Birds of a feather don’t always flock together when choosing their warm-weather nest.
“Snowbirds,” who leave their cold-weather hometowns for a month or more in the winter, go to an assortment of warm-weather locales, and the top choices vary widely among different northern cities.
For instance, Miami Beach is the No. 1 choice for residents of New York City who rent for a full month between January and March through HomeAway.com, a vacation rental website. For people from Philadelphia, the No. 1 destination is Charleston, HomeAway says.
Even if retirees plan to buy a second home to escape northern winters, they should rent for at least one season to get a better feel for the lifestyle and the destination, financial advisers say. Potential snowbirds should also be sure they have flexible health coverage and should watch for unexpected expenses.
Some trends in snowbirding destinations have been constant over long periods. Snowbirds from the East Coast have traditionally gravitated to the eastern part of Florida, while many from the Midwest go to Florida’s west coast, and retirees from Western states venture south to destinations such as Phoenix and Santa Fe, advisers say.
The supply of rental properties is also a factor in snowbirding trends, says Melanie Fish, family travel expert at HomeAway.com. For instance, Miami Beach, which pops up as a favorite destination of snowbirds across the country, has twice as many listings on HomeAway.com as Palm Beach, a traditional choice for New York snowbirds. HomeAway’s listings tend to be vacation homes that their owners rent out when they’re not using them.
It’s never too early—or too late—to book a warm-weather winter rental, Fish says. Some snowbirds book up to a year in advance, while others wait until soon before they plan to travel. Click above to see the top snowbird destinations for six cold-weather cities, as booked on HomeAway.com.