It’s that time of year where those dreading the cold start dreaming of traveling to southern states where it always feels like summer.
While this trend is not new, it certainly received a huge boost recently from younger snowbirds – or zoombirds. With remote work still in play, zoombirds are joining the traditional snowbird clientele in spreading their wings towards places with rising mercury. But where should snowbirds fly?
To help inspire sun-seekers find a place to stay, we’ve examined 215 warm-weather cities and mapped out the places that provide the best price-to-amenities ratio for snowbirds of all ages. From well-known hot spots to up-and-coming snowbird vacation spots and hidden gems, these 100 destinations check all the lifestyle boxes for the ditch-the-cold-for-a-month-or-more life while also taking into account the affordability aspect.
Our selection criteria encompass key snowbirding factors, such as Oct.-Mar. average temperature, seasonal housing availability – plus RV spots, oceanfront and park space per capita, safety, restaurants, golf courses, internet speed, accessibility to health centers and more*. All factors considered, while bigger cities tend to steal the limelight, smaller communities can often offer an ideal blend of attractions – from balmy weather to limitless fun and safe streets. Notably, 40 of the best cities on this year’s list have populations of less than 50,000.
Florida holds strong to its reputation as the king of snowbird destinations, with almost half of the cities in the top 100 located within the Sunshine State. Renowned for its stunning beaches and tropical climate, Florida caters to both traditional vacationers and new snowbirding enthusiasts. It is followed by Texas, which secured 27 cities on the list, and California with 18 cities.
And the top 10 hottest places for snowbirds are:
- Venice, FL
- Vero Beach, FL
- Fort Pierce, FL
- Naples, FL
- Lake Wales, FL
- Mission, TX
- Apache Junction, AZ
- Tarpon Springs, FL
- Fort Myers, FL
- Clermont, FL
Here’s a link to an interactive map of the top locations in each state ranked by their ability to respond to snowbirds’ needs for quality living environment: https://www.storagecafe.com/blog/best-places-for-snowbirds-in-the-us/#datawrapper-chart-euT29
*Self storage was also taken into account, as many snowbirds choose to store belongings there (beach accessories, sport equipment, hobby gear and clothing, etc) so they can travel lighter.
- Venice, FL, Vero Beach, FL, and Fort Pierce, FL, provide the best environment and amenities for snowbirds and zoombirds alike
- Mission, TX, and Apache Junction, AZ, stand out as increasingly appealing destinations for snwobirds, offering a low cost of living alongside a fantastic outdoor scene
- Florida remains the best state overall for snowbirds, with 42 cities in the top 100 list, only challenged by Texas
- The rise of remote work, which now involves 24 million Americans, may lead to a notable increase in snowbird populations as they seek warmer winters.
The traditional wintertime “migration” towards friendlier shores keeps gaining new clientele. The millions of baby boomers from the northern US and Canada are joined in their quest for sunshine by young professionals who can now increasingly work from anywhere.
The work-from-home trend has exploded in the aftermath of the pandemic, tripling from 5.6% (8.7 million people) in 2019 to 17.8% (over 27 million people) in 2021, per data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2022, 15% of Americans worked remotely, meaning that more than 24 million people can be flexible about their homebase. Of course, not everybody will pack their bags each November, and many are already living in the southern parts of the country, but that still leaves us with potentially millions of Americans in a position to contemplate the perspective of becoming snowbirds…. or zoombirds.
As snowbirds are booking their flights or loading up their RVs to reach their blissful retreats, local businesses – from food stores to restaurants and seasonal rentals – are eagerly priming their cash registers for a windfall. For example, in Florida – the snowbirds’ sweetheart destination – revenue from tourism is on a strong trajectory, hitting roughly $101.9 billion in 2021. But while snowbirding remains popular, rising real estate prices and the cost of living in general are making it difficult for sunshine lovers to fully embrace this lifestyle.
We wanted to determine which cities offer the best bang for the buck for snowbirds and zoombirds alike, the places that check all the lifestyle boxes while also taking into account the affordability aspect. We’ve analyzed and ranked 215 US cities across 11 snowbird-friendly states in terms of:
- Snowbird-friendly surroundings (October to March average temperatures, rainfall and air quality)
- Beaches found within a 10-miles radius of each location
- Park space per capita
- Golf courses per capita
- Availability of both rentals and housing allocated for seasonal use
- The cost of renting an apartment and the cost of buying a home
- Availability of RV parks
- Number of restaurants
- Self storage prices
- Local internet speed
- Healthcare-related factors (Medicare pricing for new patients, and availability of hospitals, other medical organizations and medical professionals)
Snowbirds’ sweet spots: the perfect blend of amenities, mild climates, and affordability
There are plenty of opportunities for fun in all warm-weather states. But when it comes to overall friendliness for those seeking mild winters, Florida is hard to rival. It has been popular for so long that it has honed its infrastructure and optimized services to efficiently meet the needs of snowbirds, but also zoombirds. Unsurprisingly, Florida reigns supreme on the list of top 100 cities for snowbirds, boasting an impressive 42 cities that make the cut. However, some locations might surprise you in and out of the Sunshine State. Texas secured 27 cities on the list, followed by California with 18 cities.
We’ve narrowed down the list further to help you jump-start your quest for the friendliest winter getaway before it’s time to start shoveling snow. Here’s an overview of the top 10 cities for snowbirds and zoombirds and what makes them attractive for those seeking a blend of affordability and a sunny lifestyle.
Banner Image: Florida. Image Credit – Denys Kostyuchenko