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Old 09-08-2009, 09:13 AM
 
3,225 posts, read 5,270,352 times
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Default Life Of A Florida Snowbird - Pros and Cons

I start this thread because there's a lot of romanticizing by many of us about being a snowbird and enjoying the best of both worlds. Many of us feel that it would be fantastic to be able to have a home in Florida for the winter months and one up north for the rest of the year...but like almost everything in life there might be some unwelcome realities to face.

For those who indeed are snowbirds traveling back and forth, I'd appreciate some input or comments on the following to guide would-be snowbirds:

...Is it not difficult to have to watch over two homes so far apart as, say, one home in NY and the other in Florida? Are there not issues of locking up both homes at different times of the year and concerns about vandalism, break-ins, burglaries, HVAC issues, etc.?

...in a post 9/11 environment where air travel has become a more time-consuming and harrowing experience, is it not now tiring to deal with travel between the two homes on a frequent basis?

...Even if one or both homes were condos and not houses thus mitigating exterior maintenace responsibilities, aren't there still other issues like pest control, utility shut off/turn on, proper interior climate control, etc., that one must deal with while away from each home?

Perhaps there are other issues which snowbirds have to deal with that they'd like to share with us.

Also please be aware that the focus is not only on retirees or senior citizens, as younger people in this age of telecommuting, etc., also can be potential snowbirds.

Please note that this discussion focuses on snowbirds of average means not on those wealthy enough to have a staff caring for each home when the owner is away. We know of movie stars an other celebrities who can easily handle the two home/snowbird lifestyle...but this thread attempts to look at the pluses and minues of being a snowbird for those in the mainstream who fantasize about such a lifestyle.

My gut feeling is that if one were to own two homes it would be less grueling if they were within easy driving distance of each other, say both in Florida or both up north. Then of course one would have to take the good with the bad as a year-round routine. If in Florida only, one would need to accept the brutal summer to enjoy the wondrous winter or if one lives up north only, accept the uncomfortable and sometimes messy winter months to enjoy the other seasons.

I guess I'm trying to figure whether being a snowbird is worth it or whether it's best to stay put in one place, bear the harsher months with a grin, and just escape for a rental vacation to the other area when the going gets tough.

Thanks all for any comments.
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Old 09-08-2009, 01:03 PM
 
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One option is to rent for the Winter season; say, 3-4 months, drive
to your rental, and worry about nothing but travel.
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Old 09-08-2009, 01:22 PM
 
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I'd appreciate some input or comments on the following to guide would-be snowbirds:

...Is it not difficult to have to watch over two homes so far apart as, say, one home in NY and the other in Florida? Are there not issues of locking up both homes at different times of the year and concerns about vandalism, break-ins, burglaries, HVAC issues, etc.?

REPLY: The crime issue is going to vary based on where the vacation home is located . You can obtain that info on any city via CityData fortunately. If you have a home in Florida, you can simply leave the heat completely off in the winter because the average low in upper Florida is 40 f. In the rare time it goes below freezing, its not going to be cold enough inside the house for pipes to freeze up and burst. If you buy your vacation home in a community / development, then youll have the added benefit of neighbors and property management keeping an eye on it. Once youve made a friend there, you could have them go inside once in awhile to check it out and pay them for their time. Or, most Realtors offer a very affordable property management type service . Further, you could always make it available to family members or existing friends to enjoy . Ive known MANY folks who live up north and have a vacation home in Florida or Arizona and they really like that arrangement alot.


...in a post 9/11 environment where air travel has become a more time-consuming and harrowing experience, is it not now tiring to deal with travel between the two homes on a frequent basis?

REPLY: Depends on the distance between the 2 homes., but, if we are talking NY and Fl. , then Id only drive it if youre going to be spending quite some time at your vacation home ...like a winter . I personally think air travel is the safest its ever been now concerning terrorism and Terrorists will most likely target other forms of mass commuting like Trains or Busses.

...Even if one or both homes were condos and not houses thus mitigating exterior maintenace responsibilities, aren't there still other issues like pest control, utility shut off/turn on, proper interior climate control, etc., that one must deal with while away from each home?

REPLY: If you buy a vacation home that is all aluminum, youll greatly cut the outside maintenance of the home to almost zilch. Pests depends on the location of the vacation home ; I live in northern Florida and simply spray Ortho Max every 3 months on the outside walls and interior walls to keep pests out ; other people have an Exterminator come in once per year. Have your vacation home thoughly gone over by an Exterminator BEFORE buying it to make sure it is Termite free and at the same time, he can tell you other Bugs he may have noticed. Its all taken in stride here in Florida.

Perhaps there are other issues which snowbirds have to deal with that they'd like to share with us.

Youll end up having more friends if you have a vacation home as well as a primary home , your life will be fuller with more leisurely things to do , youll enjoy the warmer weather when theres tons of snow back home, youll feel more rejuvinated from the sunshine and going to the beaches, youll like the change of scenery and pace of life, etc... Depending on where in Florida you buy , you may have to prepare your vacation home for hurricanes just in case one comes close by ; this is really no big deal either --- you get some simple hurricane corrugated metal panels from Lowes or Home DePot and fasten them on over the windows , take things inside the home and/or fasten things down outside ... before you depart your vacation home.

Having a vacation home to go to in Florida will be a nice thing for you and it can be had quite cheapily of you want to go the frugal route like a small Condo or a Mobile Home near the coast which are not part of a development but stand alone . There are many good deals to be had in Florida with the economy the way it is ; lots of foreclosures on vacation homes too . Another very popular consideration is : RVing ! RVers go down south during the winter months and returning up north to your home base for summer ; theres TONS of RV parks, State Forests, State Parks that snowbirds use for very reasonable extended stays, plus it allows you some wheels for getting around town and doing exploring once youre down here. I personally love RVing and its a fun way to see the Country and different cultures. Good luck !
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Old 09-08-2009, 03:15 PM
 
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Thanks RVlover and bgrasser for your valuable insights.
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Old 09-08-2009, 05:40 PM
 
Location: Deane Hill, Knoxville, Tennessee
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It seemed that the most unhappy snowbirds were part of a couple where they were stuck doing most of the necessary things such as remembering to shut off/turn on utilities and bring all important belongings. They were very resentful of being stuck doing these things while the other half just enjoyed the whole thing.

I also saw some resentments from grandmas that really missed their family.

Working in the pharmacy I could see how things could be frustrating. You forget your medication and it becomes a very big problem. You've already had it filled, so although the pharmacist calls up north, they have to get the go-ahead from a doctor who may or may not fill it. Forget the glucose monitor and you will have to buy another one.

These were just things that I never thought of until I directly dealt with snowbirds.

Of course, I saw lots of happy snowbirds, too!

Also, I can't imagine bothering to buy two homes in Florida. Although there is a difference in climate it is not THAT different. If anything, shoot for the Appalachians in Tennessee or North Carolina. It will give you better relief in the summer.
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Old 09-08-2009, 06:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hiknapster View Post
It seemed that the most unhappy snowbirds were part of a couple where they were stuck doing most of the necessary things such as remembering to shut off/turn on utilities and bring all important belongings. They were very resentful of being stuck doing these things while the other half just enjoyed the whole thing.

I also saw some resentments from grandmas that really missed their family.

Working in the pharmacy I could see how things could be frustrating. You forget your medication and it becomes a very big problem. You've already had it filled, so although the pharmacist calls up north, they have to get the go-ahead from a doctor who may or may not fill it. Forget the glucose monitor and you will have to buy another one.

These were just things that I never thought of until I directly dealt with snowbirds.

Of course, I saw lots of happy snowbirds, too!

Also, I can't imagine bothering to buy two homes in Florida. Although there is a difference in climate it is not THAT different. If anything, shoot for the Appalachians in Tennessee or North Carolina. It will give you better relief in the summer.
Thanks so much Hiknapster for your input. Yo too raise some important issues!

I tell you, guys, sometimes we all get frustrated at the occasional vitriolic outbursts on forums like CD, but I find that our forums can offer a lot of different perspectives from different experiences which in turn can lead to further research and soul-searching.

True, we're all different but sometimes a poster might point out something that one never thought of before...like some of the points Hiknapster and the previous posters mentioned.

Hopefully topics such as these can guide people to minimize faulty decisions or to at least evaluate different perspectives and see how best to navigate the waters!

Thanks all and I trust that the topic will be helpful to other readers also on CD.
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Old 09-09-2009, 04:47 AM
 
Location: Jupiter
1,042 posts, read 2,195,950 times
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Cool Pros & Cons Of A Second Home

Owning a vacation home or second home as they say is really not what it is made up to be...you have double everything from bills to worry......and when it comes time to go on vacation, perhaps somewhere new...where do you go...to the same old place...your second home......so before you take the plunge...think it over well...for like one of the other posts...you can always chose to rent for 3 to 4 months for a season or two...before you take that permanent snowbird leap and buy a second home...
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Old 09-09-2009, 06:34 AM
 
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We own our home in Florida so as to get the homestead exemption and when we go north for extended periods, a month or two at a time, we rent. This works for us.
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Old 09-09-2009, 06:43 AM
 
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I'm in a different position but was a snow bird this year for the first time. I then returned home to MI in the spring. I was going to try to do this yearly for a few months come to FL but rent. I rented in MI though as well. I don't have the concerns of leaving a home. I am younger 31 then the average and the reasons for this was not the best situation. Some issues though I had was the in season rentals. I am in Boca which is the snow bird capital it seems. Well looking for lets say Dec-March the monthly rates were 2000-3000 a month for furnished. So 8-12,000 for 4 months on top of the rent I was paying in MI every year is a lot. Now some it is a not an issue. I would think though for some even retired people on a budget that own in their home state to rent in FL 8-12,000 is still a lot. Now if you are over 55 though you can find much cheaper in over 55 community. The other issue I had is not feeling settled. There was a lack of feeling stable and comfortable. I also felt if this was a yearly thing it would not allow me to build relationships etc but again that may be because of my age. I am now a full time FL as I made the full move in July. I had to weigh the pros and cons and find the best possible in the situation.
I know a few older people as my grandfather lives here in Boca that come for a few months. They have these unreal expensive homes with high HOA fees and expensive homes in their homestate. Like one post said they are able to not worry about finances and can pay people to do up keep etc and to help them go back and forth. It adds up having cars shipped,flights,living expenses. If you are blessed to not have to worry about that like the poster said it is a whole different story.
As for the flying. Since I still have to do that and my family here it is not the best event but I try to go at times when not extremly busy. I will go a week before a holiday for ex.
Sorry if this response was dumb since I am not the typical snow bird but thought some could possibly relate.
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Old 09-09-2009, 08:21 AM
 
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Well, I will add our experience just to round out the discussion here.

Back in 2004, we were living in Dade City (35 miles NE of Tampa) and after the hurricanes decided to purchase a second home in Asheville, NC (after vacationing there and loving it). At the time, we thought it would be an investment, a place for vacations, and maybe even future retirement. The reality was, hubby works full time and we never got to spend much time there - we went up every two months or so for a few days, a bit longer on holidays but we spent most of the time catching up on maintenance on the place. The double bills also became a burden. After three years of this we knew we couldn't keep it up, and also had decided we would never retire there, we had since moved to Sarasota which we love madly, and Asheville was just too cold in the winter. So we sold it.

If we had it to do over and still wanted another place, I would definitely just look into a small cabin, mobile or cheap condo there. But even then would think long and hard and about a second property. Plus, as someone above said, you are always locked into vacations at the same spot. I think I like to be able to travel to other areas and have a home base that I love.

Hope this helps!
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