Millions of Americans and Canadians are migrating south every year, in a bid to spend the winter in areas with comfortable temperatures and that provide plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities.
The 2020 pandemic-related restrictions and worries convinced some snowbirds to change or delay their plans, but the seasonal migration still happened.
The unique circumstances of the previous year even allowed a growing segment of remote workers to relocate for the winter months.
Online searches related to short-term rentals for snowbirds in the US showed only a moderate drop in interest of 14% when comparing the first 11 months of 2020 with the same period in 2019.
Canadian snowbirds, estimated at around one million during a regular year, were more affected by the pandemic, due to the restriction on non-essential international travel at the land border between Canada and the US.
A recent survey of Canadian snowbirds conducted by the folk at Snowbird Advisor shows that about 31% of them still plan to travel for the 2020-2021 snowbirding season.
With all these factors in mind, self storage search website STORAGECafe decided to investigate the best 2021 snowbird destinations in the US.
The research took into account relevant factors for snowbirds, such as average temperatures from October to March, the proportion of houses dedicated to seasonal use out of the vacant housing stock, access to beaches and parks, and numbers of golf courses, as well as health and safety related indicators. 392 US cities were analyzed in order to obtain the top 100 best snowbird destinations.
1. Florida Remains the Most Important Snowbird Destination, With Boca Raton Taking the First Spot
Florida, with its infrastructure of affordable snowbird housing, perfect winter temperatures and sandy beaches, remains the ideal snowbird destination.
Boca Raton ranks first at the national and obviously state level, due to factors like average temperatures in the low 70s, no less than 78% of the vacant housing stock being dedicated to seasonal use, and more than 20 miles of beaches available in the area.
The state of Florida has another five cities among the top 10 best snowbird destinations, many of which are located on the state’s spectacular southeastern coast.
Jupiter takes the second spot, boosted by the availability of housing options for snowbirds, the 19 golf courses in the area, and many miles of beaches.
With a population of about 65,000 residents, Jupiter is just the right size, as most snowbirds are looking for tranquil, peaceful cities.
Third place goes to yet another Palm Beach County city, in this case, West Palm Beach.
More than half of its vacant housing inventory is dedicated to seasonal use, but it also scores well across the board, including for weather, parks, beaches, and golf courses.
The other Floridian cities in the top ten are Fort Myers, Clearwater, and Delray Beach, ranking fourth, seventh and eighth, respectively, in the top 10.
2. California Has the Most Cities in the Top 100 Best Snowbird Destinations
California has the most cities in the top 100 best snowbird destinations, no less than 34, compared to Florida’s 29. However, California’s cities are not nearly as well placed as those in Florida.
One important factor that leads to the generally lower ranking of Californian cities is the availability of housing options – these cities tend to have a significantly smaller percentage of houses dedicated to seasonal use.
The state also has another housing-related downside as one might expect – the high cost of living.
Californian cities Santa Monica, Palo Alto, and Redondo Beach are the least affordable snowbird destinations in the top 100 list.
The highest-ranked Californian city is Irvine, in 16th place, followed by Indio on 29th and San Diego on 33rd.
Irvine scores very well for beaches, with more than 50 miles in the area.
Indio, on the other hand, has no beaches, as it’s located in the desert, in Coachella Valley, but instead, it benefits from having almost two thirds of its vacant housing units dedicated to seasonal use.
What it also has is plenty of golf courses, and perfectly sunny, desert weather.
San Diego, with its 1.5 million residents, is one the largest cities that makes it into the top 100 best snowbird destinations, due to its 57 miles of beaches, almost 600 square feet of parks per capita, and the 28 golf courses in the area.
3. Texas Boasts the Most Affordable Snowbird Destinations
Snowbirds in the Lone Star State, known as “winter Texans,” enjoy affordable destinations. The state has 17 cities in the top 100 best snowbird destinations, with Corpus Christi the best placed, in ninth position.
Unlike the bulk of the state’s snowbirding destinations, which are located in the Rio Grande Valley, Corpus Christi is on the coast and therefore benefits from the added bonus of 40 miles of beaches in the area.
Although the proportion of housing units for seasonal use is relatively low, at 18%, there are about a dozen RV and motorhome parks in and around Corpus Christi.
Interestingly enough, the city is not only the 9th best snowbird destination overall but also the 9th most affordable destination, with an average monthly rent of $989.
The most affordable snowbird destination is Brownsville, Texas, with a monthly rent of $730.
Besides Florida, California, and Texas, other states boast attractive snowbird destinations.
Mount Pleasant, in South Carolina, takes the fifth place in the ranking, with pleasant winter temperatures and almost 40% of its vacant housing stock marked for seasonal use.
Honolulu, the only state capital among the top 10 best snowbird destinations, is boosted by ideal average winter temperatures of 75 degrees, gorgeous beaches, and golf courses.
Gilbert, Arizona, makes it to the 10th spot, with more than a third of its vacant housing stock dedicated to seasonal use.
The lack of beaches is supplemented by golf courses and parks, plenty of sunny days, and the impressive desert landscape.