I am not a fan of winter. In fact, I hate winter. I don't like snow. There really aren't any outdoor winter activities that I like. Give me a beach and the warm sun and I'll be happy.
My husband and I have had a dream for a long time. When we are finally able to retire, we want to live in multiple locations around the world and always be somewhere are. We'll be "chasing summer".
Retirement is still a couple of years away, but the changes to our "normal" life due to COVID-19 have made it possible for us to try out this concept of "chasing summer" this winter. I'm working from home full time and will be for the foreseeable future. Our travel and concert calendar is completely empty until at least 2021. And, we've saved a lot of money this year because we haven't been able to do a lot of the things we normally would.
So, we are heading to South Carolina for the winter. We have no idea how this whole snowbird thing works, but we're going to figure it out.
Over the next 6 months, I'll be documenting my snow bird experience here. My hope is to not only show you all the cool places we discover in our temporary location, but to share the tips and tricks we learn as we go chase summer. So here we go with Part 1!
Who Came Up With This Crazy Idea?
As with most of my ideas, they pop into my head at strange times. Usually it's when I'm in the shower or taking a walk. Sometimes it's early in the morning when I'm laying in bed.
This particular idea started when we took a day trip down to the Chesapeake Bay area in Maryland. It was a beautiful summer day on the water and we were standing by the bay having a drink. As we talked about how much we were enjoying the weather and the view, we also started talking about how hard this winter was going to be with no travel or concerts to look forward to.
Before you know it, we started asking ourselves - why do we have to stay home this winter? Next thing you know, I was searching for realtors in South Carolina.
Why South Carolina?
We've been talking about a new home base in the U.S. after we retire in a few years, and South Carolina keeps coming up on the top of the list. We love the east coast and the convenience it brings. You're close to so many major cities, and it makes traveling to the Caribbean and Europe much easier.
And no offense to Floridians, but I really don't have any desire to live there. We want to live somewhere that still have a lot of character and culture, and South Carolina seems to have that.
Plus, the cost of living in South Carolina seems to be pretty reasonable, which will ultimately make our retirement dollars go much further.
So How Do I Find A Place To Stay?
Once we had it narrowed down to South Carolina, we had to find a place to stay. We knew we wanted to stay close to the coast so we could have access to the beach, so we started searching in places like Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach. I spent a lot of time searching for a place, and here are some of my tips to help your search be easier.
Tip #1 - Have a Budget
Knowing what your monthly budget needs to be is key. Remember, your regular bills are not going to go down, so your budget needs to be extra money that you can spend each month. And as you are searching, make sure you understand the "all in" cost of your rental. Are utilities included? Will there be taxes? What about extras you might need to buy?
Tip #2 - Have a Clear Understanding of Your Requirements
I made a list of certain requirements that we had to have. We had to have a second bedroom, as I need to have a quiet place to work. I also wanted to have a washer and drying in the unit - not just in the building. I didn't want to mess with a laundromat. We also intend on taking both cars, so we needed to have access to two parking spots. And of course, we plan on taking very little down with us, so we needed the place to be fully furnished and well equipped.
Tip #3 - Check With Friends
After we decided to make the move, we both posted on social media and asked if any of our friends had suggestions. One friend referred me to a realtor in the Charleston area. Other friends suggested areas to stay away from. And one friend said... hey, I have a friend who just bought a condo in North Myrtle Beach and is renting it out. Maybe you should check with them?
Tip #4 - It Never Hurts to Ask
The condo we ended up renting was the one that our friend referred us to. After speaking with the owner, we were able to work with them directly rather than going through VRBO or a realtor. Because we had a mutual friend, we both felt comfortable doing that, which allowed us both to save some money. If you are renting from someone you don't know, I would stick with going through a realtor or some other rental service. However, it never hurts to ask if you can get a long term rental discount or some other perk. Many rentals include extra fees for cleaning and other things that are needed when they are renting units on a weekly basis, so you may be able to get some of those fees eliminated or reduced when you rent monthly.
So What's Next?
We are now the proud renters of a beautiful three bedroom condo on the beach in North Myrtle Beach. Our plan is to start heading down on Thanksgiving weekend and arrive on December 1st.
There is a lot to figure out between not and then. I've started several lists - things to pack, things to do before we go and things we want to do once we get there.
I think the most critical thing we have to do is to make sure we have everything at home in order before we go. In my next installment, I'll share with you the things we are doing to get ready, and some tips we've already discovered.
For now, I need to get back to those lists! Talk to you soon!
Are you a snowbird? I'd love to hear about your experience! Comment below or e-mail me at email@example.com.
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