Things Snowbirds Should Do Before Spring: Part 2

Now that you’ve got some fun ideas to get your winter going, it’s also important to do some things that will just make your life easier when spring comes. None of these things or the things on the previous list has to be done one at a time. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to do a fundamental task while you’re engaging in something fun. Here are a few ideas to help you prepare and simplify your life before the spring:

 

Fundamentals:

It feels good to accomplish things and be prepared ahead of time! That’s not to say you spend your whole winter cleaning, organizing, and preparing. You can just do a few things that will make it easier to accomplish when the time comes!

 

Purge! You’re bound to have things that you don’t use or that wear out over the winter. You don’t have to hold onto that stuff, in fact, getting rid of it just means less to pack and bring north. It could be clothing you didn’t wear over the summer that you can donate before heading back. It could be cleaning out those craft supplies you didn’t use while making that quilt. Whatever it is, the less you have to bring back and forth, the easier the adjustments will be.

 

Budget! Start a budget or start planning for things you want to do either over the summer or the following winter. It’s never too early to plan your fun! Sometimes it takes a little longer to plan that perfect trip or to get everyone’s schedules to align. Take the lead with your friends and family, everyone will be super appreciative and you’ll be able to enjoy yourselves better when the fun actually starts if it’s already been planned and prepped for.

 

Ask for help! The whole point of this list is to make things easier for you! If you begin your list and realize you have a lot on your plate, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Chances are you’ve created a community of people you can rely on who are in similar places in their lives. Work together to accomplish things. It’ll make the spring cleaning and decluttering more fun and efficient!

 

 

Things Snowbirds Should do Before Spring: Part 1

It seems like the winter months either drag on or fly by, there’s no real in-between phase. One minute you’re planning to head to a warmer climate for the winter and the next thing you know, it’s almost time to head back. The holidays can get crazy and hectic. October through Mid-January can sometimes feel like one big month. So, how do you make the most out of your winter without compromising or sacrificing? Here are some ideas to get you started so you fit everything in and still enjoy your season:

 

The first thing you should do is organize your to-do list into categories–even if it’s just something as simple as “Fun” and “Fundamentals.” That’s how we’ll break up the list.

 

Fun:

Enjoy the slow! No, not SNOW. We know you went south to avoid the snow—enjoy the slow. Things are just a little slower moving during the winter months, regardless of your location. People tend to spend more time indoors and more time with friends and family. Don’t let the hectic hype of the holiday season distract you from the relaxing and enjoyable time with the people you care about.

 

Take advantage of what your southern location has to offer. Different climates have different things to offer. Find things to do you wouldn’t or couldn’t normally do in your northern location!

 

Create, craft, or conceptualize! Seriously, we’ve all got that one project we’ve been meaning to do or that new skill we’ve been excited to learn. Take the time to nourish your hobbies and passions. If you’ve been trying to finish that quilt, set a goal and finish it! If you’ve wanted to learn some new cooking techniques, find a course in your community. Once the summer hits and school is out, you’ll be spending time with grandkids or hanging out by the lake. Use this time to do something for yourself!

Take that trip! Just because you live in two different locations doesn’t mean going from one to the other is a vacation! If you’re driving to your secondary location, take the long way and make it a road trip. Once you get settled in, plan a trip somewhere with the friends you have in Arizona (or where ever it is you winter). You’ll make memories and you’ll have a blast—even if it’s just a stay-cation and you turn a weekend getaway into an adventure! It’s important to do those types of things! Rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul!

 

There are plenty of other things you can do to make the most out of the time you’re away: read that book, watch that television series everyone’s been talking about, or volunteer. You’ve got time to enjoy yourself so start doing just that!

 

Stay tuned for our next blog post which will cover the “fundamentals” list! In the meantime, start having some fun!

 

 

Snowbirds and the Holidays

With Thanksgiving right around the corner and the weather already turning cold, most snowbirds are settled into their winter homes and prepping for the holidays. A concern that many people have in regards to seasonal living is about being away from family on the holidays. After all, family is really the driving force behind holiday celebrations. If you’re across the country, or even the world, from your family, is it still special? How do people adjust? Is there a way to ensure the holidays are special even if you’re away from family? The short answer is, yes! Here are 3 tips to make sure the holidays are special, no matter where you are:

 

Christmas in July:

Ok, it doesn’t actually have to be in July but you get the idea. Choose a time when everyone is together and bring out the Christmas lights and deck the halls! It’s a fun way to start a new tradition and, it’ll probably alleviate some of the holiday stress during the winter months because you don’t have to worry about “sharing” your family with the in-laws.

 

 

Technology:

In this day and age, it almost feels like we never disconnect from each other. Often, with all the social media platforms it can feel like we were actually at an event instead of just watching videos, looking at pictures, and reading first-hand accounts. Plus, you can always use a video chat application like, Skype or something similar.

 

Give Yourself Permission:

You love your family. Your grandchildren are the light of your life. That doesn’t change simply because you decide on some self-care over the holidays. Give yourself permission and don’t apologize for doing what YOU want to do. They say that grandchildren are the reward for raising happy, healthy, children. While that may be true, they can also be exhausting. Take some time for yourself and enjoy the things you want to do. You’ve earned it!

 

 

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Changing Your Seasonal Living Scenery

Now that the weather is turning and the snow is falling, most snowbirds are settling into their secondary homes. Maybe you’re planning on a vacation or you’re just tired of the same old routine. We know you’ll never go anywhere that compares to the beauty and serenity of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but if you’re looking for some winter destinations that will bring you a break from the snow and provide some fun adventures, we’ve compiled the perfect list for you.

 

 

1. Georgetown, South Carolina

The average high in January is a comfortable 60 degrees. This charming town hugs the Atlantic coastline so you can enjoy spending time in the sand, fishing on the sea, or walking down the harbor. Georgetown also has a historic downtown that will transport you back in time.

 

 

2. Peoria, Arizona

Don’t forget to pack your ball caps when you come to Peoria. In this toasty town, the average high in January is 70 degrees. You can catch a Mariners baseball game or go out sailing on Peasant Lake.

 

 

3. Palm Springs, California

Any time is the right time to have a cocktail and sit by the pool here! The average temperature in January is 71 degrees. Visitors like to walk the Andreas Canyon Trail or stop by the nearby Desert Hot Springs.

 

 

4. Laughlin, Nevada

This town is nestled along the Colorado River. If you like the thrill of gambling but also the thrill of reeling in a large trout, there will be no shortage of things to do here. There is a great mix of city and nature and the average temperature in January is a nice 65 degrees.

 

 

5. Orange Beach, Alabama

This city boasts beautiful white sand beaches and seafood to die for! They also have a festival just for snowbirds, creatively called the Snowbird Festival. The average temperature in January is 60 degrees. It may be a little too chilly to take a dip in the ocean, but the sound of the waves is relaxing enough to make up for it!

 

 

Who says you can’t learn new tricks?! Experiencing new places and adventures is a great way to stay rejuvenated. Nice places to hunker down during the winter months are not limited to this list. There are many more places for Snowbirds to fly to and soak in the sun including Gulfport, Mississippi; Mount Dora, Florida; Ocala, Florida; or Harlingen, Texas. It really depends on your taste and what you prefer. While enjoying your summer back home, start some research on your new adventure for next year. There’s no time like the present to try something new.

 

 

5 Tips for Setting Up the Snowbird Lifestyle on Retirement

Each year, millions of people migrate from the colder regions of the United States and Canada to sunny, warmer locations like Florida, California, or other Sunbelt states. Living a snowbird lifestyle offers the best of both worlds: you can maintain friendships and stay connected to family and familiar places, but you can also escape from the cold, often treacherous, winter weather. It sounds like a dream come true, right!? Well, before you start packing, here are a few tips to help you enjoy the advantages of a snowbird lifestyle while avoiding some of the challenges:

 

Cost:

The best way to plan for the cost of dual-living is to get organized and do your research. You’ll be responsible for two house payments, two utility bills, two water bills, two electric bills, etc. You’re maintaining two households. A perfect option to balance that is community living. If you’re part of an association, often times your yard maintenance and things like that are taken care of for you. Renting a place in your secondary location is another option. This allows you to enjoy two locations without being responsible for buying two sets of appliances and the like. Seasonal parks allow for home ownership without all the hassle. Often, these living communities have planned events, hobbies, and community get-togethers. Your quality of life will improve but the costs will stay low.

Living Expenses:

The traditional route a snowbird takes is to a Sunbelt state in the U.S. Another option that may be less expensive is to relocate overseas. Mexico, Costa Rica, and Panama are all popular retirement spots and you can, on average, retire there for around $1000/month. Your dollar will stretch a little further and you can afford to reduce your costs while you’re away.

 

Downsize:

For many retirees, it’s hard to let go of the home they raised children in, the home that was a staple for everything their family represented. The problem is, that home is now much too large, especially if you’re planning on living in two locations. Downsize to a smaller place in each location to make it more affordable. A smaller living space would also save you on utility costs.

 

Rent:

The beauty of this technological world we live in is the advancements out there to make life a little easier to navigate. Airbnb is a perfect chance to rent out your family home and, if the mortgage is already paid off, earn some extra income. Your friends and family are close by to help out with cleaning in between guests and to restock any supplies they may need. You could also just rent out your home for a season. Again, you’ll feel better knowing that friends and family are nearby to help if the renters don’t work out.

 

Get a Side Gig:

Finding a part time job to supplement some income while you’re away is another great option. You can often find jobs in retail or some other flexible position. Those types of jobs have high turn-over rates and are usually looking to hire someone dependable, even if it’s just for the season.

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Snowbirds and Travel Insurance: What You Need to Know

We all have certain fears about traveling. One of the main concerns is what will happen if a bag is lost or you have to cancel the trip at the last minute. Travel insurance is a plan you purchase that protects you from certain financial risks and losses that can occur while traveling. These losses can be minor, like a delayed suitcase, or significant, like a last-minute trip cancellation or a medical emergency overseas. It’s easy to understand why travel insurance is a good idea, but the logistics of choosing a plan can be trickier to navigate than the new locations you’re traveling to. To help you make sense of travel insurance, here are a few tips you should consider:

 

Travel insurance can be categorized into two broad categories: trip cancellation and medical insurance. There are, of course, different add-ons or packages in each category, but understanding those two basic ideas should prove helpful.

 

Trip Cancellation Insurance covers any added expense that may come up while traveling. For instance:

  • Actual cancellation of your trip—if something comes up last minute and you need to cancel, you’ll be covered.
  • Trip interruption—should you need to return early, those expenses are covered.
  • Baggage—various policies cover things like lost or damaged luggage or property.
  • Other—there may be other benefits like travel delay, ID theft protection, or car rental coverage, but these vary among policies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Medical Insurance:

This option is recommended for people traveling for an extended period of time. This is a great idea for snowbirds who travel seasonally in different countries. There may be restrictions with a primary insurance when overseas and travel medical insurance can help with those costs. Some policies will include emergency medical evacuation or transportation should that become necessary.

 

Wherever you’re traveling and for however long, it’s never a bad idea to find out more about travel insurance. It could just end up saving you a lot of time, money, and stress in the long-run.

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When is it Time to Fly South for the Winter?

 

As the warm weather begins to wane, many snowbirds begin preparing, at least mentally, to head to the Sunbelt state of their choosing. For others, being home for the spring and summer around friends and family makes it hard to want to leave. You don’t want to miss the beauty and reverence of a crisp autumn morning; you don’t want to miss spending the holidays with your family; you definitely don’t want to be here when the snow starts to fall. That begs the question: when is the right time to fly south for the winter? As they say, timing is everything, so how do you know when that timing is right?

 

Honestly, that question is really about personal preference, but there are a couple things you might want to consider.

 

 

Location:

Yes, you’re trading in snow boots and mittens for flip flops and sunglasses, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t particular patterns of weather where you’re going that need to be looked into. For example, in Florida, November has the lowest amount of rainfall so that might be a perfect time to head south. The beaches are usually the least populated during the late fall as well. You’ll be able to settle in before tourists arrive.

 

 

 

Method of Travel:

 

Many snowbirds choose to either rent or own a home in both states in which they reside. This makes it easier to readjust to either location. The packing and unpacking is less intensive, there are many cost-effective living options that are designated for dual living, and you won’t have to worry about cross-country travel accommodations. Considering airfare and finding the best prices can impact the time someone might leave.

Buttoning Up Your Seasonal Home

Bidding farewell to a seasonal property is an annual ritual met with differing emotions by countless people. The cooling weather and falling leaves are almost like an alarm clock, signaling the end of summer. If you’re a snowbird, the end of summer means it’s time to close up your seasonal home and head south for the winter. Whether you’re renting out your seasonal home or you are shutting it down until spring, there is a lot of work to be done. That list of chores can seem pretty hefty, especially if all your focus is on the desert air you’re soon to be breathing. Here is a list that should prove to be a great start at buttoning up your seasonal home:

 

First, it’s helpful to break the chores into categories. Start with the outside work as fall weather can be unpredictable. Obviously, everyone’s list will look a little different, but this should help get you started and organized:

 

  • Clean and store boats, lawn ornaments, deck furniture
  • Clean and winterize any gas-powered yard equipment
  • Store fire pit, empty flower pots, drain hoses and sprinklers
  • Rake and remove leaves as well as possible
  • Look for air leaks around wiring and the like
  • Drain water lines to prevent freezing
  • Consider setting up an alarm or home security system

 

 

 

The indoor list is a little less strenuous, but requires a keen attention to detail:

 

  • Turn off all non-essential utilities
  • Dispose of trash and pack or donate unwanted foods
  • Unplug appliances and electronics
  • If necessary, notify the homeowners association of the vacant property
  • Arrange for mail-forwarding and stop any newspaper delivery
  • Strip beds to let mattresses air out
  • Vacuum carpets and floors to ensure that no food crumbs are left to attract vermin
  • Thoroughly scrub, dust, mop, and wash the interior of the house. It’ll collect plenty of dust over the winter, no use in storing the dirt until next summer!
  • Cover furniture with tarps/plastic to protect in the event of a roof leak
  • Organize and arrange for the shipment of any boxes that you plan on bringing with you

 

 

The most important thing to remember is that you’re not going to another planet, you’ll have the opportunity to buy anything you forgot when you arrive at your winter home. That is, unless you are going to a different planet, in which case, we can’t wait to hear about it next summer! Safe travels!

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Reasons to Stay in Minnesota Until it Gets Cold

Minnesota is known for our lakes, which you hopefully utilized all summer long, and for our cold winters. With the summer winding down, snowbirds are prepping to head to their secondary locations for the winter months. That said, there is still plenty of summer left and, trust us, you don’t want to miss a Minnesota autumn. If you’re unsure of what to do as the days get shorter and the weather cools, here are some ideas:

 

Festivals and Fairs

Just because the summer is coming to a close doesn’t mean the Minnesota fun has to stop. There are plenty of festivals and fairs that take place during the treasured last few weeks of summer.

  • The Minnesota Renaissance Festival

 

This beloved Minnesota event goes from August 18th through September 30th. Visitors don’t have to dress in costume (but it’s definitely encouraged!) as they step back into a 16th Century European village. You’ll enjoy shopping, view live jousting, and interact with hundreds of characters as you spend your day feasting on turkey legs and beer. It’s truly a sight to see and an event you don’t want to miss!

 

  • The Minnesota State Fair

 

The Great Minnesota Get-Together, as it’s lovingly referred to, runs from August 23rd through September 3rd. Stroll through the fairgrounds and take in exhibits, livestock shows, shopping, music, vendors, and of course, all the food on a stick you can stomach! If you’re from the Midwest, you’ll recognize the ever-popular Tater Tot Hotdish, but with a State Fair twist: on a stick!

 

 

 

Sporting Events

If you’re not interested in fried foods and jousting, you might enjoy attending some sporting events as we transition into autumn. The new U.S. Bank Stadium hosts the Minnesota Vikings and is sure to be a great time. The Minnesota Twins continue their baseball season well into September and the Timberwolves and Lynx begin their seasons in October.

 

 

Apples, Pumpkins, and Corn Mazes. Oh My!

Visit any one of the beautiful and delicious apple orchards scattered across Minnesota. Whether you’re interested in heading to the Metro or traveling up north, you’re sure to find an apple orchard to visit! September 13th through the 16th is Applefest, the annual apple festival in the southern part of the state. Of course, you can’t think Minnesota apples without mentioning the Honeycrisp apple. Cultivated at the University of Minnesota, these delicious apples are sweet, firm, and best for eating raw.

 

You can go to pumpkin patches and find the perfect Halloween pumpkin. Many pumpkin patches also have interactive corn mazes that are fun for the whole family! Most open up around Mid-September. October 20th is the Pumpkin Fest, a free event with plenty to see and do.

 

As summer days fade into autumn evenings, snowbirds can still find plenty of activities to enjoy well before the snow falls.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving: Benefits of Post-Retirement Volunteering

Retired friends often ask one another, “What are you up to tomorrow?”  For many, crafting, movie-going, and visits with treasured grandchildren are on the list.  And, for more and more retirees, volunteering is also on the list.  Volunteering is a means of philanthropy that is among the most highly valued by charitable organizations.

Research continues to reveal the win/win nature of volunteerism as it provides tremendous benefits for both the volunteer and the receiving organization.  In 2017 alone, volunteers gave the equivalent of $184 billion dollars with their gifts of time.  Although retirees make up only 31% of the adult U.S. population, they account for 45% of all the hours volunteered annually.

 

Moving from a life structured around work to the non-structured life of retirement can be daunting.  Social isolation and boredom can result in reduced physical activity and depression.  Regularly volunteering can provide structure, a way to meet and engage with others, and opportunities to use long-honed skills or, to learn new ones.  Even winter visitors (otherwise known as snowbirds) are volunteering because this is one of fastest ways to meet people who like and value the same things.

 

Research continues to reveal that seniors who volunteer have lower rates of depression, lower blood pressure and lower mortality rates.  Depending upon the opportunity, volunteering can even be a way for seniors to share important life lessons with younger generations.  Retirement is a hard-earned phase of life and should be an enjoyable and active time.  Volunteering can make a significant difference in the health and wellness of retirees.  It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

 

To learn more about volunteer senior opportunities in Minnesota, visit http://www.mnseniorcorps.org/volunteering/how/rsvp.aspx