Florida Snowbird Wintering
Florida is the only state where you can pretty well winter anywhere
Think Florida, and you no doubt have thoughts of dazzling white beaches, warm ocean breezes, wind-swept palms and other subtropical plants and endless citrus groves,
You also are treated with fresh-from-the-water seafood, delicious key lime pie, space shuttle launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Daytona International Speedway and well-manicured golf courses,
Then there's the Everglades, Key West, alligators, great blue herons, roseate spoonbills, wood storks, ibis, anhingas,—and of course, Disney World and other Orlando-area theme parks.
At Florida's award winning state parks you'll discover "the real Florida."
With access to miles of beautiful Atlantic beaches, Southeast Florida is one of the nation's most popular snowbird destinations, combining a string of established oceanfront communities in Treasure Coast and Gold Coast areas with Miami's exciting multicultural urban scene
Known for its beautiful sunsets, the Gulf Coast region of Southwest Florida (also known as the Florida Suncoast) offers a good mix of urban sophistication and low-key coastal living, with great beaches
While Walt Disney World is central Florida's star attraction, the area is also home to the state's third largest metropolitan area, as well as numerous resorts and theme parks, acclaimed golf courses, equestrian centers, abundant lakes and nature areas and miles of Atlantic beaches.
Northeastern Florida is home to the Sunshine State's oldest city (St. Augustine) and largest city (Jacksonville), as well as a number of beach and resort communities scattered along the Atlantic shoreline from Amelia Island south to Daytona Beach
The Emerald Coast and Forgotten Coast regions of northwestern Florida offer a low-key alternative to the Sunshine State's more illustrious beach destinations, with relatively low-density development along more than 200 miles of scenic Gulf of Mexico shoreline.
The further south you go, the warmer the winter temperature
The further south you go, the warmer the winter temperature. For example, the average January high temperature in the Florida Panhandle is in the low-60s while Fort Myers and Naples is in the mid-70s.
Gulf Coast dominates “affordable beach living” list
Communities along the Gulf Coast dominate a recent list of the “Top 13 Beach Towns You Can Actually Afford to Live In” presented by the travel section of Thrillist.com, taking up six of the 13 top spots with Pensacola, Fla. at #2 and Gulfport, Miss. at #1.
Communities were judged by SmartAssets by comparing data on median home prices, home size, property taxes, and annual housing cost (mortgage, insurance, taxes, etc.) and found which beach towns are the overall cheapest.
Gulf coast communities named to the top 15 include:
Gulf Shores, Ala. Pensacola, Fla. Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Biloxi, Miss. Gulfport, Miss. Bay St. Louis, Miss. Ocean Springs, Miss.
With membership limited to the 55 and better crowd, you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people that share similar interests
55+ communities are perfect for active adults because they emphasize activity and fitness, with amenities and activities designed to keep residents mentally and physically active
Most 55+ communities are located within a short drive or walking distance to shops, restaurants, theaters, churches, and medical facilities.
Homes within 55+ communities are designed with you in mind, with floorplans and features that accommodate active adults
Sense of Community
The sense of community is one of the most praised aspects of living in a 55+ community. Studies have shown that having a sense of community greatly impacts a person’s well-being and quality of life.
Billed as hubs for “active adult living,” 55+ master-planned communities have specific rules about the minimum age of their resident homeowners and renters.
These rules are authorized by an amendment to the Fair Housing Act allowing age-restricted living. Communities are classified as 55+ under the direction of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
One of the advantages to 55+ communities is their ability to attract like-minded people that enjoy amenities like golf courses and recreation facilities as well as all common areas.
Many are also built near health care facilities, which adds to their appeal with age-qualified buyers and renters.
55+ communities do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to live there full-time, although visitors are allowed for specific numbers of weeks per year, as stated in the homeowner association documents.
Their purpose as places for people 55+ to live and stay active means that many communities have extensive programming for fitness, crafts and social activities that result in regular fees to maintain the common interests of resident homeowners and renters
How Snowbirds Can Avoid a Blizzard of Tax Bills
When you dream of escaping the snow of Boston or Chicago by spending winters in Palm Beach or Palm Springs, you're probably not thinking about the blizzard of tax forms — and potential bills — you could be facing come April.
But people who divide their time between two states need to be aware of a few twists in the tax code that could make for an expensive headache if ignored or handled improperly.
Where You Legally Reside
For snowbirds, the priority is usually to establish residency in a state like Florida, which doesn't charge residents income tax, rather than a high-tax state like New York or California. But this means fulfilling a few requirements. Although states have different rules and tax rates, the rule of thumb is that if you spend more than 183 days in the state, you're a resident.
"People get tripped up all the time on the 183 day rule," says Jeffrey Cohen, CPA and tax partner at Grassi & Co. "You’re either a resident or you’re not, and a lot of people don’t understand what the rules are and make bad assumptions."
Cohen says this doesn't include time spent in-state for medical purposes. So if you need surgery and have to check into a New York hospital, the "time meter" isn't running. But, he adds, states are strict about how they do the math. Check the rules in your snowbound state.
For instance, if you spend October to April in another state, but come back to spend three weeks in New York around the holidays, you'll probably pass that 183-day mark and be considered a resident.
This means being subject to New York taxes on any income you earned throughout the year, regardless of where you were when you earned it.
Nonresidents, on the other hand, are only assessed income tax on what they earned while in the state, a potentially big difference.
Preventing Tax-Refund Fraud
Don't let someone else claim your tax refund this year.
Unfortunately, even if you clear the 183-day threshold, you might still be considered a resident of a high-tax state, because tax officials count other factors too — a lot of them. Minnesota, for instance, has a list of more than two dozen factors that help determine if you're a resident.
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Again, particular states' tax codes vary, but experts like Cohen say the government will look at things like
- where you have the bigger home
- where your cars are registered,
- where your bank accounts and
- other financial assets are based,
- even where you worship or
- where you're registered to vote —
- all those kinds of details can go into the mix.
- Where You Earn Income
If you live and work for one or more employers in two different states, knowing what you earned when is important for tax purposes
"If they’re earning income in two different states, their income may be taxed in the other state as well," you might want to consult tax software or an accountant to sort it out.
Don't ignore any 1099s, especially if you rent out your winter home on a site like Airbnb when you're not around.
You're not the only one getting them. If you rent your home for more than 14 days during the year, you have to report that money as rental income.
The same goes for 1099-K forms.
A Collection of Snowbird-friendly RV Resorts
along America's Sunbelt
The cold temperatures of autumn mark the beginning of the annual snowbird migration of more than a million RV travelers to warm destinations in the U.S. Sunbelt.
Are you ready to join the flock? Plan a trip to the sunny locations on this site for your own snowbird adventure. From the California desert to Florida's Gulf Coast, you're bound to find the winter home of your dreams.
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