April is the time of year when New York’s snowbirds get ready to leave their Southern homes to return north. The annual migration of snowbirds is as dependable as the migration of the northeastern geese that follow the same pattern. With that migration comes the inevitable reality of returning to a home that hasn’t been occupied for 3 to 6 months. Enjoying a northern summer is then followed by a return to the South next autumn.
Snowbirding is an excellent lifestyle choice for those that prefer to avoid the winter weather of the North. However, as with anything else, it comes with a set of unique challenges. If you are new to the snowbirding lifestyle, here are a few key things that will help you be more successful in your endeavor:
Your Home in the North
Most snowbirds spend more time in their northern homes than they do in the South. The time difference for you will depend on your tolerance for colder weather. In either case, you are likely to spend at least three months away. This is time that can be used for maintenance and repair projects at your northern home. Having the work done while you are away mean that you don’t have to worry about the dust, noise and other inconveniences that come along with such projects.
Enlist one of your children or a close friend to keep an eye on your property while you are away. This will ensure that contractors get the work done while minding their business. By the time you return, everything that needed to be done should be completed.
Your Home in the South
Assuming you will be spending less time in the South, it is important to have a year-round resident from your community keep an eye on your property over the spring and summer. There are many things that could go wrong during the off-season. For example, consider the plumbing in your winter home.
During the very hot summers in Florida and Arizona, the drainpipes in your sink, toilet and tub can go dry in just a matter of weeks. If that happens, sewer odors can seep into your home with little effort. You could return to your winter home only to find that it stinks of raw sewage. The problem is easily solved by having a friend or neighbor stop by every few weeks to run the water for 30 to 40 seconds.
The biggest inconvenience for the snowbird is transferring services twice a year, every year. Your mail has to be temporarily forwarded, your northern newspaper subscription must be stopped, you have to arrange for television and utilities in your vacation home, and so on. Fortunately, most snowbird destinations are used to this sort of thing. The companies you might do business with are already well versed in short-term service arrangements.
Where you might run into trouble is dealing with service providers in the North. It can be a hassle to cancel your cable or satellite service just for three months of the year. Nevertheless, be persistent. It also helps to start thinking about service transfers well ahead of time. The sooner you can get working
on it, the more likely you will have it all done before you get ready to leave.
Those that choose to embrace the snowbirding lifestyle get to enjoy the best possible weather year-round. Summers up north, winters in the South and the spring and autumn seasons split between the two. As long as everything is in order at both homes, it is definitely not a bad way to live.