Snowbirds move to a warmer southern state in the winter. Then when things heat up down south in the summer, the snowbirds migrate back to northern climes. (Photo: Unsplash).
Duane Duggan, RE/MAX of Boulder
Duane Duggan, RE/MAX of Boulder

A “snowbird” is defined as a Northerner who has two homes. Snowbirds move to a warmer southern state in the winter. Then when things heat up down south in the summer, the snowbirds migrate back to northern climes. For Colorado snowbirds, Arizona is a favorite destination since it’s such a short trip by car or plane. During May, snowbirds return from Arizona and other sunny spots to roost in Colorado for the summer.

If you’re thinking about becoming a snowbird, here are a few tips for making the most of the snowbird experience.

Pick the right place to buy your snowbird home

Assess what you like to do. If you’re a beachgoer, Arizona won’t work, but it’s a great place for golf and the Rockies Spring Training.

Is your part-time home easy to travel to? You don’t want to go bankrupt with pricey airfare back and forth. Make sure you can travel without breaking the bank.

Are the medical services you need available in the second location? If not, plan your medical appointments while you are at your primary location.

Is it affordable? Can you either pay cash for the second home or have enough down payment to keep the mortgage payments within your budget?

Before you go shopping for the snowbird home, get pre-qualified if you need a mortgage loan and check with your tax advisor regarding any tax issues.

Leaving your home in Boulder (or any northern location) while you travel down south

If you are leaving your home in Colorado unattended, check with your insurance agent to make sure you have coverage if you will be gone for six months.

Winterize your home, so if there is a power failure, there won’t be any danger of the pipes freezing.

Consider hiring a friend or a service to check on the property, shovel snow, and help with home maintenance while you are gone. Some people will hire a trusted house sitter to keep your home warm and well maintained.

It might be possible to leave your home with a property manager and rent it out for the months you are away. You can check out each municipality’s rules on short term rentals and see if it would be feasible to bring in rental income while you aren’t there.

Leaving your southern home to escape the heat

Most of the items are the same for your southern home as for your northern home.

Again, check with your insurance agent to make sure your home is covered if you are gone for six months.

“Summerize” your home! A vacant home can get very hot in sunny climates when it is 120 degrees outside. Determine if you should leave the air conditioner or central air on in the home to keep it cooled to a reasonable level.

Make sure the home is well sealed and insulated to avoid critters getting in and taking up residence while you are gone.

Consider the same rental possibilities as above, such as a house sitter, short-term rental, or a friend or service to check in on the property.

If being a snowbird sounds like the right thing for you, ask your Realtor® in Boulder for a Realtor referral in your southern winter destination. The Realtor there can help you find the perfect place and connect you with all the services needs to make your Snowbird experience a pleasant one.

By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career, the vast majority from repeat and referred clients. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life. For questions, e-mail DuaneDuggan@boulderco.com, call 303.441.5611 or visit boulderco.com.