Flocking South for the Winter? A Home Checklist for Snowbirds

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It seems like a bad dream, those thirty-four years when I trudged to work each day.

A major concentration of snowbirds in Ol' Airy Zonie occurs each winter in the Tucson area. Pictured above is Catalina State Park located in the Tucson-Oro Valley area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A major concentration of snowbirds in Ol’ Airy Zonie occurs each winter in the Tucson area. Pictured above is Catalina State Park located in the Tucson-Oro Valley area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter was the worst: Get up with the sky still black; hastily don my suit or sports jacket; struggle into my Parka; pull on winter boots and gloves; and with sub-freezing temperatures trudge to my car in the still-black freezing cold.

The arduous chore of getting the car ready to drive was the next challenge. With luck the lock or doors were not iced shut, so that I could start the heater and defroster. Unplugging the block heater was followed by the chilly task of shoveling tracks from the garage to the back alley while the car heated up.

And then, with a prayer, I was off to work in the darkness, hoping that the snowplows had cleared a path along my route. Upon arriving home in the late afternoon, the sky was already black again.

Such is the life when living in the Great White North!

But now I’m enjoying the snowbird lifestyle.

Now that the month of October has arrived, the official Snowbird season is about to begin. Thousands of snowbirds are preparing their recreational vehicles for travel to Ol’ Airy Zonie, Southern California, Texas, Florida, or another warm southern destination.

The majority of Snowbirds who make Southern California their winter home, head for the Coachella Valley with its 10 desert resort cities—Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs (pictured above), Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Thousand Palms, Indio, and Bermuda Dunes. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As the annual migration begins, many homeowners set themselves up for potential disaster.

Leaving a home unoccupied for an extended period of time can put homeowners at risk.

Houses are a lot like teenagers, neither one should be left alone for very long.

Snowbirds come home to problems because they failed to properly plan when they left in the fall.

But simple steps can eliminate the nightmare.

Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning.

Before heading south for the season, snowbirds must take steps to secure and winterize their homes.

Whether you’re new to the snowbird lifestyle or an experienced RVer, creating your own customized checklist is a great way to keep track of your seasonal preparations.

Remember, it will be much easier to enjoy your winter in the sun if you have taken steps to protect your home while you are away for an extended period of time.

Consider the following tips when creating your own winter-ready checklist:

Check expiry dates

Well in advance of your departure, check expiry dates for your passport and other travel documents, driver’s license, motor vehicle registration, vehicle insurance, credit cards, and membership cards—and renew if necessary.

Home insurance

Check with your insurance agency to determine how extended absences may affect coverage. Determine if your insurer requires regular walk-throughs during your absence and if so, how frequently.

Snow removal
You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep your sidewalks clear of the white stuff that Northerners know all too well.

Contact person
Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. The contact person should have access to your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, be available in emergency situations, and make repair appointments if necessary. Your home should look like someone is living there.

Sometimes called the tree duck for its habit of nesting in trees, the black-bellied whistling duck is a year-round resident of the lower Texas Gulf Coast. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contact information
Provide the contact person and other neighbors, relatives, and friends with pertinent information including cell phone and email address, vehicle and home insurance, security system, furnace repair, description of RV and toad or tow truck and trailer with plate numbers.

Notify neighbors

Inform trusted neighbors that you will be away for a specified period of time. You’ll want them to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Ensure they have a list of contact persons, phone numbers, and email addresses.

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on snowbird preparations

Part 2: The Iceman Cometh! Are YOU Ready to Flock South?

Worth Pondering…

It started out a dream

A simple someday soon

But we worked hard

and made it real

This snowbird life

behind the wheel.

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