Florida has a special place in the hearts of most Michiganders. Every winter a majority of Michigan families say goodbye to the retired snowbirds… those who live in the warmer climates for Michigan’s less-than-desirable winter months. Some of the most popular states our family snowbirds migrate to are Florida, Arizona, South Carolina, Texas, and Hawaii. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 21,000 people moved from Michigan to Florida each year in 2019. With that being said, we have tips for the Michigan snowbird.

Whether you have someone to help take care of your home while you stay at your winter home, or you are the one taking care of the home your snowbird is leaving, there is a lot of preparation and things to be aware of when getting ready to leave for the winter. As a granddaughter to a couple of snowbird couples, here is a guide for snowbird retirees (and others) who plan to travel to warmer climates during the winter.

Snowbird Tips You NEED To Know:

  • Arrange Your Mail to be Forwarded or Put it on a Mail Hold

    If interested in forwarding your mail to your winter address the USPS will gather up your mail and send it to your winter home for a fee. This is great for when you will be gone for an extended period of time, like a few months. Due note that the USPS cannot forward financial documents such as bank statements, credit card statements, and so on. You will need to make arrangements with your individual financial institutions. Now, you can also put your mail on hold which will make the USPS collect your mail and hold it at a designated location for you to pick up once you return to your summer home.

  • Cancel Your Trash Service

    This may not be necessary, depending on what the setup is for your trash. But, depending on if it’s necessary, don’t forget to cancel your trash service!

  • Find a Caretaker for Your Property

    A caretaker of your property doesn’t need to be a full-time job but it’s good to have someone you trust to check in on your place and report back to you. This person could be your neighbor, a relative, a friend, or even a paid service. It’s good to have someone check on your house either once a week or every other week — really as much as it makes you feel comfortable. It’s also a good idea to leave your phone number with a neighbor you have a good relationship with for emergency purposes. If a tree falls on your house in the winter storm… it would be good to find out right away.

  • Empty the Refrigerator

    It’s a good idea to empty out the fridge before leaving and give it a deep clean. Do this before garbage day so you don’t have any garbage sitting around and getting stinky while you’re gone. If you are planning to unplug your refrigerator while you are gone make sure you empty the freezer too if it has one. Remember though, if you do unplug the fridge make sure you leave the door open to prevent mold and foul odors from growing.

  • Get a Plow Service

    Having a plow service clean up your drive and walkways helps on multiple levels. It makes things easier for your house caretaker, it also gives the facade that someone is home to a potential robber. Also, it will help you to avoid a ticket that could be issued by the city or township you live in.

  • Shut off the Water

    This is an obvious one but just to have it on the checklist, open all the drains to let the water flow out and leave open your lowest drain while you are gone. Even though you should have your heat low, it’s better to play it safe rather than have your pipes burst. That sort of damage isn’t worth having your water on and undrained while you are away for a longer period of time.

  • Set the Heat to Low

    It’s a good idea to set your heat pretty low. My family always has their home set to no warmer than 60 degrees in their houses while they are gone. This helps protect your water pipes and your bills!

  • Put a Light on a Timer Inside Your Home

    It’s best to make it look like someone is living at the home to help deter potential break-ins and robberies. I suggest getting a plug-in timer so that a light, or a couple lights, turn on at a specific time to make it look like someone is living there, especially in the evening.

  • Make Sure All Windows Are Locked

    It’s best to double-check all your windows and make sure they are locked so any unwanted visitors don’t have access to the inside of your home. Also, if you have curtains have them drawn so that some of the lights you have going on will be seen from outside.

  • Have a Doctor Down South and Up North

    It never hurts to have a primary care physician in both states you reside in, especially if you’re more of elderly age. If you’re traveling, it’s also more likely you might get sick so just in case you need a prescription… you have a Doctor in your winter home state to write them for you.

  • Make Sure Your Prescriptions are Available in Both States

    We spoke of needing prescriptions in the previous item… depending on when you got your last prescription refilled and how long you’re staying down south, you might need a refill while you’re enjoying the warm weather. To make this easy make sure you have a plan for where to get your prescriptions. Most states have Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, and Walmart… maybe set up your prescriptions through one of those to make this situation easier for you.

  • Have Two Veterinarians

    If you have a furbaby make sure you have a vet for your pet in both states. Hopefully only for emergencies but if your pets are like my cat… you might have prescriptions you need to pick up for them.