Snowbirds Going South

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Where and why do snowbirds move?

Snowbirds are retirees who move to the southern states in the winter to escape the cold weather in the north. Thousands of snowbirds travel from across the country, and Canada, to four major states, every winter. Check out some useful information and compare the four most popular US states for snowbirds – Florida, California, Arizona and Texas.

It is interesting to see why they choose either one of them for their temporary winter home.

Snowbirds love Florida

Florida is among the most popular states due not only to its great weather, but to quite a few other reasons. Florida is a great place for a second home state as it does permit temporary residency of up to six months and it does not make you change your driver’s license!


No state income taxes – you pay taxes only if you are resident of the state.

Not taxing pension income.

State sales tax rate is 6%.

Local taxes vary by country between 6 – 8.5%.

Gasoline tax is 41.4 cents/gallon.

Gas price as of mid January 2019 is $2.12 per gallon.

Killer property taxes – it depends on the type of home, but now about 3% of assessed value.

Real estate prices – rising; median sales price $165,000, which is still more affordable than quite a few other states.

The Weather

The biggest benefit is the year around warm weather. It is the perfect place to stay warm during the winter, and recharge your batteries. Yet, the summers could be very hot and humid which is why snowbirds leave the state in the summer and go back to their northern homes.

Social opportunities

Snowbirds in Florida certainly have great opportunities to meet other escapees. Florida has been the number one snowbirds destination in the US for a long time. This is a precedent for well developed snowbirds communities meaning there are varieties of social opportunities for snowbirds to explore.

Outdoor activities

Being outside in Florida is pretty much limited to being by the ocean and enjoying the sun and the breeze. If you are an outdoor person, you won’t find much of a variety in outdoor activities. Besides the sunny beaches, there isn’t much to do in Florida. An interesting place to see would be the Everglades, the wetlands of Florida which is located on the southern tip of the state. For those interested in canoe and kayaking, Florida offers its lakes, but be aware of potential alligators spots.


California dreaming still

California is the other favorite destination although many would argue for Arizona instead. Here I have not put them in a strict top/bottom list, however I do believe that after Florida, California is a favorite spot for many snowbirds. Check out some facts now.


The taxes are high in general. Only if you are resident of the state you have to pay taxes though.

California is taxing pension income. This is really a tough one.

State sales tax rate is 6.50%. Some local taxes are imposed. Gasoline tax is 55.5 cent/gallon.

Gas price as of mid January is 2019 $3.29 per gallon (the highest!).

Property taxes amount varies by county – on average the tax is 0.74% of estimated property value.

Real estate costs are high and vary by county. The median sales price for San Diego is $200,000

The Weather

California is famous with its warm weather year around. Southern parts have probably the best climate in the country. It is breezy and both days and nights are not humid at all. You can be walking down the street at 3 pm with scorching sun, and yer it would not feel as bad. The main factor is the cold Pacific ocean.

Social opportunities

California is big – much bigger than Florida and snowbirds are quite scattered. Therefore, you will really have to search for a retirees focused communities, if socializing is what you need. Most snowbirds are concentrated in southern California, so start your search from there.

The Outdoor activities

This is the category where California beats all other states. The Golden State offers mountains, forests (the great red woods!), hot springs, miles of sunny beaches, adventures in the desert and more. California offers abundant opportunities for winter and summer sports, and various others outdoor activities. Whether you want to lay on the beach all day, go for a hike or try some of the best wines in the world – California has it all.

Arizona sky

Arizona has its charm and it is not a surprise that thousands of snowbirds go there each year. The desolate landscapes offer a unique opportunity for relax and reflection. It has many beautiful places to visit and it is quite affordable for snowbirds with quite a few communities.


State Sales tax 6.60%.

Income tax – low 2.59% and high range 4.54%.

Out of state pension income is taxed.

No state property taxes. Arizona counties collect an average of 0.72% of property’s estimated fair market value

Personal property is taxed.

Gasoline tax 19 cents/gallon.

Water use tax 65 cents / 1,000 gallons.

Real estate prices

The median sales price in Phoenix is about $150,000. That is pretty good compared to California and even Florida.

The Weather

It is hot and dry all year long. Arizona has localized climate, but in general the lower elevations parts are very hot in the summer and mild in the winter (45 -70` F). The dessert landscape brings large temp variations – from 85`F during the day to 55`F at night.

Social opportunities

Similar to other snowbirds states, Arizona offers opportunities to meet new people at most tourist attractions and resorts. RV snowbirds are popular in Arizona and many RV parks are the places to meet and make new friends.

Outdoor activities

In addition to its desert, Arizona has an abundance of landscapes. 27% of the land is forests – most of it state parks offering numerous outdoor activities. The biggest attraction of all is the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River carving it all the way. The Canyon is one of the Seventh Natural Wonders of the World and the first national park.

Everything is bigger in Texas

Texas is the last of the states on this short list, but not the least by importance. It is a favorite place as well and thousands of snowbirds spend their winters there. It is a big state and it has a lot to offer to its residents and guests alike.

The Taxes

State sales tax is 6.25% and no state income tax.

No state personal income tax, and that is big!

Pension income tax not taxed, and that is good!

Property tax is imposed by local taxing units. Seniors 65 yrs old and older qualify for exemptions of $10,000 and more.

Gasoline tax is 20 cents/gallon

Real estate prices

Median sales price in Austin is $180,000. On average the prices are-acceptable and competitive compared to many other states.

The Weather

Texas is at the intersection of multiple climate zones, which brings in changing weather. Despite its size and different landscape, during the summer months most areas see consistent high temperatures. The mountain regions experience multiple snowfalls, and the states has the most tornadoes in the US. Thunderstorms strike quite often as well. That’s why the most popular locations for snowbirds are in the Rio Grande Valley which is the most southern point of Texas.

Social opportunities

The Gulf Coast areas of Texas have real tropical feeling and this is where you will find most snowbirds. RV parks are the most popular places for snowbirds. But this is not all. Many small restaurants offer great atmosphere and dancing every night. Some of the smaller cities like Mission are a favorite because of their closeness to Mexico. Becoming a Texan snowbird is affordable and equates in many new friends and tons of fun!

Outdoor activities

Social life for most snowbirds means great outdoor activities. This for many simply means enjoying the warm weather of the south all winter long. Great beaches, sunny filled days and friendly people will give you the energy to stay out all day and night.

If you are thinking of moving to any of the Southern states for the winter (or permanently), let us know if there is anything else you want to learn. If you need auto transport we can help. Corsia Logistics offers car shipping for snowbirds and the rates are always affordable. The snowbirds moving season often means busy roads and increased moving rates. Don’t panic though, we work hard to find the best car shipping rate and the best auto transport carrier to ship your vehicle. Now, start planning and enjoy the winter! Thank you!


About the Author:

I am the co-owner and marketing director of Corsia Logistics. I believe in creating useful content for our customers and readers. If you would like to contact me please do so via our contact us form or any social media channel. Thank you.

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