Snowbirding Practice 2020

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?

Image Credit: Pixabay

11 thoughts on “Snowbirding Practice 2020

  1. Ah Snow-birding, the dream of all Michiganders like me. The world of VRBO has really changed things. I no longer want to own a second home, I will just go away for February and if I like the place, I will keep using it. If it gets old, I will pick another nest. The world changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! We’ve rented AirBNB and VRBO places all over the world now. At a timeshare in Cabo a few years ago, the residents couldn’t believe what a great deal we had snagged versus the long-term contracts they were in.

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  2. At first glance I was shocked by the numbers, but then you pointed out it was for an entire month, so I came off the cliff quickly. Did you look into VRBO I see there are lots of fine places for under 150 a night? Sounds like great fun. We have done a couple weeks but never a month, I like the idea, my wife does not want to leave the house for several months like the typical snowbird so a month my just be enough to rid us of our NW winter blues, no snow but gray sky’s and fog almost everyday. Thanks for the post

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    1. The place we are staying was basically the same price on VRBO, AirBNB, Bookings.com, and Orbitz. We’re not ready to leave for the whole winter either, so a month will be a good ‘trial’ period for us.

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    1. I missed you when you were in Minneapolis this summer, I think. Physicians on FIRE guy organized something at Surly – but turned off his phone – so I couldn’t connect when I got there. Where are you headed this winter?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. We have been doing the Florida Keys for about five years now. We started with just a week the first time, and we’re now also doing a month at a time (likely expanding to six or eight weeks in the near future). We have been renting houses and/or condos via VRBO when we stay there. It’s really our only option with our 90 lb. golden retriever, but we’ve had great luck with VRBO. We did the month of March last year, and will do so again this coming year. It’s a great break from the snow! You will never look back. (Just get ready to convince yourself there is a real reason to go back to MN!)

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    1. It is just 1 degree right now in MN, so we are already thinking we need to go to Florida for a longer visit! 😉

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      1. We love Virginia as home base, but ideally, I would love to only be here in Oct-Dec and Apr-Jun (Virginia has great Falls and Springs). I would (ideally) do Jan-Mar in the Florida Keys, and Jul-Sep in Colorado or Montana (or some other beautiful…but much cooler site that we haven’t been to before!) We are slowly developing this plan, but we are definitely getting there!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That would be the perfect mix for getting outside. The beauty of Virginia is under appreciated. We spent some time exploring the state when our friends lived there about 5 years ago.

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