Feb 22, 2016

How to be a 12 Month Snow Bird

Vacation Rental in Mexico
I live around snowbirds 6 months of the year. I have heard those people say that they all want to live the "snowbird" lifestyle when they go home. But it just is not possible. They are isolated and cold. Social activities with friends and beautiful weather are greatly missed when they return to the realities of their "real" life.

One couple I visited with lately returned to Florida this morning where they own a home. The woman is a nurse and works in the summer. They are not going home until May this year. It is too cold in Michigan in the spring so they are hoping to extend their good weather season by simply staying away. Besides that they love their Florida lifestyle a lot.

Last week I visited with a woman that lives the snowbird lifestyle year around. No going home to the Midwest in the spring. They essentially vacation 12 month out of the year. And I thought their solution for avoiding unpleasant weather and keeping their lifestyle interesting was genius.

This couple has no family commitments. They do not own a home anywhere. They do not own a RV or trailer. They keep only what they can travel with and what they actually need to live from day to day.

What do they do? They live year around in vacation rentals. Using a website like Vacation Rentals by Owners, they are living in beautiful places in some of the most desirable locations in the USA 12 months out of the year. It is so simple I wondered why more people were not following the path they have chosen.

Here in desert Southwest they chose a location near River Road on Campbell Avenue in Tucson Arizona. The condo they are renting is very near to some of the best restaurants in the city, University of Arizona and good shopping. They have hiking and biking trails nearby. It is probably real estate that most people cannot afford nor would want to maintain. But as a vacation rental it is perfect.

Later in the year they will move to Central Oregon near Bend where they will benefit from all that beautiful vacation destination has to offer. There will be time spent on the Puget Sound in the state of Washington later and their summer will be spent in Northern California on the coast near Santa Rosa.

Next winter they will return to Tucson and that wonderful condo they are enjoying this year.

They drive a van and pull a small trailer behind. The trailer in parked in the garage of the rental they are staying in at the time. I was told that the trailer is essential because before anything else even in the rental, they needed to always be comfortable. Some vacation rentals are not.

All of the rentals come with every amenity included. Internet, TV, gas, water, heating and on and on. She loved that the windows were always sparkling clean. She didn't have to worry about maintaining a home.

No house = no mortgage, insurance, heating bill, Internet, water bill, etc. No second house = no house payment and all that that requires. Traveling on the shoulder of the season both north and south makes rent cheaper. I don't know how it works out financially but it would be wonderful to try it out for a little while! And living in a desirable vacation location provides more than enough activities to keep anyone happy. In could be perfect for just the right people.

What do you think? Would you even consider doing this?  Very interesting I think!

b+

31 comments:

  1. Brilliant! Much like the elderly woman who retired on Cruise Ships because is was cheaper and nicer than Assisted Living!

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    1. In a way...you made me smile. It turns out elderly has no meaning for me. I don't think that boomers will ever understand it either.

      Thank you for your comment.

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  2. I could see doing it once we've downsized out of our Seattle home. I love the snowbird winters; what began as two months away is nearly twice that four years later. It would be tough to do with pets, though, and we're still happily in this phase of our lives.

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    1. Pets would be a concern. But I notices that the rental agencies have a whole section for "pet friendly" rentals. Interesting.

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  3. I think it's interesting, but I do like to be in a single community and have continuity of health care. I think we forget that as we age, our needs change. As a younger person, it makes sense. At my age, not for me.

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    1. This is a very good point. I think that continuity with doctors and care would be a major issue for me.

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  4. I've often dreamed of spending a few years moving from place to place to place. Selling the house and buying an RV with a small car to tow. Or maybe ditch the RV and do something like this. For me, it's not a weather issue, but a desire to see the world.

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    1. I honestly think that what you are talking about is the mind set these people have. It is not a forever lifestyle I don't think, not by any means.

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  5. I to invested in community and regular neighbors. I night consider a partial sunbed thing. I have to say though, that cold weather does not friends or a social life eliminate.

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    1. Do the sunbed thing and enjoy your life...sometimes even snowbirds envy your contentment. :)

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  6. I to invested in community and regular neighbors. I night consider a partial sunbed thing. I have to say though, that cold weather does not friends or a social life eliminate.

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  7. Being a SIX month snow bird appeals to us because you could get to know people who return to the Park Model "resort" each year. If you're staying in people's homes, how would you make lasting friendships? Yes, you could see more of the USA, but I think it would be a little lonely.

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    1. Mike,

      In this particular case the people are connecting through their Catholic Church participation. Retreats and volunteer work probably leave them with friends all over the place. I connected with them through a friend that is a church member and met them at a retreat.

      But I am like you...I love that I have a second life with lifetime friendships. That just works for me.

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  8. I live in California, so we have good weather all year. I like being HOME.

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    1. I know a lot of people that are in the same mindset as you are. Being content in your retirement is so important. It does take a special kind of wanderer to go down the 12 month vacation path.

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  9. Seems fine if you like that lifestyle. But it's gotta be expensive . . . all the VBRO's or homeaways I've ever rented cost way more than what it costs to live at home.

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    1. Well, I don't know about that. They did their research and it fit in their money needs. There are trade offs and pay offs. Weighing them carefully would be the key.

      Look before you leap!

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  10. That is a great idea. We have used that service to stay in a vacation rental on Maui and have a beach house in San Diego rented for a full family getaway this July. When we are ready to sell the RV, this vacation rental approach may be the best answer for us.

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    1. I am with you Bob in that I think we need to look at the alternatives for what we enjoy doing. If you only stay in one place for say 6 weeks or 2 month, the vacation rental may be less expensive that maintaining a RV, paying for gas and storage.

      But just think of the possibilities. Even a house trade with someone might be possible. It is fun to think about.

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  11. I'm too much of a home body to even consider this lifestyle. I love to vacation and want to do more of it but, I'm not even interested in doing the 6 months in the sun lifestyle. And, pets are definitely an issue. But, to each their own!
    b

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    1. I can see how you might feel that way. We have always dreamed of travel and meeting new people. We love our life at home in Oregon and our children are happy to see us when we arrive back. But they are busy.

      Our life is all about what we can experience and learn. But I will admit that mental health is improved in the sun and so is arthritis. Right now I don't see this lifestyle as a choice. It is as simple as that.

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  12. That life style does not appeal to me, we like our home and our garden, and our children near by, and we live in California in an area with an ideal climate. But if it works for them that is great. We do love retirement.

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    1. If I lived in California, had a home in that location, I would not snowbird either. You indeed have the best of both world.

      We dream of living here in the desert year around but our beautiful home and family call us back in the spring. If I could transplant my Oregon lifestyle to Arizona, I would do it in a minute.

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  13. Being a 'newbie-retiree' I love reading about a variety of retirement lifestyles. Thank you for sharing this very interest approach as another option to consider.
    Donna
    www.retirementreflections.com

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    1. Donna, You are so welcome. Finding the rhythm of retirement life can take a while. You may never want to change a thing. If that turns out to be your choice, I can only say "Lucky you!"{.

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  14. Luckily, we live in Arizona also and have the weather and lifestyle we enjoy all year round. We also have a second home in the mountains and my husband needs to escape our hot summers on a regular basis. We both love "home" and would not be happy traveling all year, but we do enjoy short excursions. I also enjoy my volulnteering gigs and my circle of friends, and my church way too much to leave! When we first retired we thought we might want to try the RV life but we soon figured out it was not for us. We take advantage of airbnb rooms and cottages when we visit places like Santa Fe,Santa Barbara, Mexico, etc.. I do love hearing how retirees creatively design their lifestyle to suit themselves, though.. it in enriching and we can always incorporate some thing into our own situation when we get a good tip! I WOULD like to do ONE WHOLE MONTH in a beach town someday--

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  15. I like you take on this article...we can take small bits of all those lifestyles and make them work for us. Thank you for your comment Madeline.

    b+

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  16. I could never give up having a home and a home base, a church,friendships I nourish all year long, and places I volunteer. Now,I live in the suburbs of Phoenix, so that helps with living that retirement lifestyle all year long, for sure! I am so blessed to be in a place where I don't have to escape for 6 whole months a year or more! No,I would never be able to live on the road, but I do enjoy a few adventures with my husband since we retired.Not as much travel as we thought we'd want to do.. but I think that is because we actually like the lifestyle we have from day to day--this took us a couple of years to figure out, by the way-- it's a journey!

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    1. I know what you mean. I am happy for you and the choices you have made. Congratulations!

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  17. Hoping to have the best of both worlds. We are both struggling with chronic health issues which are debilitating. Our kids are very busy with their lives and we wonder, would we be healthier with sunshine and a daily swim? But then how do we keep our family and friends connections through the years? It seems that we live at a time where it is possible to improve our lives in our older years without sacrificing our relationships by snowbirding. The economics of it are challenging but with a reasonabke level of expectations many coukd swing it. I just wonder if we are strong enough to try?

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    1. Well, I would suggest that test the waters by coming for a short period of time. Rentals are available in RV resorts. In Tucson we have the University Hospital and clinics for people that need some monitoring. If your children are willing to get you started, that would be wonderful.

      Yes, the sunshine and the vitamin D it provides is wonderful. The social activities are fun. We have friends that are 80+ playing bocce ball and golf. Think about it and keep me posted!

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