The snowbird lifestyle attracts folks tired of frosty winter weather. They range from retirees to seasonal workers to digital nomads. And while some folks are well off with trust funds or large pensions, others are getting by on more modest means.
Snowbirds living on a shoestring need to make compromises and prioritize their must-haves. — But enjoying a winter away on some beach, somewhere, somehow, is possible.
Your budget, available cash, sense of adventure, and the extent of your wish list will dictate your choices. But if heading south for a warm winter is number one for you, you can make it happen.
If you don’t already have one, start a budget. You’ll need to know what your life now is costing you. Then you’ll see where you can make the necessary adjustments to realize your dream of a snowbird lifestyle.
You’ll find the budget process is a moving entity. It will need adjustments and flexibility. But taking a clear look at your finances from time to time will bring into focus things you can save on, where you can downsize, what no longer is a priority, and where you want to spend your money.
Look at your wish list with a practical mind… and decide on your must-haves.
While it’s true some things would be nice to have, if you’re trying to live the snowbird lifestyle on a shoestring, you will need to be practical. That big house right on the beach is probably out. But maybe a comfy little suite a couple of blocks back will work for you.
And you’ll still have access to that lovely beach with just a short walk.
Or maybe being near a beach isn’t that important to you? — And exploring old colonial cities is more your thing? Or would enjoying temperate spring weather all winter in a quiet inland village be a fit for you?
If golf, for example, is a priority for you, it will influence where you want to winter and your pocketbook.
With your budget and wish list in mind, look through all your stuff. Are you holding onto a lot of gear you no longer use? A seldom used extra vehicle? A storage unit littered with things you hardly remember owning? Let alone using? Are your closets full of clothes you don’t wear anymore?
While getting started sorting through your things and clearing out your clutter may be challenging, it will all feel worth it as you see progress.
You can sell some things, which can add to your nest egg. — While you may donate other stuff. — And many things will need to be purged.
Some folks downsize to the point that they no longer need to maintain a house in their northern locale to enjoy their snowbird lifestyle. They choose to rent, live in an RV, or make other arrangements over the summer.
And they can remove the cost of owning and maintaining a home on their snowbird budget and add their home’s equity to financing their snowbird life.
As accommodations will probably be your most significant expense, finding a low-cost locale will be a real boon to your snowbird budget.
Many popular Snowbird locations in the US Sunbelt are pretty pricy, both for accommodations, entertainment, and your snowbird lifestyle in general.
On the other hand, Mexico and other Latin American locales are much more affordable. And the weather is typically warmer too. Another bonus is all the fresh, locally grown produce and fruits you’ll find in their markets… even in the winter.
Mexico is a super popular destination for enjoying a snowbird lifestyle, second only to the US Sunbelt. Snowbirds who frequent Mexico for the winter months enjoy a low cost of living, lovely warm weather, and a rich cultural experience.
But even in Mexico or other Latin American countries, you’ll probably need to avoid most busy vacation hot spots to find a low-cost winter locale.
A solution for many to the accommodation issue is RV living, especially those who already are part of the RV crowd.
You can find a favorite locale and return year after year, or more adventurous souls can explore to their heart’s content.
You can enjoy using your own bed, bathroom, and kitchen as you travel. -- As well as a few of your personal things.
Where you stop is your home. You can extend your stay when you like, pack up, and move on when you want.
While recent high fuel prices can impact your travels, you may find lengthening your stays or shortening your trips may compensate.
You can settle on large, paved RV campgrounds with lists of amenities and interesting small-town options, or for the more frugal… look for boon-docking or dry camping spots. Arizona, for example, has plenty of the above to choose from.
RV’s also venture into Mexico. — Visiting the splendid beaches down the Baja or into mainland Mexico. While some folks are comfortable traveling alone, others join friends or a Caravan to travel in Mexico.
However you choose to travel and wherever you decide to stay, you’ll find that enjoying life’s simple pleasures will serve you and your pocketbook well.
Slow down and enjoy a walk around a park, the neighborhood, or the beach. Wander through a local farmer’s market, flea market, or artist market.
Sit on a bench and people-watch. It can be endlessly fascinating. Strike up a conversation with locals or other ex-pats. Watch for and join in local events.
Shop for locally sourced ingredients and cook simple meals at your home away from home. Explore and be curious about your surroundings.
Enjoy your journey. — And remember, if your goal is to winter in the warm sunny south, you can do it without breaking the bank. Your snowbird lifestyle is about you… not impressing others.
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