A snowbird is someone from the northern United States or from Canada who spends a good part of the winter in warmer climes, usually one of the southern states. Snowbird is a slang term generally accepted by snowbirds and residents in the areas they winter, although some prefer the term “winter visitors”.
Winters in Manitoba can be beautiful. Sun glistening off white snow. Snow nestled on evergreen branches. Winter activities such as ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Winter festivals. But the winters are also long with periods of brutal cold. People who live through that often long for an escape mid-way through the season. Some escape for the entire season. After decades of Manitoba winters, the opportunity for my husband and I to spend the winter some place warmer came in the winter of 2012-2013. Having visited family in Mesa, Arizona annually for several years prior to that, Mesa became the logical choice of location for our first snowbird winter. We returned for two subsequent winters. We continue to return to Arizona for parts of the winter, but have also branched out to include other hot spots for parts of the winter. Panama was part of our fourth snowbird winter. Having now spent many winters in Manitoba, a few snowbird winters away and parts of winter back home again in Manitoba, I can appreciate both what Manitoba winters have to offer and the delights of the snowbird life.
I spent hours and hours on the Internet until I finally booked a rental home for our first snowbird winter. After that, I began to think about all the things we needed to do to prepare for a winter away. I did what I always do when I need to find things out. I turned to the Internet. In spite of the fact that there are thousands of snowbirds, I had trouble locating the information I needed. A couple of financial sites had good checklists of things to take care of, but little detail behind them. It was then I decided to blog about our experiences and what we learned along the way.
The articles in this section of Destinations Detours and Dreams are our personal experiences, not expert or definitive advice, but I hope readers will find something useful or entertaining here. Here you will find:
Tips for snowbirds based on what we’ve learned through our experience. See Snowbird Tips.
What we did to prepare for our winters away. This includes items such as finding rental accommodations, looking after our house, financial arrangements and packing. See Snowbird Preparations.
On The Road
Experiences on the drives to and from our winter destinations. See On The Road.
Articles about living the snowbird life:
Travel, even for short periods of time, can change our perspectives about home when we return. See Home Again.
Year By Year
All of the above preparations and experiences, grouped chronologically
We had the most to learn and discover in our first snowbird winter. That year, we rented a patio home in a small non-age restricted gated community. Go to Year 1 to read about our experiences and lessons learned.
We decided to try the 55+ community experience in our second year. There were more lessons and things to discover. Read about those at Year 2.
We continue to have fun and discover more about the snowbird experience in Year 3 and Beyond.
We don’t know where our next winters will take us, but we look forward to more snowbird experiences.