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Snowbirds, Explained

Snowbirds, Explained

While they don’t have wings or even fly, snowbirds often migrate hundreds, or sometimes even thousands of miles during the winter months.

Instead of nests, many of these mammals opt for second homes, renting seasonally or RVing their way around. Of course, snowbirds aren’t wild animals, but we have seen them enjoy some pretty intense games of pickleball.

Today, we’re looking at what it means to be a snowbird and how RVers might be changing its definition. Let’s get started!

What Is a Snowbird?

A snowbird is an individual from a northern part of the country who travels south during winter. They’re typically attempting to avoid the snow and colder temperatures.

They often flock to the southeast and southwest portions of the country, which usually experience warmer temperatures during those months.

Where Did the Term ‘Snowbird’ Come From?

The meaning of the term “snowbird” has changed a few times over the past 100 years. The term’s first use related to humans was in the early 1900s. The term described individuals who had enlisted in the military to get food and clothing and then abandon their position at the first sign of spring’s warmer weather. The usage evolved to refer to seasonal workers traveling south, searching for work during winter. 

By the late 1970s, the term had changed to refer to retirees who were moving in massive flocks to warmer parts of the country during the winter months. It isn’t done changing either!

Who Makes Up the Snowbird Population?

For the past 50 years, the snowbird population was primarily retirees. They’d typically arrive at their warmer winter home sometime between Thanksgiving and the end of the year. However, we’ve seen quite an unexpected change in the community.

The nomadic lifestyle has become increasingly more popular in recent years. Thanks to remote learning and work becoming progressively more common and appealing, individuals and families embrace the lifestyle and travel full-time.

The snowbird community is evolving, and we’re seeing a lot less gray hairs among the community.

RVs parked on the beach in the sun.
The snowbird life will have you chasing the sun all year long.

The Benefits of the Snowbirding Lifestyle

Regardless of age or demographics, it’s easy to see why it’s an appealing lifestyle. Let’s take a look at a few of the perks snowbirds enjoy.

Avoiding Cold Weather

Snowbirds seek to spend as much time as possible in warmer weather. This doesn’t mean that they’ll get to avoid cold weather 100% of the time. However, it does significantly minimize it.

Avoiding cold weather also means you’re avoiding snow and the headaches that come with it. If you’ve ever had to shovel a sidewalk or driveway after a massive snowfall, you know it’s a labor-intensive task. 

Enjoying the Great Outdoors

Warmer weather in winter means you’re not stuck inside. You can get out and explore the great outdoors without bundling up in layers to stay warm. If you’re traveling to a new area, this can allow you to explore new environments and see wildlife that you’ve never before seen in the wild. 

For those snowbirds that migrate to Florida, the opportunity to explore the Everglades or spot an alligator in the wild can be a fascinating adventure. The idea of nothing separating you from such a powerful and massive reptile might just get your heart racing a bit.

Making New Friends

Snowbirds are constantly meeting new friends among their massive flock. The community is typically very accepting and enjoys interacting with each other. However, you’ll likely run into a grumpy snowbird now and then.

Many popular snowbird communities offer a tremendous amount of interaction. They’ll have competitive games and social events that help people to connect.

If you’re visiting the same spot each season, you may see some familiar faces and form some deep friendships that last for years to come.

Keeping Things Interesting

Winter in the north can be a rather uneventful season for many, especially if they don’t like the cold and snow. You can avoid locking yourself inside for the winter, waiting for spring.

The beautiful weather and endless possibilities of activities will help keep life interesting no matter your age.

Woman posing in RV on beach.
Trade in the snow for a sandy beach this winter.

There are a handful of popular snowbird destinations across the country. Some of the most popular snowbird destinations have been hosting snowbirds for decades.

As a result, many have developed infrastructures catering to snowbirds. If you’re considering the snowbird lifestyle, here are some of the most popular snowbird destinations!

Arizona

One of the most popular snowbird destinations in the country is Arizona. The sunshine, cooler winter temperatures, and the more than 300 golf courses have made this a popular snowbird location for decades. Whether you enjoy scenic drives or hiking trails, it’s easy to enjoy the mountainous landscapes and colorful rock formations littered all over the desert.

Some of the most popular cities in Arizona for snowbirds include Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler, and Phoenix. However, Scottsdale and Tucson aren’t bad options either.

Many of the cities have massive retirement communities that cater to retirees. If you’re a family of snowbirds, you may struggle with some of these communities having age restrictions or not being as family-friendly as you’d like.

If you’re planning to bring your RV with you, consider Yuma, Lake Havasu City, and Quartzsite. These are all great cities for RVs as they often have boondocking options or plenty of opportunities for parking your RV in a campground or RV park.

Florida

The Sunshine State isn’t just for families looking to visit theme parks; it’s another great destination for snowbirds. The warm winters and the seemingly endless miles of sandy beaches make it easy to take an evening stroll at the end of the day.

From St. Augustine, one of the oldest cities in the United States, to the thrilling adventures at the many theme parks and tourist activities in Orlando, the Sunshine State is the perfect mixture of history and modernity. You can spend years of winters here and still only scratch the surface of experiencing all the state has to offer.

Some of the most popular snowbird destinations in Florida include St. Petersburg, Cocoa Beach, and Boca Raton. However, The Villages is the mecca of all snowbird destinations in Florida. It is a massive community with over 50 golf courses and three town squares that caters to the many seasonal residents that call it home for the winter.

Pro Tip: Florida is a popular spot amongst RVers but that makes it hard to find a spot to camp! Don’t worry, Here’s How You Can Still Reserve a Campsite.

Hawaii

If you’re looking to spend winter in a tropical paradise, it doesn’t get much better than Hawaii. You’re likely to struggle to bring an RV to enjoy island life; however, there are several great cities for snowbirds to consider.

The best cities for snowbirds are Kailua-Kona, Haleiwa, Honolulu, and Paia. Each of these cities is unique and offers a different island lifestyle. However, you’ll enjoy a bit of paradise no matter where you settle on any of the islands.

If you’ve never visited Hawaii, you’ve likely never seen anything quite like it. You can see massive waterfalls, cliffs that drop straight into the ocean, and even regular volcanic activity. If you dread the thought of another cold and miserable winter, perhaps you’ll grow to love winter when you’re spending it in a tropical island paradise.

Southern California

Snowbirds flock to Southern California, but not just for the warmer weather and beautiful landscapes. Here you’ll find Disneyland, Universal Studios, and all the excitement of massive cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Palm Springs. 

Those snowbirds that drive from the north to the south get the opportunity to explore the diverse landscapes that California offers. The state is home to nine national parks and one of the largest state park systems in the entire country (280 state parks).

Whether you’re looking to take part in an epic adventure or enjoy life at a slower pace, California is an excellent option for the snowbird lifestyle!

Texas

They say everything is bigger in the Lone Star State. If you’ve never visited Texas, it’s massive. Snowbirds love Texas for not just the warmer weather and affordable living but the ability to spread out. It’s a very RV-friendly state with plenty of opportunities to boondock and explore nature. 

The most popular cities that snowbirds choose are South Padre Island, Galveston, and San Antonio. You’ll love being a winter Texan and being able to enjoy the two national parks, over 80 state parks, and the gorgeous sunsets night after night.

Pro Tip: Looking for more snowbird spots? We uncovered Where Should You Snowbird This Winter?

Woman happily eating watermelon on beach.
Stay warm this winter by snowbirding!

How Long Does a Snowbird Usually Travel?

Snowbirds travel when they want and where they want. However, they typically start showing up in popular snowbird cities in October and November and usually leave by May.

Snowbirds often enjoy the freedom of setting their own schedule. Many will opt to spend the holidays with their families up north before heading south.

While RVing has been gaining popularity in recent years, it’s been popular amongst snowbirds for several decades. Many snowbirds like to travel with their RV from city to city and experience the winter months across the southeast and southwest parts of the country.

Whether they park their RV in the same spot for the entire season or change campsites, RVing is most definitely a popular travel option amongst snowbirds.

Are You a Snowbird?

Now that you know a bit more about the snowbird lifestyle, you can decide if it’s right for you or not. Whether you’re looking to retire soon or embrace the nomadic life while working remotely, being a snowbird can be a great way to enjoy life.

However, the lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and some people enjoy the snow and colder temperatures during the winter months. 

Would you consider embracing the snowbird lifestyle? Tell us in the comments!

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Robert Lee Angle

Sunday 13th of February 2022

One big factor that snow Birds must pay attention to is the weather. Especially the wind. You have to do your homework as to weather alerts. Several alternative routes from the north should be considered. Gas prices are also a factor. Usually going South from the northern states is a two day drive to the southern states. Most important is to have your motorhome, truck,car and RV thoroughly checked out for the long haul. Lastly please dispose of your trash properly.

CarenL

Saturday 12th of February 2022

What do you call southerner’s that travel north in their summer months when it’s too hot and they want the cooler climate?

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