Here Vs. There: The Top Question I Am Asked the Most

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Here Vs. There: The Top Question I Am Asked the Most

Why Snowbirds Consciously Choose to Live In Two Places

Curiosity about the choice to live in two places vs. one primary home are what I am commonly asked when the subject of being a snowbird comes up with someone who has not yet experienced it. I have thought a lot about it. Snowbirds consciously make the choice and sacrifices to build their lives in two places. Here and there. It is not by chance or just happened to turn out that way kind of thing.

Snowbirds by nature are calculating types. Decisions are not made lightly and I am not easily persuaded to change the course without heavily weighing the pros and cons. Therefore, the discussion about here vs. there typically goes along these lines.

Why not live in one place all of the time? It is the top question I am asked the most.

It would be great to live in one place all year round: a tropical Southern climate is my ideal location. However, it is not a practical choice for many reasons.

One, I already live in the Great Lakes region of the Midwest. Family, friends and my primary home are all in Indiana. I have lived here my entire adult life with the exception of two years at the beach in Northeast Florida decades ago. It would be very difficult to disconnect from my lifelong friends and loved ones in my primary community. I've already done that during my two years in Ponte Vedra Beach Florida and yes, family will visit from time to time. I went home once in awhile, but it isn't the same as meeting up in my community to have dinner or a family celebration with loved ones. There are many times it wasn't possible to return home to Indiana for something of importance and that's time and opportunity you'll never get back. Life goes on without you when you are away from your core.

Nine years ago my twin sister deliberately chose to relocate to Oahu, Hawaii thousands of miles away from her family and it is not without intense emotional costs to do that. I am not willing or able to move away for more than a couple of months at a time. Snowbirds are snowbirds primarily because of this reason.

Next, think about it. Our primary home is located in a very nice suburban neighborhood near grocery stores, restaurants, businesses and other amenities that make it very appealing, plus the cost of living is considered to be one of the best values in the US per multiple sources. My husband and I live in a spacious home of 4,000+ square feet with a three car garage, deck, patio, hot tub, garden and a lovely fenced in yard for our dog. When the dog needs to go out, we simply open the door to the yard. It's safe and convenient for him and us. Our HOA fees and costs to maintain our home are very reasonable. We have choices of whether to mow our yard or hire a professional, we decide what internet services we want to use and we have flexibility to change vendors if the costs are not meeting expectations.

Our condo at the beach in Northern Florida is very small and expensive. The mortgage, taxes and HOA fees are high. Our complex is located in an upscale neighborhood of shore home mansions, vacation cottages, private residences and low rise condos.

Several years ago, we purchased a top floor, 792 square foot, one bedroom unit that features a gorgeous, sweeping view of the Gulf of Mexico as well as the South pool of our gated complex. By far it is the most appealing feature of our condo, you simply cannot beat the gulf view, it is stunning. It is an easy walk to many gulf front restaurants and we can drive to almost any retail store or business in our southern community. 

We have no choice or control over the costs or vendors for our beach home, it is determined by the HOA's Board of Directors. We have shared access to community amenities such as a 2.5 acre private beach with volleyball, two beautiful pools, a large hot tub, tennis and pickleball courts, club house and outdoor barbecue grills, but there is no covered parking nor reserved parking spaces. The trash dumpsters are a three minute walk from our condo. When the dog needs to go out, we leash him up, ride the elevator to the ground floor and walk to a green space whether it is night, day, raining, cold, hot or in-between, we make the trip at least five or six times and repeat again.

Privacy is minimal. There are 188 condo units, 68 cottages and 12 shore homes in our 33 acre complex at the beach. Privacy is limited to the inside of our unit and somewhat our small balcony. Anytime we step out the main door we need to look somewhat presentable and expect to meet/greet anyone walking by, riding with us on the elevator or that we encounter in the parking lot because that is the norm and the polite thing to do. At our northern home, privacy and safety are not taken lightly. We park our vehicles in the garage and can cocoon as much or as little as we like. No one will see or hear us go about our business as is the norm at our beach condo.

We love our time in our snowbird community of Miramar Beach Florida and have made many friends in the area. We are residents, not visitors, there is a huge distinction. We are fully vested in our beach home and are fully present in our life there. It's the same for when we are in our northern home. Both homes are "home."  I wouldn't want it any other way.

Many snowbirds I've met live in colder climates than I do. Canada, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Northern Michigan to name a few. In the summer, the foliage, lakes and beauty of the northern states and Canada is alluring for tourists and permanent residents alike. How can anyone easily give up the opportunity to live in two places, each at their peak of benefits? They can't and that is why we do.    


"What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”

-- John Lubbock, English Author "The Pleasures of Life," first published in 1890


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