Blizzards. Snowstorms. NorEasters. Who doesn’t want to travel south for the winter? Florida is one of the most popular winter-time destinations in the USA, and with good reason. Not only is Florida home to some of the best weather in the country, but you can also enjoy over 1,000 miles of gorgeous coastline.
Florida has a thriving snowbird community. There’s a reason so many people from around the world flock to Florida throughout the year. It earned the nickname as the Sunshine State fair and square. It sees an estimated 900,000 to a million seasonal residents every year.
Have you wanted to flock to the Sunshine state? Now’s your chance. This guide will explain everything you need to know about becoming one of the Florida snowbirds who calls this tropical state home once a year. Say goodbye to the snow and cold for good.
Choose Your Destination
Florida is a big state. Few tourists understand just how diverse and widespread the state of Florida is until their experience it for themselves. First, you’ll want to do your research. The big cities usually attract the most snowbirds, but choosing the right city is no small task. From Miami to Jacksonville, there’s something for everyone.
For those who always want something to do, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa are natural choices. These cities are brimming with visitors and residents year round, and there’s always something new to do. If your winter goals exclusively involve relaxing by the beach, you can’t go wrong with Naples, Boca Raton, or Siesta Key. Finally, for a small-town experience, consider Juno Beach or St. Augustine.
Beyond doing your research, visit a few parts of the state to get a feel for it yourself. It’s hard to judge a place from pictures online, so explore the area yourself. It might not be ideal to visit in the summertime when it’s scorching hot, but that’s when you’ll find the least crowds. Once you’ve found the location that suits your needs, it’s time to prepare for winter.
Preparing for Snowbird Season
Most snowbirds head down to Florida starting in November, and they stay through until at least February. Before you leave your home up north behind, there are a few things you’ll need to take care of.
- First of all, you’ll need to secure your house. That means putting your utilities on hold and shutting off anything you won’t need while you’re gone. Don’t forget to forward your mail!
- It’s a smart idea to ask a friend or relative to stop by your house every few weeks to check on things. Having someone to make sure everything is as you left it will keep you from worrying. Create a plan for storing your valuables. You might choose a fire-proof safe, or you might secure things with a trusted loved one while you’re gone.
Unfortunately, many thieves are always on the lookout for homes that seem unattended for long periods of time. You can deter thieves with an alarm system, cameras, and by taking basic precautions. Turn off any phones inside that might ring and make it known that no one is home. Leave lights on around your house, and keep all windows securely locked. These small steps go a long way.
Soak Up the Sun
Once you’ve secured your home, you’re free to fly south for the winter. Enjoy the sun and local culture as much as possible during your time away. Try all the great food Florida has to offer and get involved in local groups. There are many snowbird groups around Florida, and they’re a great way to meet new people.
Don’t forget to check in with your friends and family back home while you’re gone. It’s hard to leave loved ones behind, but remind them they can always visit you if they want to escape the cold weather. It’s normal to take some time to adjust to your new winter home. After years or even a lifetime of things like driving in the snow and bundling up, it can be hard to get used to a winter spent in the sun.
Come and see for yourself why Florida is the best spot to head south for the winter.
Authors bio: Samantha Tetrault is a full-time writer and blogger from Orlando, FL. She blogs about everything from Florida living to traveling abroad on her blog Samanthability.com.