Retirement is a glorious time made even more enjoyable if you get to spend it away from cold Canadian winters. Many Canadian Snowbirds choose to spend their time and hard-earned dollars in southern USA, where the climate is warm, and the living is easy. Deciding where exactly to stay in the hardest part. Here are six states worth considering:
The Sunshine State is a top destination for Canadian snowbirds. It offers up a choice of two coastlines to soak up some rays: the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf Coast. Population reports show that people from Quebec have a preference for the Atlantic Coast, while Ontarians tend to favour the Gulf Coast. Anywhere you go, Florida is a great place for watersports. The shallow, warm waters and sandy beaches invite beachcombers to dive right into boating and snorkelling or embark on a tour through the alligator-infused everglades.
Some of the best beaches in the world can be found near St. Petersburg, with palm trees stretching along the coast farther than the eye can see. Hallandale Beach is affectionately named “Canada’s Southernmost City,” as many Quebecois seniors seek warmth and happiness there when winter strikes at home. Fort Lauderdale is another community vibrant with French-Canadians: many of the hotels, resorts, and restaurants have staff that speak English, Spanish, and French. Other notable towns for snowbirds are Daytona Beach for golfing, shopping, and festivals, Palm Beach and Boca Raton for an upscale vibe and excellent dining, and The Florida Keys for historic museums, seafood, and a laid-back island vibe.
The west coast of the USA attracts many visitors with its abundance of national parks offering great hiking trails and a multitude of canyons to discover. California also caters to beach lovers, wine enthusiasts, and health-conscious travellers. There’s no shortage of vineyards or farmers markets offering fresh and seasonal produce alongside art handcrafted by local vendors. Canadian snowbirds will appreciate a sunny drive down the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Santa Monica and can veer off course to Big Bear or Lake Tahoe for a glimpse of snow away from home.
Palm Springs, set in the Coachella Valley, is a must-see location for foodies, golf enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and eclectic shoppers. Be sure to check out La Quinta, too: it’s on the floor of the Coachella Valley and is very close to San Andreas Fault. San Diego, a deep-water port town that borders Mexico, is known for international trade, a strong naval history, and many nature reserves that lie within its vast city limits. Fun fact: the city of San Diego often wins the annual Christmas Bird Count. Of course, no first-time trip to California is complete without a wine tour at a Napa Valley vineyard or a walk down the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.
Look no further than Arizona if you eat, sleep, and breathe golf. The Valley of the Sun offers unlimited golfing options with over 300 golf courses in the state. It is undoubtedly a golfer’s paradise! Surrounded by desert landscape, Arizona has balmier temperatures which allow for cooler nights (around 20 degrees), so you can comfortably engage in activities outdoors and in the wilderness. A bonus to wintering in here is that you don’t have to observe daylight saving time!
Scottsdale is a crowd-pleaser for all ages. New York Times described it as “a desert version of Miami’s South Beach” with a vibrant nightlife and bustling activity throughout the day. A walk through Oldtown Scottsdale has a western feel with old-fashioned shops and saloon-inspired restaurants. Downtown Scottsdale also hosts many art galleries and festivals.
With 300 days of sunshine and home to the country’s most extensive municipal park system, Phoenix is the perfect place to picnic and see wildlife. Tucson is dramatically breathtaking with spikes of giant saguaro cacti popping up in front of sunset city backdrops or amidst desert views. Don’t forget to visit Sedona for its red sandstone formations and Mesa for a birds-eye view of the desert on a hot-air balloon ride.
Texas is an affordable destination alternative for people that want to enjoy a subtropical climate on a budget that doesn’t sacrifice comfort or fun. Not only does Texas offer reasonable short-term leasing options and lower cost of living, it also offers a multitude of outdoor activities, beaches, and vibrant art scenes aimed to please. Southern hospitality extends to the Canadian Snowbirds that flock there and does not disappoint. Everything is bigger in Texas, and if you love a good BBQ, you’ll be thrilled to partake in a good old-fashioned Texas cookout.
Dallas, home of the Cowboys, is known for a thriving metropolitan scene: here you can enjoy diverse and proud art, culture, cuisine, entertainment, and sightseeing. San Antonio has a slightly more relaxed and romantic vibe: think quiet café and shop-lined streets and museums (like the Alamo Museum) where you can pop in for a day of education. Corpus Christi, on the beach, is pretty affordable and offers you the opportunity to see King Ranch, the biggest of all ranches in the world. Galveston is an island in the Gulf of Mexico famous for its historic downtown and seafood. Residents gush about its heart-warming volunteer activities, like goat-feeding and gardening, perfect for a snowbird wishing to spread good cheer.
The dream of paradise awaits! With active volcanoes, green jungles, and stunning beaches, Hawaii is the ultimate destination to escape winter. Although a little more expensive, Hawaii offers scenery which rivals that of dream beach destinations all over the world without the day-long flight to get there. Many Canadian snowbirds choose Hawaii for its enchanting coastal views and luxurious atmosphere.
In terms of the Big Island of Hawaii, Hilo is a favourite location because it’s perpetually lush and green with twice-weekly markets and proximity to volcanoes and rainforests, similarly to Pahoa, a place brimming with local crafts, galleries, and shops. Everyone knows of Maui Island and for good reasons: the airport is close to major cities, accommodations are easy to find no matter what your preference, and there are so many excursions (guided or not) to embark on every day. The third-biggest island is Oahu, where you can find Waikiki Beach—a stunning stretch of beauty in Honolulu. And if you’re seeking a vacation community deep in the rainforest, be sure to check out Princeville on Kauai.
Surrounded by mountains, gorges, and canyons, the outstanding landscapes of New Mexico attract the most adventurous travellers. The rich native culture, the variety of outdoor activities, and a thriving culinary scene are all reasons to head to this state before it becomes too popular. For extended stays, there are five cities not to miss in New Mexico: Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Alamogordo and Caballo.
Las Cruces, along the banks of the Rio Grande River, is home to some of the spiciest Mexican food north of the border, and the heat doesn’t stop there: it boasts nearly 350 days of sunshine. Albuquerque is a desired spot if you enjoy more temperate weather with cooler nights and the slight possibility of snow at higher altitudes, perfect for hiking and exploring. Still a bit chilly (the average temperature around 10 degrees in the winter months), is Santa Fe, where a lot of people come to ski without the horrid wind chill. Quiet and friendly destinations are Alamogordo, with a booming senior centre and lots of inclusive small-town activities, and Caballo, a cozy town with a gorgeous lake and ample birdwatching opportunities.
More and more Canadians are choosing to flock to the USA to live out their retirement dreams. Driving or flying down to the sunny south for a few months does not affect your Canadian residency (if you follow the appropriate rules), you won’t experience culture or language shock, and you’re only a short trip away if you need to return. Remember that healthcare in the United States can be costly if you’re not adequately covered. Contact your travel insurance representative to find out which plan is best suited to your needs. There you have it! You’re on your way to living the good life during an extended stay in any of these destinations!
We strongly recommend that you purchase coverage before departure. Although some of our insurers will cover you if you are already on your trip, they may exclude any pre-existing medical conditions, limit the amount payable on your policy or impose a large deductible.