Here Is What I’ve Learned After A Year As A Snowbird


OK, I’ve done it. I’ve completed my first year as a snowbird!

I must say, it’s not what I expected. As opposed to what I spent 35 years observing here in Florida, there are a lot of hidden intricacies involved. Let me explain…

While spending my days in this steaming subtropical paradise — the one that wreaks havoc on my alabaster skin and makes my dermatologist rich, I noticed that hordes of people arrive shortly after the December holidays and exit as soon as the temperature rises. They can’t stand the heat; they get out of the kitchen. “That could be me!” I thought.

I must also admit I was envious that these ex-pats (traitors, if you will) are greeted with open arms by the loving (if sweaty) full-time residents, as if the residents’ lives were made just a bit brighter by the arrival of these deserters. I could only imagine that the same happened when these lucky abandoners arrived back up north — that they were welcomed with big bear hugs by people wearing parkas and earmuffs. But, actually, the average snowbird is almost “a man without a country.” I’m a natural-born gypsy, so it doesn’t matter much to me, but I can see where snowbirding isn’t for everyone.

In the first place, who shovels your icy walk up north while you’re on the beach in Florida and, conversely, who mows your rampant lawn while you’re snuggled down in front of your northern fireplace? Grumbling friends or well-paid seasonal workers, that’s who.

In the second place, those welcoming permanent residents are faking it! They act all nice at first but, really, they can’t wait until you bug out of here so they can reclaim their roads and get seated at a restaurant in less than half an hour. It’s your fault they’re always late.

In the third place, there are hot days everywhere, but not necessarily cold days. It was 100 degrees in Oklahoma yesterday. So much for art that depicts cowboys shivering on their horses in a wind-swept pass. Those horses are out looking for water. If it snows in Florida, you read about it in The New York Times.

In the fourth place, your mail will never catch up with you, no matter where you are, and sometimes it has interesting things in it, like party invitations, checks and those few (but important) bills you don’t already pay online. I am always chasing my mail. I finally had to open a FedEx account.

In the fifth place (and I could go on), insurance companies and people who pen your legal papers like to have a permanent address. “Choose, already!” they’ll whine.

Casual whining aside, this lifestyle suits me. If I could, I’d be in a different house every six weeks or so. I love buying houses, decorating houses and trying out different styles of houses. I don’t mind packing a suitcase, and I love to unpack. I am intrigued by all my various neighbors, and I trust them. And being in perfect weather year-round makes me happy.

So if this particular pursuit of happiness is wrong, “I dowanna be right!”