• The top five destinations for snowbirds in 2021-22 are Venice, Naples and Dunedin in Florida plus Mission in Texas and Apache Junction in Arizona
  • Florida maintains a strong foothold regarding best destinations for snowbirds, ranking with 43 cities in the top 100
  • Cities like Phoenix, AZ, and Tampa, FL, are great snowbird destinations, but smaller communities nearby like Apache Junction and Dunedin emerge as better options this year with an ideal mix of attractions, charm, and lower overall costs
  • Naples, FL, has more golf courses than any other snowbird destination, no fewer than 70
  • Fans of less-crowded places can choose from 20 top-100 cities with populations of less than 40,000

The traditional type of snowbird has longtime favored Florida, and for good reason. The Sunshine State certainly offers warmth and endless miles of gorgeous sandy beaches as well as countless golfing options. But as the mix of people who travel south during the colder season changes, there’s more diversity in where they might be headed this year.

More than 40,000 of consultancy giant PwC’s employees can now work remotely, joining millions of others already living the “working from anywhere” lifestyle, many at companies such as Facebook, Dropbox and Quora. Aside from the fun and the sun, these new snowbirds seek a good internet connection, a peaceful environment that lets them work, and some nature to relax in. These attributes have earned them the name ‘snowmads’ — or ‘zoombirds,’ as they still need to join their colleagues in online meetings.

What are the best destinations for snowbirds this year, when aside from the regular amenities, there are other boxes that locations need to check to appeal to both the old and the new snowbirds? To find the best cold-season hideaways, we looked at almost 1,000 places around the US and evaluated eleven factors, including:

  • Temperatures from October to March (obtained from Weather Source)
  • Housing for snowbirds: Availability for seasonal use, and median cost to rent and to purchase as a second home
  • The incidence of crime per capita in each destination
  • The length of beach found beginning no more than 10 miles from a destination
  • The amount of park space per capita and the number of golf courses nearby
  • Local internet speeds, as many snowbirds will be zoombirds or may simply want to blog a lot — the average over all the places we considered is 336 MBps
  • The number of health care and social assistance establishments per 1,000 of the local population — the average over all the places we considered is 3.2
  • The cost of renting a self storage unit — snowbirds visiting the same destination every year, and even second-home owners, can ease their luggage burden by keeping golf clubs, surfboards or seasonal clothes in a unit

State-wise, California and South Carolina join Florida, Arizona and Texas in providing the US’s top snowbird destinations, with some amazing places that appeal to a wide range of visitors from across the US. Moreover, after pausing travel plans for a year, Canadian snowbirds are keen on reaching their favorite winter spots, even flying down to the US if they cannot drive through the border for now.

Narrowing down the ranking to the city level, we found that while cities such as Phoenix and Tampa are still good for snowbirds, smaller communities nearby may offer better options this year, with good facilities and internet infrastructure, recreational opportunities, and plenty of fresh air. And the cost of living there may be reasonable.

Top 3 destinations is top 5 US state for snowbirds

Florida’s Gulf Coast, Metro Phoenix, AZ, & Southern TX have the best snowbird destinations

Beach towns will always score high for snowbirds, but what if you can get a location near lakes or state parks plus access to culture and lower prices? Staying inland can make sense, and internet speeds for zoombirds can be better in those areas. And then there are the more personal choices, for example between South Carolina’s Southern charm, the distinct culture of Texas, and California’s environmental consciousness.

All things considered, the Sunshine State still offers great snowbird locations — Venice, Naples and Dunedin on Florida’s Gulf Coast are the top three. But for some of the best destinations this year, Arizona and southern Texas also rank very high, with Metro Phoenix in particular accounting for most of the top AZ destinations. The sun rarely stops shining in these areas, there are plenty of recreational opportunities, and the prices are reasonable. In addition, they have good monthly rates for self storage, allowing returning snowbirds to experience less hassle hauling their seasonal gear every time they get back. Joining the party, South Carolina can provide fast internet and great recreational opportunities while California will look after your health.

Top 20 US Snowbird destinations for 2021-22 and the metrics that determine this

As well as choosing a city to be anchored to during the cold season, the entire area around it can serve as your playground — and, indeed, as your workstation if you’re an RV-ing remote worker. Here are the 5 best states for snowbirds during 2021-2022 and highlights on what each one brings to the table to make them feel right at home.

Florida: Winter temperature averages up to 71 °F and golf galore

Florida has its legendary entertainment options and warm year-round climate plus resorts with above-average numbers of health care facilities. East and west coasts compete for the tourists — the latter tends to see less rain. The beaches and golf courses never fail to impress, but zoombirds may not find that internet speeds are the best. Accommodation costs vary, but the average street rate of a Tampa storage unit is a reasonable $115. The Sunshine State has six top-10 snowbird spots, most of them on the western Gulf Coast, and 43 top-100 destinations.

Caspersen Beach, Venice, FL
Caspersen Beach, Venice, FL

Venice, on Florida’s west coast between Tampa and Ft. Myers and with a population of around 23,000, is our #1 snowbird destination. It frequently ranks in lists of pleasant places to live and the average Oct. – March temperatures are a cozy 69 °F. As befits a top snowbird spot, a high proportion of the housing is for seasonal use, 28%, there are 5.7 health facilities per 1,000 people, and no fewer than 12 golf courses.

Further south, Naples’ population is around 22,000 but it packs a big punch for snowbirds. In addition to many miles of white-sand beaches there are average Oct. – March temperatures of 71 °F. Naples boasts almost twice as many golf courses as anywhere else on our list — an astonishing 70 — and also has the highest figures for both healthcare centers per 1,000 of the population (14) and seasonal use housing (38%).

Florida golf community at sunset
Naples, FL

Dunedin, close to the city of Tampa and boasting a distinctive Scottish heritage, has a population of around 36,000. It is the point of access for the romantic Honeymoon Island, which sometimes sees over a million visitors each year, more than any other Florida state park. There are almost 16 miles of beach nearby, plus plenty of park space. At $1,675, the average monthly rent for accommodation is par for the course for resorts in this area.

Dunedin, FL
Dunedin, FL

Texas: 67 °F winter temperatures, fast internet speeds and low costs

Texas, of course, is special! It has made a good impression on snowbirds for a while now, with its distinctive culture and cuisine plus the friendliness of its people. Active snowbirds will be interested in visiting the mountains to the west and the south coast’s many miles of beach. Prices in Texas tend to be reasonable. Most importantly, of course, the winters here are warm, especially in the south — the freezing storms of February 2021 were exceptional. Texas scores no fewer than 26 top-100 destinations and two in the top 10.

Caddo Lake State Park in East Texas
Caddo Lake State Park in Texas

Mission, a city of around 83,000 people, is a South Texas tourist hub with an average October-March temperature of 67 °F and it ranks as our #4 snowbird destination. The house price figure is a tempting $165,388 while the monthly rent averages out at only $953. Zoombirds appreciate the very fast 539 MBps internet speed, and for windsurfers and others the sea is just a short drive away at South Padre Island.

Friendswood, a city of around 40,000 residents, is part of the Houston metropolitan area, and not too far from the coast. It has ranked as one of the US’s best small towns to live in — rather as its name suggests. The average October-March temperature here is a little cooler at 61 °F. The average rent is $1,279 per month and a self storage unit costs only $87. Importantly, Friendswood is considered to be a safe place to live.

McAllen, with a population of around 142,000 and a location next door to Mission, could be a great place to enjoy the region’s sunshine and Tex-Mex cuisine and also save some money. The house price figure for McAllen is $173,359 while the average rent is an even more reasonable $832. There are a couple of golf courses and a high number of health centers per 1,000 of the population, no less than 5.7.

Arizona: Winter sun, desert and mountains, plus a renter-friendly housing market

The Grand Canyon State has a drier heat than Florida that some people prefer, especially those who suffer from asthma and pulmonary diseases. And you get a different, perhaps less tourism-obsessed vibe here. The metropolitan area centered on the state’s capital, Phoenix — the Valley of the Sun — is a magnet for snowbirds. In addition, the geography in this part of the country is enjoyably varied — just escape to the mountains when the desert gets too hot. Prices are reasonable and Phoenix storage units rent for an average of $118. Arizona has eight destinations in our top 100.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ
Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ

Apache Junction, our #5 snowbird destination, has around 40,000 residents and the dramatic Superstition Mountains nearby. There are six golf courses, and its average October-March temperature of 62 °F is typical for the area. It ranks higher for safety than any other top-100 snowbird destination. The average rent here is reasonable at $1,158, while the current house price figure is $329,673.

Gilbert, with a population of around a quarter of a million, is another Metro Phoenix town. Visitors enjoy its proximity to the state capital and its attractions, and zoombirds appreciate its fast internet speed of 458 MBps. Snowbirds get access not only to great scenery but also to seven golf courses. For other entertainment, especially for families, there are the Gilbert Regional and Desert Sky parks.

Mesa is right next door to Gilbert and even closer to the center of Phoenix. The share of housing dedicated to seasonal use is 8% — that works out as a lot of snowbird accommodation in this city of around half a million residents. Internet speed is 414 MBps, making it a good place for zoombirds, and there are no fewer than 23 golf courses here. The average rent is $1,391 and a self storage unit costs $108 monthly.

South Carolina: Culture, fishing and good zoombird internet speeds

South Carolina’s average winter temperatures may be lower than Florida’s, in the 50s °F, but it’s a true snowbird state. Two of its top destinations are neighboring cities in an area boasting historic interest and charm, plus beaches and fishing and boating opportunities. The third is near one of the state’s famous offshore barrier islands, offering different types of seaside scenery and plenty of nature to enjoy. A golf course is never too far away, and internet speeds are often very good. South Carolina has three top-100 snowbird destinations.

Mount Pleasant SC
Mount Pleasant, SC

Mount Pleasant, our #7 snowbird destination, is sometimes considered a suburb of Charleston but has its own enjoyable waterside ambiance. You can join a trend, as its population doubled from 1990 to 2000 and stood at around 87,000 in 2019. Beaches and entertainment options are within a few miles, plus there are five golf courses. The internet speed is an impressive 481 MBps, which is good for the zoombirds.

Bluffton is a community with a little more than 20,000 permanent residents situated a few miles from the renowned tourist resorts on Hilton Head Island and their beaches. The current house price figure is $352,861 — the equivalent figure for Mount Pleasant is more than one and half times as much. Along with the peaceful surroundings, snowbirds will be delighted to find no fewer than 14 golf courses here.

Charleston, the state’s largest city with around 135,000 inhabitants, is famous for its historical architecture and seafood cuisine. There are also museums, art galleries, four golf courses and many parks to enjoy. Typically for the area, the average October-March temperature here is 58 °F. The median rent and house price figure are currently $1,673 and $420,769, and the internet speed is a zoombird-friendly 476 MBps.

Charleston SC historic street
Charleston, SC

California: Safe, green, Metro Los Angeles destinations near legendary beaches

California certainly attracts snowbirds — particularly places within the Los Angeles metropolitan area, where the top three Golden State destinations are located. Millennials among them may want to sample LA nightlife and watersports at nearby beaches, while health-conscious folk will appreciate the greenery and environmentally aware ambiance. The top destinations also have a reputation for safety. Average October-March temperatures are in the 50s or low 60s °F, and prices here signify quality. California registers 11 top-100 snowbird destinations.

Thousand Oaks CA
Thousand Oaks, CA

Irvine, situated southeast of LA, is our #19 ranked snowbird spot. Designed with bike lanes and parks to promote a green lifestyle, it has more than a quarter of a million residents. Active snowbirds love the sumptuous surfing opportunities at places like Huntington Beach and Newport Beach a few miles away. For more sedate snowbirds there are four golf courses, and for zoombirds the internet speed is 420 MBps.

Thousand Oaks, with a population of around 128,000, is in the west of the Greater Los Angeles area, a short drive from the legendary beach town of Malibu. There are three golf courses and plenty of park space here, plus an internet speed of 351 MBps. In addition, Thousand Oaks is also very well provided with health care centers, having 5.7 per every 1,000 of its population, a little higher than the figure for Irvine.

Yorba Linda, with a population of around 68,000, is further inland than Irvine but makes up for that with abundant parks and the nearby Chino Hills State Park. Typical for the area are both the average October-March temperature of 60 °F, and the accommodation costs, with the home price figure currently $1,077,524 and average rent being $2,617. The local internet speed is a rapid 438 MBps, making it a good zoombird spot.

Yorba Linda CA
Yorba Linda, CA

Snowbirding is not just for mom and pop — millennials are hopping on the southbound bandwagon

The snowbirds’ image tends to be of retirees, baby boomer couples who paid off their mortgages, saw their children fly the nest, and are now enjoying their savings. However, the lifestyle offers more than games of golf and shuffleboard — windsurfing and other water sports are very popular at many snowbird destinations. The average median age across the top 100 destinations is about 38, similar to the national median, indicating there will be activities for younger people at many of these hotspots — though perhaps not at the #1 destination, Venice, FL, which has the oldest median age at 69.1!

Younger people may not have the savings their parents and grandparents accumulated. But if they want to go to the very best snowbird destinations, the good news is that the average of the rents for the top 10 spots ($1,549) is almost identical to the average across the entire set ($1,540). The corresponding figures for home prices are even better: The average of the top 10 places ($363,036) is considerably less than the average of all the locations ($430,468). And for self storage rents, the top 10 destinations average $104 compared to $130 across the entire range. Quality snowbird locations and affordable living are clearly not mutually exclusive.

Snowmads and workampers make snowbirding pay — the Tampa & Phoenix areas accommodate them

Many young people who had to work online from home during the pandemic now feel this lifestyle is in many ways preferable, as evidenced by the companies now promoting this option. And as travel restrictions ease, they may wish to become snowmads and join the digital nomad workers — still meeting with colleagues and associates, online, but all the while enjoying rather better weather. Tampa, near which several of our top snowbird destinations are located, was judged to be the best place for them in the US and Phoenix was in the top 10.

Even without working remotely online, some snowbirds, both youngsters and retirees, find employment at their winter destinations. Seasonal jobs often coincide with the period they are there, and this can help fund their lifestyle. Hospitality, security, cleaning and administrative jobs can be found in campgrounds, restaurants and theme parks. RVers — and other travelers who take their homes with them — are called “workampers,” and there are plenty of places where they can hook up their fifth wheelers. With the temptation to stay longer at the holiday destination, temporary jobs can sometimes turn into permanent ones — a non-climate-controlled 10×10 storage units could be useful for keeping extra stuff in, making a long-term stay more possible.

Snowbird RVing

The snowbirds want to fly again, or perhaps get back into their RVs. The US’s southern states offer much in terms of great weather and entertainment, and not traveling abroad makes health concerns more manageable. Many locations with plenty of winter sun also offer good value and safe environments, and less populous places often win out over larger ones, offering more peace of mind in terms of health concerns. California and South Carolina suit many people wanting beach life, while Florida offers the same with added winter warmth. But Arizona’s sunny locations, with their reputation for safety and range of things to enjoy, offer particularly good deals right now, as does southern Texas. Snowbirding in the US looks to become even more popular than it ever was. Not only does it have many advantages over both foreign travel and spending winter back home in the cold, but it is very well suited to our newly enlarged digital economy.

This is the complete list of the best 100 snowbird destinations in 2021-22. Order whichever column represents your most important preference, for example access to the most miles of beach or the largest number of golf courses. In this way you can see which destination would be the best fit for you.

What the experts say

To get further insights on the trends that are currently shaping the snowbird experience during 2021-22, we asked academics who have been keeping an eye on what is happening.

Simon Hudson, Professor, University of South Carolina, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport ManagementSimon Hudson, Professor, University of South Carolina, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management

What US destinations would you recommend to snowbirds in 2021-22?

I am actually going to be spending the winter in Canada as I love the skiing, but if I was a Canadian snowbird moving south for the winter, being risk-averse, I would choose the southern states that are taking the virus seriously and getting their populations vaccinated. New Mexico and California, for example, already have around 60% of people fully vaccinated, as do Florida and Hawaii. Other popular destinations for snowbirds like Arizona, Nevada, Texas and South Carolina are lagging behind with vaccinations, although I have a soft spot for South Carolina having lived there for 10 years, and would choose the Charleston area because of its culture, history, architecture, proximity to beautiful beaches, and fabulous restaurants.

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If snowbirds want to fly further afield, then I would recommend the Caribbean. Islands have been busy adapting to the pandemic and are getting their populations vaccinated in order to provide a safe environment for visitors. The Dominican Republic, for example, has set a target of immunizing 7.8 million people – over 70% of the population. Costa Rica may also be another option. Known for its stunning natural landscape and wildlife, the country is home to more than 5% of the world’s known biodiversity and more than 27 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Costa Rica opened up for tourism well before many other countries after lockdown, and it appears that the government’s quick actions and the country’s universal healthcare system have been successful in reducing the spread of the virus.

With the increase in remote teleworking due to the pandemic, do you see snowbirding becoming more popular with younger generations?

Yes – absolutely. In fact, with the absence of tourists because of the pandemic, many destinations have gone out of their way to attract long-stay digital nomads of any age to replace tourists. Barbados was one of the first to launch a year-long work visa during the crisis, and others have followed suit. Costa Rica, for example, launched a digital nomad visa called the Rentista, and Hawaii initiated a relocation program called Movers and Shakas aimed at attracting working professionals to work remotely from Hawaii. I am currently living in Portugal, where we have seen an increasing number of younger digital nomads relocating here from all over the world. There are several really successful digital nomad Facebook groups in the Algarve which offer advice and help as well as friendship, events, accommodation and workspace sharing.

Do you think Canadians will be able to return in big numbers to their favorite US snowbird spots this year?

I think they will be able to (restrictions will have eased enough to allow snowbirds to move south without too much hassle), but whether or not they will travel south in large numbers is doubtful. Travelers at the moment, particularly older generations, are cautious, and the public health conditions and hygiene standards of destinations they travel to will become a top priority. Destinations that can satisfy increased demands for health and wellness, wilderness and visits to national parks will benefit more than others. The other concern is whether their health insurance would cover them for COVID in their usual winter destination and if the medical facilities are of high quality.

Lauren Duffy, Associate Professor, Clemson University, College of Behavioral, Social and Health SciencesLauren Duffy, Associate Professor, Clemson University, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

What US destinations would you recommend to snowbirds in 2021-22?

Making the right destination choice always comes back down to what the traveler is looking to get out of their vacation. While by definition a snowbird is someone seeking a ‘warmer’ place to be temporarily, coming South during the winter doesn’t just escape the harsh weather, but also the gray skies and seasonal affective depression, while also capturing opportunities for off-season prices and less crowded attractions. The 2021/22 winter season also presents a cohort of snowbirds who may have missed this opportunity last year as they waited on a Covid-19 vaccine to become available. Coupled with the stresses of the past 18 months, this winter we may see the following types of destinations particularly popular among snowbirds:
Bucket list destinations. If nothing else, Covid-19 brought to attention that life is short and we aren’t always in control. Many of us have a list of places that we have ‘always wanted to see or visit’ and just kept putting off. Particularly with snowbirds, who are most often retired, yet mobile and financially resourced, there is increased incentive this year to knock off some of these destinations. Likewise, the winter season presents smaller crowds and an easier time making reservations in really popular destinations. Iconic destinations such as Nashville, TN, Charleston, SC, New Orleans, LA, and San Antonio, TX, may see some of these visitors this winter.

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Nature-based tourist destinations. Over the Covid-19 pandemic, nature-based tourism destinations have seen a growth in visitors, new and returning. Participation in outdoor recreation activities have hit all-time highs, such as hiking and camping. Similarly, the pandemic sent sales of recreational vehicles (RVs) through the roof as people sought to escape quarantine for spaces and places that were deemed safe. Consequences of this meant that reserving RV sites and getting access to national parks, state parks, wilderness and nature preserves, and other protected areas has been more difficult due to demand. This winter, we may see some returning nature-based snowbirds looking to connect back with nature; however, instead of only looking at the most popular parks, state parks and other preserves may capture some of these visitors as well. Destinations that have all the comforts (places to stay, eat, and drink) but are also in proximity to nature may find themselves with continuous flow of snowbirds this winter: Asheville, NC, which is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains with a non-traditional, artsy vibe has the Great Smokey Mountain National Park in its backyard; Las Vegas, NV though known for entertainment, glam and consumption, also offers convenient access to a number of national parks (e.g., Death Valley, Red Rock Canyon) and Lake Mead National Recreational Area; or a state like Virginia, who is actively courting nature-based tourists in their Virginia is for Outdoor Lovers campaign, offering creative networks of outdoor sites along their Virginia Bird & Wildlife Trail or the Virginia Oyster Trail.
Mid-Size Cities. Mid-size cities will attract their share of snowbirds this year as these locations still have unique character and sense of place, are more affordable, and long-term snowbirds can integrate into the fabric of the community more easily without constantly feeling like a tourist. Places like Greenville, SC, Knoxville, TN, Chattanooga, TN, and Greensboro, NC all have a nice city vibe, plenty of places to eat and drink, coffee shops to do a little work, and plenty of shops and art galleries to spend the afternoon.
Classic Sun, Sand, and Sea. Florida has always been associated with the migration south of snowbirds. While more recently this market has diversified, and thus are traveling to places all across the south, southeast and west coast, there is still a tried-and-true market looking for a traditional sun, sand, and sea reprieve. Florida continues to offer warmer temperatures and sunny skies through the year, as do destinations in Georgia. Sarasota, Port St. Lucie, St. Cloud, Naples, and Ft. Myers, Florida are sure to be popular destinations for retirees and snowbirds this year. In Georgia, St. Simons Island, Jekyll Island, Cumberland Island, and Tybee Island, all offer a sandy beach, tied in with tons of nature preserves and cultural resources. Those not eager to fly yet, might find some of Georgia’s coastline appealing because of the better drive times.

With the increase in remote teleworking due to the pandemic, do you see snowbirding becoming more popular with younger generations?

The boundaries of work and life have been blurred, perhaps permanently. Covid-19 has demonstrated what some of us intuitively knew: many jobs can be done remotely, opening up the possibilities of more mobile, nomadic lifestyles. While there will still be an interest in creating community, especially for young families that have kids (who are enrolled in school 9-months of the year), there are new perspectives of what’s possible when it comes to traveling and relocating throughout the year. I suspect that for young couples or professionals, they will capitalize on opportunities to experience more before they take on mortgages, kids, or other responsibilities. However, the economic, political, and environmental instability that these generations (i.e., millennials and Gen Z) have experienced, may also keep them more dedicated to their job and the security of a steady income.

Do you think Canadians will be able to return in big numbers to their favorite US snowbird spots this year?

The largest challenge the U.S. faces for tapping into the Canadian travel market this winter is still connected to perceived safety with regard to public health and response to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the logistical conveniences of being able to travel internationally. Simply, our high rates of infection and low rates of vaccination, especially in the south, has and will continue to deter international travelers, especially those in high-risk categories such as an older market of snowbirds. While we can lift restrictions and make testing and tracking seamless now – and we are in the horizon of booster shots and vaccines for children under 12, why would a Canadian visit the U.S. if they can travel to other destinations offering the same opportunities to escape to warmer weather? By looking strictly at vaccinations rate to date, the U.S. has less than ½ of the population fully vaccinated whereas Canada has just over 70% fully vaccinated; what that suggests is a very different perception towards Covid-19 mitigation, and thus, Canadians may not be interested in traveling anywhere that puts them at greater risk. It will be tough for destinations within the U.S. to overcome this barrier for the upcoming winter.

Christine Vogt, Emeritus Professor, Arizona State University, School of Community Resources & DevelopmentChristine Vogt, Emeritus Professor, Arizona State University, School of Community Resources & Development

What US destinations would you recommend to snowbirds in 2021-22?

Snowbirds like sun and warmer temperatures. So states in the southern part of the U.S. are generally most popular with snowbirds. Wildfires, smoke, and weather are other considerations that snowbirds are likely to consider in 2021-22. Covid rates and vaccination rates continue to be a concern for all travelers. States with higher vaccination rates and public health policies to protect the public are more likely to be preferred by those who are vaccinated. Southern California and Southern Nevada would be winter choices. For those not vaccinated and less supportive of COVID measures Texas and Florida would be attractive. Travelers should also be aware of hospital capacities if any health concerns come about on a winter stay in a new community.

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With the increase in remote teleworking due to the pandemic, do you see snowbirding becoming more popular with younger generations?

Travel is becoming an even higher priority for younger generations that have remote teleworking positions or those who saved money to travel for a year or two. During the pandemic it has become easier to work and travel simultaneously. This younger generation is not likely to be taking residency in the communities or campgrounds where snowbirds flock.

Do you think Canadians will be able to return in big numbers to their favorite US snowbird spots this year?

Some Canadians will return to the U.S. in 2021-22, but not in large numbers. Those who come are likely to be those who own a house in the U.S. or have family in the states. If Canadians are not committed to a certain destination, then they will likely look for states with higher vaccinated populations and lower levels of hospitalizations. Given Canada’s health system, Canadians are more likely to stay above the border until the pandemic is under more control.

Judith Forney, Professor & Director of Research at GDDRC, University of North Texas, Department of Hospitality & Tourism ManagementJudith Forney, Professor & Director of Research at GDDRC, University of North Texas, Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management

With the increase in remote teleworking due to the pandemic, do you see snowbirding becoming more popular with younger generations?

In the first year of Covid-19, many U.S. companies moved employees to remote teleworking to keep ongoing businesses (B2B) and customers (B2C) engagements. Digital connections made this possible by removing barriers of time and physical location. It was possible for businesses, suppliers, and consumers to engage anytime, anywhere, anyplace. This situation was further enhanced by the quick adoption of virtual meeting platforms that supported ongoing business needs to connect work teams and for business employees to chat with consumers. Digital connections changed the dynamics of what, when, where, and how work is done. While this workplace change was necessary to maintain operations, it demonstrated that for many job categories, meaningful work does not have to be place bound. Moreover, remote teleworking offers added value to both the employer and employee with the benefit time efficiencies.

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Younger employees, including Millennials and incoming Gen Z, are avid travelers. For them, travel is a shared experience that is posted to social media to document important life experiences. Remote teleworking makes it possible for them to relocate to different parts of the country and even the world. This is possible as long as there is reliable Internet access at a sufficient speed to do work. While traditional snow birds are retired citizens, remote teleworking makes moving to warmer climates for the winter possible. Seasonal relocation may be a desirable option for remote teleworking employees. This opportunity would be especially appealing to younger employees who want to expand their life experiences by traveling and living in different geographic places at this stage of their life.

Philip Xie, Professor of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management, Bowling Green State University, School of Human Movement, Sport, & Leisure StudiesPhilip Xie, Professor of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management, Bowling Green State University, School of Human Movement, Sport, & Leisure Studies

What US destinations would you recommend to snowbirds in 2021-22?

There are two types of US destinations recommended for snowbirds in 2021-22: (1) traditional destinations located in warmer places in the Sun Belt including Florida and Arizona, such as Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Panama City, Tucson and Phoenix. These destinations have an excellent infrastructure, well-established retirement communities and winter vacation rentals for snowbirds; and (2) emerging destinations beyond Florida and Arizona. For example, the growing popularity of Coastal Mississippi, parts of California and South Carolina have drawn snowbirds to find affordable housing with rich culture and natural beauty. These destinations are perfect for the snowbird seeking warm weather without the crowds of some retirement communities. Affordability is also a major factor for snowbirds to choose a suitable spot.

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With the increase in remote teleworking due to the pandemic, do you see snowbirding becoming more popular with younger generations?

The global pandemic engenders a group of “digital nomad” who is actively seeking remote working. It is reshaping a future new world of snowbirding industry. Younger generation are moving to winter vacation rentals and using them as offices. Remote working went from a fringe idea to many people’s reality. Both traditional and emerging snowbird destinations have increasingly become new lifestyles for younger generation. There is a new village in Croatia has been launched and aimed specifically at digital nomads in 2021. These destinations, originally catering to snowbirds, have transformed to people who are willing to work remotely.

Do you think Canadians will be able to return in big numbers to their favorite US snowbird spots this year?

Despite the fact that US/Canada border remains closed to non-essential travel, Canadian snowbirds start returning to their favorite destinations this year. There is a pent-up demand from Canadian snowbirds to return to a warmer climate. However, the existing data reported from Sarasota Herald-Tribune shows that while over 90% of snowbirds express an interest to return, probably 50% to 60% eventually arrive. Many snowbirds are making arrangement to fly to the US and have their cars shipped to the destinations. The cost of moving to these destinations has increased significantly, including the health insurance and booming real estate market, therefore, Canadian snowbirds will be back, but not in big numbers.

Fang Meng, Professor School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management University of South CarolinaFang Meng, Ph.D., Professor, School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, University of South Carolina

What US destinations would you recommend to snowbirds in 2021-22?

Florida is always one of the top states for snowbirds, as well as California and Arizona. South Carolina and Texas would be more budget friendly for snowbirds. Other Sun Belt states such as New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia are also good choices.

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With the increase in remote teleworking due to the pandemic, do you see snowbirding becoming more popular with younger generations?

Yes this is the new trend for snowbirding. Snowbirds used to refer to retirees who chase better weather but now this group has mixed demographics with younger generations. During the pandemic, remote teleworking has increasingly become a norm for young professionals, which allows them to migrate during the winter, too. During this pandemic young professionals can work anywhere with their laptop and Internet, and many routine transactions of life can be conducted online as well. Particularly for the younger generations who live in big cities, remote teleworking provide this opportunity for them to enjoy this different lifestyle of snowbird that they did not have before.

Do you think Canadians will be able to return in big numbers to their favorite US snowbird spots this year?

I expect more numbers of Canadian snowbirds to the U.S. than that of last year. Pent-up demand is generated as many snowbirds were not able to travel last winter and there is better status of COVID-19 vaccinations in the U.S. in 2021. However, I am not very optimistic about the “big numbers” in Canadian snowbirds, as COVID cases are still going up and down these days and we see tens of thousands or over a hundred of thousands COVID cases in the U.S. each day. Snowbird destinations which handle COVID more effectively and are perceived “safer” will be more attractive to snowbirds.

Methodology

  • This analysis was done by STORAGECafé, an online platform that provides storage unit listings across the nation.
  • We analyzed a total of 916 cities, with populations greater than 20,000 and for which we had complete data, to come up with the top 10 and top 100 best snowbird destinations.
  • The metrics included in the overall score and their weightings are the following: October 2019 – March 2020 average temperature (20%); the percentage of seasonal homes out of the vacant housing stock (20%); offenses known to law enforcement as a percentage of population (20%); total beach length within a 10-mile radius of the city (10%); the median house price in 2019 (5%); park surface per capita in the city (5%); number of golf courses in the city (5%);  average internet speed (5%);  Health care and social assistance establishments per 1,000 of the population (5%); and the average self storage rate for a 10×10 non-climate-controlled unit (5%).
  • For the metrics presented above, a higher value means a better ranking with the exception of the following: offenses known to law enforcement as a percentage of the population, for which a lower value means a better ranking; the average self storage rate, for which less-expensive cities get a better ranking.
  • The temperature data was taken from weathersource.com.
  • The data about home prices was obtained from Zillow, while the average rents were taken from Yardi Matrix.
  • The total beach length within a 10-mile radius of the city was computed using the US Environmental Protection Agency 2020 BEACON dataset for active beaches with public access.
  • The park surface area data was obtained from the Trust for Public Land 2020 ParkServe dataset, for open parks, trails and recreation areas with open access.
  • The golf course data was taken from the GolfNow.com course directory.
  • The data for offenses known to law enforcement was taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s 2019 Uniform Crime Reporting program.
  • The average internet speed data was taken from BroadbandNow.com.
  • The percentage of ‘vacant’ homes for seasonal use was computed using the US Census Bureau’s 2019 ACS data.
  • The numbers of health care and social assistance establishments per 1,000 of the population were calculated using 2019 US Census data.
  • The average self storage street rates were computed using data from Yardi Matrix.

Fair Use and Distribution

This study serves as a resource for the general public on issues of common interest and should not be regarded as investment advice. The data is true to the best of our knowledge but may change if amendments to it are made. We agree to the distribution of this content but we do require a mention in return for attribution purposes.

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Francis Chantree is a former programmer and researcher who has exchanged computer language for his greatest passion, human language! When not writing and proofreading text, he spends his time gardening, reading and singing.

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