This Wednesday, the high temperature in Minnesota where we live will be 0F degrees, while in Orlando FL it will be a balmy 82F. While our home, family, and ‘life’ are here in the cold, we’ve decided to engage in some ‘weather arbitrage’ and escape to Florida this winter.
I wrote about Snowbirding a few years ago with the advice of my friend Russ and his wife Tracy, who are already down in Florida this year. My wife and I decided this week that we too should give it a shot and we are going to spend the month of February in Florida. Since we had almost 40” of snow last February in Minnesota, we figured that would be a good month to go!
We picked Orlando as our destination. We found that both Florida coasts were pretty booked up with snowbirds already and that Orlando was exceptionally affordable. Since it is primarily a family destination – and February is well before Spring Break – there were many nice condos available at a great price.
Here’s our rough budget for the month:
⁃ $5K for a 2 bedroom villa at a Marriott resort
⁃ $1K for a mid-sized SUV rental
⁃ $800 for airfare
⁃ $1.5K for vacation ‘entertainment’
⁃ $500 other expenses
Expenses like groceries and eating out should be a ‘push’ versus what we would spend if we were home in Minnesota. I included $1.5K for vacation entertainment because we’ll certainly want to enjoy some of the touristy things to do when we are down there.
Orlando is centrally located in the state. It’s a couple hours to Tampa (where the Super Bowl will be) in February and a couple hours the other way to the Cocoa Beach/Space Coast area. That makes it pretty close to a lot of activities. We reserved a 2 bedroom villa because our son is planning to come down for a long weekend while we are there and we are open to other visitors.
The $500 of ‘other’ expenses we budgeted is to cover things like travel medical insurance, and other surprises that we haven’t thought about yet. Financially, there are always things you don’t expect, so I always try to budget in a bit of ‘fluff’.
In total, the bill will be about $9K. That’s about a third more than we’ve budgeted in the past for winter vacations. Typically we go for 7-10 days, but this will be almost the whole month. I think that makes it a worthwhile splurge and it will help us think about what snowbirding on a longer-term basis might look like.
We’re certainly not ready to buy a second home at this point, so doing a monthly rental makes sense. I expect we might spend 5+ years renting places for different lengths of time before I would ever be ready to put down permanent roots. In rough numbers, the payback on a vacation home is about 15 years, so I’m not in a hurry to put down roots at this point.
Any advice from anyone that has done / or is planning a longer-term winter change of address like this?
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