It’s that time of year again. The nights are getting longer and the air is turning crisp (okay, crisp to a Florida girl). The tractor trailers filled with cars for delivery are idling outside developments. And all around people are whispering, “They’re baaa-aack!”
This is when the un-dead start to rise. Our zombies / snowbirds/ seasonal residents are returning to their winter homes and our town is starting to fill up to its traditional winter high-occupancy.
Snowbirds = Zombies?
For new readers, we live in a part of Florida that’s got a ton of “seasonal residents”. (That’s the PC term for snowbirds.) These folks are usually retired and own a home in our area as a second (or third) residence that they occupy 2-5 months per year.
And while it’s tempting to start drawing parallels between the rise of the mindless undead walking around the malls in Dawn of the Dead and the throngs of snowbirds wandering around our own local malls and shopping centers this time of year, that’s not really how I like to roll.
But, because it’s Halloween week, let’s keep going with the zombie analogy, just because it’s fun.
How To Prepare For the Zombie Invasion
Step 1 – Adjust Your Attitude
If you’re stressed out and upset about the invasion, realize the problem is with you.
- Traffic – More people means more cars on the roads, so yes – there is more traffic. But let’s be realistic here. Snowbirds aren’t on the road for the early morning commute to work, and are usually getting off the road headed for the “early bird” dinner specials by the time you’re getting into the car to head home around 5 or 6. Unless the bulk of your driving is done between 10am and 4pm, the snowbirds aren’t affecting your traffic patterns all that much. And if you want to avoid the effect entirely, try bike commuting. There’s no better weather than winter in Florida to give it a try in.
- Lines & Congestion at the Store – More people in town means more people in the grocery store, and more people in the grocery store means more (and longer) lines. So instead of waiting a minute or two for check-out, maybe you have to wait 3 or 4 minutes. Or 5! Heaven forbid. Pull out the fancy pants smart phone in your pocket (come on, we all have them by now) and send off a couple of emails that are overdue. Bam – productivity! Or try being sociable and saying hello to those around you. You might be pleasantly surprised how quickly the time passes when you’re meeting someone new.
- It’s So Much Worse Elsewhere – If you still need an attitude adjustment, go spend a week in NYC. Our NYC friends couldn’t believe how calm and quiet and non-congested our town was even when they visited during the height of our busy season last year.
Step 2 – ???
There is no step 2.
Step 3 – Profit!!!!
- Snowbirds spend money. A LOT of money. If you have a business (or work for one) that relies on local consumers, you know this. So kick yourself anytime you think poorly about snowbirds – they are boosting the paychecks of many full time residents.
- Snowbirds also pay a lot in taxes so you don’t have to. Florida rewards full time residents with big tax breaks. Since snowbirds don’t get these tax breaks, that means they’re paying a disproportionately large sum of money, especially when compared to how much use they are getting out of living there. Our property taxes are about $1800/year, so that’s about $150/month that we’re living here. Our snowbird neighbors (the ones with the bananas I covet) – because they don’t get our full time resident exemption, their tax bill is about 2.4x what ours is for the year – around $4300, and since they’re only here about 4 months/year, that means they’re paying ~$1075/month that they’re around. So thanks, snowbirds!
Let’s face it, there are pros and cons to living in a resort-type area (as Kim wrote about a few weeks ago w.r.t. ski resort towns). I just happen to think there are a lot more “pros” than “cons” for us. So as the snowbirds begin their invasion it helps to stop and check the attitude at the door and start saying “thank you” for continuing to subsidize your awesome beach lifestyle.
What’s your take on living in an area with a sizable seasonal population?
Random Aside – Kitty PoP will once again be dressing up in his lion costume for Halloween this year. Check out last year’s pictures here.