Snowbird
Retirement

Am I Ready to be a Snowbird?

It’s finally going to happen. After canceling our first planned year (2021) to spend two months in Florida, we’re actually going to make it this winter. I just sent the final payment for the condo this week. It’s real!!

But am I ready? Both organizationally and mentally? There are so many things to consider and I’m afraid I’ll miss something important. Maybe you can help me. I know some of you have snowbird experience!!

Organization – Making a List

I started a list several weeks ago, but it’s primarily a list of questions with no answers. For some reason, I keep putting off making any real decisions. I’m hoping writing this post will give me that extra push I seem to need.

We are leaving January 7, so we have only a few days after the holidays to take down Christmas. I guess we could start earlier than usual; I like to wait until after January 1. In fact, we probably should start earlier, because there will be too many other last minute things to do.

We have the condo rented from January 9 until February 13. Our original plan was to stay until March 13, but we decided to cut off four weeks so my sister didn’t have to spend so much time holding down the fort with my dad. Realistically, though, most of what I do for him now can be done remotely, so I don’t see that being too much of a problem. But I also wanted to get back in time to help him with his taxes, which he typically likes to do in late February/early March.

My list includes the following:

  • Prescriptions – do I need to transfer them from our local pharmacy to a nationwide option?
  • Mail – do we forward it or have the post office hold it?
  • Someone to check the house – I don’t want to bother anyone but I would like someone to check things out at least once a week
  • Books
  • Projects – limited to cross stitch and knitting.
  • What do we need to take besides clothes?

Can you think of anything else I need to consider as a snowbird?

Prescriptions and Mail

I talked to my pharmacy about their options for getting me my prescriptions. I hate to transfer all of them just because of these five weeks. It sounds like I can request a “vacation override” and get my meds early. I need to make a note to go in and request this a couple of weeks before we leave. And hope the holidays don’t mess things up!!

I did an inventory of my meds yesterday and it appears I will have three (out of five) that will need the vacation override. They’re all due to be refilled around January 15. My prescription from Mayo Clinic, which is already mailed to me, can be mailed to our condo, but I’ll have to coordinate it well to avoid missing it. It could be tricky as I never know how long Mayo will take. Sometimes they’re quick; sometimes not so quick.

Tim thinks it would be too much of a hassle forwarding our mail. He’s the expert so I have to rely on his opinion. We don’t get that much important mail anyway (do you?) and I assume I can still monitor it through Informed Delivery if we have them hold it. I think I will delegate this task to Tim.

Checking the house

I heard that some of our neighbors actually hire someone to check their house. These neighbors are gone for six months, however. One of my friends has offered and the other day, one of our neighbors did too. I think we’ll be OK. No more cats, so we don’t have to worry about that. I just want someone to check and make sure nothing is leaking and that the furnace is working.

What to take besides clothes

We won’t be in the middle of nowhere, but there are some things we use that I really don’t want to buy just for this trip. Laundry for instance. I plan to take a drying rack, a basket (or two), detergent, dryer sheets, spot remover, and the hangers I use for line drying. I have extra washcloths to take, as we’ve found from past experience that condos are not supplied with lots of these. Maybe even some extra towels?

I definitely need my laptop and have been wondering about buying a cheap printer. I can get one at Amazon for under $100. Is it worth it for five weeks? I’m just not sure what I might need to print, scan, or copy and I don’t want to be caught off-guard. I have a few weeks yet to decide.

I’m planning to take a Bluetooth speaker and one of our Amazon Fire Sticks. And I’ll want the light I use for cross stitching.

What about office supplies? Stamps, envelopes, return address labels?

Will I want my recipe binders or specific cookbooks? I need to remind Tim that this isn’t like being on vacation; we won’t be eating out every night!!

I can certainly buy any books I need there, But I also like to take what I think I’ll need. I can always download to my Nook or the Kindle app on my iPad, but if I’m going to be reading outside, I actually prefer real books. On past vacations, I’ve read as many as six books a week. That will not be the case with this trip. I think maybe I will need three or four.

And then there are my projects. I will be focused on cross stitch and knitting. I’d like to have everything I need for my projects, but I did check to see if there were any needlework stores in the area and I found one. Their website says they’re the “only full service, full cross stitch store in a 7 county area”. I must check it out!!

As far as knitting goes, I’ve been working on a project all summer. I call it my car project as about the only time I work on it is when we take longer trips. My guess is it won’t be finished before we leave, so I’ll take it with me. And then maybe one other project. We’ll see. I’d rather have too much than run out!!

It will be tough leaving all my cardmaking stuff at home. There’s just no way I can take what I would need, so I’m not even going to try. I do plan to have birthday cards for January and February made before we leave and then mail them from Florida. I’m hoping that knowing this ahead of time, I will not miss it too much.

The mental aspect

I am very excited about going but there’s always a little hesitation. Maybe going for just 5 weeks will be a good way to ease into snowbird life. I’m hoping we’ll find it’s tough to come back, meaning it’s going well.

But there will be things I’ll miss. My cardmaking, time with family. I know five weeks will fly by. I keep telling myself I’ll be able to walk outside. We’ll take time to explore things we haven’t had time for during our one week vacations. I want to think of it as our life, not just a vacation. I want it to feel like home.

So tell me – what else do I need to plan for?

17 Comments

  • Marty

    Welcome to our state!

    Since there’s only three of the meds you’re most worried about, I’m wondering if your doctor might just give you an old-fashioned hand-written prescription to have on hand with you to have as back-up? That could give you peace of mind, if the doctor is ammenable anyway.

    The thumb drive suggestion is a good one rather than taking a printer with you. Just make sure your laptop has up-to-date virus and malware protection on it.

    Travel safe!

    • Retired Introvert

      Thanks Marty. I’m sure my doctor would work with me on that. Good suggestion. I’d like to think I’ll enjoy the travel but weather could make it painful. Cross your fingers!! 🤞

  • Patricia Doyle

    Where did you end up renting a condo? I’m at 161st Ave … probably less than 4 miles away! Yes, I have a scanner/printer! but there is also a UPS Office store probably less than 2 miles from you.

    A couple of things: do NOT forward your mail. It will take the USPS 2 weeks to implement it after your start date… seriously. And then 2 weeks after you tell them to stop it…. You’ll be chasing mail for a month. (been there done that) Have them hold it, and ALSO have someone check your house to make sure it is not being delivered. Yes, we had ours on hold and they still delivered it about 30% of the time.

    Yes, have someone check on the house. Any indoor plants need watering? Someone to just make sure no burst pipes if it gets super cold. (I know some people shut the house water off just in case – we never did.) And that mail or any packages, flyers left, papers, etc. [ I always had a neightbor do it and then gave her couple of bottles of wine to say thanks. ] Do you need to get someone to shovel the snow, just is case? So it doesn’t look like no-one is there. Also, set your house temps to “vacation mode” – we put whole house at 62.

    I always brought a set of stamps, return labels and envelopes, just in case.

    I put a cooler in the car and emptied the fridge of perishables at each end…. it’s easier than trying to eat everything down (and I just hate tossing stuff out.)

    here’s some things from my snowbird pack list: All the plug in cords (phone/computer/camera); basic meds might need (ibuprofen, itch stuff, sunscreen), flip flops (yes, even in January!), pair of gloves, one pair of jeans, and one warmer pullover (nights can get cool). If you have a windbreaker – it’s helpful for beach walks. Don’t worry about any “dress up” clothing – Florida is super casual, everywhere.

    I’m hoping we can meet up while you’re here!

    • Retired Introvert

      Our condo is in the Waterview Condos, not far from Caddy’s. On the intracoastal but Gulf beach an easy walk. Thanks for all the great tips. I especially like the idea of a cooler for the trips. I know exactly where the UPS Store is because I’ve gone there before!! I would love to meet up!!

  • Susan Scharnberg

    Linda, we’ve been vacationing to a second home in Scottsdale for years, but last year was the first time for months at a time. I was worried about all the things you mentioned!

    In terms of the house, we have a security system, cameras, water alarms on the floors and water flow monitors on the meter.

    The presciptions are a little tricky too. Although my regular scripts are pretty easy – if something comes up as needing refilled, i just have it transferred to the Walgreens down here. Only takes a phone call. The special compounded stuff takes a bit more planning.

    One thing I found was my reading glasses that are sunglasses – great for reading by the pool or the beach.

    You are going to love it – the time goes so quickly. And you avoid so much of that winter hunched shoulders.

    • Retired Introvert

      It’s probably easier when you have a second home but I’m sure you can’t have two of everything!! We’ll see how things go with the house for these five weeks and make necessary adjustments. Thanks for your great tips.

  • Cari L Cook

    Sounds like a great idea to test the waters about being a snowbird. A few suggestions. Don’t worry about the printer. Libraries, FedEx Office, or office supply chains can handle anything you might need. Just make sure to bring a thumb drive.

    I used to house/pet sit professionally but I don’t think you need someone there all the time. I would coordinate with your neighbors and ask them to take in the mail as well. You can monitor it online and have them mail anything urgent to you.

    Office supplies you listed – will you be doing a lot of snail mail correspondence? If not, leave all that. You can buy stamps, and do any personal correspondence using postcards showing the local scenery.

    Maybe take a few knickknacks or personal items to decorate the condo with, to make it feel more like home.

    Most of all, relax and enjoy. As I always told my mother, you are not going to darkest Africa and you can buy anything you might forget.

    • Retired Introvert

      I like the idea of taking some personal items. Maybe some pictures. I thought about having someone get our mail, but that seems like a real inconvenience for them. Not sure I can ask anyone to do that. But we have most things paperless and even automatically paid, so I’m not worried about missing a bill. I’m ready for some warm, sunny relaxation.
      Can’t wait to feel the sun on my face!!

  • The Widow Badass

    You may be able to print whatever you need at the local (to the condo) library, and avoid having to buy a printer. I used to do that at my last house when I was printerless. Sent the doc electronically to the library and got notified when it printed out. Or you could send it to a local copy shop or Staples-type store. Just a thought…If you print out a lot of things this might not work for you though.

    Deb

    • Retired Introvert

      My problem is I’m not sure what I might need to print, copy or scan. I haven’t committed to buying a printer yet, and I appreciate all the suggestions for getting around it. We’ll see.

  • Donna Connolly

    Congratulations on your Florida trip finally being real, Your list of questions are good ones. The one that caught my eye is the question of someone checking your house. In British Columbia its a mandatory part of our insurance policies. Some policies say every 4 days the house must be officially checked (by a friend, neighbour, relative or company), some specify 3 or 5 days. I suggest checking your policy and seeing if this is true for where you live. We’ve often use neighbours and then pay them back by checking on their house when they are away. But we have also used a company who had reasonable rates and did a very thorough job (checking for potential water leaks, watering plants, etc). Good luck with your trip.

    • Retired Introvert

      I’ve never heard of anything like that with our insurance policies. Regardless, I want our house checked. Fortunately, we have snow removal, so it won’t look like we’re gone. And we have lights on timers, even when we’re here, so that should make it look like we’re home.

  • suzanne

    I am excited for you! You will be here at our best time of year. But, you are going to wish you booked the place through February. I have never been a snowbird, but the list looks good. I would ‘hold’ the mail. You will be back home before the forwarded mail makes it to Florida. Asking a friend to check the house seems reasonable for that period of time.

    Where in Florida will you be? If you are near the beach, I wouldn’t worry too much about bringing hobby supplies. You will be too busy outside to devote time to those.

    Don’t forget to bring some long pants and a sweater or two. It can get chilly here, especially in the evenings. Good luck and welcome to Florida!

    • Retired Introvert

      Thanks, Suzanne. We’ll be in Indian Shores, pretty close to the beach. I primarily do my needlework in the evenings and I do plan to get plenty of outside time. I’ve never gone to Florida without all types of clothes. Even in March, it can be iffy. Hopefully, I’ll be prepared that way!!

  • Louise Crall

    How exciting Linda!

    I also wanted to comment that when our friend lived in China for a year her neighbor watched thier house — they had special lights (I think you just screw them in) that would alert if something was up– like if the temperature dipped below a certain degree. Maybe not for this trip — but I can find out more if you become a snowbird!

    • Retired Introvert

      Wow, that’s interesting. I never knew there were such lights. I’ll let you know if I need more information. Thanks!!

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