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Old 07-30-2013, 12:53 PM   #21
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The OP is talking about San Diego and San Francisco. Do you all really think an RV is a good solution for that? Maybe he or she is willing to live in the general area and not the cities, but an RV outside of SF may not have the same appeal of living where you can walk to everything in the city.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:01 PM   #22
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vrbo.com, as well as homeaway.com, have monthly rentals. Sometimes owners will rent on a monthly basis even if not listed on the site. Don't know about your areas, but where we rent (in the off season) are half or less than 4 weekly rentals. Be sure to negotiate for a good price. If you prefer, check for local rental agencies who manage properties in the area.
+1 We started out this way (using VRBO) and it has turned out well for us. We've rented in Florida for January and February for four years currently. Furnished rentals are easier to try out an area and determine what's right for you. Many we know who snowbird winters have moved at least one time, so furnished rentals was a way to try before you buy for us. Even though furnished monthly rental is higher, it's cheaper than any year round rental or purchase scenario given our short length of stay currently. Not sure that we'll look to stay longer as we get restless at the end of February and look forward to going home.

Our northern residence is located in a gated community, so fairly protected. Our daughters live in the area and check on the house for us. Water is off at the house (by us) as utility turn off costs more and is a pain. Just put the house down to 60F and unplug everything. FYI - cable can be put in vacation mode (minimum billing) for (+2) months. If you change your address with the USPS - a lot of bank statements and investment material will not be forwarded, and will be returned to sender who destroys it (without telling you). Also you will need to remember your temporary zipcode while traveling, as gas stations will require it and not approve your purchase with incorrect input. Mail is temporarily rerouted to our oldest daughter who emails us with bills due. We pay them online via credit union bill pay or credit card. Bank and investment statements are all obtained electronically.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:59 PM   #23
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Main residence on Oahu and summers in the midwest (weird, perhaps, but beats wintering in midwest). More or less gated community in HON and more or less monitored place in MW. Works for us. Whoever said "pair of socks and tooth brush" had it about right. We fly with carry-on and no checked bags. Very convenient. Always seem to have friend/family available for the airport runs. Wish we could drive, but the bridge is only half completed. YMMV
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Old 07-30-2013, 02:23 PM   #24
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Interesting responses.

I'm at least 25-30 years from ER but just was curious about the snowbirding aspect of retirement. I'm 22 years old but am planning FAR in advance for (hopefully) an idyllic retirement situation.

I've always dreamed of being able to have a small primary residence in the Scottsdale area where I can "hang my hat" but only occupy that residence for the winter season while renting a small, furnished apartment in San Diego during their gorgeous summers and a couple months in San Fran during the beautiful fall season that they have. Obviously this type of retirement is going to be quite a bit more costly than staying in one place during my golden years.

Retirement, to me, means being able to live freely without regard to having a set time schedule. It also means the financial freedom (within reason) to spend months at a time in a different location.
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Old 07-30-2013, 02:43 PM   #25
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Hmmm

We have two groups 3-5 couples in greater Kansas City and my relatives (mainly military) scattered all over the U.S. right now.

With the trusty internet usually the one who's IT - picks the rental. And some are yearly repeats. This year it's been Port Aransas TX, Buena Vista AR and Park Rapids MN. Before summers end - Kelso and Clallam Bay WA, Billings MT.

Visiting relatives and sharing expenses on a rental with a group of friends works best for us.

I did the RV thing for 15 years before ER.

heh heh heh - And visit New Orleans friends which I don't count as snowbirding.

P.S. Not over a week or so at a stretch - that way I keep my friends and relatives.
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Old 07-30-2013, 03:08 PM   #26
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My wife and I were faced with the same conundrum and decided to go the RV route. We have a motorhome that comfortably takes us anywhere we want to go and then offers us the comforts of home. With four slideouts we have abundant room and we carry all our needs. We tow our car behind us so we have that to use when we reach our destination. We can change locations easily, stay as long as we like, and move about if weather, neighbors, etc., get on our nerves. RV parks are abundant and RV'ers in general are a friendly, helpful bunch. We really like the independence it gives us.
I can't disagree that the motorhome solution is a nice one. But, to be clear to all, it isn't an inexpensive one easily costing as much as renting a nice apartment seasonally in most areas.
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Old 07-30-2013, 03:36 PM   #27
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Anyone who is ESR'd done this? My semi-income is already pretty well disconnected from geography and DW is working to get hers there, too.
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Old 07-30-2013, 03:55 PM   #28
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In 2010 we bought a place in La Quinta Ca and have been spending about 6 there and 6 in Oregon. Thought there would be massive utility savings by spending time only in the temperate seasons in each place, which hasn't really worked - a pool down south means substantial electric bills there year round, we leave gas billing and shut off the valve at the meter so we can have hot water fast whenever we arrive N or S. We shut off the expensive water and winterize N, which is a pain. Have a pool guy S and a yard guy N while we are away.

Changing mail forwarding with USPS is fairly workable, magazines & papers are a problem, as are some bank statements. A big gotcha happened this year: since we are down S during tax time we had requested that a number of places send the annual interest statements to us down south so we could have them in hand for our records and to put together for the tax prep person. State of California decided to put it's hand out to me for resident state taxes for 2010, I think based on those statements being sent to me in California. We now will retrieve all statements online, and show Oregon as our residence, but I look forward to another couple years of beating back the California tax man.

I had fantasies of having duplicates of everything at both places and moving back and forth with a change of socks and toothbrush for the trip; in fact we load the Family Truckster to the swamping point before wallowing N&S.

Did get our house broken into down south while we were away, which was irritating.

Healthcare is a bit of a problem, we have Kaiser Permanente and had to sign up on the California KP plan when issues cropped up down south - the care was there, but the billing is confusing though I've confidence it will get sorted out. Dentists & hygenists N&S, emailing x-rays back and forth.

5-6 days on the road at a minimum driving back and forth with a cat who is None Too Pleased, working out accommodations that suit Hoteliers and Her.

All that said, we enjoy both places and are pleased to be where we are when we are there.
My two places are only 140 miles apart, but differ in elevation by 5,500 ft, so have totally opposite climate.

We maintain utilities at both places, in case we want to come up to spend the weekend, even in the winter, or particularly in the winter to watch snowfall. Having duplicates of household items is not a problem, however, there are often times when I look for some tool and wonder if I left it at the other place.

Money wise, it only costs double to have 2 homes. Well, not quite, since we have been spending more time down in the flat-land home, and it costs more for A/C cooling than the high-country home needs heating. Values are comparable, so insurance and RE taxes are the same. The high-country home needs more exterior maintenance due to the winter.

We do drive back and forth, and did not even have to bring socks and toothbrushes, only food if going up North. Sometimes we did not even bring food, and stopped at a town along the way for grocery shopping.

It's been enjoyable. It only costs money.

By the way, I saw that the OP is mighty young. He has time to decide.
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:10 PM   #29
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Anyone who is ESR'd done this? My semi-income is already pretty well disconnected from geography and DW is working to get hers there, too.
I was telecommuting when I did this. I was full time for awhile, then part time.
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:44 PM   #30
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Anyone who is ESR'd done this? My semi-income is already pretty well disconnected from geography and DW is working to get hers there, too.
I'm ESR'd and do this. Its easy when most of the job is email and the rest given to colleagues. For those that telecommute, working from a snowbird location is no different from working at home.
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Old 07-30-2013, 05:36 PM   #31
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Anyone who is ESR'd done this? My semi-income is already pretty well disconnected from geography and DW is working to get hers there, too.
I have been doing part-time consulting work during our early retirement since we started going to Florida for January/February. As already stated - "working from a snowbird location is no different from working at home".
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:05 PM   #32
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We spend seven months in our primary residence up north and five months in Florida in our little winter home. Our Florida home is a little 35 ft. Trailer with a Florida room. We pay lot rent of $275.00/month year round. We have friends who keep an eye on our northern home.

The monthly lot rent is somewhat offset by a much lower electric and propane bill for the North home. We found we used the equivalent of one 500 gal tank less to heat an empty house. the electric bill was cut in half. Our utilities for the Florida home are minimal. Propane last year was $25.00 total for four months and electricity was $11.00/month.

We have our mail (what little we get) forwarded.
Our Internet is put on vacation status rather than turned off. We pay a bit more than I like for Internet in Florida, but its "no contract" and we don't pay for cable tv. We stream anything we want to watch.

We fill up the cars less often in Florida. Everything is just closer. Up north we drive 10-20 miles to get anywhere.

Being more active and healthier in the winter is priceless.
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Old 07-30-2013, 07:36 PM   #33
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Here are some folks that timeshare year round for the last 5 years:


Ron and Joan's Journey

Here is another couple that fulltime timeshare and rent their house. Trying to keep spending below 2500 month I believe:

Costs | http://fulltimetimeshare.com/blog
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:09 PM   #34
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Whatever one chooses, i would strongly suggest testing it for a couple of years before making any financial commitments.
+1

The best advice of all!
After 23 years of snowbirding between IL and FL, that would be my first recommendation. We looked at 30+ Florida communities before buying, but even at that, we were lucky.
Can't count the number of people who came saw and bought in a community, only to sell in a year or two, and move into ours.
..........................................
Most newly retired couples come to Florida looking for Nirvana, spend a week or so looking, and then become overcome by a good sales pitch. Often that commitment is not easily reversible and results in extra expenses as well as sales or land rental (most mobile home parks) contracts that have escalation clauses. If choosing Florida, go over the Prospectus with a fine tooth comb, and a good lawyer. It's a legal document and very binding.

Most of the posters in this thread outline the good and bad parts of living in two places. I would add a few that meant a lot to us.

1. Be sure the community that you retire in to, is in a compatible socio-economic level... ie. we avoided "The Villages" as it was a little too "rich" for us. Not our lifestyle, though we go there weekly for dinner, dances or other functions. (my golf cart cost $2,000... some in The Villages cost $20,000+).

2. If considering rentals, consider how long you will be away from your full time home, and how many of those conveniences you will miss. Remember when you go, you have to bring whatever personal effects... clothes and household goods, that won't be there in the rental. Also, when you leave, you have to take anything you buy in the meantime, back with you.

3. No matter how you do it, before you decide to settle, spend at least a week, either living in the community, or going there during the day. Sadly, most people get with the realtor, and spend all the time looking at the house or mobile, and taking a walk through the clubhouse, (if there is one)... and they never spend the time talking with current residents... (Preferably the old curmudgeon at the end of the lane, who has a problem with everything.) Know the good and the bad.

4. Know that different locales in any state may be more or less costly. Check the statistics (income, housing value etc.) In Florida, closer to the ocean may mean the difference of as much as $10,000/yr... taxes, services, housing costs, entertainment etc.

5. Will going from a 2000 s.f. home to an 800 s.f. apartment or condo or mobile bother you?

6. Learn about Homestead Exemptions.
Homestead exemption - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Over the retirement years, this factor can save tens of thousands, and it's important to understand how the laws work in each state, as you can only receive one homestead exemption.

7. Your choice of claiming citizenship in a state, can have big time effects on state taxes, house and car insurance, license and registration, healthcare choices, and legal issues.

8. Think about the future... the later retirement years, when travel is not so much fun, and being in one place becomes easier. Where will you want to be?

All in all, there's a big difference between being a snowbird for 3 to 6 months and spending a week in Disney or Vegas.

YMMV
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:52 PM   #35
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...
All in all, there's a big difference between being a snowbird for 3 to 6 months and spending a week in Disney or Vegas.
Prior to buying my summer home in the high country of the same state, I flew up to Seattle to look for a home in the Puget Sound, particularly in Port Ludlow. I love the cool green space of the NorthWest (look at my screen name), and of course it beats the arid SouthWest in the summer. I thought that perhaps I would relocate there permanently once my children reached independence and we were fully retired. I do not think rain would bother me much. I am of a somber nature anyway, and drinking Cognac or coffee while listening to the music and watching the rain is a pleasure to me.

Then, returning home to mull over it some more, I realized that the logistics of maintaining two places would be more than I could handle. Additionally, while we were still working, there was no way I could travel back and forth to enjoy the 2nd home to make it worthwhile. So, we bought the 2nd home in the same state. That was 7 years ago.

Now that we are really free and can really get a 2nd home in the Puget Sound, the idea of travel between two far-apart homes and maintaining them does not appeal to me anymore. I have enough trouble with two homes only 2-1/2 hrs apart, as I have found out.

My current thinking is that an RV allows me to spend more time in places that I want to visit, compared to car roadtrips. And as I am not a fan of crowded city living, an RV works out just great to let me see more nooks and crannies of the US.
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Old 07-31-2013, 12:45 AM   #36
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2. If considering rentals, consider how long you will be away from your full time home, and how many of those conveniences you will miss.
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Old 07-31-2013, 06:19 AM   #37
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Great posts! Another thing to consider - How well does the snowbird location accommodate your hobbies/pastimes, etc ?

One problem I have in snowbirding is that I can't take some of my hobbies with me. I can't do woodworking or brew beer easily from our Arizona condo. Or yard work. So I had to find other hobbies in Az to fill my time. Not a big deal, but there is the initial hobby withdrawal if one is not prepared for it.
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Old 07-31-2013, 08:11 AM   #38
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Great posts! Another thing to consider - How well does the snowbird location accommodate your hobbies/pastimes, etc ?

One problem I have in snowbirding is that I can't take some of my hobbies with me. I can't do woodworking or brew beer easily from our Arizona condo. Or yard work. So I had to find other hobbies in Az to fill my time. Not a big deal, but there is the initial hobby withdrawal if one is not prepared for it.
That's a great point. I do woodworking as well but that is not transportable. I am taking up photography, will have to look for more like that.
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Old 07-31-2013, 09:29 AM   #39
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We snowbird Ottawa/Fort Myers. Parents snowbirded to Port Charlotte, grandparents to Daytona.

Canadians snowbirding face a few different wrinkles than Americans, mainly counting against the 6 month limit, which will all change if the immigration bill goes through. We have the Canadian Snowbird Association, which recommends Medipac for health insurance.

To reduce health insurance cost, be sure you are not on any meds you do not actually need to be on. When getting treatment, collect as much paperwork as possible, detailed billing and doctor's reports.

Keeping the northern house safe while we are away is a challenge, as she does not want to give up on-ground living and her dream house for a lock and leave condo. Others sell the city house and move into the lake cottage as primary residence, and are in Florida for the winter. Too hyper to be cottage people, so far.

Every door and window of this older house is screwed shut for winter. There is one way in through the garage with 3 locks to get through, including passcodes and medico keying.

A houseminder comes by only once a month. Pay attention to insurance requirements. We get away with this as we drain all water and turn off the main. His entry and exit is the main risk vector. Never give a relative, especially a teen or as yet unreliable youth, access to a sealed house.

The entire house and property is monitored by a $400 (not expensive) camera system that feeds 8 video channels through the internet to our devices in Florida or our phones on the road, live feed when we choose or email text alert if there is activity where there should not be any.

The Florida property is a lock and leave concrete block gated condo, hurricane grade windows. Condo owners insurance does not require houseminding in gated communities, but we have one anyway. We are not in a high risk flood zone, but we have flood insurance anyway.

Really smart money leases unfurnished and does not buy, but it worked out ok for us as we bought bank owned at the bottom...once in a lifetime opportunity. Increasingly worried about condo leadership as we head into builder handover.

Maybe read this material that I pulled together on another forum

Cape Coral/Fort Myers FAQ - MUST READ FOR NEWBIES! (Miami: rental car, low income) - Lee County - City-Data Forum

Worst thing for us cross border snowbirding is not being allowed to work in Florida and not being around long enough up north to work at anything interesting. Most early retired educated types seem happier if they can dabble a bit in part time contract work for the stimulation and interaction, gives the leisure time more meaning.

I am trying to get interested in pickleball and relax. If the immigration reform goes through I think we are going to try this new retiree visa, sell the northern house and try to live in one place, with trips out from the Florida base of operations in the worst months of summer.

If we can get down to one residence, my fantasy is a month in Italy in June, a month on the lake near the relatives in July, a month at Chautauqua in August (just discovered), otherwise Florida as our base playground.

The last dog died, so now we are more free to consider spending time in Europe, specifically Italy. Trying to convince her to do house swapping with the Florida condo, but need to learn how that works and if there is a window where Europeans want to go to Florida when we would want to be in Europe.

She does not like the idea of living in someone else's stuff, cooking and cleaning.

I believe property taxes are much better in Arizona than Florida.
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Old 07-31-2013, 10:02 AM   #40
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The hobby thing can be important. For me, biking and computers and swimming and canoeing, all of which I found in our FL community.
As we were looking for a permanent full size home in FL (which we have, for now, decided against) we came upon a number of great retirement communities that offer literally hundreds of interest groups that work with great intensity. Ceramics, photography, travel, music etc, but the one that blew me away was one community that had a 4,000 s.f. woodworking building with hundreds of sophisticated tools... free membership... tools donated by retirees. In the same community there is a 2500 sf metalworking shop, replete with 10 different lathes, all types of welders and forges, etc. Enough to entice me, to really think twice about not moving in.

My favorite, in that same community was a (30 member) ultralight indoor remote control airplane/helicopter group, that meets weekly in the large indoor gym/clubhouse... and the second choice was the remote control sailing club. Would love to match up own antique 1m R/C sailboat with the newer racers.
For those contemplating "The Villages" in Florida, it is said that there are nearly one thousand different interest groups to choose from, including classes in Sanskrit.

Aside: Not all communities have these multi choices. In some of the older communities, the clubhouse is only open for special events. Our current community is so busy that all of the clubhouse function rooms are busy from 7AM to Midnight and later on the band/dance nights. For a while I had to move my own computer class into my home until a 2 hour block of time was available.

Bringing up the hobby part of retirement was a good idea. It is very important part of a happy retirement, especially for new retirees. A good way to fill in the gap that used to be taken by w*rk. After all, one can only contemplate one's navel, drink coffee and watch TV for so long without atrophy setting in.
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