Living in a northern climate can give you unlimited access to culture, history, and nature, but the winters are nothing to sneeze at. Many retirees who live up North travel to homes in the South for winter to enjoy the sun and heat closer to the equator. Snowbirding can be a valuable way to make the most of your winter months, but it does take some planning. Here are six tips every snowbird should know about their yearly trips.
1. Consider skipping the road trip
Taking a long scenic winter road trip along the East coast is the best vacation for some people. For others, it’s the most dreaded. If sitting for long periods is not your idea of fun, you may want to consider flying. Flying allows for more comfort and less stress than driving, not to mention the dramatic reduction in travel time.
If you choose to fly to your sunny-and-75-degree safe haven, you should consider services like car shipping to California or to other snowbird-friendly locations so that you can still drive yourself around in your temporary home.
While public transportation is more affordable, it won’t grant you the same freedom and reliability as bringing your own vehicle. After all, the last thing you want is to spend your winter waiting for late buses or being stranded in the rain.
2. Forward your mail
When it comes to your mail, you have a few options. You can use mail forwarding, hold mail or have a trusted neighbor pick up your mail.
Mail forwarding is as simple as filling out the forms online or in person. It’s free to do and ensures that you will receive your mail. If you are gone for thirty days or less, you may want the post office to hold your mail. Holding your mail is an excellent option to ensure there’s no mix-up between moves.
3. Set up online banking
Save yourself headaches by switching to paperless billing. This way, you won’t have to worry about the mail, even if you have the mail forwarded. Contact all your service providers and ask them to send you e-bills so that you can access them via the internet. To avoid late fees, set up automatic payments with your providers. That way, you’ll never forget to pay a bill again.
4. Arrange for snow removal
If you will be away when it snows, it’s a good practice to arrange for snow removal before you leave. Snow that hasn’t been removed for weeks at a time signals an empty house and invites criminals to break into your home.
5. Turn off your water and other utilities
You won’t be home to monitor below-zero weather, which could cause your pipes to freeze and burst. Simply turn off the water at the main valve to avoid coming home to a flood in spring. Don’t forget to drain all the pipes and turn off any other utilities you know won’t be necessary while you’re gone.
6. Motion sensors for lights
You can create the illusion of a home by installing motion sensor lights and timers. These will turn on and off at different times to simulate random human activity, making it less obvious that your house is empty to robbers. If you have a trusted neighbor, you might consider notifying them of your trip so they can keep an eye on your home.