Operation Snowbird

A “Snow bird” is normally related to a retired person who heads south during the colder months. It has always been the plan to be a snow bird . From the time we purchased the RV and embraced the “camping life” we set our self up to move twice a year . In October we would head to the beach house and in the spring head back to camp . We have been doing that for about five years now and I know that lifestyle is not for everyone .

Operation snowbird went into place a few months ago as we set a plan in action. We did not just wake up and decide to be middle aged snow birds. We looked ahead at the fall and winter months ahead and noticed we had 3 trips planned to head south from November to February and by the time I added up what we paid for rent, oil and three round trip flights for two, it came to about $12,000 . It occurred to us that it would be cheaper to just stay there and the idea came to us…Why not just stay down there in the fall and winter and come back in to camp in April ? What was stopping us ? I had the option to work from home and she could get a job anywhere … That spawned many serious discussions from where would we live to the benefits of this life style. We were pretty sure people would think we were crazy , just like they were when we gave up the condo and bought a RV .

The hardest part about a snow bird life is family and close friends. Realistically, Rylee would be the big factor as she is the only grandchild. As we though about it , yes , we would miss her but this would give our family a chance to head south for a vacation. In the winter , we only see Rylee at the beach house once or twice a month and so we decided we would try it the first year , and if we could not do it , then would go back to the beach house . We had nothing to lose and we know that many grandparents have this lifestyle and their family adapts. If a 65 year old can balance snowbird life and grandchildren , why couldn’t we ? I had met a retired couple once who lived on a cruise ship and they said they plan for their family to vacation with them once a winter to help. As I think about it, that creates memories ,year after year . Skipping the commercialization of holidays and spending that money on a memory . Skipping the stress of figuring out what to get people, avoiding the long lines and giving our family something that would stay in their mind year after year . It all goes back to less is more .. But Rylee would be the toughest factor in this decision and making sure we face time and plan visits.

I’ll admit – this snowbird decision is like jumping into the unknown . The are no guarantees ..But if you think about it , there are no guarantees in life . When you have no debt and the money you own is all yours VS the banks or credit card companies , you have much more flexibility to little by little get to the life you want . It does not happen over night . I have been working the five year plan for many years . This snowbird life has always been the plan . We just assumed it would be closer to when we retired . I never realized the flexibility we have in our life til now. What a blessing as it is a true gift .

Where It Begins ….

The truth is , this all began five years ago at a RV show . We had no intention on buying a RV ,much less living in one. Its like sending your husband to a boat show and two days later one is parked in your yard. We had no idea what we were looking for that day , if anything . We ended up the proud owner of a 5th wheel camper and wanted to spend our summers there , embracing the outdoors . I was just in my forties and now that I look back on it , I knew I needed change. I was sick of doing the same thing every day . Like most people out there , I wanted more . No idea what I wanted but I knew I wanted a simpler life with less static .

As we parked out camper in the middle of Maine and commuted back and forth to work , we learned so much on who we were and what we wanted . Both my wife and I had good jobs , so it was not about money . We would own a house, but didn’t want to do the maintenance and mow the lawn . To much hassle ! We wanted the easy life and by staying at camp during the spring and summer we actually saved about 10K that first year . We used that money for extra vacations and paid off our debt. Now its amazing how much money you have ,when you have no bills. Close your eyes for a second and think about where your paycheck goes … My favorite game is to look at your tax return from previous  year and see how much money you made and then scratch your head on where that went.. You should try it – it will open your eyes !