowbird Next Winter?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

July 11, 2020 — Normally by this time many retired folks from the Northeast and Midwest have found a rental in Florida, the Carolinas, Arizona, or some other warm weather state. Or, if they own a place, they are making plans to fly or drive south in the fall. This year is different, to say the least. While many snowbirds left their winter places when Covid cases were light in those states and the disease was just starting to abate in the Northeast. The opposite is happening now. Arizona, Florida and the Carolinas are raging out of control, with ICU beds starting to reach capacity.

Photo by Tina Nord from Pexels

All of that said, we would love to know how your snowbird plans for next winter are coming along. Are you planning on leaving at your normal time, delay, or not go at all? Have you locked in a rental, or are you waiting to see what happens? Will you travel down there by the usual means – car, airplane, or cartrain? What would the situation have to be at your destination for you to decide to go in terms of the number of cases, hospital capacity, etc.? Would we have to have a vaccine in place? What else would go into your decision to be a snowbird next winter?

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below. This has the makings of being a fascinating and helpful topic. Thanks!

Posted by Admin on July 10th, 2020

29 Comments »

  1. Regarding at our Winter plans, at this point all I can say is It Depends. The main consideration will be how mild the winter is here is southeast Pa. When we lived in north Jersey there were Winters during which we were able to golf every month – chilly but the course wasnt snow covered, if the season is mild like that we will probably just take a short road trip to visit friends in some southern states but wont stay long. If the long term (3 month) forecasts that come out in Dec. suggest brutal weather then we will plan to be south for longer. Last minute rentals arent hard to find in the Grand Strand area in the Winter and for Florida we have had success booking suite type hotels which works out well since we like to spend time visiting family and friends who are spread out along both coasts. Of course we will also keep an eye on what’s happening with the virus, wouldnt want to go someplace and find the restaurants closed.

    by Jean — July 11, 2020

  2. Though we’ve thought about snowbirding or it’s reverse, I can’t imagine that anymore. That makes a permanent retirement destination all the more important.

    by Staci — July 11, 2020

  3. RichPB, you’re on the mark, thanks.

    by DLJ — July 11, 2020

  4. We were planning to travel down to our place in FL in Nov. Now playing wait and see as it feels much safer here in MA.

    by Debbie — July 11, 2020

  5. We usually travel to our FL condo in early November and return mid-May. If, as it gets closer,
    it looks like a COVID vaccine will be ready in Dec we will likely stay north so we can get the shot and travel down late December. Vaccine or not we will definitely not spend winter in MD.

    by carol kokinda — July 12, 2020

  6. We usually travel to our FL condo on Nov lst, returning mid-May. If it looks like they will have
    a COVID vaccine in Dec we will stay in MD to get the shot and travel down around New Years Eve.
    Vaccine or not we will not spend the winter in MD. Much happier quarantined in the sun versus winter
    grey days.

    by cak — July 12, 2020

  7. I’m in Tucson area and a year round resident. It has been so odd, many of our snowbirds didn’t head out in April/May because we were doing so good. Decided to stay right through the summer this year as it seemed safe here and weren’t sure what the travel back might entail. Now in the last 2 weeks they are getting “out of dodge” as we are in serious trouble!

    by ljtucson — July 12, 2020

  8. Although we have never been”snowbirds”, we have taken a 1-2 week vacation in FL for many years at the peak of winter. Since deciding to permanently stay in our home in central NC a year or so back (rather than sell and move south), we were planning this year to snowbird (rent) for 1-3 months somewhere way south like FL, the Gulf Coast, Tucson, etc — wherever we felt like spending the time relaxing and exploring.

    All that is out the window now with Covid-19 — may never happen. The irresponsible behavior by so many in all those areas make it too risky.

    It’s not a terrible decision for us though it is very disappointing (to say nothing if the sadness and sorrow for all those affected by the virus). We have always found our home to be our preferred place and always looked forward to returning after even short visits away. Isolating is only moderately difficult and we continue to find the positive. But if wishes…

    by RichPB — July 15, 2020

  9. Since we have a home in Florida we would like to go visit at some point during the winter after December, but have not made any plans yet-Has anyone taken the Auto Train ? Would that be a safer option than flying or driving?

    by Jemmie — July 16, 2020

  10. Update from this week’s newsletter poll:
    We asked people two questions:
    Were a snowbird last year?
    How likely to be a snowbird this year?

    About 17% said they were snowbirds last year (rated it as 10)

    Looking ahead to this year, 13% rated the likelihood of going as a 10.
    Another 14% rated between 7 and 9 on the scale, which we interpret as meaning that they are on the fence to some degree or other. But that there is still great interest in going south for the winter, if things work out.

    by Admin — July 17, 2020

  11. Here is our thinking about returning to Florida this winter.
    If the Covid situation in the state remains as bad as it is now, and the hospital in our town is near capacity that would be a problem. The same for Miami, which is where we would go as a safety valve or any serious medical condition. Many of the tourists who come to town are irresponsible, which multiplies the danger. Doesn’t feel safe to go down there in those conditions, even though a stay up north could endanger our FL residency.
    But I don’t look forward to a cold CT winter.

    by Nick — July 19, 2020

  12. No!

    by Ron — July 20, 2020

  13. I will be a snowbird again, in my RV boondocking away from all major cities. Where exactly is the question. All i know is that winter in northern MN is out of the question. Shoveling snow and -30 weather is no longer an option for me!

    by Bob — July 20, 2020

  14. Nick, I don’t know for sure, of course, but I expect Florida or other states might not strictly enforce the six months and a day residency requirement due to the Covid -19 pandemic. They probably would concentrate only on those with very high income, or significant home values in Florida, until the pandemic no longer affects travel capabilities.

    Editor’s Comment: Thanks for that clarification. You might be right, some states may give people a break – or not. They definitely will concentrate on high income people. The problem is not with the no income tax states like Florida, they don’t particularly care if you are a resident or not. The states with income taxes want you if spend more than six months and a day there. Many non-residents usually have no problems with that restriction because they travel out of state/country during the summer – but this year nobody is travelling.

    by Clyde — July 20, 2020

  15. Yes, we are planning on heading south in January. However, that could change based on Covid19.

    by Steven Lynn — July 22, 2020

  16. We have been heading south from our Iowa home to Florida or South Carolina for a couple months each winter. Enjoyed Hilton Head Island the last two years and wanted to return for three months in 2021. We were hoping to reserve a 2021 condo rental before we left in March this year but once we became aware of the Covid 19 pandemic, we decided to wait and see what happens. With the poor response to the pandemic in the USA, especailly the rush to open everything up in the South, we will continue to hold off into the Fall and see if things get better. One factor for us is our desire to get outside during the winter, where it is safer from the virus, to walk, bike, and play tennis. But if the pandemic is out of control, we’ll probably stay home. It’s not good to be far from home if you’re worried about disease and lack of availability for health care.

    by Harrison — July 26, 2020

  17. What sense do people have for the state of this coming winter’s snowbird rental market? Normally by this time all of the good rentals are spoken for, and anyone doing last minute looking is going to have to settle for scraps. But with Covid sending people’s winter plans into uncertainty, I wonder if the market is a little softer than normal, with more possibilities. Would love to hear what people think is going on! Have you made your plans, or are you still looking?

    by Admin — August 10, 2020

  18. I’m still looking but no luck yet. Last year I stayed in the panhandle on Miramar beach. This year thought I would explore a little further south but between the fees and prices may search elsewhere. Realtors I have talked to seem eager to help during the initial contact but don’t follow up with leads. Maybe last year finding a place so easily was a fluke. I won’t give up quite yet though.

    by Greg Brothers — August 11, 2020

  19. We have been snowbirrding for the past 8 years for 2-3 months to escape the NW Indiana winter. We’re usually have Our plans set by now. We have not reserved anything yet. I know a lot of landlords are losing lots of $$ due to no rentals this summer and it might be that way this winter if things go bad. Like others we are on a wait and see mode.

    by Bill Yoder — August 11, 2020

  20. We live in a 55+ community in Fort Myers, FL with approx. 2400 homes, condos, duplexes. Rentals in here for season are usually booked by renters before the current season ends. This year everyone thought it might be different as Covid-19 hit us around Mid-March with stay at home orders and many of our renters scrambling to leave for their northern homes before quarantines set in and borders closed (especially for our Canadians). It was an unexpected and strange time to see so many snowbirds go home early….traffic was light and in communities like ours it was also very quiet. Then something interesting happened along about May as FL began to open back up….rentals not already snapped up for winter 2020-2021 were rented and bulletins from Realtors, other homeowners for friends, etc. started to be posted looking for available rentals. Going through this time period there was very little for sale in our community until May and then a few more homes, condos, etc. became available. They, for the most part, are being sold almost immediately and now in July – August the bigger homes are sometimes being sold in 1 – 3 days as people seem to be looking at getting out of urban areas up North. Our community has also been extremely careful in following CDC guidelines and it shows. Just last June 2019 “we” became owners of the community and have a wonderful, thoughtful Board of Directors that has taken us all through the Covid-19 situation with our community’s health in mind. It’s wonderful and peaceful here in our little part of Florida.

    by Toni Olsen — August 12, 2020

  21. To all of you thinking about “snow-birding”…think twice because, as a former 20-yr permanent resident in Florida, I do not think that everyone will follow the CDC guidelines. Please listen to the scientists, doctors and specialists about the anticipation of a vaccine. It may or may not be available, and, who knows, if it will be safe and those with underlying medical conditions may have a reaction to it. Right now, PLEASE get your flu shots and follow the guidelines and stay safe and well for you and your loved ones. No matter what nonsense you hear in the media, this virus is SERIOUS and is going to be around for a lone time until it is handled properly for everyone’s sake. I am retired from clinical and want everyone to do the right thing. Thank you. Marsha

    by Marsha C — September 14, 2020

  22. We own a condo in Punta Gorda, FL. We usually leave the north around Nov lst and return early May.
    This year we are delaying our departure until around New Years in hopes that the vaccine will be
    out and we can get it by then. But we will depart no later than New Years with or without the vaccine.
    I rather be taking my precautions where it is sunny, warm and uplifting rather than the grey and cold of the north.

    by carol — September 15, 2020

  23. Jemmie,
    Many years ago we took the auto-train. We did not have one of those private rooms; we just sat
    in those seats for a very very long time. Did not enjoy it at all and the auto-train is pricey. That said I think it would be a much better experience if you book a sleeper room and bring a bunch of wipes/spray
    to clean it. I do think the auto train would be safer than flying. Altho you are in it longer than in a plane if you have the cabin you can control your distance better.

    by Ann — September 15, 2020

  24. Marsha, I agree. My doctors are urging me to get all my medical appointments done before October, as they are expecting and preparing for a big spike in cases after schools open. This is not going away anytime soon and some of us have already lost friends and relatives to this horrible virus. Stay safe everyone!

    by Maimi — September 15, 2020

  25. We are planning to drive to our south Florida condo in November. It takes three days of 6-7 hours driving and two overnight stops, but we’ve planned out everything so that we are not very fearful of virus exposure on the way down. When we get there we will follow our own set of strict rules on avoiding the virus, regardless of what the state and local rules may be. Even if we don’t leave the condo much, we have a 6 x 16 foot screened and roofed balcony where we can enjoy the pleasant Florida winter temperatures with a good view of flowers, trees and greenery. We can take drives along the miles of beautiful oceanfront and to many other places without leaving the car if we don’t want to. We can pick up groceries for free and contactless at the store or have them delivered. Also, the two restaurants in our condo community deliver (with no delivery charge) any ordered meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. These restaurants keep their prices reasonable (they are not fancy) and the prices for delivered meals are the same as in the restaurants themselves with the full restaurant menus available, so there’s a lot to choose from. Plus, dozens of restaurants within ten minutes deliver meals or have contactless pickup. Being a snowbird this year all depends on your particular situation. We believe, under these circumstances, it’s doable and as safe as is possible.

    by Clyde — September 15, 2020

  26. A question for snowbirds – what do you folks do to secure your northern home while you are away in sunny Florida during the winter months? Do you have friends/family come to check on it regularly while you are away? Or pay someone to check it? Do you worry about break-ins, snow removal, freezing pipes or bursting pipes, racoons in the attic etc? I think I have read that home insurance requires you to have someone checking the house regularly. I’m guessing it’s much easier to leave a southern condo for the summer and the condo association must be aware that many owners do this so they would keep an eye on it for you. Any thoughts appreciated…

    by Cindy — September 15, 2020

  27. Cindy this previous article may answer some of your questions: https://www.topretirements.com/blog/home-and-garden/snowbirds-leaving-for-the-winter-checklist.html/

    We notify our police department of the dates when we are gone and they check on our house. We tell them who else has a key, if there will be a car in the driveway and what lights will be on. We tell our neighbors we are gone and one has a key. We turn off everything except the furnace. The city shuts off the water at the main and I drain all the pipes. Our insurance company doesn’t require that someone checks on the property but yours may. Try to get a written response about their policies. Our internet provider and trash service allow a vacation hold so we are not paying for those while we are gone and our insurance company has a storage status that we use for the car we leave in the garage, resulting a bit of savings.

    It is a concern that we leave our house empty for 2 months but we take precautions and problems could happen anytime we are away not just when we snowbird. As for the virus we will be taking the same precautions that we have for the last 6 months but it will be doing them where it is warm and sunny instead of gray and cold

    by Mike — September 15, 2020

  28. Thanks Mike. For sharing your thoughtful ideas and for the link to that previous article. Great ideas I would never have thought of for securing the homestead.
    Cindy

    by Cindy — September 16, 2020

  29. Just saw an interesting report from Nextavenue.org that suggests a lot of snowbirds are holding off on their plans to go south for the winter. Many are waiting to see how the Covid numbers track there before heading off. As a result, it has never been a better time for snowbird rentals. There is a lot more inventory, and many places that previously required a 3 month rental will now permit 1 month. Some say the rental market is depressed because many have decided to buy there.

    by Admin — September 30, 2020

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