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Migration and Geographic Distribution


Snowbirds is the term coined to identify older people who, like some birds, leave their usual residence in the north to settle in warmer settings during the winter. Reliable statistics on the magnitude of seasonal migration do not exist, but it is known that Florida, Arizona, Texas, and California have large populations of temporary residents during the winter. As cold temperatures arrive in October and November in the northern states, the snowbirds head south to live in RVs, mobile homes, apartments, condominiums, and second houses in the warmer climates. Additional snowbirds move from Canada—Statistics Canada has estimated that a quarter of a million Canadians reside in Florida during the winter months. These cyclical migrants between the North and the South may make the same journey between their summer and winter residences for many years.

Studies of snowbirds in their winter communities have found that these migrants tend to resemble retirement migrants in several ways— they are young-old, married, healthy, and financially well-off. Although seasonal migrants do not tend to become involved in the larger communities of their winter residence, they do generate distinctive enclaves within their travel parks or condominium complexes. Life in these enclaves is characterized by a high degree of sociability, activity, and equality. The culture that develops in these subcommunities allows the snowbirds to feel at home, rather than to function as tourists or vacationers. Some snowbirds become permanent residents of their winter communities, but most do not.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaAging Healthy - Part 3Migration and Geographic Distribution - Geographic Distribution, Why Does Age Distribution Vary Across Areas?, Retirement Migration, Why People Move In Later Life