Where and why do snowbirds move?
Snowbirds are people who move to the southern states in the winter to escape the cold weather in the north. They used to be primarily retired, but today, people of all ages adopt a snowbird’s lifestyle. Snowbirds travel from across the country, and Canada, to four major states, every winter.
In this post, we’ve put together some useful information to help you compare the four most popular US states for snowbirds – Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas.
Snowbirds love Florida
Florida is among the most popular states due to not only its great weather but a few other reasons. It is a great place for a second home state as it does permit temporary residency of up to six months and does not make you replace your driver’s license!
- No state income taxes – you pay taxes only if you are a resident of the state.
- Not taxing pension income.
- The state sales tax rate is 6%.
- Local taxes vary by country between 6 – 8.5%.
- The gasoline tax is 41.4 cents/gallon.
- Killer property taxes – it depends on the type of home, but now about 3% of assessed value.
- Real estate prices – rising; median sales price $165,000, which is still more affordable than quite a few other states.
The biggest benefit is the year-round warm weather. It is the perfect place to stay warm during the winter and recharge your batteries. Yet, the summers could be very hot and humid, which is why snowbirds leave the state in the summer and go back to their northern homes.
Snowbirds in Florida certainly have great opportunities to meet other escapees. The Sunshine State has been the number one snowbird destination in the US for a long time. This is a precedent for well-developed snowbirds communities, meaning there are varieties of social opportunities to explore.
Being outside in Florida is pretty much limited to being by the ocean and enjoying the sun and breeze. If you are an outdoor person, you won’t find much of a variety in outdoor activities. Besides the sunny beaches, there isn’t much to do in Florida. An interesting place to see would be the Everglades, the wetlands of Florida which are located on the southern tip of the state. For those interested in canoe and kayaking, Florida offers its lakes, but be aware of potential alligator spots.
California dreaming still
California is the other favorite destination, although many would argue for Arizona instead. Here I have not put them in a strict top/bottom list, however, I do believe that after Florida, California is a favorite spot for many snowbirds. Check out some facts now.
- The taxes are high in general. However, you only pay them if you are a resident of the state.
- California is taxing pension income. This is really a tough one.
- The state sales tax rate is 6.50%. Some local taxes are imposed. The gasoline tax is 55.5 cents/gallon.
- The gas prices are typically among the highest in the nation.
- Property taxes amount varies by county – on average, the tax is 0.74% of estimated property value.
- Real estate costs are high and vary by county. The median sales price for San Diego is $200,000
California is famous for its warm weather year-round. Southern parts have probably the best climate in the country. It is breezy, and both days and nights are not humid at all. You can be walking down the street at 3 pm with scorching sun, and yet it would not feel as bad. The main factor is the cold Pacific ocean.
California is big – much bigger than Florida, and snowbirds are quite scattered. Therefore, you will really have to search for retirees-focused communities, if socializing is what you need. Most snowbirds are concentrated in southern California, so start your search from there.
The Outdoor activities
This is the category where California beats all other states. The Golden State offers mountains, forests (the great redwoods!), hot springs, miles of sunny beaches, adventures in the desert, and more. California offers abundant opportunities for winter and summer sports, and various other outdoor activities. Whether you want to lay on the beach all day, go for a hike, or try some of the best wines in the world – California has it all.
Arizona has its charm and it is not a surprise that thousands of snowbirds go there each year. The desolate landscapes offer a unique opportunity for relaxation and reflection. It has many beautiful places to visit and it is quite affordable for snowbirds with quite a few communities.
- State Sales tax 6.60%.
- Income tax – low 2.59% and high range 4.54%.
- Out of state pension income is taxed.
- No state property taxes. Arizona counties collect an average of 0.72% of property’s estimated fair market value
- Personal property is taxed.
- Gasoline tax 19 cents/gallon.
- Water use tax 65 cents / 1,000 gallons.
Real estate prices
The median sales price in Phoenix is about $150,000. That is pretty good compared to California and even Florida.
It is hot and dry all year long. Arizona has a localized climate, but in general, the lower elevation parts are very hot in the summer and mild in the winter (45 -70` F). The desert landscape brings large temp variations – from 85`F during the day to 55`F at night.
Similar to other snowbirds states, Arizona offers opportunities to meet new people at most tourist attractions and resorts. RV snowbirds are popular in Arizona and many RV parks are places to meet and make new friends.
In addition to its desert, Arizona has an abundance of landscapes. 27% of the land is forests – most of it state parks offering numerous outdoor activities. The biggest attraction of all is the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River carving it all the way. The Canyon is one of the Seventh Natural Wonders of the World and the first national park.
Everything is bigger in Texas
Texas is the last of the states on this list, but not the least by importance. It is a favorite place as well and thousands of snowbirds spend their winters there. It is a big state and it has a lot to offer to its residents and guests alike.
- State sales tax is 6.25% and no state income tax.
- No state personal income tax. And that is big!
- Pension income tax not taxed, and that is good!
- Property tax is imposed by local taxing units. Seniors 65 yrs old and older qualify for exemptions of $10,000 and more.
- The gasoline tax is 20 cents/gallon
Real estate prices
The median sales price in Austin is $180,000. On average the prices are-acceptable and competitive compared to many other states.
Texas is at the intersection of multiple climate zones, which brings in changing weather. Despite its size and different landscape, during the summer months, most areas see consistent high temperatures. The mountain regions experience multiple snowfalls, and the state has the most tornadoes in the US. Thunderstorms strike quite often as well. That’s why the most popular locations for snowbirds are in the Rio Grande Valley which is the most southern point of Texas.
The Gulf Coast areas of Texas have a real tropical feeling and this is where you will find most snowbirds. RV parks are the most popular places for snowbirds. But this is not all. Many small restaurants offer a great atmosphere and dancing every night. Some of the smaller cities like Mission are a favorite because of their closeness to Mexico. Becoming a Texan snowbird is affordable and equates to many new friends and tons of fun!
Social life for most snowbirds means great outdoor activities. For many, it simply means enjoying the warm weather of the south all winter long. Great beaches, sun-filled days, and friendly people will give you the energy to stay out all day and night.
If you are thinking of moving to any of the Southern states for the winter (or permanently), let us know if there is anything else you want to learn.
If you are one of the snowbirds going south and need auto transport we can help. Corsia Logistics offers car shipping for snowbirds, and the rates are always affordable.
The snowbirds moving season often means busy roads and increased moving rates. Don’t panic though, we work hard to find the best car shipping rate and the best auto transport carrier to ship your vehicle. We can also provide all the necessary information to help you avoid the most common auto transport mistakes.
Now, start planning and enjoy the winter! Thank you!