It cannot have been easy to pull yourself through the monotony, with only the odd vacation here and there. When was the last time you did something just for you? When was the last time you lounged in the sun, sipped a cold one and just soaked in the calmness? If you can’t recall it, then it’s time to give serious thought to escaping the frigid and frosty weather that comes next.

Are you a fan of the annual single-digit whiteness looming in the near future or have you reached a point where you’re tired of winter in Canada? Are you a fan of winter activities or are you ready to spend the blistering -30 degree cold somewhere more tropical? Winter is not for everyone, and fortunately, you’re not alone. Every year, my husband and I leave home to be snowbirds.

While the rewards of snowbirding are pretty obvious, the process of becoming a snowbird isn’t. Questions like how do you start living this new, exciting lifestyle? What needs to go along with you, and what has to stay home? What are the hard costs you need to keep in mind? What pitfalls do you need to watch for? I can help you answer all of that.

Before we begin, here’s what a ‘Snowbird’ is:

The term “snowbird” has been around for almost 100 years and was first used in 1923 to describe seasonal workers who moved south for the winter months. By 1980 however, it was more commonly used to describe the retired tourists who flocked to the south in the winter months. The latter definition stuck.

Snowbirds start to head south between November and January and often stay on until May. Often snowbirds wait until late December or early January to relocate so they don’t miss out on spending the holidays with their loved ones.

Fun fact: the majority of snowbirds are between the ages of 45 and 68.

Where should you go?

The question though is, how long do snowbirds stay and where? We have found that the average snowbird spends between 3-6 months at their location, with well-established snowbirds staying as long as 8 months in their secondary location. And, speaking of locations, Florida is a long standing favorite for snowbirds. The hundreds of active adult communities, the warm coastal climate, beaches as far as the eye can see and the affordable homes make the Sunshine State a favorite for retirees and snowbirds alike.

Another sun-seeker favorite is Arizona, the Grand Canyon State with its seasonally mild weather, resort-style golf courses, and diverse scenic landscapes. If budget allows, head on over to Hawaii and immerse yourself in island life.

Beyond Florida and Arizona lie the less coveted but equally welcoming states of Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Southern California, and Nevada. These are perfect for active adults who prefer to avoid frigid temperatures and the woes of precipitation.

If you are feeling adventurous, looking for community and would like to avoid the hassles of city life then a “white city” may be the place for you. “White cities” are recreational vehicle (RV) parks that snowbirds flock to in the summer covering the bird’s eye view in a white sheet with their motorhomes. A significant chunk of the snowbird community is made up of RV-ers, many of whom own one for the sole purpose of snowbirding down south.

The North Americas not for you? Are you seeking more exotic pastures across the world? Want to experience the thrill of a new place one more time? If yes, then places like Thailand, Dubai, Portugal, Mexico are made for you. Not only is the weather warm and inviting all year long but they take hospitality to a new level. What’s better is that we have snowbirder friends who have flocked to these places and have simply not wanted to leave!

Where do you live?

Now that you know where you would like to go, it’s time to figure out where you will live? Would you rather rent a house, buy a summer home or invest in a motor home? Would you like to hold on to your primary residence or would you like to give it up for rent? Are you looking to explore the region you’re heading to before you decide where to settle? What kind of house would you like to stay in, a single family home, a condominium or maybe an attached home?

A number of decisions need to be made and certainly there are benefits to setting up camp in 2 locations but it can prove costly. If you are a retiree, it may prove beneficial to sell the large, difficult to maintain home at your primary destination and instead move to a smaller, easily manageable home.

This is where we got stuck because how does one just leave or sell their home? One we spent years building? What really helped us was the continued guidance One Stop Home Pros offered. This sounds like promotion but we mean it. They kept reminding us that it’s doable, motivated us throughout the process, helped us sell our house at an amazing price and took us through the process of buying a smaller house just outside the city to us save money for our snowbirding experience. I have personally recommended them to every snowbird I come across because we would not be in our 4th year without them.