Snowbird (person)

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A snowbird is a person who migrates from the colder northern parts of North America to warmer southern locales, typically during the winter. The southern locales include the Sun Belt and Hawaii in the United States, as well as Mexico and the Caribbean. Snowbirds used to primarily be retired or older, but are increasingly of all ages.

Conversely, a sunbird is one who leaves warmer locales in the summer, migrating to cooler locales such as higher elevations or more northerly regions.


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. In recent years, younger people with jobs tied to seasonal tourists often migrate southward, following the tourist season, to southern resorts. Some are also business owners who have a second home in a warmer location or whose business can be easily moved from place to place. Many families in the United States often spend their Christmas holiday time (up to 2 weeks) at beach resorts in Florida, California, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.[1] 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 southward.


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.[2] Several areas in Florida and Arizona have large RV communities that appear and disappear seasonally. Quartzsite, Arizona, has been labeled "white city", 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 and Arizona have been the top RV snowbird locations, other southern U.S. states are experiencing a boom from snowbirds enjoying desert and tropical climates.

Legal status[edit]

Many American snowbirds also use their vacation time to declare permanent residency in low- or no-tax income tax states and claim lower non-resident income taxes in their home states. By contrast, Canadian snowbirds usually retain residency in Canada in order to retain health benefits.[3] Due to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act there are now additional implications for Canadian snowbirds in the United States.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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."
  2. ^ "Snowbird RV Parks". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  3. ^ "What Canadian Travellers Need to Know About Provincial Health Insurance Coverage Limits!". Retrieved 2023-02-22.
  4. ^ "Obamacare In Canada - Tax - Canada". Retrieved 8 May 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Brent, Paul (August 28, 2012). "Snowbird insurance grows tricky". Toronto Star. p. A13. Seven tips [regarding health insurance] for travellers heading south in winter.

External links[edit]