You don’t need a second home to escape winter – here’s how snowbird via Airbnb

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A January day in Key West, Florida.


About 40 million people flock to Florida and Arizona each winter, according to AARP, drawn to warmer temperatures and the outdoor lifestyle. Previously, these so-called snowbirds had to commit to buying a second home or paying astronomical hotel costs to escape the snow and ice of winter.

But with the advent of home rental services like Airbnb ABNB,
and VRBO as well as location-specific vacation home rental companies, the options have expanded, making snowbirding a possibility for more people — like me. Last year I went snowbirding in Florida for the first time and I can’t wait to go back this year.

Related: How to be a happy snowbird

The benefits of the situation are many: “Snowbirding through Airbnb/VRBO can be a great way to experience different parts of the state each year, rather than being tied to one location because you own a home there,” reports Ryan Erisman, author of Florida for Baby Boomerswhich it updates every year.

“Airbnb/VRBO single-family rentals are also more likely to be located in residential areas, which gives you a much better idea of ​​what it’s like to live like a local,” he adds, “so that hotels are usually located in more commercial areas. “You can also try different types of houses – apartments, ranches, townhouses, etc. – to see if they suit you, and you can often bring your dogs and even your cats.

Other pros mention that you’ll be in a home equipped with everything you need for an extended stay, including linens, towels, utensils, and pots and pans, and that you’ll have more than one bedroom and therefore more privacy than in a hotel. .

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What to expect (and inspect)

“I was thrilled with the townhouse I rented in Delray Beach, Florida for three weeks last year from Airbnb,” says Denise Sokolsky, 69, an American living in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. . “It was very accessible to the main thoroughfares but in a quiet neighborhood, and I could walk to the beach and shopping areas.”

“There was a nice patio, lots of private spaces and a well stocked kitchen“, Sokolsky said. “And it turned out that it was cheaper to rent on Airbnb than to stay in a hotel and eat out all the time.”

But there are also disadvantages. “The main downside for me was that I wasn’t sure what I was going to walk into,” says Sokolsky. “You can read the description and look at the pictures, but I had an experience where I I stayed in a clean but very shabby houseso I was a little suspicious.

This can also be a problem with hotels, of course, and your best recourse will be to contact the owner or Airbnb/VRBO to rectify the problem.

See: 6 Airbnb vacation rental alternatives

The basics of snowbirding for tenants

Here are some other considerations to keep in mind when renting as a snowbird:

  • Book as soon as possible. Rentals in the hottest areas for snowbirds like Florida and Arizona are going fast.

  • Read the fine print. Make sure you understand the cancellation policy and rules and regulations, and keep a copy for your records.

  • Know what you want. Do you prefer to be near a beach or in the mountains? Do the places you are considering offer activities that you enjoy? It is important to research activities in each destination you are considering, researching the availability and costs of sports facilities, museums, concerts, bikes, hikes and tours. Are there places of worship in the neighborhood? You want to find activities you enjoy so you don’t feel lonely and bored.

  • Check locations carefully. This is especially important if you are traveling alone. I booked a lovely garage apartment in historic St. homeless had set up camp in an abandoned house around the corner. It made me nervous when walking my dog ​​in the early morning and evening. “Do as much research as you can,” recommends Sokolsky, including asking your friends if they know the location and how safe it is.

  • Ask the owner. If you use the Airbnb or VRBO websites, feel free to ask the owners questions. I found a rental on the beach but noticed it was on the first floor of a two story building. I’m sensitive to noise so I asked the owner if the place upstairs was rented out and if the residents had kids or dogs. It turned out that the person renting the upstairs unit had a large dog, which made it a no-no for me.

  • Pre-clean your pets. Make sure you can bring a pet if you have a dog or cat you want to travel with. Many more places than ever allow pets, although owners may ask you to pay an additional fee or post a damage deposit.

  • Learn the cleaning policy. Most rentals now display one. This is more important than ever with COVID. Email the owner if you need more details on how deep and when the unit will be cleaned. A couple I know rented a place in an exclusive community in Georgia for five weeks, but were disappointed by the dustiness of the place — and the sleep lost struggling with queen sheets left for a king-size bed.

  • Think about logistics. If you’re traveling by plane rather than by car to your destination, airline baggage limits may make it easier to ship some of your essentials and supplies separately to the rental home.

  • Know your medical options. Make sure you know directions to nearby urgent care centers, hospitals, pharmacies and dentists, just in case.

Nancy Monson is a writer, artist and coach. She is the author of “Crafts for Healing: Soothing Your Soul with Sewing, Painting, and Other Hobbies,” Connect with her on instagram.

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