Lifestyles of the Dual Resident: Maintaining Two Homes

It takes nearly 18 hours to drive from Chicago to Orlando, Florida. Gas for the trip is $89-$173. Plan to set aside 1 day and 5 hours to travel the 2,025 miles from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Tempe, Arizona. Gas will cost anywhere from $156 to $304.

Dual or seasonal residents choose to make those types of treks between two homes twice a year to take advantage mostly of milder temperatures and more comfortable climates elsewhere.

Why Orlando, Florida? Why Tempe, Arizona?

Both are popular destinations for retirees looking for more comfortable winter residences. Michigan’s winter averages nearly five feet of annual snowfall in Ann Arbor.

Orlando, Florida enjoys the top spot in many rankings as one of the most popular retirement locations.

Another Florida city, Tampa, takes second place. Miami; Scottsdale, Arizona; Atlanta; Salt Lake City; Honolulu; Denver; Austin, Texas; and Las Vegas fill out the top 10 list. Tempe, Arizona is 33rd.

A Dual Resident By Any Other Name

Although the proper term is seasonal or dual resident, the less flattering word is snowbird, which is a person who travels to warmer climates during the winter.

In modern use since about 1923, the term described seasonal workers who moved south during the winter. It came into common use in 1979 to refer to retirees who headed south for part of the year.

The original term, “winter resident”, dates back nearly 200 years when rich Europeans left their northern homes during the winter for the warmer climates of Italy and Southern France. The “summer resident” lives permanently in the warmer location and travels north to avoid the hot summers. They became known as “sunbirds.”

Besides their sojourning lifestyles, dual residents have their own magazines, their own websites, and their own rituals.

American dual residents read the Winter Texan Times, the Snowbirds RV Traveler Magazine, the Snowbirds Gulf Coast Magazine, and other publications and sites. Canadian travelers have the Canadian Snowbird Association. Many develop their own sites focusing on their communities and groups.

Who Are They?

Most are baby boomers who were born in the years after World War II. They are generally well educated, financially prosperous, and lead active lifestyles.

Most dual residents have both homes in the United States; 10% have permanent residences outside the country. They typically begin their migration journeys to warmer terrains around November and return in April.

Florida has traditionally been the biggest draw for dual residents. Analysts estimate Florida may attract nearly a million non-state residents annually.

How Does A Dual Resident Prepare?

Dual residents typically follow strict checklists before heading to their second residences.

Here’s a list of some items to include:

Change mail delivery. Winter residents may ask their post offices to hold or forward their mail. Using bank bill pay is the best option for paying bills.

Suspend services. Turning off utilities and Internet services can be complicated. Some service providers have seasonal programs.

Set indoor temperatures. Many seasonal residents set their thermostats at low temperatures to save money. A home monitoring system might be the best choice to avoid surprises.

Turn off the water. Shutting off the water at the main valve into the house is best.

Talk with law enforcement and neighbors. Alerting local police departments and trusted neighbors is a must.

Suspend subscriptions. Calling newspaper offices at least a week in advance to suspend a subscription prevents pileups.

Take medical records. Dual residents should take copies of their medical records and their medications with them.

What Financial Considerations Should You Ponder?

1. How will you pay for the property?

2. Will you downsize in your current location to add a dual residence?

3. Have you considered insurance and property taxes?

4. How will you handle utilities and maintenance?

5. Will either location have association or management fees?

6. How much will you budget for travel expenses?

In our blog “Considering Buying a Second Property?” we discuss considerations for purchasing a vacation home or a rental property.

What Does the Future Hold?

According to projections, the population of those 65 and older is expected to double by 2050 to 83.7 million. The allure of dual residency—at least among baby boomers—may be fading. Nearly 90% of older Americans are now deciding to stay put, with 80% saying their current residence is where they plan to stay for the rest of their lives. However, If the dual residency lifestyle appeals to you, we’d be happy to help you plan for making it a reality!

Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.

The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  

Published for the blog on July 31, 2018 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.