Heading south for the winter?
Along with Canada geese, many retirees begin flocking to warmer climates this time of year to avoid the doldrums that accompany the cold, wet winters in the north. And who can blame them? After all, while it’s snowing and blowing with temperatures below freezing up north, these lucky folks will be wandering about the golf course, basking in the sunny warmth of a balmy 75-degree day.
Once things begin to thaw again in the spring, those who choose to make this yearly trek head north once again to their permanent residence. It’s this yearly migration that sets these fortunate few apart, and earns them the nickname of “snowbird.”
Not to be confused with your average vacationer, snowbirds spend an extended amount of time in the sunny paradise of their choosing. Although not considered residents in their southern homes, snowbirds often become highly involved in their temporary communities — some even find jobs or volunteer for local charities in their home away from home. And while there are many things that set the snowbird apart from the seasonal vacationer, the greatest difference is that this migratory pattern isn’t a one-time deal… it’s a way of life. Each winter, the snowbird travels south to escape the cold. And each spring, the snowbird returns to their cozy nest in the north. Like clockwork.
Fledgling snowbirds often begin as typical vacationers, traveling to visit friends and family in places like Arizona, Florida, Texas, and New Mexico. When the time is right, these fledglings fly the nest and begin what becomes a lifelong quest to avoid cold and wet weather conditions by taking up temporary residence in warmer climates during winter months. And voila! Just like that, another snowbird is born.
So where do they go exactly? There are no actual data sources capable of providing complete, consistent coverage of temporary migration in the United States because the U.S. Census Bureau only defines permanent residents, not snowbirds, and they are counted at the place where they live and sleep most of the time as opposed to where they are on a specific day when the Census took place. Despite the lack of data, however, there are certain states that see a definite influx of temporary residents (and a boost to their local economy) during the coldest months of the year. These states make up our Top 5 Winter Destinations for Snowbirds:
- Florida. With the sunniest winter climate in the eastern U.S. and ample opportunities
for golf,fishing, shopping, sailing, and easy access to cruise ships, it only makes sense that the Sunshine State should be at the top of the list. Top landing destinations for Florida’s snowbirds are Key West, Miami, Fort Myers, Orlando, and Tampa.
- California. For wealthy retirees seeking warm sunshine, world class golf courses, an abundance of tennis courts, country clubs, and high-end shops and restaurants, Southern California is the place to be! From Palm Springs to Palm Desert, the Coachella Valley is a snowbird hotspot that offers the ultimate in resort living.
- Texas. Texas has a little something for everyone, and the tropical South Texas climate is particularly irresistible to snowbirds. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, and featuring a bay front promenade, arts and museum district, waterfront restaurants, golf galore, plentiful shopping and beautiful beaches, Corpus Christi is one of the most popular snowbird destinations in Texas. Other hotspots include Galveston, Port Aransas, Rockportand South Padre Island, which is known for its abundance of fishing, boating, bird watching, and shopping opportunities.
- Arizona. When snow begins falling in the coldest regions of North America, thousands of snowbirds head to Arizona where daytime winter temperatures average 70 degrees and RV parks cater to the seasonal residents. Quartzsite is one of the most popular and affordable places to take up temporary residence in Arizona. With thousands of acres of low-cost and free public camping areas known as Long Term Visitor Areas (LTVAs), Quartzite’s population swells from a few hundred full-time residents to several hundred thousand snowbirds each year. Other popular destinations include Tucson, Yuma, Mesa, and Bisbee.
- New Mexico. For snowbirds who enjoy warmer weather but still want to participate in outdoor winter activities, Alamogordo just might be the perfect winter destination. With an average 70 degree temperature, snowbirds can spend their days in the lowlands and afternoons skiing or snowshoeing in the mountains. Local attractions include the White Sands National Monument, International Space Hall of Fame, and McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch. Another New Mexico hot spot? Albuquerque. With 300+ days of sunshine and humidity averaging approximately 40%, Albuquerque is one of the most popular Snowbird destinations in the entire Southwest.
Now that we know where the flock is headed, how do they get there? Although you might expect a snowbird to fly south for the winter, more adventurous snowbirds often choose to turn their migratory trek into a road trip, traveling along the interstate and back roads so that they can stop off to visit family and friends, state parks, or other tourist attractions along the way. While some drive the family vehicle to a condo or apartment that’s awaiting them in their temporary paradise, others invest in a motorhome or camper, finding an RV park that caters to the snowbird community preferable to a resort or condo complex.
(For those who choose the scenic route, check out the StowAway2 product line. We offer hitch-mounted cargo carriers and a variety of hitch racks to help you transport golf clubs, bicycles, fishing rods, and other toys between your seasonal homes.)
Wherever they go and however they choose to get there, one thing is for certain: each snowbird has their own distinct migratory pattern that, despite its cyclical nature, sets them apart from the rest of the flock.
Will you be joining the migration this year?