Where to Be a Snowbird

In my last article, I talked about the cost of spending the winter South as a “Snowbird.” Now let me share with you the pros and cons of different locations to do this.

Southern US States — Florida, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas. This is the destination of choice for most Canadian snowbirds. They’re all accessible driving for North Americans, and can all be relatively inexpensive. However, the big negative for me is that: they’re not warm enough. As any resident of the Sunshine State knows: there is a winter in Florida! I’ve been bitterly cold in Fort Lauderdale in February, and January can be even worst. I once spent December and January in Corpus Christi, Texas — and although it was sunny and beautiful, it was by no means “warm.” Having spent a couple of years in San Diego, I can also testify to the possibility of a rainy and cold winter in Southern California!

Although the winter in those states is short and will be warmer and sunnier than up North, it can be disappointing when you’re trying to escape the winter. But if you like cooler weather and just don’t like the extreme, then those locations might be for you.

Hawaii — my favorite place to be a snowbird in “North America.” The locals will tell you that Hawaii also gets a winter, but to that, I say, “your winter is better than my summer!” I find the weather to be perfect in Hawaii in the winter. Warm and often sunny during the day, but cool and refreshing at night. The only thing is that the ocean is chilly in the winter. But a wetsuit solves that problem.

The main downside to spending the winter in Hawaii is that it’s high tourist season and prices are high. If you’re planning on doing this, book FAR in advance. Airbnb is a good resource, but you have to make sure to book a place from an established host, not someone who might cancel on you last minute.

Costa Rica — The weather is perfect in Costa Rica between January and March, and December can be pretty good as well. November is often rainy. It’s also high season, but costs will be low. Craigslist is a good place to go to find rentals in Costa Rica. I suggest the town of San Isidro: it’s a safe, cute town with local flavor, away from the tourist traps, but close enough to explore the entire Pacific coast. And the weather is just perfect! Being in elevation, it gets refreshing nights. I haven’t been back there in a few years,  but I can share with you the apartment I used to rent: http://www.apartamentospuravida.com $349 a month is a deal hard to beat from American owner Steve. I wonder if Steve the Cat is still around. I spent many winters there!

The Caribbean — I haven’t done it yet, but there are some beautiful spots in the Caribbean to winter. But do your research, as weather patterns are very complex in this area.

South East Asia — Fun and affordable! Many tech nomads make Thailand their home during the winter, particularly Chiang Mai in the North. Internet access is fast; food is great, and rent is cheap. Bali is another great place to visit, although weather between December and March can be quite rainy. You don’t need as much planning for spending the winter in South East Asia. This is a place that you’ll likely want to explore for a while. The drawback is that it’s a bit more adventurous than staying put in an American town for four months. And the flight to get there is long and CAN be expensive.

Think Outside the Box

If you want to try the Snowbird life, why not think a bit outside the box? Is there a place that you’ve always wanted to visit that also happens to have beautiful weather? Here are a few notes about some locations I have considered or been to:

The South Pacific — Fiji, Tahiti, Cook Islands. These would be great places to “winter” as they are some of the most beautiful islands in the world. The problem? The South Pacific gets a truly rainy season — not the “winter” that Hawaii gets. It doesn’t just rain: it pours! And the heat and humidity during this period can be very uncomfortable. The worst of the rainy season is Between December and February. March seems to be a good month to visit, although you will get some rain. This is when I’ve always been, though, and the weather was splendid overall.

New Zealand — I knew a guy who spent the winter in New Zealand, during their summer. He loved it there. I enjoyed my visit to the country but have not yet considered spending a winter there, yet.

Puerto Rico — A reader told me that Vieques in Puerto Rico is a great place to spend a few months of the winter. I have not checked it out, but one day I will!

What are you thoughts on this?