Snowbirds are those individuals that move south for the winter. Snowbirding has been a longstanding American tradition, but has now expanded to encompass not only retirees but remote workers, aka “zoombirds,” as well. However, this annual move south typically isn’t a short one. In fact, to fully enjoy warm weather in the winter, most people travel long distances. Recent StorageCafe research analyzed the best destinations for snowbirds, and, as it turns out, it’s Florida alongside other states such as Texas and Arizona, that are the most appealing for those looking to escape winter.
From Florida to Texas and Arizona, here are the best snowbird cities
The StorageCafe study ranked 215 cities based on a variety of factors including weather, housing, amenities, safety, access to health care and more, in a quest to discover the best ones for snowbirds—and Venice, Florida, lands on top.
This gorgeous beach city checks all the marks of a spectacular destination for snowbirds and zoombirds. It enjoys balmy weather throughout the winter and boasts over 13 miles of beaches in its proximity. Snowbirds have options when it comes to housing, with an impressive 87% of the vacant housing stock dedicated to seasonal use. Other needs and wants of snowbirds are well taken care of, with Venice granting easy access to pastimes such as golfing, dining out, shopping and more.
Two other Floridian cities, Vero Beach and Fort Pierce, round out the top three with their distinct sets of attractions. Vero Beach is friendly to golfing enthusiasts, with 10 golf courses per 10K residents. Fort Pierce is an ideal option for people who want to be outdoors as much as possible, providing 21 miles of beaches and more than 1,000 square feet of park space per capita. Fort Pierce is also the most affordable destination among the top three in terms of median rent and median home price. Other beach-centric Floridian destinations in the top 10 are Naples, Tarpon Springs, and Fort Myers.
Two inland Floridian cities, Lake Wales and Clermont, make it to the top 10 snowbird destinations as well, proving that Florida’s appeal extends well beyond beaches. Lake Wales, known for its natural beauty, including lakes, citrus groves and rural landscapes, is a great winter retreat for those looking for peace and quiet. Clermont, on the other hand, while providing the same type of beautiful outdoors, with pristine lakes and rolling hills, is located close to Orlando and its famous attractions.
Florida is hard to surpass when it comes to attracting snowbirds—however, other states are starting to make a dent in its supremacy. Cities in both Texas and Arizona are among the top 10 snowbird destinations, offering a good cost-to-amenities ratio for snowbirds.
Misson, Texas, ranking sixth, dedicates three-quarters of its vacant housing units to seasonal and recreational use while also boasting affordable rents and home prices. The city is also a suitable location for RV enthusiasts with almost 30 RV parks here. Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, located close to the city, turns Mission into a paradise for those interested in nature and wildlife.
Apache Junction, Arizona, lands in seventh place, with some unique traits that make it ideal for sporty, outdoorsy snowbirds. The average October to March temperature in Apache Junction is a pleasant 60 degrees Fahrenheit, not as high as most cities in Florida or Texas, thus better for hiking and other sports. Also, Apache Junction is the sunniest destination in the top 10, registering very little rainfall over winter. Apache Junction also takes the top spot among the cities analyzed for RV park access—an impressive 42 parks are waiting for RVers to enjoy the local attractions and weather.
Once you’re sold on a location, planning the rest of the journey becomes paramount as the road is certainly not hassle-free. Snowbirding usually implies traveling hundreds of miles to reach your winter haven, with New York to Florida and Ohio to Nevada being regular routes that snowbirds are taking every year. Among the things that can make your stay more pleasant is having access to the same types of conveniences that you enjoy at home—including your car.
Shipping your car to your snowbird destination saves time, effort and money
Having your car available as a snowbird, whether you’re retired or working remotely, is a huge perk. It allows you to make the most of your time and truly explore your surroundings. However, driving all the way from a northern state to Florida, Texas, or Arizona is not an easy feat and might not even be an option for many people.
If you factor in the time spent on the road, the exhaustion associated with driving so much and the wear and tear on the car, as well as paying for fuel and accommodations, you soon realize that you’re better off shipping your car.
Instead of a long drive, you get to relax on a relatively short flight while being able to use your car at your snowbird destination. And, even better, most car shipping companies like us allow you to transport some belongings in your car, which saves you from paying extra luggage fees to the airline.
The process of relocating south for a few months every year can create other logistic hurdles as well. Most people have a host of belongings they use exclusively during their southern escapade, from beach chairs and golf equipment, to camping or fishing gear, small boats, bicycles and so on. Instead of hauling all that back and forth each year, it might be a good idea to rent a self storage unit in your southern location and keep your belongings there. Of course, this works if you have a favorite city that you return to every year. If that’s the case for you, then a self storage unit in that location will make traveling a lot cheaper and easier.
All things considered, research is key for the trip to be successful, from selecting the right spot for your winter escape, to carefully planning and dealing with the logistical aspects such as shipping your car and storing your things.
The time you spend down south may not be very long, but there is a lot of planning involved to ensure a smooth and stress-free move. From selecting the right spot for your winter escape, to dealing with the logistical aspects of shipping your car and storing your things, they all need to be carefully researched and planned to make the temporary move down south successful.