Study: The top 3 snowbird destinations are in Texas

Published Date: January 5, 2023

A couple finishes a round of golf at a scenic snowbird destination.
Every winter, harsh temperatures prompt many retirees to head south to enjoy warmer weather. These “snowbirds” spend winter soaking up the sun and enjoying the warmth before returning to their primary residence in the spring.The snowbird season typically ranges from October through April, and sends thousands upon thousands of people flocking to warmer, affordable snowbird states like Texas, Arizona and Florida. We’ve crunched the numbers to determine the top 50 snowbird destinations in 2023.
Key Findings
Destinations in the Houston area, followed by the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area and then the Phoenix area, swept the list of top snowbird destinations.
Top snowbird states include Texas, Florida, Arizona and California.
To determine the best snowbird locations, we analyzed weather conditions, cost of living, safety and healthcare access in the area. And spoiler: Whether you plan to visit for a few weeks or plant your roots with a second home, these are the top 10 best snowbird destinations you might consider in 2023:Here’s what makes each of the top 10 snowbird destinations worth the journey, plus 40 more warm winter spots.
A map illustrates the top 10 snowbird destinations in the United States.

1. Missouri City, Texas

A graphic illustrates what makes Missouri City, Texas, a top snowbird destination.
Just a half-hour from downtown Houston, Missouri City is at the top of our list of the best snowbird destinations. Whether you’re an avid fisherman or you never miss a morning walk, the Show Me City has many parks and lakes to enjoy during the comfortable 73-degree winters.While snowbirding in Missouri City, you can easily take advantage of everything downtown Houston has to offer, including its ethnically diverse dining scene, which is ranked as one of the Best Foodie Cities in America.Whether you’re feasting on some of the country’s best barbecue at Feges BBQ or grabbing a burger at the award-winning Goode Co. Taqueria, your tastebuds will never get bored throughout the snowbird season.Missouri City is also home to Quail Valley, which hosts two of the best golf courses in the Houston area. If traditional golf isn’t your style, you can try MacNaughton Park, which features the only MultiGolfPark in the United States. This fun take on traditional golf courses allows you to play three different forms of golf: foot golf, disc golf and park golf.Plus, Missouri City's crime rate is well below the national average, making it one of the best places to spend winter months.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 23%
  • Average temperature October-April: 73 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

2. Pearland, Texas

A graphic illustrates what makes Pearland, Texas, a top snowbird destination.
Pearland, Texas, is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, but that doesn't mean the town is losing its small-town feel. Known as the city Where Town Meets Country, Pearland is home to over 175 acres of gorgeous parks and miles of trails.Not only that, but Pearland offers stunning sightseeing experiences such as the Sri Meenakshi Temple. This architectural wonder features intricate stonework and glimmering white towers you’d find in southern India.Pearland is also home to some of the best barbecue in Texas, including Killen’s Barbecue. Killen’s is a must-stop for every foodie — and it shows, with the line regularly extending out the door for lunch and dinner.If you’re a shopper, you’ll feel right at home at the Pearland Town Center, is the perfect place to shop until you drop. This beautiful outdoor mecca for shoppers and bargain hunters is home to over 100 stores and restaurants. 
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 15%
  • Average temperature October-April: 72 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

3. Pasadena, Texas

A graphic illustrates what makes Pasadena, Texas, a top snowbird destination.
Our third Texas snowbird destination is located southeast of Houston, extending all the way out to Trinity Bay. This Houston suburb offers warm winters and no shortage of things to do, making it one of the best places to winter.For space buffs, Pasadena is just minutes from the iconic NASA Johnson Space Center, the subject of the famous quote, “Houston, we have a problem.” Not only that, but you can visit Space Center Houston to learn more about the area's role in the history of space exploration.If you enjoy spending your free time reconnecting with nature, you’ll love Pasadena’s Armand Bayou Nature Center, one of the largest wilderness preserves in the United States. This preserve is home to over 370 animal species and 2,500 acres of natural wetlands and forest habitats.Residents of Pasadena also enjoy quick access to scenic beaches like El Jardin Beach. If you’re looking for a relaxing day on the water, you can make a short trip to Seabrook, which offers 11 miles of waterfront and a vibrant coastal community.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 14%
  • Average temperature October-April: 72 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

4. Pembroke Pines, Florida

A graphic illustrates what makes Pembroke Pines, Florida, a top snowbird destination.
Located 22 miles north of Miami, Pembroke Pines sits between the sandy beaches of Hollywood and the lush wetlands of the Everglades. In this suburb, you’ll find well-manicured lawns, gated communities and numerous lakes and waterways.Featured as one of the 50 Best Places to Live by Time magazine in 2014, this Miami suburb is one of the best places for retirees to spend the winter. With an average temperature of 81 degrees during the snowbird season, you’ll catch plenty of rays, whether playing 18 holes at one of the five golf courses or spending an afternoon canoeing at the Chapel Trail Park Nature Preserve.You can also spend your time strolling through brand-name stores at the luxurious open-air Shops at Pembroke Gardens, featuring 50 stores and 26 restaurants and eateries. For arts and theater lovers, you can catch a live performance at the Pembroke Pines Theatre of Performing Arts.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 25%
  • Average temperature October-April: 81 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

5. Margate, Florida

A graphic illustrates what makes Margate, Florida, a top snowbird destination.
Also part of the Miami metropolitan area, Margate is located just east of the Everglades. Known for its beautiful golf courses, safe neighborhoods and close proximity to the ocean, Margate is one of the best places for a second home to spend your winters.Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day at scenic Pompano Beach or you’re feeling lucky enough to visit the Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, you’ll never have to travel far for something to do.  If exploring nature is more your thing, you can check out Butterfly World, the largest butterfly park in the world. This 10-acre habitat is home to over 20,000 exotic butterflies from all over the globe. Butterfly World also contains exotic birds, botanical gardens and a bug zoo.Plus, enjoying everything Margate has to offer won’t break the bank, as its cost of living index is just barely above the national average, making it one of the most affordable winter home locations.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 33%
  • Average temperature October-April: 81 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

6. Tamarac, Florida

A graphic showcases the beautiful scenery of Tamarac, Florida.
Known as the City For Your Life, Tamarac sits south of Margate and is the last city from the Miami metropolitan area in our top 10. With 251 sunny days per year, Tamarac is a beautiful place to spend the winter season.While snowbird living in Tamarac, you’ll have quick access to the picturesque white sand beaches of Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Not only that, but you can take advantage of all the lush Everglades have to offer, from taking a guided airboat tour at Sawgrass Recreation Park to a thrilling helicopter ride with Keen Fly.For those relaxing days, you can spend time at the marvelous Woodmont Country Club. This stunning facility has everything you might need to enjoy the snowbird season, from a 27-hole golf course to a state-of-the-art fitness center. Nearby, you can also enjoy the Woodmont Natural Area, which is the largest remaining natural habitat in Tamarac, offering amazing views of pine flatwoods and wetlands. No matter your reasons for traveling, you’ll be sure to find plenty to do under the warm Florida sun.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 34%
  • Average temperature October-April: 80 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

7. Gilbert, Arizona

A graphic showcases the beautiful downtown area of Gilbert, Arizona.
Once known as the Hay Shipping Capital of the World, Gilbert is home to families and snowbirds alike. Located just southeast of Phoenix, Gilbert offers views of the cactus-lined San Tan Mountains.With a vibrant dining scene, you’ll have plenty of restaurants and patios to choose from, whether you want to enjoy a fine meal at Culinary Dropout or a pint at the dog-friendly OHSO Brewery and Distillery.If shopping local is your thing, the Gilbert Farmers Market is open every Saturday and features more than 60 vendors. At this lively market, you'll find everything from locally grown produce to wild-caught seafood. Be sure to visit on an empty stomach so you can enjoy the many food trucks the market has to offer.Gilbert is also a great place for those looking to get outside to enjoy the warm winter weather. From taking a walk at San Tan Mountain Regional Park to catching stunning views of the Sonoran Desert or birdwatching at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, you’ll have plenty of captivating sights to see throughout the snowbird season.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 14%
  • Average temperature October-April: 75 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

8. Clearwater, Florida

A graphic showcases the scenic ocean views of Clearwater, Florida.
Nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, Clearwater is known for its gorgeous white sand beaches and Clearwater Beach, a 3-mile-long barrier island dotted with hotels and restaurants. Winning the title of America’s No. 1 Beach several times, Clearwater is a must-stop for travelers and snowbirds alike.When you aren’t relaxing on a beach, you can take in all the sights Clearwater has to offer, from dolphin sightseeing cruises to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Music lovers can attend the Clearwater Jazz Holiday, which brings world-renowned jazz musicians to the waterfront Coachman Park every year.If you’re a sports fan, you can catch a game at BayCare Ballpark, the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, as well as their Single-A affiliate team, the Clearwater Threshers.Better yet, the amazing sights, fun experiences and comfortable snowbird winters in this relaxing city can be enjoyed affordably, as the cost of living in Clearwater comes in just below the national average.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 29%
  • Average temperature October-April: 76 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

9. Mesa, Arizona

A graphic showcases the stunning views of Mesa, Arizona.
Surrounded by the spectacular Sonoran Desert, Mesa sits southeast of Scottsdale and is a great place to spend the snowbird season. With access to nearly 200 golf courses in the Phoenix metropolitan area, you’ll have plenty of courses to explore and beautiful desert views to take in. For sports enthusiasts, Mesa is the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics, making it one of the most popular snowbird destinations for baseball fans. To add to Mesa’s entertainment value, you’ll be near Mesa Amphitheatre, an open-air venue known for its lush lawn and rocking concerts, from REO Speedwagon to Bon Iver.When you’re not out hitting the links or catching a game, you can spend an afternoon marveling at all there is to see at the Mesa Arts Center. This 210,000-square-foot arts center hosts a multitude of events, from comedy shows to ceramics classes.If you’re an adventurer at heart, you can kayak the Lower Salt River, where you’ll float by wild horses and breathtaking scenery. No matter your interests, you’ll have plenty to do during the comfortably warm winter months.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 22%
  • Average temperature October-April: 75 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

10. Chandler, Arizona

A graphic showcases the beautiful views of Chandler, Arizona.
Also located in metropolitan Phoenix, Chandler sits northwest of the jagged San Tan Mountains. You'll have lots to enjoy while snowbirding in Chandler, from the endless number of golf courses to the vibrant downtown.Whether perusing one of downtown Chandler’s boutique shops or enjoying one of the 60 events that take place every year, you’ll never get tired of strolling the charming trellis-covered walkways.In addition, you’ll have entertainment options aplenty, from listening to live music at the unpretentious Murphy’s Law Irish Pub to catching a dance performance at the Chandler Center for the Arts.And be sure to pack light, as you can get everything you need for the snowbird season at Chandler Fashion Center, the second largest mall in Arizona.
  • Percentage of population over age 60: 17%
  • Average temperature October-April: 76 degrees
  • Average snowfall October-April: 0 inches

The 50 best snowbird destinations in the U.S.

There are many other worthy locations for a second home during the snowbird season that did not make our top 10. Explore all 50 best places to spend the winter as a snowbird.
50 BEST SNOWBIRD DESTINATIONS IN THE U.S.
1. MISSOURI CITY, TEXAS
2. PEARLAND, TEXAS
3. PASADENA, TEXAS
4. PEMBROKE PINES, FLORIDA
5. MARGATE, FLORIDA
6. TAMARAC, FLORIDA
7. GILBERT, ARIZONA
8. CLEARWATER, FLORIDA
9. MESA, ARIZONA
10. CHANDLER, ARIZONA
11. SUGAR LAND, TEXAS
12. MIRAMAR, FLORIDA
13. HIALEAH, FLORIDA
14. NORWALK, CALIFORNIA
15. DEERFIELD BEACH, FLORIDA
16. SUNRISE, FLORIDA
17. EL MONTE, CALIFORNIA
18. SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
19. MONTEREY PARK, CALIFORNIA
20. HOUSTON, TEXAS
21. WESTMINSTER, CALIFORNIA
22. PHOENIX, ARIZONA
23. CHINO HILLS, CALIFORNIA
24. ALHAMBRA, CALIFORNIA
25. CORONA, CALIFORNIA
26. DAVIE, FLORIDA
27. DOWNEY, CALIFORNIA
28. ORANGE, CALIFORNIA
29. YORBA LINDA, CALIFORNIA
30. SUN CITY CENTER, FLORIDA
31. GLENDALE, CALIFORNIA
32. HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA
33. PORT CHARLOTTE, FLORIDA
34. CHINO, CALIFORNIA
35. WHITTIER, CALIFORNIA
36. TAMPA, FLORIDA
37. PLANTATION, FLORIDA
38. CORAL SPRINGS, FLORIDA
39. TEMPE, ARIZONA
40. CONROE, TEXAS
41. WEST COVINA, CALIFORNIA
42. EAST LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
43. NORTH PORT, FLORIDA
44. ONTARIO, CALIFORNIA
45. GARDEN GROVE, CALIFORNIA
46. MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA
47. BUENA PARK, CALIFORNIA
48. APACHE JUNCTION, ARIZONA
49. VENICE, FLORIDA
50. TOWN 'N' COUNTRY, FLORIDA

Snowbird checklist

A picture showcases a snowbird checklist you can use to prepare before moving south for the winter.
Before you can head south to enjoy a warm, relaxing snowbird winter, you’ll want to leave your primary residence in good shape. Here’s a snowbird checklist to help get you and your home ready for your time away.

Winterize your home

It’s crucial that you winterize your home to help reduce the risk of any damage that could take place while you’re away. This includes making sure to:
  • Turn on your heat. Setting your thermostat between 55 and 60 degrees can reduce the risk of your pipes freezing while you’re away.
  • Shut off your water. To further prevent plumbing issues, shut off your water completely. That way, you won’t have to worry about any water leaks damaging your home while you’re gone. Make sure to also shut off your water heater — or turn it to its lowest setting — and cover all your drains to prevent odors from entering your home.
  • Prep your appliances. Before you leave, be sure to empty your fridge and leave the doors open to prevent any mildew. You’ll also want to leave the doors open on your dishwasher, washer and dryer. Then, unplug your fridge and any other appliances to help cut down on energy costs.
  • Perform exterior maintenance. It’s important to perform an exterior check of your house to make sure everything is in good shape before you leave. This includes cleaning your gutters and putting away outdoor furniture and anything else you wouldn’t want left unattended.
  • Perform interior maintenance. Similarly, you should also check the inside of your home, including putting new batteries in your smoke detector. If you have a fireplace, be sure to close the flue and put a guard on top of your chimney if necessary.
  • Put unneeded services on hold. If you’re going to be away for months, you may want to put some services on hold to help save money, like cable and internet.

Forward any important information

Next up, you’ll want to make sure any important information is passed along to your new home. This includes making sure to:
  • Forward your mail. Make sure you contact the post office and set up mail forwarding so you don’t miss out on any important communications.
  • Forward your calls. Similarly, you’ll want to forward your calls to your new number if you have a landline so you can keep up with any important calls.
  • Update your mailing address. Be sure to update your mailing address for important organizations such as financial institutions and insurance agencies.
  • Transfer your prescriptions. If you take any medications, be sure to transfer your prescriptions from your existing pharmacy to a new one at your snowbird destination. Make sure the snowbird pharmacy accepts your drug prescription plan.

Tidy up the house

After spending your winter in the sun, the last thing you want is to return to a messy home. Be sure to:
  • Clean your house thoroughly. Cleaning your home before you leave is one of the best steps you can take to prevent pests or odors from taking over your home.
  • Clean out your pantry, fridge and freezer. Before you head south, empty your pantry, fridge and freezer of any perishable items. If you plan on unplugging appliances, make sure they are completely empty and the doors are left open.
  • Empty all your garbage cans. Be sure to empty all your garbage cans before you leave to help prevent pests and foul odors.
  • Finish up any laundry. To ensure your house is in pristine shape upon your return, be sure to finish up and put away all your laundry.

Secure your home

Another concern for snowbirds is leaving your house unattended for months at a time. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help improve the security of your home. Before going south for the winter, be sure to:
  • Lock all doors and windows. Before you leave, be sure to lock and double-check all your windows and exterior doors.
  • Alert your neighbors. It may be helpful to inform a neighbor you trust about your travel plans. You’ll also want to give them your contact information and let them know if anyone nearby has a key to your house. That way, they can keep an eye out for anything suspicious while you’re gone and contact you if needed.
  • Inform the local police department. You may also want to fill out a form at the police department letting them know of your travel plans in case anything arises while you’re away.
  • Set up light timers. Setting up light timers is a great way to make it look like your home is occupied while you’re snowbirding for the winter.
  • Set up a security system. Depending on where you live, you may want to invest in a security system to help monitor your home while you’re away.
  • Arrange to have someone check on your home. It’s a good idea to ask someone you trust to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. This can include taking care of your plants and shoveling your walkways to make it appear as if your home is still occupied.
Now that your home is secure, you’re one step closer to enjoying your snowbird destination of choice.

Pack your bags

With your house prepared for the winter season, it's time to pack your bags! Aside from clothes and other obvious necessities, here are some important items to keep in mind while packing for your second home:
  • Medications
  • List of prescriptions
  • Health records
  • Identification documents
  • Insurance cards
This way, if anything arises while you’re at your snowbird destination, you’ll have everything you need to respond accordingly.

Enjoy the sunshine

Congratulations! With everything squared away at your primary residence, the only thing left to do is enjoy the sunshine at your snowbird destination. No matter where you end up, you’re sure to find plenty to do during the warm winter months.If snowbirding sounds like the way you’d like to spend your winters, consider trying out one of these gorgeous snowbird destinations. These cities not only provide you with endless outdoor enjoyment and an abundance of things to do, but they also make great places for a second home.

Our methodology

This study was conducted in November 2022. To determine the best snowbird destinations in the United States, we compared five ranking factors across a sample of cities with the highest population over the age of 60, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau.The following ranking factors were used to determine how suitable a city is for snowbirds and assigned out of a weight of 100:
  • Annual snowfall — 20 points
  • Average temperature (October-April) — 10 points
  • Cost of living — 25 points
  • Crime rate — 15 points
  • Number of hospitals within 25 miles — 30 points
Each snowbird destination was given a score based on these factors and assigned an overall ranking. The destinations with the highest scores were deemed the best snowbird destinations in the United States.Our data was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, BestPlaces, NOAA and Medicare.gov.

Snowbird destinations FAQ

Here are answers to some common questions about snowbird destinations.

Where is the cheapest place to be a snowbird?

Of our top 50 snowbird destinations, Port Charlotte, Florida, is the cheapest, with a cost of living index of 88.9. This means that living in Port Charlotte is roughly 11% cheaper than the national average.

How do snowbirds afford two homes?

Snowbirds can afford a second home in a variety of ways. Some snowbirds may rent a second home, whereas others may live in a Vrbo or Airbnb. Other snowbirds may buy a vacation home independently or as a co-owner, allowing them to have a beautiful second home at a fraction of the cost.

What state has the most snowbirds?

Florida tends to have the most snowbirds, with upwards of 810,000 retirees flocking to the Sunshine State each winter to soak up the warm weather and enjoy beautiful white sand beaches. According to other studies like our own, Texas and Arizona could also be considered states with the most snowbirds.

What is the average age of a snowbird?

Because most snowbirds are retirees, the average age of a snowbird is around 61 years old. But you can enjoy the benefits of a second home at a snowbird destination at any age.

What are the benefits of being a snowbird?

One of the biggest benefits of being a snowbird is having a second home to escape the cold winter months. That way, you can enjoy your primary residence spring through the fall while having a warm getaway in the wintertime, allowing you to enjoy the outdoors all year round.

Are there any disadvantages to being a snowbird?

Snowbirding does have a few inconveniences, including forwarding your mail to your second home and asking someone to look after your primary residence while you’re away. Other hassles may include switching over prescriptions to a new pharmacy and finding doctors you can go to during the winter months.

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