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Some Snowbirds Not Taking Wing This Winter

Category: Travel

December 2, 2020 — While up north there has already been plenty of snow and ice, that doesn’t mean that all the snowbirds have taken flight to warmer climes. The Covid pandemic seems to have clipped the wings of a significant number of people in the northeast, midwest, and Canada, as reported in the South Florida Sentinel, which recently published an article interviewing officials in communities and the tourist industry. Although precise figures are hard to come by, it is clear that not everyone is going to come south. The article’s conclusions line up with results from the Topretirements Blog article on snowbirding this winter, which generated 29 comments.

Both The Sentinel and Topretirements found that most snowbirds have either come south this year, or will soon. But there is reluctance, and a significant percentage (maybe 20%) won’t come at all. With the U.S./Canada border closed, most people from Canada won’t be coming (getting health insurance in the U.S. is another problem for them). Many snowbirds who usually rent won’t all come this year, because that would require making a difficult decision, and they don’t feel the same sense of obligation that owners of a Florida or Arizona winter home have. A quick search of rentals on the Internet shows that there are plenty of vacancies this winter, with contracts more flexible about length of stay than in the past.

But even those who have decided to go south for the winter might delay their departure. We know some retirees who will stay up north longer than normal, perhaps waiting until after Thanksgiving or Christmas, rather than go south early and come back for the holidays as in the past.

Yet another complication is the rules that many states, condo associations, and communities have put in place for incoming guests and residents. In some cases amenities like pools and gyms are off limits until a quarantine period has passed. Strict rules about masks and social distancing might be off-putting to those coming in from areas where those protective measures are not followed as widely. If you plan on coming south, you should check those rules before you decide and leave.

Comments? What are you noticing about snowbirds this year? Did you decide not to go south, or did some of your friends? Are there vacancies in your community? Please share your knowledge in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on December 1st, 2020


  1. We are not leaving Mich. in January as originally planned. We are thinking about going south in February, but still not sure. All depends on COVID and the cost of renting for the month.

    by Caree — December 2, 2020

  2. We would like to go to our home in Florida in January and can make the drive in a couple of days. We own a home there and feel we need to open it up and we would like to be there. We will still stay put once we are there and not socialize. Just live the way we do up north, but at least will see sunshine and be much warmer. Just wish we could get vaccinated soon, but hope is on the way. That is our plan today, but we may have redo as we watch the numbers everyday.

    by Darla — December 3, 2020

  3. I rented a condo in New Smyrna Beach for 12 weeks beginning Jan 1st but am having significant second thoughts. Friends in Florida say that NSB and Vero Beach are more crowded than ever and that fewer than half of people are wearing masks, even in the grocery stores. As much as I crave leaving MA for sunnier weather, as case numbers rise I think more and more that I should swallow the cancellation penalty and stay safely tucked away at home…knowing that this too shall pass.

    by Carol — December 4, 2020

  4. Carol:

    As a nurse still working three days a week, you have made a very wise choice. It is better to be safe than not right now. Our numbers in the DC area are skyrocketing. My job is in Maryland and we are very cautious there as well. I will be glad when the vaccine is available to all.

    by Jennifer — December 5, 2020

  5. Darla,
    We are in a similar condition to you. We own a condo in FL. At first we thought well at least we
    have the sunshine and warmth vs staying up north. Then we got to wondering if the states will
    only give the vaccine to state “RESIDENTS”. While we own FL property we are not FL residents.
    It seems logical to us that FL will take care of their residents first. So that means we would have
    to drive all the way back north to get the shots. Our plan now is to stay up north until we get our shots
    or hear that FL has a different plan for snowbirds.

    by CK — December 5, 2020

  6. Under the vaccine distribution plans, I wonder if non-residents will be able to get COVID vaccines while snowbirding? We have decided not to travel to Florida this year, do not want to risk exposure at rest stops, restaurants, gas stations, etc..

    by Mark — December 6, 2020

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