Living the Life ... The "Snowbird" Lifestyle
“Spread your tiny wings and fly away
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day
The one I love forever is untrue
And if I could you know that I would
Fly away with you” - Anne Murray
I love this song, mostly because my mother used to play it on our “hi-fi stereo system” over and over again. Truth is, she played it so much, it was one of the few songs that as a little girl I knew all the words to, and so we could sing it together. Now as an adult, it conjures up dreams of being a “snowbird”. No, not in the “feathered” sense, but in the “lifestyle” sense. So, we decided to explore what that life is really like, to be living the “snowbird life”!
Some might find this surprising, but not everyone likes the snow, ice, and cold weather that accompany winter. Along with this blustery season come additional hardships; slips, falls, and shoveling to name but a few, and are just a handful of the things that we all have to contend with during the cold months.
Having the ability to escape from our cold winter climate can go a long way towards avoiding those hardships. In warmer climates, you won't have to face slips and falls on ice, driving in harsh conditions, plowing or shoveling snow. And if you’re not a big winter sports enthusiast, travelling to a warmer locale means golf and tennis can be played all year long, and no-one even owns a snow shovel! For those that just love to be outside all year long, then this is the lifestyle that should fit perfectly.
The medical benefits of staying active all year round can be tremendous, especially when compared to staying inside during those winter months. Add to this the advantage of being able to move between different locations in those warmer areas, which helps to keep both body and mind active. Some people will spend their winters in the same location each year, while others decide to travel and change places each season through the use of a recreational vehicle (RV). With an RV, you can travel through different areas, visiting new places, things, and people all winter long. Renting an RV is a nice option, as it doesn't leave you responsible for ongoing taxes or maintenance. This is especially important during the months when not using your home, should something vital happen to break down. For more info, there are several online destination and rental websites to choose from.
Snowbirds get a taste of both climates without fully committing to either. Kind of a “best of both worlds” scenario! Everyone loves that beach vacation, but eventually the novelty might begin to wear off. As a snowbird, you have the freedom to turn around and head home whenever you choose, and if you’re renting, you can try something new the next time you head south.
Enjoying different communities and lifestyles is a wonderful benefit. In the summer months, you likely have a larger house and the maintenance that goes with it, and as well, many social commitments and responsibilities. But in your winter home, you’ll likely have fewer responsibilities, and more down-time to relax and enjoy the activities that many snowbird “neighbourhoods” have to offer.
Some things to think about:
There’s a lot of preparation to get ready for this lifestyle, on both ends to the journey. You’ll have to think about your mail delivery, your newspapers, prescriptions, doctor’s appointments, etc., just to name a few of the many things that we currently take for granted, because we’re always there to look after them.
You’ll need to think about the security of your home, as well as any requirements, paperwork, and care when it comes to your “fur-babies”. You’ll need to ensure that your home is closed-up and secured properly before leaving it for months at a time, not being lived in. Having a neighbour or a close friend checking in on things periodically is a great for peace of mind. Ask them to make sure your home looks “lived in”, so only those people you trust know you’re not there.
One of the potentially costlier things to consider is insurance. While not the most interesting topic to discuss, this one is essential to having the life you want, while being protected in every way possible.
Travel insurance for long periods can be tricky. The specifics and coverage differ significantly from short term plans, and the premiums can be expensive, so it pays to shop around. Websites like Kanetix.ca, CARP.ca and Snowbirds.org are good places to start exploring plans and pricing. In most cases, you can buy the coverage online or over the phone.
It’s also important to take a look at your auto insurance policy and specifically, it’s out of country coverage. Contact your insurance company if you are planning to use your car for an extended stay down south.
Another important element if you’re planning to go south for the winter is to make sure you’re compliant with all coverage requirements for absentee residents under your home insurance policy. Otherwise, if the power goes out and your pipes freeze and break, you could arrive home to an uninsured disaster.
Your health and safety is the number one priority when it comes to insurance. Without it, your dream lifestyle can quickly become a nightmare, so make sure you speak to a professional to get all the information you need!
While both the “pros” and “cons” lists can be lengthy, the benefits far outweigh the downside for many people. Before diving in, ask around, use online resources, find books with tips and hints on the snowbird lifestyle, and make your own lists to decide if the lifestyle is right for you. After you've done your own research, the right answer for you will become clear.
The team at Living Spaces & Lifestyles magazine want you to live the best life there is to live. Stay tuned for an upcoming article in our Spring Edition, which will focus on an exciting lifestyle choice many are living right here in our beautiful region.
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