Most snowbirds still flocking southward despite pandemic

Most snowbirds still flocking southward despite pandemic

Snowbirds, as certain retirees and other active older adults are known, aren’t letting the pandemic stop them from migrating south to warmer climate this winter.

A national survey of 6,261 snowbirds in September by, a real estate platform for seniors, found at least 70 percent were going ahead with plans for their temporary transplants.

When asked about destinations, Florida was the most frequent response at 63 percent. Other popular destinations include Arizona (13 percent), South Carolina (5 percent), Texas (5 percent), and North Carolina (3 percent).

Car is the form of transportation for 65 percent of snowbirds, while 30 percent will fly. The rest will get there in an RV or a train.

As for when they’ll head south, 5 percent said before October, 23 percent between October and November, and 24 percent between November and December. The remainder plan to go between December and March.

Close to one third of snowbirds plan to stay in their sunnier environs destination for two to three months, and another third for three to six months or more. The remaining third expect to stay for one month.

“Many things” in relation to the pandemic “have progressed since last year, driving an improved sense of security for travelers in this age demographic,” said Danny Goodman, chief operating officer of

On the other hand, the pandemic is the primary reason for keeping 7 percent of snowbirds at home this year. The biggest reason for staying put is that they dom’t want to risk getting COVID-19 by traveling. Other frequently cited reasons include staying closer to family and friends.

At the time of the survey, snowbirds who were undecided listed concern about COVID-19 variants and case rates within their destination, plus other health and safety factors.

Full results of the survey, which was conducted Sept. 14-20 online and by e-mail, are at

Meanwhile, a separate survey by ranks the best cities for snowbirds in the United States. The rankings are based on 13 factors which include average fall/winter temperature, percent of population over age 60, COVID vulnerability, and quality of healthcare centers.

Not surprisingly, most of the top-10 cities are in Florida. The Sunshine State’s been welcoming snowbirds for decades and is a popular destination for winter getaways, thanks to beautiful beaches, world-famous theme parks, golf courses, and world-class amenities.

The best of the best in Florida, according to the survey, is Fort Myers, for all the general reasons boasted by the state as a whole. Right behind is Orlando, perhaps best-known as the home to Disneyworld. In third place is Naples, known for world-class shopping and high-end dining. In fourth place is Sarasota, followed by Melbourne

The first non-Florida city cracking the top 10 is all the way over in Hawaii–Honolulu, with Diamond Head surfing, and so on.

Rounding out the top 10 are Pensacola, Fla., McAllen, Texas (a border town featuring museums and an urban vibe), and two more Florida locales–Lakeland and Daytona Beach.

Whether it’s surf and sand in the southeast or desert climates in the southwest, snowbirds are zeroed in on their usual wintertime haunts, regardless of the pandemic.