Conversation Starter – Pick the right destination

January 2, 2014 | Last updated on January 2, 2014
4 min read

Where should you spend the winter? These questions will help you decide.

How much sun are you looking for?

A. I want to be on the beach in January. Nothing else will do.

B. Warm and sunny, sure, but if I have to put on a sweater or long pants once in awhile, no big deal.

C. Hey, I love the sun as much as the next person. But really, it doesn’t have to be perfect weather — just better than back home.

If you picked:

A. Mexico, Central America, and the very southern tips of California and Florida are the right places for you. Hawaii is another popular choice for west-coast snowbirds.

B. All the above, plus other parts of the southern states offer more moderate weather.

C. Much of the world is your oyster . . .

What do you plan to do there?

A. Sit on the porch, put my feet up, and relax. I’ve earned it.

B. A little of everything. Including a fair bit of nothing.

C. We have an active lifestyle. Golf, hiking, days at the beach, socializing with friends — I expect our days will be pretty full.

If you picked:

A. Consider established sunbelt destinations with good beaches. Or, rural locales that aren’t necessarily populated with snowbirds.

B. You’ll want to be within easy reach of amenities and opportunities for activity, although not right next door to them.

C. You’ll want a well-established community with plenty of amenities and an established snowbird culture.

How social are you?

A. It’s not like I’m antisocial, but I’d really like the freedom to do my own thing.

B. I wouldn’t mind meeting some new people. But I’ve got lots to do on my own, too.

C. I’m looking forward to establishing new friendships over the winter.

If you picked:

A. Look for a snowbird community that’s known for being quiet and low-key. Or avoid them altogether and find a place in the country.

B. You could probably fit in anywhere — but you might want to think twice about communities where there’s pressure to get involved in group activities and social events.

C. Look for a well-established residential snowbird community with a friendly, active vibe.

Will family and friends from back home be visiting?

A. Yes. That’s one of the great things about being a snowbird.

B. It’d be great if friends and family weren’t too far away. But it’s not the focus of our lives or anything.

C. The further the better. I mean, the idea is to get away from it all, right?

If you picked:

A. Make it easier on your guests by picking somewhere relatively close — no more than a two-to-three hour plane ride—and well served by a local airport.

B. Go farther afield—Hawaii, or maybe a rural location that’s a bit further from the airport.

C. Go off the beaten track. Central and South America are good bets. Or maybe go RV-ing so you can drive somewhere new every day.

How set are you on a particular destination?

A. I’ve fallen in love with this city/area. We’ve been several times, and look forward to going back.

B. I really like it here. But I’m open to other suggestions.

C. As much as I love it here, I want to see the world.

If you picked:

A. Assuming your finances are in order, you’re probably ready to purchase a property.

B. Keep your options open by renting — but keep an eye open for the perfect property.

C. Renting is the right choice. The ability to pack up and see another part of the world next year is not something you’ll want to give up.

How’s your health?

A. Better than normal. I’m still active, I enjoy physical activity, and I like to see different things when I’m at a new place.

B. About average for my age, I guess.

C. Let’s say it’s a work in progress.

If you picked:

A. Feel free to go where the fun is.

B. It’s not a bad idea to check out the medical services and infrastructure in your prospective winter home. Don’t make it the focus of your search, but it’s worth looking at.

C. Consider destinations that are closer to home, on well-serviced air routes, just in case you need to come back for a medical issue. Florida and Arizona fit the bill here. And go get that medical insurance.

What about culture? Do you want to stick with what’s familiar, or have an adventure?

A. As much as I like the idea of adventure, I’d prefer to stick with something a little more familiar: where they speak English, I can get the same stuff as back home, that kind of thing.

B. I’d love to have a cultural aspect to my winter getaway. But I need my creature comforts too.

C. This is the time of life where we get to experience something completely different.

If you picked:

A. The U.S. sunbelt is an ideal choice. Florida, Arizona and California are traditional destinations. Hawaii or the Gulf Coast also are popular.

B. Mexico might offer a good way to have your cake and eat it too. It’s different and distinct, yet its established snowbird and ex-pat communities make it easy to find creature comforts when you want them.

C. Central America is calling you. Different culture, different vibe, different people, different weather—think Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, or even Nicaragua.