A look at snowbirds

The Iceman cometh

This article is the first in an ongoing series on snowbirds and preparation for the snowbird lifestyle.

It’s pretty safe to say that summer is over and we’re approaching the Snowbird season.

A major concentration of snowbirds in Ol' Airy Zonie occurs each winter in the Phoenix area. Pictured above is Usery Mountain Regional Park located north of Mesa. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Long before winter’s blustery chill begins to sting the bones, plans are being made by millions of Canadians, Northeasters, Midwesterners, and those in the rainy Northwestern United States to seek the warmer climes of the south. It’s an interesting phenomenon that occurs each year and mimics the migration ritual of our feathered friends.

Snowbirds flock to Ol’ Airy Zonie, Southern Texas, Florida, and other Sunbelt states and Mexico to avoid winter’s bite, snow and blowing snow, and treacherous icy sidewalks and streets. Northern Europeans are also known to migrate to the U.S. Sunbelt, adding to these communities of seasonal residents.

Snowbirds are typically retired seniors who have the desire and financial ability to be away from home for extended periods of time. Many take their home-on-wheels with them in the form of a recreational vehicle while others maintain a second home or rental accommodation in a warmer location.

Located on Florida's Gulf Coast near Venice, Ramblers Rest is a popular park for snowbirds. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As our population ages the number of people considering this lifestyle increases.

We have been making this trip for the past 13 years in an RV—first with a fifth-wheel trailer and now in a motorhome.

There are numerous advantages to the snowbird lifestyle:

  • No snow to shovel or trod through
  • No bundling up in warm sweaters, winter overcoats, and snow boots
  • Taking part in outdoor activities during winter months
  • Ability to maintain friendships in two or more communities
  • Sense of community with other snowbirds
  • Break in the monotony of dull and dreary winter days

Birding attracts many snowbirds to the Rio Grand Valley of South Texas. Pictured above is the beautiful green jay. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Despite the many positive benefits, the snowbird lifestyle is not for everyone. For some it may be wise to gradually evolve into the lifestyle to determine if it’s for them. Snowbirding can be tried on a short term basis of one or two months to determine if there’s a fit with one’s individual preferences.

Surprisingly there are disadvantages to being a Snowbird:

  • Missing out on Christmas with the grandchildren
  • Not being a permanent part of any one community
  • Missing family and friends
  • Finding someone to look after your home while “on the road”
  • Security and safety issues
  • Increased financial burdens
  • Additional cross-border issues for Canadians

We find the snowbird lifestyle in an RV to our liking since we can take our home with us when the cold weather arrives and snow begins to fall. We enjoy the warmer climes while our neighbors back home are shoveling snow. For us the snowbird lifestyle is the best of both worlds.

If you have been dreaming about exploring the road less traveled, now is the time to stop dreaming and hit the road in a recreational vehicle. If not now, when?

Worth Pondering…

We have chosen to be reasonably warm year-round, so we are snowbirds. Every year when I hear the honks of the Canada geese overhead at our home, something in my genes starts pulling my inner-compass to the South. And an inner voice whispers: “Surely you’re as smart as a goose.” Feeling that I am at least as smart as a silly goose, I line up the motorhome with that compass pointer and head for the Sun Belt.

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