If you live in a winter climate, you know that the colder months can be unbearable at times. Growing up in Rochester, NY, I’ve had my fair share of blizzards, snow days, ice storms, and negative temperatures. I’m still surprised that my parents have lived there for long as they have—fifty years and counting!
Some of our neighbors and friends have moved south over the years, kissing the winter winds goodbye and saying hello to the summer sun all year long. I always wonder if or when my parents will make the move. I know that they love Rochester too much to leave, as it’s where they’ve formed all their memories. As they get older, though, the winters have become more bitter, harsher, and more restrictive. After I graduate college and they eventually retire, I think they will fly like the birds, buy a second home, and head south for the winters.
While a second home can be costly, it provides a wonderful middleground between surviving the snow season and not abandoning your roots. Once you’ve made the decision to fly south, where do you choose to go? East Coast or West Coast? Coastal or inland? National or International? To help you start your search, consider the options listed below.
I visited Bradenton Beach last August and it was one of the most charming areas I had ever stepped foot in. About twenty-five minutes from the Sarasota Airport and an hour and a half from Tampa, Bradenton is easily accessible.
Enjoy the glistening waters of the Gulf of Mexico and savor the “Old Florida” charm that surrounds you. Since Bradenton is nestled at the south end of Anna Maria Island, it is home to both permanent residents and vacationers.
A free trolley system connects Bradenton with other towns on the island, so travel is convenient. With restaurants, retail outlets, and museums at your fingertips, each day at Bradenton will provide you with a new opportunity to explore the community and enjoy the sun.
Due to its location, Bradenton residents can easily leave Anna Maria Island for the day and explore other Florida beaches and cities.
Greenville, South Carolina
If you have done any retirement or second home research in the past, you have probably heard about Greenville, South Carolina. Nearly every recent “Top Ten Places to Retire” articles on the internet puts Greenville near the top.
In an article for The Washington Post, Dina Mashev wrote, “I’ve never fallen in love with a place as quickly as I did with Greenville.” Could the same happen for you?
Built by the textile industry, the city is now home to over 650 manufacturers, 40 Fortune 500 companies, and 150 headquarters. Greenville has no shortage of culture, arts, entertainment, and history.
Over the years, Greenville has turned into a thriving, pedestrian-friendly metropolis. Whether you choose to live in the heart of downtown or the farther out in Greenville County, your perfect half-of-the-year home awaits you.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
For people looking to purchase closer to the West Coast, Las Cruces, New Mexico is a viable option. Located on the border of the Chihuahuan Desert in southern New Mexico and the edge of the Rio Grande River, Las Cruces is the second largest city in the state behind Albuquerque.
Unlike some of the other destinations on our list, when you are in Las Cruces, you are surrounded by distant mountains. While not a beachfront destination, the area is definitely a pleasant change from the winter weather.
Stay active with the hiking and biking paths, indulge in a number of community events throughout the year, and volunteer with the municipal government. Las Cruces is also home to one of the largest farmers markets in the nation.
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Bald Head Island, North Carolina
Off the southern coast of North Carolina, Bald Head Island is one of America’s hidden treasures. If you are looking for a quiet, island escape, Bald Head could be the place for you. Only accessible by passenger ferry or private boat, the island is an eco-lover’s dream as no motor vehicles are allowed on the land. Travel is strictly done by golf cart, foot, or bike.
Find a home in the harbour, right where the sand meets the sea, or nestled in the Maritime Forest. Since Bald Head Island is in North Carolina, it is definitely not the warmest destination on the list. However, the destination is still a relaxing oasis during the winter months.
I remember when my mother first discovered the island. The travel brochure used the words relaxation, rejuvenation, and restoration to describe life at Bald Head. No other words can encompass the island experience better.
While plenty of restaurants, amenities, and grocery stores populate the island, the mainland of North Carolina is only a 20-minute boat ride away.
With any big move, recognizing your wants and needs should be your top priority. What can you afford? Bald Head Island and Bradenton are the more expensive options on the list, with Greenville and Las Cruces being slightly more budget-friendly.
What kind of atmosphere do you thrive in? All of the above options pave way for ample time outdoors under the sun, but each has its own character. Bradenton is best suited for the beach-goer; Bald Head Island for the minimalist; Las Cruces for the adventure-seeker; Greenville for the urban enthusiast.
Perhaps you have friends that recently flew south for the winter—use them as a resource. If you are making the purchase with your spouse or partner, make sure you each communicate what you want out of your second home with each other. I encourage you to spend a substantial amount of time in your top destinations before you commit to one.
Do you have a favorite place to escape the winter blues? We’d love to hear about your experience!