Wonderfully warm weather may be what’s on a snowbird’s mind when picking and choosing the perfect spot to settle down at come winter time. But sometimes, not burning a huge hole into that wallet or checking account also takes top priority, especially for recent retirees wanting just to get away from the snow and the storms towards someplace breezy, beautiful, and easy on the dollar signs.
Lucky for you, we’ve got you covered. We went ahead and ranked from least expensive to most expensive the four top affordable snowbird destinations in the warmest states. No thanks needed.
Top 5 Most Affordable Snowbird Destinations In The U.S.
Kea’au is located on the eastern part of the Big Island of Hawaii. It’s largely known for it’s specialty botanical gardens full of indigenous tropical plants and herbs, as well as beautiful historic homes. Pacific Floral Exchange, a 50-acre greenhouse, is the most popular. Try Lemon Grass or Spoonful Cafe for great Thai, then check out Alibi Tavern at night for live music on the weekends and special events.
For the adrenaline-seekers, visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and tour the inside of a crater and lava tube. Or take your pick of zip-line adventures, horseback rides, and ATV tours with Paani Ranch & ATV Adventures. There are even Keiko adventures specifically designed for children under 8 years old. The whole family can also take a self-guided tour through Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory and take home the must-have Hawaiian chocolates. Or, book a private island tour tapered to your preferences with Marylou’s Big Island Guided Tours.
With a super low cost of living along and an unusually high inventory of apartments and short-term leasing options available downtown, this major south-central Texan town is a natural pick for snowbirds looking to spend a little less. The area has even got plenty of attractions to entertain the kids and grandkid with, including its rich colonial heritage at the infamous Alamo and the San Antonio River Walk, as well as HemisFair Park’s 750-ft. Tower of the Americas that overlooks the entire city.
Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is typically under a thousand bucks, so head on over to this subtropical paradise, where the typical annual shirt-sleeve temperature is in the mid-seventies, where prices for basically anything from restaurants to antique goods are very affordable, and where a vast majority of winter Texan snowbirds usually go to with their RVs. Kick up those heels this holiday along miles and miles of shoreline with tons of palm trees, migratory birds to spot, and incredibly friendly local people that make the area even all the more better to retire at.
San Antonio has it all, and families, couples, foodies, and history buffs alike will find this famous Texan town worthwhile. The iconic River Walk is lined with riverside restaurants with mouth-watering barbecue, Southwestern, and Tex-Mex cuisine. Stroll down it on your own or take a hop-on hop-off tour and cruise…but either way, it’s a must-see!
If you’re in town, don’t miss Texas’ most historic landmark of all…The Alamo. The famous battleground stages demonstrations and events throughout the year, and you can tour the former Spanish mission and fortress with the whole family. There are also five missions, including Mission San José and Mission San Juan, recently named UNESCO World Heritage sites for anyone interested in this particular legacy in U.S. history.
Stop by El Mercado, or Market Square, afterwards for great for shopping locally. Art lovers: the San Antonio Museum of Art offers a variety of collections and is housed in a historic brewery. And the HemisFair Urban Park features water gardens and even Tower of the Americas, which provide excellent city views. Nestled in Texas Hill Country, San Antonio can also be used as a jumping off point for day trips to outdoor adventuring. Tube down Frio or Guadalupe river, hike Government Canyon State Natural Area or Lost Maples State National Area, or spend the day on Canyon Lake.
You’ll definitely be far from any snow-capped mountains in this semi-arid desert climate - but you can still enjoy mountain view from the comfort of your vacation rental. Green Valley is a huge community of developments in the southern part of Arizona with nearby hiking and even birding spots in the Santa Rita mountains. Of course, this is a hot spot for retirees looking for top conveniences and amenities - golf courses, fitness centers, swimming pools - at a great value. Surround yourself in the beauty of the Santa Cruz River Valley in the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona by playing ball at more than six golf courses within an eight-mile radius, swimming in a dozen or more pristine pools at various recreation centers in the area, or just by enjoying the fact that you’re washing those winter blues away by dwelling at a 3,000-foot elevation that receives more than 325 days of sunshine each and every year. Green Valley is the ideal place for snowbirds to enjoy the outdoors during the fall, winter, and even spring months.
Engage in some classic bird watching near the world famous Madera Canyon, or take part in the array of cultural events, such as concerts, dances, symphony performances, plays, and rodeos offered in town and in nearby Tucson. There are also plenty of trails for hiking, biking, or horseback riding, as well as a slew of antique shopping boutiques and day trips that provide colorful getaways to Mexico. Be sure to make the most out of this Pima County original by checking out the Arizonian Titan Missile Museum, the Fred Whipple Observatory, the Desert Museum, and, of course, the Desert Diamond Casino. Try Ragazzi Italian restaurant for a local food favorite. Visit the nearby town of Tubac for excellent food, shopping, and art culture.
Masterly planned to be an active adult golf cart community, The Villages offers executive golf courses, recreational centers, fine shopping, and great southern cuisine in easy distance from relaxing vacation rental properties. It has a picturesque landscape: tree-lined streets, a traditional Towne Square, and quant architecture. Shopping in town consists of large chains as well as smaller specialty shops.
As the summer months turn to autumn and winter, things tend to get busier and much less quieter in this Sumter County area as snowbirds flock in to enjoy some gorgeous Florida sunshine. It has been estimated that at least thirty percent of the residents in The Villages are retirees who return each year to roost in and around the massive local retirement community between October and April of each year—and you will definitely find yourself amongst a large sea of older singles and couples from all across the nation and Canada basking in the glories of warm, tranquil beach weather, lots of live entertainment, gorgeous golf courses, as well as two whole town squares of premier retirement community comfort that beats anything else the Sunshine State has to offer.
This winter, grab a drink by the water for happy hour at The Lighthouse Point Bar & Grill. There’s also Margarita Republic Grill & Bar for karaoke, trivia, and billiards. Enjoy dinner and a dance at western-style Katie Belle’s Resident Club in the city center. Take in Lady Lake during the winter season within the idyllic climate of Florida’s ‘Friendliest Hometown’ along with music, art, technology, culture, and even the nearby Lifelong Learning College, which offers residents an opportunity to pursue things they never thought were possible. Until now.
Las Cruces lies 50 minutes north of El Paso, Texas, which is enough to get you out of the Lone Star State and into the quintessential New Mexico high desert landscape. It’s also a snowbird fave, as many have decided to settle down in this southern New Mexico area that happens to sit on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, at the foot of the Organ Mountains, and along the banks of the Rio Grande. A University town, the weather in Las Cruces is nearly always sunny and blue-skied. The Dripping Springs Natural Area offers a beautiful hiking trail that isn’t too strenuous but allows for great views of this lovely area. Don’t miss The Farmers & Crafts Market of Las Cruces, with over 300 vendors hawking anything from art to find crafts to produce, on Wednesday and Saturday.
Located in the heart of the chili capital of the world, it is also home to some of the best and hottest Mexican food in the nation, with numerous local restaurants featuring traditional Mexican food entrees made from the most famous family recipes. Las Cruces is also an incredibly affordable place to stay in as well.In the colder months, the tiny town basks in the glory of daytime temperatures ranging from the upper 50s to lower 60s—it’s got 350 days of sunshine a year and offers those who stay a unique mix of wild habitats to check out, especially for bird lovers.
There is no shortage of rich American history in Las Cruces. The Old Mesilla Village is a frequented historical community that has maintained a melded Indian, Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo-American culture, with adobe structures and opportunities for horse-drawn rides through town. Stop by the historical Fountain Theater for independent and art film showings. The Lake Valley Historic Townsite is a local mining “ghost-town” where travelers can walk through to discover life from a different time. And you can check out historical rocket displays at the White Sands Missile Range Museum for a different kind of thrill. You can even stay in a historic vacation rental during your extended visit. Las Cruces was even named the top area in the U.S. to retire by Money Magazine in June 2002! Budget-friendly and beautiful-- what are you waiting for?
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This article was written by Lauren Riley and Pamela Chan.