Friday, November 10, 2017

What's a Snowbird?

     B and I are spending the first three weeks of November in the Carolinas. We came here to enjoy the warmer weather, to be sure, but the main reason we drove down here is because we stopped to see my daughter, who lives in Raleigh, NC, and then we're visiting with B's son (and now a grandson!) who lives in Charleston, SC. (We don't stay with her son . . . no way. We rent our own place out at the beach.)

     We will go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then I will depart for three weeks in Florida, before meeting up with B to spend the month of February back in Charleston.

     I invite B every year to go with me to Florida but she only went once . . . and won't go back. She doesn't like Florida. It might be interesting to interview her and do a post on all the things that are, in her mind, wrong with Florida.

     So anyway, we had this same schedule last year. It seems to be our developing pattern, now that B is retired. Three weeks in November, then for a month in February, with me taking a side trip to Florida. So . . . does that make us Snowbirds?

     I don't think so. The Carolinas are a place where many Northerners go to retire. But they're not visiting; they live here. It's a compromise. The winter can be chilly, but there's no snow like in the north. The summers are hot and muggy, but not as bad as Florida, and the brutal heat of summer doesn't last as long either.

     Not too many people come to the Carolinas just for the winter. The true Snowbirds go farther south, usually to Florida. From my experience you have to get south of Orlando before you can rely on a balmy January or February.

     Of course the West Coast has its own version of Snowbirds. They go from Oregon or Washington, usually to Arizona. If you live in California -- like the Carolinas -- you don't need to go anywhere else.

     But I don't think the Carolinas qualify us for Snowbird status. And three weeks in Florida is not enough time. Besides, doesn't Snowbird have a slightly negative connotation?

     Snowbirds are kind of a cliche. They are old and retired and wear funny-looking clothes. They are kind of selfish, only concerned with their own comfort level, people who abandon friends and family at the first sign of cold weather. They are, literally, fair-weather friends. Or maybe they're the much-hated one-percenters who can afford two homes and are gaming the tax system by claiming residence in a low-tax state, while they really continue to live and enjoy the amenities of the North.

     Okay, now I'm going too far. I don't mean to insult anybody. After all, my parents were full-fledged Snowbirds and they weren't one-percenters -- although they did wear funny-looking clothes. My dad favored a checked sport jacket, turquoise pants and he sometimes wore a hat and a tie that were at least 30 years old. (He never got a pair of white shoes, though . . . gotta give him that!)

     Besides, if I had my druthers, I'd probably be a Snowbird myself. Personally, I like Florida. I was even there once in the summer, watching July 4th fireworks, and I didn't find the heat and humidity all that oppressive. I already play golf, which seems to be a prerequisite for retiring to Florida (and Arizona too?). And according to B anyway, I already wear the funny-looking clothes. So, uh, I guess credit goes to B . . . for keeping me from becoming a cliche.


Linda Myers said...

Tom, see if you can persuade B to spend a month in Arizona one winter. We're snowbirds, but the ones I see out my front window are energetic walkers or bicyclists. There are probably some who sit by the pool and read, but I'm not one of them. Not a lot of funny clothes. I call it Camp for Grandmas.

Anonymous said...

I live in Washington state right by Oregon border, people run to Oregon to buy big and small ticket items to not pay sales tax..Well they don't realize what it does to the people who rely upon the revenue or their jobs to live here..come on the traffic is horrible the people as I have found stupid as a potato and if you ever give them a check from your bank from Washington state you would think you were trying to screw them out of the amount, they just look and look and then they take it no thank you..this small town not really is great the people are wonderful the schools, housing is abysmal too high for what a person could buy elsewhere but many have multiple cars and don't mind the soaring gas prices, but hey this is not heaven on earth whomever said it was was full of you know what, we have access to go to the beach in a tiny cabin with friends we have known since kindergarten we go and enjoy ourselves! We are blessed a home and family and food and faith, and friends from kindergarten..we take in stride the 180 plus days of inclement weather that is just the way it least we did not have fires like California, hurricanes, floods, etc. and sometimes heat as hot as you know what, one just takes in stride weather is not something one can control..happy holidays coming fast, enjoy your trips and times with your is short, love is all that matters really~~~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cindi said...

I'm an outdoor person. I like to swim, hike, bike, walk, shop (LOL) etc. I can not do these things all year long in upstate New York. I detest skiing, ice skating, snowshoe walking and I abhor snow, ice and anything that is cold. I like spring and summer and for me, I can only get those things south of Tampa in Florida when winter in NY comes (which is usually, like currently right now, the warmest state of the 48 continuous) I wouldn't call myself a snowbird because I only head down south when the north becomes unbearable for me. There is absolutely NO WAY I would ever give up my New York residence because NY has the best quality health care anywhere, best senior citizen protection laws, best consumer protection laws and thanks to Gov Cuomo, very good senior citizen benefits (reduced taxes) and Cuomo has been extraordinarily persistent in improving ALL the NYS National Parks. New trails, better camping facilities, undated bathroom services etc. etc. Cuomo rocks in my book!
BUT, and here's that 'but' I can not tolerate the cold, so I follow the sun down south for a few months. I'm not in the 1% but we do own two smallish homes (you can get a decent luxurious, affordable condo in Florida with lowish HOA fees if you look hard enough) I save on NY heat which in turn affords me to run an a/c sometimes in Florida. Food bills are the same, as is gas, internet etc. etc. It's really not as expensive as you think.
I hate to say this but (and here's that 'but' again, I'm glad B doesn't like Florida. Personally too many people DO and traffic down Florida way can be the most frightening thing on the planet. And it's NOT due to old people driving. It's due to all the foreigners who have no idea how to drive the American roadways. Huge, big, giant accidents are almost a daily occurance. So, the less people that want to come here, the better! Sorry.
Right now, for us, the two house system is working. We intend to do it for as long as we can. Eventually when the time comes and we have to select one place to live, it will be neither. We like the Carolinas for that! You do NOT want to be old & feeble and go in a nursing home in either NY or Florida. Cuomo nor Rick Scott (think Hurricane Irma) have cured that horror story. Hopefully we will find our perfect place in the Carolinas.
Fingers crossed.
Till then, this system is working out just fine for us.

Barbara said...

I lived in Tampa for a while. Since I moved there from Houston it does not qualify me for Snowbird status. However, if I lived full time in Florida I would definitely be going north for the summer. Too hot for me. Love the beach walking but not enough to live there. Having seen what I've seen of the clothing options - I'd say who cares whether you wear stripes and plaids that's part of the magic of being an older snowbird.

Barbara - said...

Florida will not be my first, second or third choice if I ever decide to be a snowbird. Partly I suppose, because I lived too ong in an extremely dry climate and don't want to embrace the humidity for many months (although a vacation like yours would be a different story). I always figure at our age we get to wear whatever we darned well please most of the time!

I cannot see myself as being a snowbird as such (mainly because you can walk and be outside in Colorado 90 percent of the time, even if you don't do winter sports, and the sun is generally shining). A "longer" vacation in February and March tend to hit the spot as March can often be the snowiest month(yea, I know snow is relative when it comes to your old location). So most of my "vacations" tend to be in the February, March, April period and shorter travel in the late summer, early fall when places like Yellowstone are still in bloom if you will, but most of the tourists have left.

Roberta Warshaw said...

We are moving out to Arizona in June to live there full time. Owning two homes is not an option for us so we chose the warmer climate so that we can be outside, walk, hike, etc. Yes it will be hot in summer but we have AC and ceiling fans. We are looking forward to getting out of the cold once and for all.

Terra said...

I moved to California from Wisconsin (my two favorite states) and love the climate where I live, in a temperate area so no desire to be a snowbird. It is terribly crowded though.

Kathy @ SMART Living said...

Hi Tom! I'd love to hear B's explanation of why she doesn't like Florida. I think I mentioned before that Florida didn't suit either Thom or I either... but we did love the warm ocean water! Here where I live in the Southern California we get LOTS of snowbirds from all over the country and Canada. Of course I can see why they want to come because our winter season is spectacular. BUT... the summers are very HOT. We do our best to get out of here when the temps grow uncomfortable. I guess you could call us "Hotbirds" or summer-birds or some other cliche! I don't mind what you call me. That's easier to take than 3 months of blistering heat! ~Kathy

Stephen Hayes said...

I'd love to hear what B doesn't like about Florida. Now that Mrs. Chatterbox is retired we're thinking about spending a few weeks every winter in Puerto Vallarta, which we've come to love.

David @ iretiredyoung said...

That's a fun read for a Saturday morning.
I think the snowbird concept is fascinating - we don't really have it where I'm from (the UK originally), or at least I've never come across anyone who does it, perhaps because you would have to go to a different country for the winter. My wife thinks it's a good idea, but I'm not convinced about the financial side of it, and also feel that it could mean that we don't become truly settled with great friends in either the summer or winter home.
I'm enjoying the comments, they're helping me learn about snowbirding - heaven forbid if it turns out my wife's idea is a good one, I'll never live it down!

Olga Hebert said...

I jus spent a month in FLorida. When I returned last Wednesday night, The cold air hit me outside the Burlington, VT airport and I was tempted to turn around and catch the next flight back. A very nice gentleman friend was picking me up (the real reason I came back and will stay through the holidays). But otherwise I would gladly live in FL full time. I have been there a number of times in the summer. I know what it's like and it's better than bitter cold as far as I am concerned.

Anonymous said...

Northwest Florida has been my home for many years. We love our Snowbirds and local businesses rely on them returning every year after the Springbreakers and tourists finally leave. They form clubs and do community work during their stay here that benefit our area long after they return home. They go to our restaurants, shop at our stores, attend our churches and walk on our beaches when we think it's too cold to even go outside. They don't clog up our streets, trash our beaches or hotels rooms or complain about everything. Our local newspapers devote an entire section just about them every season and they are having a better time here than I am! They are a joy and we are happy to welcome them back year after year. And as for the people wearing "funny clothes" here, those are our locals who shop at Walmart and we apologize.

carol from florida

Anonymous said...

I live year round in Hawaii, but wish I lived in Manhattan because of the music and musicians.

Mary said...

I live in Central Fla year round and love it! Yes it gets humid in summer, but you either get in the pool or go inside to AC. Winters are wonderful! I can pretty much wear capris and sandals year round. No more ice or snow! I personally wouldn't want to snowbird because I like to be settled in one place among friends and I wouldn't want to leave another place unattended. But many many do it here successfully.

Silver Willow said...

We are giving up perfect weather in Orange County, retire to AZ. Yes, we are in for brutal summers....but I hate rain, he loves the Cubs, we both love the cost of homes move there within 2 years we will. :)

Nothing snowy about it for us; it will be year-round. I wish we could afford 2 places!

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I live in Los Angeles and have to do the opposite to see the snow. I loved it when my parents lived near Lake Arrowhead. It was a nice getaway. I like Florida and all its pastels and kitschy shops. Humid weather is supposed to be good for your skin.

Jennifer Koshak said...

I am looking forward to doing my imitation of a Snow Bird! But please don't make fun of my clothes.