Remote work has created a new breed of seasonal residents
Snowbirds buyers are nothing new. For decades, retirees have opted for the seasonal lifestyle, buying homes in opposite climates and getting rid of when the weather gets too cold (or too hot) for comfort.
Some use the arrangement to be near the grandchildren in the summer. Others use it to qualify as full-time residents in income-tax-free states (hello Florida!). While these buyers still exist, a much younger breed of snowbird has started to emerge – a breed that agents say is largely due to the pandemic and the remote work it’s allowed.
“Snowbirds were once synonymous with retirees,” says Minette Schwartz, a Compass agent in Miami. “But now young professionals also migrate during the winter.”
A new kind of snowbird
According to realtors, there has been a noticeable increase in young seasonal buyers since the pandemic ushered in flexible work arrangements (and other major lifestyle changes) more than a year ago. In Miami, Schwartz estimates that they account for about 25% of the market’s total buy and sell activity.
These new buyers come in many forms, but most of the time realtors say they are young professionals in their 30s and 40s. Some have children and pets. The majority work remotely or own a business. The main thing they have in common? They seek to divide their time between two climates – avoiding the harsh, snowy winters of the north or, in the case of so-called “sunbirds”, the sweltering 100-degree summers of the south.
Either way, it’s a big change from what agents have seen in the past – when snowbirds were almost always retired.
“For most of my career, the person who wanted this second place to live – usually looking for a better time, was retired and an empty nest,” says Trenton Hogg, a Redfin agent in Chanhassen, Minnesota. – Money’s Best Places to Live this year. Chanhassen and the greater Minneapolis area have seen their fair share of young suimangas lately, many coming from warmer states, like Arizona and Florida, during the summer months.
Romeo and Jama Filip are an example of this sunbird phenomenon. While the couple may not have moved to Chanhassen, they bought a second home in Show Low Mountain, Arizona, last September.
Far from being retired (they are 38 and 44), the Filips now divide their time between Show Low and their original property just outside of Phoenix. Although Show Low is only three hours north, it provides a much needed escape from the heat. In September, the average temperature in Phoenix is 100. In Show Low? There are only 78. The two plan to spend most of their summers in their new home, running their affairs remotely while waiting for the heat to end.
“Everyone knows it’s hot in Arizona in the summer,” says Romeo, who, along with his wife, owns a custom foam packaging company called Battle Foam. “The past summers have seemed even hotter. Being able to drive north for a few hours and completely change the environment and the temperature was a big part of our decision to buy.
More than the weather
While younger snowbirds certainly take the same seasonal research approach that older snowbirds have always clung to, agents say what makes them tick – and how they make it work – is actually quite unique.
On the one hand, remote work is on the table. In years past, young Americans were tied to their desks, with proximity to work and commuting times a major factor in their housing decisions. Today’s buyers have more freedom to do business and to travel.
Data from the Pew Research Center shows that more than half of workers who can do their work from home would prefer to do so after the pandemic is over. In some industries, the shift to remote work could be even more dramatic. According to a recent survey of startup CEOs from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, a quarter of companies plan to stay completely distant in the future. Another 67% will adopt a hybrid model, requiring only occasional work in the office.
“With remote working still at stake, buyers are finding more flexibility,” says Eduardo Pruna, sales manager for Giralda Place, a luxury condo project in Coral Gables, Florida. “All you need is a laptop and a strong Wi-Fi connection. “
Pruna says Giralda Place has seen a “noticeable” increase in non-retired snowbirds in the past 90 days alone. Most have other homes in cold urban centers, such as Chicago and New York.
While Pruna says Giralda Place shoppers tend to be childless, other parts of the country are not. Hogg, for example, has seen quite a few snowbirds with young children – something he attributes to virtual school options and the increase in home schooling. Home schooling has more than doubled during the pandemic, according to the US Census Bureau, with 11% of parents choosing to teach their children at home compared to 5% at the start of 2020.
“I was struck by younger snowbirds with their chicks still in the nest,” Hogg says. “I see people who aren’t sure their kids will always go to physical schools, so these new snowbirds can easily be a lot younger and have families behind. “
Beyond the newfound flexibility, the pandemic itself – and all the limitations that come with it – has also pushed some young Americans into the snowbird lifestyle.
“The COVID nonsense was the last nail that pushed us forward,” said Romeo Filip, explaining that escaping the heat was a nice perk, but not the only reason they bought one. second home during the pandemic. “We felt that having a second home as an escape plan was all the more important as restrictions had gripped the country. In a small town like Show Low, the rules seemed a bit more relaxed. We felt we could make our own decision on how to stay COVID-safe. “
The Filips aren’t alone either. Pruna says many young snowbirds in her area took the same approach last year, heading to Florida where the restrictions were lighter and things felt a bit freer.
“South Florida, in particular, resumed its normal economic and commercial activities early on,” Pruna said. “It has attracted a lot of people from states with ongoing restrictions.”
Here to stay
Whatever the reason these young snowbirds are popping up, it looks like they’re probably here to stay.
Torreon, the Show Low Golf Club community where the Filips now live, has seen an influx of home purchases in the pandemic era – many buyers taking that same snowbird / sunbird approach. More than a quarter of the nearly 900 households in the community purchased in 2020 or later, more than half of its residents are not retired and 83% live there only part-time (the majority do not play not even golf!).
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of young families and young professionals over the past year,” says Bryan Anderson, Associate Broker at Torreon Realty. “The ability to work remotely is what drives her for most of them. “
The developers have also noticed the trend. District 225, a new condo project in Miami, is a good example. The recently launched development specifically targets younger and more migratory buyers, offering perks such as fully furnished units, resort-style amenities and an entire floor dedicated to co-working space.
The biggest advantage of snowbirds, however? This would be District 225’s partnership with Airbnb, which makes it easy for residents to rent their units when away from home.
“We are seeing an overwhelming demand from digital nomads, jet-setters and snowbirds, and overall a younger generation of buyers who no longer want to be tied to one place,” Eric said. Fordin, Senior Vice President of Related Group, Developer District 225.. “The owners enjoy life in their own way. “
The ground must work. District 225 sales have just opened three months ago and 70% of its units have already been bought. It’s just further confirmation that young American snowbirds are likely to stay here, at least as long as working remotely.
As Hogg says, “Once people understand that they will be allowed to work remotely or only have a day or two a week to come to the office, they will really start to think about where and how they are going to work. want to live. . “
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