The snowbird lifestyle has conquered millions of Americans over the years, as well as Canadians who crave milder climates. The past year has clearly been a game-changer for many industries, with travel among the most affected by the pandemic and seasonal migration seeing its fair share of disruption. But some people still cling to their plans to hit the road, albeit using a different approach than usual.
In the first half of last year, a good chunk of the main snowbird population – retirees – chose to cancel or delay relocation plans, along with nearly half of the traditional Canadian cohort. But snowbirding is far from over. Many people are still anxious to escape the freezing cold and seek solutions, either by opting for removals as is, closer to you or be very vigilant about security measures. Additionally, a new cohort has joined the traditional group of snowbirds, remote workers who have recently discovered that they can work from anywhere.
Our sister division focused on self-storage, STORAGECoffee, recently published a study that examines the top destinations for snowbirds in 2021. The research looked at factors such as average temperatures during the winter months, the percentage of homes designated for seasonal use in the vacant housing stock, access to beaches, parks and golf courses, indicators and the availability of self-storage. space because people often store seasonal equipment at their snowbirding site, as well as the COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index.
Boca Raton takes first place and becomes top destination for snowbirds in 2021
Florida has long been a must-see destination for snowbirds. But more specifically, it’s Boca Raton that emerges as the best place to be in 2021 if you’re looking for sunny skies and a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere where social distancing is easy to practice. The average temperature from October to March hovers around 74 degrees, there are nearly 35 miles of beaches in the area and 255 square feet of park space per capita. The city also has no less than 23 golf courses, so there are plenty of opportunities to spend time outdoors. Boca Raton, and Florida in general, have a well-developed seasonal housing infrastructure that can accommodate an influx of newcomers during the winter. More than half – 55% – of Boca Raton’s vacant housing stock is dedicated to seasonal use.
The next three places in the ranking also go to the cities of Florida: Jupiter and West Palm Beach are both located on the southeastern coast of the state, near Boca Raton, forming a veritable cluster of excellent destinations for snowbirds. If Jupiter excels in housing options for snowbirds – 78% of its vacant housing stock is dedicated to seasonal use – West Palm Beach impresses with 700 square feet of park space per capita. The fourth in line, Fort Myers, is located on the southwestern coast of the state, has average winter temperatures in the low 70s, so it’s a bit cooler than Boca Raton, but still very pleasant. Golf enthusiasts can practice their technique on one of the region’s 34 major golf courses.
The first non-Florida city in the top ten is Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, a promising destination for snowbirds, enhanced by its location, which means a shorter trip for most seasonal movers from the northeastern states. While the average winter temperature, at 59 degrees, is not as warm as the Florida average, it is still perfectly pleasant and allows for outdoor activities and to take full advantage of the more than 800 square feet of park space. the city per capita.
Honolulu is the next destination, as the sixth best snowbird destination for 2021. Winter month temperatures are perfect 75, there are 30 miles of beaches in the area, and 42% of the city’s vacant housing stock is destined for seasonal use. Honolulu is the only state capital to be among the top 10 destinations. Along with countless restaurants featuring incredible cuisine and culturally steeped events, it’s the natural backdrop that makes Honolulu spectacular. Waikiki may be world famous and more populated than most people would appreciate in today’s pandemic-influenced context, but there are some impressive and quieter spots in the area, secluded beaches, and natural attractions that can provide the respite snowbirds seek. Makua Beach for one, where the first season of Lost was filmed, worth a spot on any traveler’s bucket list.
The next two locations, 7 and 8, go to Clearwater and Delray Beach, Florida. The two cities have more than 60% of their vacant housing stock intended for seasonal use and score points when it comes to the combination of beaches, parks and golf courses.
Corpus Christi, the only Texas city to feature in the top 10 best snowbird destinations of 2021, boasts a staggering number of beaches, 39 miles, and an equally impressive park of 850 square feet per capita. The beaches of Corpus Christi are truly an exception among other Texas top 100 cities, as few of them are on the coast.
Last place in the top 10 goes to Gilbert, Arizona, which has more than a third of its vacant homes dedicated to seasonal use. Beaches are obviously absent, as it’s a desert town, but Gilbert makes up for it with comfortable temperatures in the low 60s and sunny, dry weather.
Florida, California, Texas and Arizona consolidate status as snowbird hotspots
When looking at the best destinations for snowbirds from a state perspective, Florida remains the clear leader. The state scores six of the top 10 cities and 29 positions in the top 100. In addition to consistently warm weather and beautiful beaches, Florida has another important advantage: a well-developed housing and service infrastructure that offers many options for residents. people who wish to move. Winter.
California has 34 cities in the top 100, more than Florida, but none in the top 10, and the average California city ranking is 74. The state scores well for weather and activity possibilities. outdoors. However, California cities generally have lower percentages of seasonal-use housing units. Additionally, housing in California is notoriously expensive, as is the overall cost of living, and this remains the state’s biggest downside when it comes to snowbirding.
Texas, on the other hand, offers affordable living options for its “Winter Texans.” The three most affordable cities for snowbirds are all in Texas: Brownsville, with an average monthly rent of $ 730 between October 2019 and March 2020, followed by Harlingen and McAllen, with $ 745 and $ 777 per month, respectively.
Arizona has a dozen cities in the top 100, including Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tucson. The state represents a good mix of affordable housing options, including plenty of RV parks and opportunities for outdoor activities. The state enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year, and winter turns the hot desert into a comfortable environment, perfect for hiking or golfing.
Seasonal migration was still ongoing despite the pandemic, partly aided by the “zoombirds”
Retirees were indeed less inclined to travel last year, due to health problems. However, a new segment of people emerging, young professionals working remotely, saw the opportunity to move to warmer areas for the winter. As a result, there has been only a moderate 14% decrease in online searches related to short-term snowbird rental, comparing January-November 2020 to the similar period of 2019.
Canadian snowbirds, on the other hand, were most affected during this 2020-2021 snowbirding season, due to restrictions on non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S. Land border. In a regular year, it is estimated that about 1.2 million Canadians cross the border to warmer coasts for the winter. However, this winter season, only about 31% of Canadian snowbirds were still planning to move, according to a survey conducted by Snowbird Advisor.
Residents of New York, New Jersey Enjoy Financial Benefits of Snowbirding
By examining the states of origin and destination of the snowbirds, and comparing the cost of living in the two locations, it becomes clear that some get a better deal on temporary moves than others. Residents of New York and New Jersey are the luckiest – most popular destinations for snowbirds have a lower cost of living than these home locations. New Yorkers who migrate to Florida for the winter benefit from both the sun and a 15% lower cost of living. In fact, the only state where the cost of living is slightly higher – by 3% – is Hawaii. It is exactly the same for residents of New Jersey.
Residents of other northern states, like Ohio, have to dig deeper in their pockets than at home if they want to move for the winter. Florida is 13% more expensive than Ohio, while Texas and Arizona are 8% more expensive.