Can You Afford the Snowbird Lifestyle?
My winter retreat in Costa Rica. 1-bedroom apartment cost me $375/month.
My winter retreat in Costa Rica. 1-bedroom apartment cost me $375/month.

Some birds live in Northern latitudes during the summer and migrate South during the winter. How wise of them to do that!

Many Canadians and Americans also do that. Instead of relocating permanently to a Southern State or abroad, they get the best of both worlds by spending a few months in the winter ‘down South.”

Maybe you’ve been to these towns in Florida that have been “invaded” by French Canadian Snowbirds. In some parts of Florida, there are so many of them that they managed to publish their newspaper, get their TV in French and even Canadian banks have opened up locations to get their business there.

It’s often a thing you do at retirement. Most Canadian snowbirds take their cars, even if it might take a few days to get there. They stay for at least 2-3 months. In some cases, they remain up to six months, which is the maximum stay for Canadians in the US, and also the limit to keep health insurance valid in Canada.

But Americans also do this. I’ve met American Snowbirds in Hawaii, such as a lady who spent eight months of the year on the Big Island and four months in Minnesota. I told her “you’re more a Summer bird!” Indeed, she spent more time South than North!

I’m also a Snowbird at heart, although I haven’t always managed to migrate South for the entire winter. But I will leave for a minimum of one month, up to 4-5 months. This year, I’ll miss two months of the winter. Next winter it’s likely to be even more.

How Much Does It Cost to Be a Snowbird?

If you’re considering this lifestyle, you might be wondering how expensive it can be to do this.

It depends on some factors, but let me give you an idea from my experience.

The budget option — You could drive to Florida and find a cheap place to stay. Many people stay in a camping park in an RV.

The Deluxe Option — Spending the winter in Hawaii will be more expensive. Monthly rents on Maui start at $2500 a month, perhaps a bit less if you can rent a room instead of an entire place. You might be lucky to find something cheaper on other islands, but not THAT cheap.

Go Abroad — One way to keep costs low is to go overseas. Costa Rica is a great place to be a Snowbird because it’s not too far from North America and the weather is near ideal between January and April. It’s their “summer.”

I used to rent a one-bedroom apartment for $375 a month in Costa Rica. It made being a Snowbird very affordable. South East Asia is also very inexpensive, but it’s a long flight to get there!

Whatever the option you choose, you have to weigh it against staying at home. Your only additional expense will be your long-term accommodation. Food costs are about the same and could even be lower. As for the flight, you can get it for free! Car rental might be an added cost as well, but there are ways to get that VERY low.

So what you want to do is to offset the cost of renting your Snowbird nest by lowering your fixed costs at home. There are many ways to do this:

1) You could rent your place when you’re gone. Airbnb comes to mind, but there are other options as well.
2) You should cancel some fixed expenses when you’re away, saving you hundreds per month. For example Internet connection, car insurance (call the company to find out), electricity (will cost you less), etc.

By planning well, you might find out that they can live the Snowbird for much less than you think.