June 15, 2022 — One of the most frequent questions we get from Members is how to find a great place to spend the winter as a snowbird. Their questions usually center on where to go, and how to find a good one. In this article we will share some basic steps on how to get started. Best of all, we will highlight some of the most interesting and useful Comments from our Members on this topic.
Two Keys to Success
The keys to success in finding a good snowbird rental are quite simple: get started early, and use every option you can think of. One strategy that rarely yields good results is hoping to luck into something at the last minute.
There are many advantages to renting in a warm place for some or all of the winter. There is the obvious one: it gets you out of the frozen Midwest, icy Northeast, or the dark/dreary/wet Pacific Northwest for a pleasant interlude in the sun. Another big advantage of snowbird rentals is that they give you a chance to see and experience different parts of the country with very little risk or expense. If you ever decide to purchase a place either as a snowbird or for year-round living, you will be a much more educated buyer. Yet another advantage: it provides an opportunity to be visit friends and family without overstaying your welcome.
Get Started Now!
If you are looking for a snowbird rental for this current year (2022-2023) you might even be a bit late. But all is not lost. There are still plenty of options if you get on it now.
Where Will You Go?
People from the northeastern U.S. often look for a warm place to winter in the Southeast, usually on the Atlantic coast of the Carolinas, Georgia, or Florida. Folks from the Midwest typically head to the Mississippi, Alabama, or the west coast of Florida. Other Mid-westerners and those from the northern plains and Pacific Northwest tend to like wintering in the sunnier parts of New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Adventurous souls keep going past those spots to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Northern Europeans like southern Spain, Greece, Turkey, the Canary Islands, South Africa, New Zealand, and southeast Asia. But there are always exceptions – you will find New Englanders who winter in Palm Springs, CA, and folks from Vancouver, BC, who usually spend January on the east coast of Florida. Many retirees tend to go where there friends go, often setting up little satellite communities. How you prefer to get to your chosen destination can affect where you decide to go – you can’t drive to Hawaii, and hardly anyone wants to drive from the East Coast to California.
How Long Can You Stay
The length of your trip has a big impact on your snowbird experience. For example if you can only get out of the cold for a week or two, there isn’t much point in going to the Carolinas. Sure it will be warmer there than in Boston. But fickle weather patterns could mean that it won’t get out of the 50s for more than a few hours of the day, and your trip could be disappointing. The shorter the trip, the further south (south Florida, the Caribbean, or southern Arizona) you should think about going. If you can get away longer, say for 3 months or so, you won’t have to travel so far away to have great odds of experiencing many days of warm temperatures in the coastal Carolinas, Georgia, Phoenix, or northern Florida.
How Much Do You Want to Spend
Certain parts of snowbirding country are more expensive than others. Central Florida and part of Florida’s west coast can be very inexpensive. The fancy parts of Florida’s east coast like Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale are pricey, although there are parts of the coast that are more affordable. The type of community also has a huge impact. Communities that rent manufactured homes, trailers or RVs, and cottages can be downright cheap. Likewise if you own or rent an RV you can stay inexpensively in countless RV parks. More than one person has bought a boat and sailed it south to create their winter home.
You can use Advanced Search at Topretirements to find these type of communities. Port Charlotte in southwest Florida has many rental bargains, while just a few miles down the road in Naples almost nothing comes without a big price tag. Similarly in Palm Springs (CA), rentals are expensive and in demand, while further out areas like Indio are more reasonable. Once you start looking at rentals, you will quickly see where the bargains lie.
How to Find a Good Snowbird Rental
Friends. One of the best ways to find a good rental is to ask your friends who go away in winter. They just might have a neighbor looking to rent out for a month, or they can look or even post on bulletin boards or newsletters for leads. Having some inside knowledge via the “Coconut Telegraph” is always a good idea.
Online sites. VRBO.com, Homeaway.com, and Vacationrentals.com are great places to start looking for a place to spend the winter. Craigslist.com have plenty of rentals but you do need to be very cautious about scams. More than one person has paid in advance to rent a place only to arrive and find a non-existent rental. A single friend of ours looking to spend the winter in FL found a very economical bedroom to rent near Naples via Roommates.com. Airbnb.com might be a very good bet if you only are looking for a room or very small place. Among all these online sites there are thousands of places that can be rented by the week, month, or longer. Obviously it helps if you have narrowed down your search beforehand, as the choices might be overwhelming. Tripadvisor.com is a good place to get an idea of what a particular town or resort might be like. On all of these sites, carefully consider the reader comments and feedback. Obviously, some people have axes to grind, but be wary when you see red flags.
Search. A simple search on Google, Yahoo, or Live.com such as “Monthly rental apartment in Key Largo FL” can be surprisingly effective in turning up some good leads. You might also find a realtor who has some rentals while you are searching, although they are generally more interested in selling than renting. If you know the community you want to rent in, contacting it or searching for that property might turn up something interesting.
Tips from Members
Most of these Comments were from an earlier article on Snowbirds. Interestingly, quite a few of the people responding had properties for rent. Those references are now several years old now, but some might still be available. In the For Further Reading section below you will see more links, including many fabulous ideas on ideal snowbird pairings (where to live winter and summer).
Bill: We have enjoyed Orlando and Myrtle Beach. Vrbo.com has worked well for us. There are all price ranges available all over the country. Your best bet is to plan well ahead. We locked in this year’s home last January.
Holly: I have a rental property in Anna Maria Island on Florida’s west coast. During the winter our island is full of Northerners looking to escape the cold. This island is gorgeous and accessible to Sarasota and Tampa. A free trolley runs the length of the 7 mile island and there are no high rises or franchised restaurants on the island. It’s a throwback to the Old Florida.
Nancy: Consider looking at apartment complexes and asking for a short term rental agreement. You can rent everything you need to furnish your apartment from Southern Furniture Leasing.
Linda: I found this rental by word of mouth, could not find anything online. Rentals are tight. The reason many condos are for rent for 3 months or longer is because that is required by the association documents. Being here for 6 months enabled me to take my time and look at a lot of different properties.
Bill: We were recently told that the house we have been renting is no longer being rented! So we have had to scramble for a new place. One of the issues you will run into is the current renters will get first preference. The popular areas go fast and rent seems to go up each year. Two of the best places to look for rentals is vrbo.com and airbnb.com.
Vicki: Let people know your needs and they will work with you. Also, motels and hotels will do the same. Look for someplace with suites so that you have some furniture to sit on as well as a small kitchen. We have in a Residence Inn.
Steve: Has anyone considered renting a stationary motorcoach as their winter home? It’s a fantastic way to live and a great alternative to a traditional house/condo.
American Snowbird: The Snowbird Company boasts a myriad of highly-visible websites, known as ‘The American Snowbird Network’ – visit http://www.AmericanSnowbird.com to see comprehensively all rentals in their network.
Sandy SW: I am suggesting that those who sell their home in order to travel/ rent in the sunshine for 2 months also downsize to a rental apartment year-round in the Northeast. They would save on the yard and snow maintenance, rental insurance is cheaper than homeowner insurance, and utilities should be less too.
Gail: 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).
Martin: My wife and I have a nice large condo in Mazatlan, Mexico and spend the 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 fantastic European style theater.
Comments and Suggestions. What are some of the strategies you have used to find a good snowbird rental? Please share your ideas in the Comments section below. If you are looking for a rental here is one suggestion that probably won’t work – posting a comment here saying “…I’m looking to rent a place in …? Can you help” As one Member responded to a very non-specific request like that, “You’re a bit late to the party”. We will say it again: the keys to success in finding a good snowbird rental are to get started early and explore plenty of avenues.
For further reading: