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Want to snowbird to warmer climate for first time
Old 04-22-2014, 03:44 PM   #1
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Want to snowbird to warmer climate for first time

Since we are recent early retirees, we want to check into renting a small house/condo/apartment next Jan, Feb. and March. Trouble is, we are a bit clueless where to start. Maybe it is already too late to get a place located for next winter. I am fairly sure there are more than a few here who have experience with this so I am soliciting your advice. I do have some general questions to get started.

1. How far in advance do you need to start looking for the next winter season?
2. How far south do you need to go to basically lose the winter season? We would prefer at least 70 degrees most days.
3. How do you pick a location? We have an uncle in the Palm Coast, FL area, I am not sure how warm that area is in the winter months. We would prefer someplace within easy walking distance (15 minutes or less) to a nice beach, but we wouldn't rule out Texas or Arizona if there was beautiful scenery nearby and activities to keep us occupied.
4. How do you know if the area you rent is going to be safe and convenient for walking and biking and other activities? We are not golfers.
5. If there are just the two people, what kind place do you look for? Do you prefer the ground floor for easy access or do you prefer an upper floor of an high-rise unit for safety?
6. What is typical rent you pay per month? I know this could be a very broad range.

Any suggestions are appreciated.
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:53 PM   #2
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We are pretty happy with what i call 'sweater' weather where it is comfortable to do things outside in jeans a shirt and a sweater.

Myrtle Beach is as far north as we would consider. We spent close to a week there a year ago and enjoyed it.

This year we spent a few days in Port Aransas, one of the barrier islands outside of Corpus Christi. The weather seems similar and they also welcome a lot of "winter Texans".

For both there seem to be many places available for winter rental are very reasonable monthly rates.

Those two are about as cold as we would go. We'll probably go warmer. Cape Coral/Ft. Myers/Naples is high on our list as they have a good climate and we have some friends there.
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Old 04-22-2014, 04:21 PM   #3
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We are pretty happy with what i call 'sweater' weather where it is comfortable to do things outside in jeans a shirt and a sweater.

Myrtle Beach is as far north as we would consider. We spent close to a week there a year ago and enjoyed it.

This year we spent a few days in Port Aransas, one of the barrier islands outside of Corpus Christi. The weather seems similar and they also welcome a lot of "winter Texans".

For both there seem to be many places available for winter rental are very reasonable monthly rates.

Those two are about as cold as we would go. We'll probably go warmer. Cape Coral/Ft. Myers/Naples is high on our list as they have a good climate and we have some friends there.
I spent 3 months in Ft Myers this last winter. Even that far south we still had a few early mornings in the 30's. We also had daytime highs in the 80's. If you don't want ANY mornings in the 30's you'll have to go to Miami or The Keys.
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:21 PM   #4
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From the other side of the coin....our house is usually rented for those months by summer time. Most of the time the folks renew, but there are always houses available in our area.

We are just north of Orlando. We have 4 bedrooms and a pool and get 1600-1400/month depending on number of months. We don't try to get top doallr, jsut trust worthy renters.
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:36 PM   #5
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This season in Florida was crazy so I would start looking now for next year . January is usually our colder month so daytime temps can vary from 50's to 70's . The closer you are to the beach the higher the rents . It is too cold to swim in January ,Feburary or most of March unless you are in a heated pool . Check VRBO for rentals & then check city data forum for the safety of the area . I live in Sarasota and Anna Marie Island is a nice place to visit as is Venice ,Fl. Both are safe & friendly with lots of nice restaurants .
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Want to snowbird to warmer climate for first time
Old 04-22-2014, 08:11 PM   #6
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Want to snowbird to warmer climate for first time

We didn't intentionally snowbird this year, but hopped in the camper and headed down near Mobile, then slowly crawled east and south. We never make plans because we move about. The worst of the weather hit, and we just decided to wait it out...

Not much of a help to your questions...

We stayed in the panhandle for the most part, and it got below freezing many nights. Same area we lived in thirty years ago, but the weather last winter was unseasonably cold in Fla. Anywhere south of the panhandle should be warm enough for you, I think.
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Old 04-22-2014, 08:58 PM   #7
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We rented a condo for March in Scottsdale this year. I booked it last Aug. We had a great time and there was so much to do. I met a lot of snowbirds and I would ask them what do you do all day, how do you keep busy? They all said what do you mean. We don't have enough time to do everything here.

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Old 04-22-2014, 09:57 PM   #8
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This site will help you with climate and crime demographics:
Best Places to Live | Compare cost of living, crime, cities, schools and more. Sperling's BestPlaces
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Old 04-22-2014, 10:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tom52 View Post
Since we are recent early retirees, we want to check into renting a small house/condo/apartment next Jan, Feb. and March. Trouble is, we are a bit clueless where to start. Maybe it is already too late to get a place located for next winter. I am fairly sure there are more than a few here who have experience with this so I am soliciting your advice. I do have some general questions to get started.

1. How far in advance do you need to start looking for the next winter season?
2. How far south do you need to go to basically lose the winter season? We would prefer at least 70 degrees most days.
3. How do you pick a location? We have an uncle in the Palm Coast, FL area, I am not sure how warm that area is in the winter months. We would prefer someplace within easy walking distance (15 minutes or less) to a nice beach, but we wouldn't rule out Texas or Arizona if there was beautiful scenery nearby and activities to keep us occupied.
4. How do you know if the area you rent is going to be safe and convenient for walking and biking and other activities? We are not golfers.
5. If there are just the two people, what kind place do you look for? Do you prefer the ground floor for easy access or do you prefer an upper floor of an high-rise unit for safety?
6. What is typical rent you pay per month? I know this could be a very broad range.

Any suggestions are appreciated.
We winter in Panama City Beach, FL. Our unit is across the street from the beach. It is colder than further South (ie. Ft.Myers) in Florida, but rents are lower as it is off-season in the panhandle of Florida. It is "high" (rental) season in the rest of Florida. Weather in January can vary from 50's to 70's and nights can drop as low as 30's. February usually runs a little warmer. Weather varies from sunshine to cloudy and rainy, but no snow. A lot of snowbirds (a lot of Canadians) winter in PCB. We have searched the panhandle as we thought PCB was a little rough around the edges. After spending some time searching across the panhandle - have found PCB to be "not so bad". We don't stay for March as Spring Break brings the younger crowd down and it has been described as a torturous time by our winter neighbors.

Destin is a more upscale tourist area (can you say timeshares), but rents are accordingly. The coast of Alabama reminds me of PCB in layout/offerings. FYI - nowhere is "safe" in Florida - gets an "F" for safety in the ratings of most of its cities.

We find it is better to be in an area that focuses on tourist business (restaurants, activities, etc.), but off season Florida for obvious reasons. Look for an area that offers more of a city life nearby so you don't have to travel an hour to get your groceries or go out to eat (ie. Mexico Beach). It's nice to have Panama City next to PCB for that reason.

We used VRBO to find our rental. It's a real pain in the butt, as VRBO doesn't allow you to sort by "snowbird" criteria (offer winter monthly rentals) to my knowledge. Start looking now - it'll take you awhile to find something decent (believe me on this). The longer you rent in an area the better off you are as you learn where the best places are to eat, golf, etc.

Typical rentals along the beach are what we refer to as condo "tunnels". They can be dark and claustrophobic for a long winter stay (but work for weekly summer beach rentals). We are on the third/top floor, corner unit with double balcony and three sliding glass doors. Most are from 12 ~ 15ft. wide and +/-40ft long. They sport 8-12ft slider leading out to a small balcony, and (1) window in the bedroom (street view). Most sport bunks in the hallway and sleeper sofas/love seats so they can boast a higher bed capacity than practical. Pictures are almost always better than reality, and website reviews can be suspect.

Rentals are what they are, and suffer accordingly from rental abuse. Can't believe the damage we see to our owner's unit from one year to the next. Look for "in unit" washer/dryer (some buildings are coin laudry area only) and cable/internet access . Makes snowbirding much easier. Tall buildings with slow elevators make for a bad stair day, and moving in/out at the end of your stay via elevator sucks. One year we arrived on the weekend to an out of order elevator.

You'll find panhandle winter rentals for a little as +/-$900mos, but expect to pay in the range of $1200 - $2500. Rentals in the "high season" area of Florida will easily be double those figures. FYI - higher pricing does not necessarily mean a better rental (find absolutely no logic for pricing, deposits, down payments, cleaning fees and payment type).

We are looking elsewhere to extend our snowbirding for March. Our owners have also put their unit up for sale this year, so we may be looking elsewhere for January and February also. Would ideally like to have two places to go in Winter. We have found that when the end of February approaches (after two months in PCB) - we are thinking of home. Our thoughts are that a change of scenery would be nice for another month.
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Old 04-23-2014, 05:54 AM   #10
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Northern Florida for snowbirding is to cold. Go as far south as you can, you want to enjoy the warm weather and the great outdoors.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:07 AM   #11
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We have spent a few weeks on Anna Maria Island and ditto on Treasure Island close to the beach. The weather is pretty good (we are avid cyclists so like warm but not hot). Our problem is that we never make winter plans until winter is approaching so the best places are taken. Also, most owners of decent places want long term (e.g. 3 months) rentals.
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Old 04-23-2014, 07:10 AM   #12
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I would suggest you take a look at VRBO - The Most Popular Vacation Rental Site in the US or HomeAway: Vacation Rentals, Beach Houses, Cabins & More.

These are two vacation rental sites (owned by the same company) that list available homes by city all over the world. We own three vacation rentals that we rent on the site and we have rented as tenants from the site many times.
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Old 04-23-2014, 10:20 AM   #13
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FYI - nowhere is "safe" in Florida - gets an "F" for safety in the ratings of most of its cities.
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I don't agree with this. Check out the link in this thread and try some places. Many are not bad. We bought a condo in Indian River Shores, FL. Way below the national average for violent and property crimes.
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Old 04-23-2014, 11:17 AM   #14
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I don't agree with this. Check out the link in this thread and try some places. Many are not bad. We bought a condo in Indian River Shores, FL. Way below the national average for violent and property crimes.
Apologize for painting with a broad-brush comment about Florida. I used the attached link website in the past - most of Florida's larger cities don't do so well in crime control. Even areas like Fort Myers fall into the not-so-good (F) at crime control category.
  • The Fort Myers crime index is 59% higher than the Florida average and and the Florida crime index is 15% higher than the National average.
  • The Fort Myers violent crime rate is 150% higher than the Florida average and and the Florida violent crime rate is 25% higher than the National average.
  • The Fort Myers property crime rate is 45% higher than the Florida average and and the Florida property crime rate is 14% higher than the National average.

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Old 04-24-2014, 06:07 AM   #15
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I want to comment about crime, I live in Florida all winter, I see next to no crime. It's usually larger cities, often in the ghetto area and its drug dealers shooting each other. I lived in the Midwest and it was the same thing. If your worried get a cc permit. I feel safe all the time, so lets not get paranoid. Stay out of the ghettos and you will be alright.
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Old 04-24-2014, 10:13 AM   #16
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I would spend those 3 months in a beach area of Thailand (or other Southeast Asia destination, many choices). It will be cheaper, all costs included. You can get a tourist visa in advance that will allow you to stay in Thailand for 90 days without doing a border run (and longer if you cross a border). You could even take some short trips on budget airlines to nearby destinations.

I don't find any US location warm enough in the winter. Mornings in the 30s or 40s, cold ocean water and cold winds, cold evenings where it is not comfortable to eat outside, all combined with high prices, just don't do it for me. It's not even in the ballpark. In Southeast Asia, for example, the ocean water is around 82 degrees or so. You will quickly meet a lot of like minded people there.

It's not for everyone, but I just wanted to throw the suggestion out there as something to consider. Everyone just seemed to assume that the OP was talking US-only destinations.
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Old 04-24-2014, 11:47 AM   #17
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I want to comment about crime, I live in Florida all winter, I see next to no crime. It's usually larger cities, often in the ghetto area and its drug dealers shooting each other. I lived in the Midwest and it was the same thing. If your worried get a cc permit. I feel safe all the time, so lets not get paranoid. Stay out of the ghettos and you will be alright.
I've posted in this thread that I winter in Panama City Beach. We live in the Suburban Chicago area the rest of the year. I've seen no crime in PCB in the years that I winter there and it's not a ghetto, but that doesn't mean that crime does not exist there (from the website I included earlier)

  • The Panama City Beach crime index is 160% higher than the Florida average and and the Florida crime index is 15% higher than the National average.
  • The Panama City Beach violent crime rate is 41% higher than the Florida average and and the Florida violent crime rate is 25% higher than the National average.
  • The Panama City Beach property crime rate is 178% higher than the Florida average and and the Florida property crime rate is 14% higher than the National average.
You can pick many places in Florida to winter that are rated very low for crime, but I recommended places close to larger cities in my original post for the convenience of close-by amenities and availability of rentals. Florida's larger cities don't rate well for crime and Florida in general runs a little higher than the national average in crime rate. Doesn't mean that I don't enjoy going there or don't recommend it - just that where I recommended to go (near larger cities for convenience) are more prone to this scenario.
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Old 04-25-2014, 07:26 AM   #18
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It's not for everyone, but I just wanted to throw the suggestion out there as something to consider. Everyone just seemed to assume that the OP was talking US-only destinations.
OP mentioned Florida, Texas and Arizona. So I assumed that any out-of-country suggestions would be unwelcome.

There is only a limited number of retirees who are adventurous enough to try other countries.
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Old 04-25-2014, 12:18 PM   #19
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OP mentioned Florida, Texas and Arizona. So I assumed that any out-of-country suggestions would be unwelcome.
You are right, sorry to derail the thread
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Old 04-25-2014, 06:01 PM   #20
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You are right, sorry to derail the thread
Kramer, I think you are right to suggest a winder search pattern than just the southern USA. Think of the adventure. I kind of wish DW and I had been more adventurous back in the day. The one "compromise" I would suggest is to consider Hawaii. It is much more expensive than many of the asian nations, but if, like us, you prefer the US, Hawaii is a great compromise (I always say "Hawaii is the US, but it's not America.") YES, Hawaii is more expensive than FL/AZ/TX/maybe even SoCal, etc as well. BUT, I would personally prefer to spend less time (and ALL of it being warm) than more time - and dodging cold snaps. For those who have acclimated to the mainland, EVERY day is a beach day in Hawaii (okay, maybe not every day - but most). Don't know much about the short-term condos/housing here, but a WAG is $3K/month. Anyplace on Oahu is a short walk or a somewhat longer (THE)BUS ride to the beach. Big Island should be less expensive, but you need a car if you don't have a place, more or less on the beach. Only real suggestion to OP is not to dismiss it without checking it out first. YMMV
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