Since the Victorian Age, those who were prosperous in Europe would travel south to Italy and France to escape the cold, dark winters. While the word “snowbird” wasn’t coined until 1923 to describe nomadic workers who went south for the winter, in the last few decades, it has been used to describe anyone who owns a winter home in the southern United States. Since John D. Rockefeller first set up his winter home in Ormond Beach in 1914, followed by Henry Ford and Thomas Edison in Fort Myers, those who can afford it have been migrating to Florida to avoid the snow and sleet.
These days, you don’t have to be a millionaire or business magnate to be a snowbird. More and more, people who are thrifty, well-invested, or self-employed are able to live in their ideal homes all year round. If you’re considering becoming a snowbird yourself, here are a few things to consider as you move toward the life you dream of.
- Consider Renting First – Moving to a new place requires research. Before purchasing, it’s a good idea to come for a visit. While Sarasota has a number of beautiful vacation rentals, even a few days in a hotel or Airbnb can give you the opportunity to explore the various neighborhoods and get a good lay of the land.
- Make Accommodations For Your Second Home – Some snowbirds rent out their northern home while they are south and their southern home while they are north. Others have friends, family members, or a house sitter simply look out for the home while their gone. While you can easily cancel the newspaper subscription, forward the mail, and put lights on timers to give the impression someone’s home, you’ll still want to have someone looking over the place.
- Check Your Insurance – Many snowbirds, instead of driving to and fro each season, have a car up north that stays in the garage during the winter and a car in Florida that spends its summer in storage. Keeping your car off the roads for that much of the year can save you money on insurance, and having a second policy for your car in Florida could offer you better rates.
- Get In The Cloud – With all of the paperwork people might need, there is nothing quite as frustrating as needing something that’s in your seasonal home. Setting these documents up digitally allows you to have access to them on your cell phone, computer, or tablet whenever you need them.
- Consider Starting an Online Business – The digital world has revolutionized the way people can make a living and create a life. There are a number of online businesses that allow people to live wherever they like, or even travel extensively, with little more than a laptop computer and a Wi-Fi signal. Whether it’s full time self-employment, a supplemental income, or merely a hobby, many people are using the web to help fashion a new life for themselves.
- Establish Residency – Many snowbirds end up spending more time in Florida than in their northern homes. Part of the reason is that Florida does not have an income tax, which may be of help if you’re running an online business or have other steams of income. While being a snowbird has many advantages, becoming a sunbird may be the way you want to go.
I hope this helps you as you consider crafting your dream life. From condos to cottages, Sarasota has a number of homes that serve as winter nests for our snowbirds. When you’re ready to start looking for yours, let me help you find your perfect home.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist