Snowbird refers to a traveler who prefers to head south to find warm weather for the winter months.
Since modern technology now makes it possible to stay connected with work, family, and friends no matter where you live snowbird living is becoming more popular.
If you enjoy summer in the northern United States or in Canada but long to escape the snow and ice for mild winters, consider a snowbird destination in one of the international cities below.
Top International Destinations for Snowbird Living
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Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta is a resort city on the west coast of Mexico. For travelers, there are many wonderful options for active nightlife and time on the beach. If you choose to live in Puerto Vallarta in the winter, you may choose to settle into a routine of swimming, sailing, golfing, bird watching, and other fun activities.
As you spend more time in the region, you may enjoy connecting with other North Americans or expats in the area. There's a theatre scene, plenty of live music, and a thriving collection of art exhibits in the region.
Like any popular tourist area, concentrations of travelers with money can increase the risk of targeting by thieves. Be smart; avoid late night, tourist heavy spots even in beautiful cities. Learn your local entertainment options and travel with a friend.
As you grow more comfortable with the area, learning the language can improve your house shopping options. Renting is probably the best choice to start; if you plan to buy real estate, consider hiring an attorney to help you make the best purchase.
Atenas, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is becoming a very popular destination for retirees and snowbirds. The city of Atenas is located between San Jose, the capital city, and the beaches on the Pacific Coast. You can quickly get to the airport in San Jose, and there's adequate medical care within Atenas and more advanced options in Alajuela and Escazu.
If you are tired of winter snow, Atenas offers warm days. But if you have little tolerance for heat, Atenas features cool nights. You can find a home between 2,200 and 4000 feet of elevation. You can enjoy fun festivals in April and a welcoming, friendly community all year long.
Atenas has a small-town feel. If you're interested in a high-intensity party atmosphere, you may be disappointed. However, this city is considered quite safe for travelers and expats.
Learning Spanish can expand the international options for snowbirds. You can enjoy easy communication with friendly locals throughout central and south America and in many regions of Europe. Even better, older snowbirds will gain the brain benefits of learning in a new way.
The city of Boquete has a lot to offer those who love the great outdoors. This city is home to only 18,000 natives giving it a small town feel. There is an active volcano if you like to do a bit of climbing. There's also a jungle wildlife refuge for animal lovers who enjoy a long walk.
If you're a first time visitor to Central America, it's a good idea to take a class and build your language skills. You can hire a private tutor or sign up for training from the Boquete campus of the Habla Ya Spanish School. If you love a calm, community feel on your travels, Boquete is a wonderful choice.
Boquete is considered to be quite safe. Of course, learning the language will improve your safety; getting help when you're lost or obtaining care for a twisted ankle will be easier if you can explain what happened or what you need to the first person who stops to help you.
Our friend Jim and his family love Boquete!
Loja is becoming one of the most popular non-U.S. destinations for snowbirds escaping the cold weather. This city is at about 6,500 feet; if you struggle at high elevations, it may take some time for you to adjust and be comfortable.
Be ready to do some strolling to allow your lungs to adjust to this region before jumping into more strenuous outdoor activities.
Keep an ear out for live music; Loja is known as the City of Music and has a strong history of art and literature. Loja is home to new technical colleges and several universities. Expect a high population of young, driven people as you scout out this city.
Loja is home to about 250,000 people. The expat community is small and does not have a separate hub or Gringoland. This city is considered to be quite safe. Gas is affordable, but public transportation is also excellent. If you don't want to bother with a car, you can find what shopping and entertainment you need near your home.
South of Loja is the megadiverse Parque Nacional Podocarpus. Andean ecology is wide and varied. If you love to hike, this park will keep you riveted for many treks. This city is one of the best international destinations for snowbirds who want immersion rather than participating in an expat community.
Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
The city of Las Terrenas is on the Samana Peninsula of the Dominican Republic. This laid-back beach town offers snowbirds time on the sand, fun in the water, and a very low cost of living. If your budget is tight and you're just checking out snowbird-friendly areas of the world, renting a two-bedroom apartment here can cost less than $600 a month. Bring a friend, share the rent, and thrive in the sun!
Be ready to do some exploring. Learn the language and shop locally whenever possible. For those working hard to keep costs low as possible, try to avoid your favorite American or Canadian foods. Instead, visit local stands and buy raw goods. A diet of fresh produce, whole grains, and fresh fish can be great for your budget and your body.
Safety for travelers is high on the priority list for the leaders of the Dominican Republic. The tourist industry is huge here. If you prefer to avoid tourist-heavy activities, Las Terrenas is a safe, lovely choice to make your home.
Gran Canaria, (Canary Islands) – Spain
The Canary Islands are one of the most popular destinations for snowbirds outside the U.S. If you love hiking in natural beauty, the Canaries offer two Unesco World Heritage Sites and biosphere reserves. Bird watchers will love life on the Canary Islands!
Do be prepared for some higher prices for imported products. Your utility fees may be higher than other expat regions, but if you can work with the ambient temperature, you can actually function with fans only instead of AC.
To keep your costs lower, avoid the more touristy areas. Eat, and shop, local. The Canaries offer a great deal of safety; do be cautious in the more touristy areas to avoid being a casualty of someone else's crazy holiday behavior.
One of the big benefits of a snowbird home on the Canaries is that you can cheaply travel to the rest of Europe. If you long for the high-end culture of mainland cities on occasion, you can easily and cheaply get to Rome, London, and Paris from the Canaries.
Escape North America in Search of Warmer Weather
You'll enjoy an active lifestyle as a snowbird and even find a snowbird community in many international destinations.
As a seasonal traveler, you may want exotic destinations, bustling cities, beautiful beaches, a cultural experience, or simply an affordable destination in a different country.
With some time and effort, U.S. and Canadian Snowbirds should be able to find the perfect place abroad to spend the colder months and maybe even the holiday season!
Do you know of another international location that's a popular snowbird destination? What are your favorite international destinations for snowbird living?
Let's crowdsource more foreign destinations that allow you to enjoy the snowbird lifestyle.