The traditional wintertime “migration” towards friendlier shores keeps gaining new clientele. The millions of Baby Boomers from the northern U.S. and Canada seek the best destinations for snowbirds, but are now joined in their quest for sunshine by young professionals who can now increasingly work from anywhere.

LEARN MORE: These 4 Valley cities rank among 15 fastest-growing cities in U.S.

The work-from-home trend has exploded in the aftermath of the pandemic, tripling from 5.6% (8.7 million people) in 2019 to 17.8% (over 27 million people) in 2021, per data from the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2022, 15% of Americans worked remotely, meaning that more than 24 million people can be flexible about their homebase. Of course, not everybody will pack their bags each November, and many are already living in the southern parts of the country, but that still leaves us with potentially millions of Americans in a position to contemplate the perspective of becoming snowbirds…. or zoombirds.

As snowbirds are booking their flights or loading up their RVs to reach their blissful retreats, local businesses – from food stores to restaurants and seasonal rentals – are eagerly priming their cash registers for a windfall. For example, in Florida – the snowbirds’ sweetheart destination – revenue from tourism is on a strong trajectory, hitting roughly $101.9 billion in 2021. But while snowbirding remains popular, rising real estate prices and the cost of living in general are making it difficult for sunshine lovers to fully embrace this lifestyle.

We wanted to determine which cities offer the best bang for the buck for snowbirds and zoombirds alike, the places that check all the lifestyle boxes while also taking into account the affordability aspect. We’ve analyzed and ranked 215 US cities across 11 snowbird-friendly states in terms of:

  • Snowbird-friendly surroundings (October to March average temperatures, rainfall and air quality)
  • Beaches found within a 10-miles radius of each location
  • Park space per capita
  • Golf courses per capita
  • Availability of both rentals and housing allocated for seasonal use
  • The cost of renting an apartment and the cost of buying a home
  • Availability of RV parks
  • Number of restaurants
  • Self storage prices
  • Local internet speed
  • Safety
  • Healthcare-related factors (Medicare pricing for new patients, and availability of hospitals, other medical organizations and medical professionals)

Snowbirds' sweet spots: the perfect blend of amenities, mild climates, and affordability

The best destinations for snowbirds offer plenty of opportunities for fun in all warm-weather states. But when it comes to overall friendliness for those seeking mild winters, Florida is hard to rival. It has been popular for so long that it has honed its infrastructure and optimized services to efficiently meet the needs of snowbirds, but also zoombirds. Unsurprisingly, Florida reigns supreme on the list of top 100 cities for snowbirds, boasting an impressive 42 cities that make the cut. However, some locations might surprise you in and out of the Sunshine State. Texas secured 27 cities on the list, followed by California with 18 cities.

We've narrowed down the list further to help you jump-start your quest for the friendliest winter getaway before it's time to start shoveling snow. Here’s an overview of the top 10 cities for snowbirds and zoombirds and what makes them attractive for those seeking a blend of affordability and a sunny lifestyle.

Best destinations for snowbirds

1. Venice, Florida

Venice, Florida, further cements its position as No. 1 among best destinations for snowbirds. Not only does it boast balmy weather throughout the entire winter season, but it excels in several other categories, including the share of housing units for seasonal use (87%), golf courses (it is the 5th best among the cities analyzed for golfers), as well as its health sector. There are nearly 36 doctors and clinicians and four medical organizations for every 1,000 residents.

While the local community still caters to baby boomers, the area has become increasingly appealing to younger people who seek top-notch amenities alongside fantastic beaches and sun. "In our area of Southwest Florida, we have noticed an increase in younger demographics embracing the snowbird lifestyle and much of it is due to the ability to work remotely," says Elizabeth Smith from That Florida Life. "In fact, most of the people we help are still working. They tend to be near retirement or are planning for retirement in the next 10 years or so," she added.

It goes without saying that beach life is the very best in Venice, with numerous options to choose from, including the spectacular Caspersen Beach and the pet-friendly South Brohard Beach. Opportunities for other pastimes such as birdwatching and fishing are equally easy to come by, and the city also enjoys an active cultural and entertainment scene. The Venice Theatre routinely features concerts, musicals and comedians, while Venice’s downtown features gorgeous historical buildings, dining out options and an arts center.

And as more young people flock to the city, it's becoming even more vibrant, which comes with positives but can also pose a few challenges. "On the plus side, local businesses are thriving during the winter season," says Smith. "Restaurants are buzzing with business, as are shops, and it's great for the local economy. There are also many more events, festivals and activities almost every week around town." However, as she points out,  "one downside is that traffic significantly increases. It can also get quite crowded around town with longer wait times at all the restaurants and busier at the stores and beaches. It can be a challenge for the community to balance this because where we live in Venice, Florida, there is such a dramatic increase in the population during snowbird season!"

2. Vero Beach, Florida

From perfect sunrises to clear waters and lively boardwalks, Vero Beach holds something for everyone, from Baby Boomers who can enjoy quiet beaches mere steps from their lodgings to remote workers in search of a leisurely change of pace.

Almost two thirds of the vacant local housing stock consists of homes destined for seasonal use, and many of the other housing options in Vero Beach are more budget-friendly than comparable locales across the nation. Of course, Florida being Florida, nothing is really cheap. But you can count on great weather, easy beach access, and plenty of opportunities for water sports and nature exploration. Golf culture is also particularly strong in Vero Beach, with the city ranking second among all the cities analyzed for access to golf courses.

Zoombirds will also appreciate the high internet speed of roughly 120 Mbps, on average, plus tons of things to do and see. In fact, despite its status as a small town, Vero Beach packs a serious punch when it comes to shopping and dining opportunities. The newly revitalized historic downtown area boasts numerous shops and restaurants plus antique stores and art galleries galore.

The beautiful McKee Botanical Garden, as well as the modern Riverside Theatre, where live music and plays can be enjoyed, are only adding to the appeal of the local cultural scene.

3. Fort Pierce, Florida

Nicknamed Sunrise City, due to the out-of-this-world sunrises over the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, Fort Pierce ranks third in our list of the best cities for snowbirds and zoombirds alike. Beaches are a given for most Floridian cities, but Fort Pierce has many other attractions on top of that. Due to its unique setting, with access to both freshwater and the ocean, Fort Pierce is an ideal destination for fishing and birdwatching enthusiasts. The city also features an impressive 1,000 square feet of park space per capita. Fort Pierce is also quite affordable: the median rent is 30% less expensive than the state's median, while median home prices, at $147K, are lower compared to any of the other Floridian cities in our top 10.

The average internet speed, at almost 160Mbps, helps Fort Pierce rank 7th for this indicator among the cities analyzed. The presence of numerous recreational but also educational facilities such as the Manatee Observation & Education Center, the St. Lucie County Aquarium, the FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and the Heathcote Botanical Gardens, are turning Fort Pierce into a great destination for remote workers with young children.

Fort Pierce is just one of the many cities across Florida that has been experiencing a visible shift in the demographics of their winter visitors. "With the inception of WFH opportunities, snowbirding became popular among the younger generation," explains Mitchell G. David, founder of Beach Life Premier Team. "Popular rental sites – Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway – started highlighting their listing with full office setups featuring isolated work rooms, cybersecurity, and uninterrupted internet access. Hence, the popularity of snowbirding skyrocketed among Gen X and Millennials; these young snowbirds make up about 25% of the Miami real estate transactions," he added.

4. Naples, Florida

This small Floridian city has the highest share of vacant housing units marked for seasonal use (89%) among all those analyzed, and it also ranks first for golf courses. In fact, Naples touts itself as the Golf Capital of the World.

There are great opportunities for high-end shopping as well as enjoying culture at the local museums, art galleries and performing arts venues. Naples also fares well regarding access to health services, having the largest number of medical organizations per 1,000 residents among the cities we analyzed.

But the amenity-centered Naples lifestyle comes at a premium. The city primarily caters to people who appreciate the finer things in life – and have budgets to match. The median rent in Naples is 6% higher compared to the state's median rent, while the median house price is north of $1M.

5. Lake Wales, Florida

Lake Wales is one of two Floridian cities in our top 10 best destinations for snowbirds that does not come with a beach lifestyle – however, it does have access to the very lake it was named for, so there are still opportunities for fishing, bathing and water sports. Lake Wales also hosts the very impressive Bok Tower Gardens, a huge garden and bird sanctuary that is a National Historic Landmark. The city’s revitalized main street features beautiful 1920s architecture and is bustling with cute cafes, shops and eateries.

If you’re into slightly strange and unique occurrences, you should also know that Lake Wales is home to Spook Hill, where an optical illusion makes cars in neutral appear as if they are going uphill.

6. Mission, Texas

Texas is a serious rival to Florida in attracting seniors and remote workers interested in spending the winter months in a warm place. The Lone Star State has 27 cities popping up high on the list of the 100 best destinations for snowbirds, with the city of Mission ranking highest in Texas.

It may not boast pristine beaches, but it compensates with a host of other attractive qualities. Almost 74% of the vacant housing inventory is destined for seasonal use, indicative of a very attractive touristic destination. The average temperature from October to March is a more-than-comfortable 65 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit and winter months are generally dry, allowing people to enjoy a comfortable outdoorsy lifestyle. Fans of the RV lifestyle will also be delighted with Mission, as there are almost 30 RV parks here.

The city is a paradise for nature lovers, offering attractions such as the National Butterfly Center and the nearby World Birding Center, a network of spectacular birdwatching sites located in the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park.

With its goldilocks size, not too big or too small, Mission offers a city-like environment in addition to great access to the outdoors. The charming downtown area is bustling with shops, cafes and restaurants, while its charming and quaint architecture gives visitors a connection with the city’s history and cultural heritage.

7. Apache Junction, Arizona

Arizona hits several marks that signify suitable destinations for snowbirds: There’s a choice between small, medium and big cities, there’s a wide range of outdoorsy activities but also plenty of urban-style amenities, and the winter weather is, frankly, ideal.

The small Apache Junction, on the seventh position is our ranking, dedicates about 80% of its vacant housing units to seasonal use. Apache Junction is more than well-supplied with golf courses, for those who love to play a round or three, but it’s also surrounded by wilderness, so hiking, camping and other outdoorsy activities are easy to come by. Apache Junction also ranks first among the cities analyzed for RV parks. There are no less than 42 such parks in the area, offering a wide range of camping options for RV enthusiasts.

Arizona features other attractive destinations for snowbirds that prefer larger cities. Mesa caters to a diverse crowd, including snowbirds. About 73% of its vacant houses are marked for seasonal use and local rents are relatively affordable compared to other urban hubs. The local internet infrastructure is also suitable for remote work. And, of course, since we’re talking about a city with a population of almost 500K, Mesa is far from being a dull destination. On the contrary, it’s a lively place with a busy downtown, teeming with entertainment, shopping and dining-out venues. Its location in the gorgeous Sonoran Desert, as well as its easy access to bodies of water including lakes and rivers, ensures that there are also plenty of opportunities for spending time out in nature.

Those who really want to spend their winter in Arizona, but favor neither small towns nor big cities, can go for medium-sized Scottsdale. This Metro Phoenix city is shaping up to be an excellent winter destination – albeit quite an expensive one – with a good portion (77%) of its vacant homes destined for seasonal accommodation. The excellent internet speed, as well as the many urban amenities, make it a suitable choice for young zoombirds who want to do more during their winter escapade than simply sit back and relax.

8. Tarpon Springs, Florida

Located on Florida’s West Coast, on the Gulf of Mexico, Tarpon Springs is best known for its Greek heritage and cuisine, in addition to the white sandy beaches and the spectacular sunsets.

About 63% of the vacant housing units are for seasonal use, and the local rental market is generally affordable. Tampa and St. Petersburg are easily accessible, so those who crave urban excitement at least from time to time will find it easy to enjoy that as well.

9. Fort Myers, Florida

Fort Myers is the largest Floridian city to enter our top 10 best destinations for snowbirds, making it a great choice for those who want to experience not only beach life but also a bit of urban excitement. The city is a promising destination for RVers as well, with 15 RV parks available in the area.

Fort Myers boasts a stunning natural landscape, with beautiful Gulf Coast beaches just a short drive away. The region's unique ecosystems, including the Everglades and nearby nature preserves, offer excellent opportunities for bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. For those interested in culture and history, the city's historic downtown, the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, and a thriving arts scene provide ample entertainment and cultural enrichment.

10. Clermont, Florida

Rounding out the top 10 best destinations for snowbirds is Clermont, Florida, located inland, close to Orlando and its world-famous attractions such as Disney World and Universal Studios. Clermont's natural beauty is another compelling feature. The city is surrounded by pristine lakes and rolling hills, offering picturesque scenery and ample opportunities for fishing, boating and enjoying the great outdoors. The nearby Lake Louisa State Park and the Ocala National Forest are popular destinations for nature enthusiasts.

Almost three quarters of the vacant housing stock is earmarked for seasonal use, showing up a high degree of interest for these local attractions. On top of that, Clermont offers lifestyle amenities such as golf courses and plenty of shopping and dining out options.