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A snowbird is someone from the U.S. Northeast, U.S. Midwest, Pacific Northwest, or Canada who spends a large portion of winter in warmer locales such as California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, the Carolinas, or elsewhere along the Sun Belt of the southern and southwest United States, Mexico, and areas of the Caribbean.
Snowbirds are typically retirees who wish to avoid the snow and cold temperatures of northern winter, but maintain ties with family and friends by staying there the rest of the year. Some are business owners who have a second home in a warmer location or whose business can be easily moved from place to place, such as flea market and swap meet vendors. Some are people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder who wish to enjoy the longer daylight hours in the southern latitudes in winter. Some snowbirds bring their homes with them, as campers (mounted on bus or truck frames) or as boats following the east coast Intracoastal waterway. In the past snowbirds were frequently wealthy persons with independent incomes who maintained several seasonal residences and shifted residence with the seasons to avail themselves of the best time to be at each location; this custom has declined considerably due to changing patterns of taxation and the relative ease of long-distance travel.
A significant portion of the snowbird community is made up of recreational vehicle users (RVers). Many own a motorhome for the sole purpose of traveling south in the winter. Often they go to the same location every year and consider the other RVers that do the same a "second family". Many RV parks label themselves "snowbird friendly" and get the majority of their income from the influx of RVing snowbirds. There are places like Quartzsite, Arizona, that have been labeled "white cities" because from a bird's-eye view all the motorhomes cover the landscape in white and then in the summer are gone. While historically Florida has been the number one RV snowbird location, other southern U.S. states are experiencing a boom from snowbirds enjoying the southern climate "without the hurricane threat". For example, the university town of Starkville, Mississippi, has become a destination for thousands of out-of-town RVers coming to enjoy the mild winter climate and the low cost of living.
Many of these "snowbirds" also use their vacation time to declare permanent residency in low- or no-tax income tax states (where the tax bases are augmented by high tourism taxes), and claim lower non-resident income taxes in their home states. Canadian snowbirds usually retain residency in Canada in order to retain health benefits.
In the United States, the right to vote for local office is governed by local law, so it may be possible to vote for local offices in both places if the locality permits nonresident voting based on property ownership. However, representation in the United States Congress is for residents as enumerated by the decennial census and voting in U.S. federal elections in more than one jurisdiction is deemed to be electoral fraud.
- Canadian Snowbird Association
- Canadians of convenience
- Coachella Valley – a major destination in the desert of California for snowbirds and part-time residents from Canada and the Pacific Northwest
- RV lifestyle
- Seasonal human migration
- "Snowbird" (song)
- "Snowbirds descend on region," a news article by Anne Mitchell published in the Nov 8, 1999, edition of the Fort Myers, Fla., News Press, page F12, especially "The winter snowbird season also coincides with a rise in tourism. ... The parking lot at Fleamasters flea market provides a useful barometer."
- "Snowbird RV Parks". Rvthereyet.cc. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
- Brent, Paul (August 28, 2012). "Snowbird insurance grows tricky". Toronto Star. p. A13. "Seven tips [regarding health insurance] for travellers heading south in winter."