So You Want to Be a Snowbird?

Each year, many people migrate from colder regions of the United States to spend the blistering cold months, somewhere warmer.  In Arizona, snowbirds are as common as cacti, gorgeous sunsets and desert wildlife.

If you live in a cold winter climate you can understand why there is such an appeal to being a snowbird.  No more shoveling snow, no more frozen fingers and toes, and no more gray skies.  While moving to a sunshiney state in the winter sounds like a dream, there are also challenges.

Financially you will be adding another possible mortgage, you will also need to factor in your travel expenses to and from your new winter getaway.  Here are just a few of the costs to explore if you’re considering a snowbird way of life.


Suggested Reading: Arizona Home Plus Program

Should You Rent or Buy?

Your winter location can be a condo, smaller house or even a mobile home.  If you rent a home or apartment, you can do this for several months, which could afford you the time and flexibility to winter in a different place each year.

If you opt to purchase a second home obviously, your largest expense will come from buying the second home. Even if you’ve already paid off your primary home, acquiring a second mortgage is no small undertaking.


You’ll need to insure both homes, and insurance rates may increase considerably for a home that you leave empty for extended periods of time. A little research could help you identify how much insuring a second home will cost and keep in mind that insuring a second home will likely cost you more.

A few suggestions to help keep the costs down when you’re away from home for a long period of time are to have a family member do regular stop-ins and inspections while you are away or install a home security system.

Call your insurer to confirm and find additional cost-saving suggestions.


In addition to the cost of buying a second home, you need to budget for the cost of appliances, dishes, and furniture. If you buy or rent, don’t forget to budget for travel costs.  You’ll also need to decide if you will be renting a car if you plan to fly to your sunny destination.

Medical care

If you are over 65 and on Medicare, you should be able to obtain medical care wherever you go within the United States. If you use private health insurance, you will need to research whether there are doctors and hospitals at your destination that will be covered by your health care network. You’ll need to take your full medical records with you, including prescriptions you take or see if your primary physician will share your medical records with a doctor at your snowbird destination.


And there is no surprise that your second home will be taxed. Also, keep in mind depending on how much time you reside in your new state, you may end up paying income taxes in two states.  You might get lucky and find out that property taxes are lower.  For instance, Arizona boasts lower costs than much of the country.

Home maintenance

When you own one home you are already familiar with the costs of home maintenance, but with two homes in different climates and not living in one home fulltime, there could be problems that you will need to consider.  For instance, you may need to arrange for people to mow grass, maintain pool chemicals, water plants and control weeds.


If you have a pet, you’re not likely to leave them for months at a time, but you should note that owning pets could limit your selection of rental options.  If you have pets that typically would not travel with you like a fish, turtle or bird, you will need to factor in who will be taking care of them and calculate the cost of care while you’re gone.


With two houses, you have two sets of utility bills to deal with.  Consider temporarily shutting off or place as many utilities on hold that you can.  Utilities like gas, electric, internet and cable are all ways to help cut down your costs.


Burglars love snowbirds, so having someone check your house on a regular basis is a wise choice.  If you don’t have a friend, family member or neighbor that is available to check on your house consider investing in a security system.

These are just a few of the cost considerations associated with taking flight as a snowbird.  If you are considering the purchase of a second home to escape the cold, contact our home loan team to ask any additional questions you may have along with the way. We’re happy to help you transition to a happy snowbird lifestyle.

The Certo Team
55 N. Arizona Place Suite #103
Chandler, AZ 85225

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