Here’s a brief run-down of some of the more popular destinations for Canadian snowbirds:
The go-to Canadian snowbird destination for decades – the weather is reliably good, it’s easy to get to, and the beaches are nice. And the popularity of Florida as a winter home means there’s always plenty to do, and plenty of people to meet. Established communities include Palm Springs, Lake City, Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Lesser-known towns such as Fort Walton Beach, Pensacola Beach and Siesta Key are gaining in popularity as better-known destinations become saturated.
Gulf Coast (western edge of Florida Panhandle to eastern edge of Texas)
This up-and-coming snowbird destination, particularly Texas, is a little cooler than other places in the U.S. Sunbelt. It has beautiful white sand beaches and a distinct culture. Another plus: prices are typically more reasonable than better-known destinations.
Southwest desert (Arizona; New Mexico; southeast California)
If you’re looking for sun, this is the place for it. The desert has become an established destination for Western Canadian snowbirds, who often drive down in campers and RVs from Alberta and BC. There are plenty of communities in and around Phoenix that offer a selection of rental condos and plenty to see and do — particularly golf. Bonus marks: the dry heat is a boon for arthritis sufferers.
With great dependable weather that’s rarely too hot nor too cool (average of 25-to-30 degrees most days) and moderating tropical winds, Hawaii may be the best climate of all. Each island has its own distinct vibe: urban and cosmopolitan on Oahu; remote and local on Hawaii; laid-back and mellow on Kauai; while Maui has a little bit of everything. Getting there can be a little more expensive than other destinations — there’s a lot of ocean to cross.
Coastal tourist destinations such as Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan have long been popular with snowbirds. Increasingly, smaller communities in the central highlands above Guadalajara (including San Miguel de Allende, Oaxaca and Lake Chapala) are now home to thriving communities of artists, ex-pats and snowbirds; so much so that you often find the same big-box stores we have at home (Wal-Mart; Costco; etc.) within a short distance. The strength of the Canadian dollar vs. the Peso doesn’t hurt either.
Central America offers a more adventurous snowbirding destination. In Costa Rica, you’ll find an incredible combination of beaches, jungles, and mountains, while Belize offers an intriguing laid-back beach and snorkeling culture (the country is English speaking too). Panama is perhaps a little more off the beaten track, with less infrastructure and few dedicated snowbird communities; but for the more outgoing and active, this could be just what the doctor ordered.