Winter is a time for boots, snow shovels, and icy roads… unless you’re a snowbird who RVs to the Sun Belt. Snowbirds are typically retired seniors who have the desire and financial ability to be away from home for extended periods of time.
The snowbird lifestyle is to our liking because we can take our home with us when the cold weather arrives and snow begins to fall. For us the snowbird lifestyle is the best of both worlds.
But, there is more to leaving home than packing and locking up the doors. It takes planning to secure your home base and belongings and to make sure your abode is as welcoming upon your return as it was before you left.
As the annual migration begins, many homeowners set themselves up for potential disaster. Leaving a home unoccupied for an extended period of time can put homeowners at risk. Houses are a lot like teenagers, neither one should be left alone for very long. Snowbirds come home to problems because they failed to properly plan when they left in the fall.
Preparing your home for an extended absence requires thorough thought and planning. Before heading south, snowbirds need to take steps to secure and winterize their homes. Creating customized checklists is one way to stay organized when prepping for snowbird season. Consider the following tips as a starting point when creating your winter-ready checklist.
If you’re a snowbird, there are certain things you need do to protect your home before you hit the road. To be sure you don’t miss anything on this list of 10 essential ‘home-to-dos’ before you take flight.
Check the expiry dates of all personal identification, travel documents, RV and house insurance, passports, credit and debit cards, and driver’s license. Inform your bank and credit card companies of your departure and how long you’ll be out of the country. Consider setting up online banking and pre-authorized payments for bills.
Snowbirds should make copies of passport ID pages, planned itinerary, campground confirmations, driver’s license, insurance, and credit cards, stored separately from originals.
Place a temporary hold on your newspaper delivery, and arrange with your local postal office to have your mail forwarded to a reliable mail forwarding service or your winter address.
Place all stay-at-home valuables in a safe deposit box.
Put indoor and outdoor lights on timers so they will turn on and off at appropriate times.
You are escaping the snow, but your home is not. Arrange with a neighbor, relative, friend, or snow removal service to keep sidewalks clear and your home secure.
Ask a friend, trustworthy neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, and be available in emergency situations. Your home should look like someone is living there.
Have someone walk through your house at least once a week while you’re away. Not only is that a prudent thing to do, but your insurance company could void your coverage if you do not arrange for a regular walk-through. Check with your insurance provider to determine the frequency they require. It’s also a good idea to review your home insurance policy to be sure you’re adequately covered while you’re away.
Disconnect all appliances and electrical devices, including microwave, washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator, coffee maker, televisions, entertainment centers, and lamps.
Make sure all smoke alarms are properly installed, in working order, and are equipped with fresh batteries.
Turn down thermostats to 50 degrees. Low heat will prevent a freeze-up.
Adjust the gas water heater thermostat to “pilot” or turn it off. Turn off the water supply at the main valve. Upon returning home, relight the pilot if you turned it off, and gradually turn the thermostat to the appropriate setting. Don’t forget to turn the water back on before restarting the water heater.
Check outdoor security lights to ensure the motion sensors are functioning correctly.
Finally, lock all windows and doors, and activate the alarm or security system.
Now, pack up the rig and head south.
It started out a dream
A simple someday soon
But we worked hard
and made it real
This snowbird life
behind the wheel.