These are the Best U.S. Cities for Snowbirds

FinanceBuzz determined the best cities across the country for seasonal travelers (and retirees) who prefer warmer climates during the winter months.
Last updated Nov. 20, 2022 | By Josh Koebert | Edited By Melinda Sineriz
Older man on the beach

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It’s almost winter, so the snowbirds are getting ready to migrate south. No, not real birds — these snowbirds are the more than one million Americans and Canadians (generally retirees) who spend winter months in warmer climates in the southern U.S. These quasi-tourists can also be a huge boon to local economies.

That’s why we wanted to determine the best cities in the U.S. for those who are headed south for the winter. Our team analyzed 183 different cities, evaluating them across nearly two dozen metrics that would be important to snowbirds: livability, affordability, temperature and climate, and culture and recreation.

In this article

Key findings

  • Naples, Florida, is the best city for snowbirds.
  • Nine of the top 10 best cities for snowbirds are located in Florida.
  • Three other states (Alabama, Georgia, and Texas) have multiple cities that rank in the top 25.
  • The Villages, Florida, had the highest percentage of people ages over 60 in the U.S. as well as the most golf courses per capita.

The best cities for snowbirds

Top 10 Cities for Snowbirds
Ranking Metro Livability Affordability Culture/Recreation Temperature/Climate Overall Score
1 Naples, FL 16.5 16.3 17.4 21.9 72.1
2 Sebring, FL 18.1 20.8 12.3 20.2 71.4
3 The Villages, FL 15.7 18.2 18.6 18.3 70.9
4 Sebastian, FL 16.0 18.0 14.5 20.8 69.3
5 Punta Gorda, FL 16.4 16.7 14.8 21.1 69.0
6 Brunswick, GA 15.4 21.0 15.5 15.2 67.1
7 Homosassa Springs, FL 17.6 19.8 11.0 18.4 66.7
8 Cape Coral, FL 16.1 16.9 11.4 22.0 66.4
9 North Port, FL 17.0 16.8 9.4 20.9 64.1
10 Deltona, FL 14.5 18.2 9.8 19.2 61.7

1. Naples, Florida

Naples, Florida, earned high marks in multiple categories, with the highest coming in the area of temperature/climate. Between the months of November and March, the average temperature in Naples is between 64 degrees (in January) and 71 degrees (in November), making it a pleasant place to be while the northern parts of the country are dealing with freezing temperatures.

2. Sebring, Florida

Sebring, a smaller community located in central Florida, boasts a slightly cooler climate than Naples while still being pleasant. Where this city really shines, however, is in the area of affordability.

Of the 22 different Florida cities we looked at, Sebring is the most affordable, thanks in large part to a cost of living that is 18.4% lower than the national average and median monthly housing costs for a home with a mortgage of just $1,159, among the 25 lowest among all snowbird cities.

3. The Villages, Florida

Sometimes called “boomer paradise” and “Disney World for adults” (and located just an hour from the real Disney World), The Villages is one of America’s premier retirement communities.

As the city was largely designed around making life fun and carefree for retirees, it is a perfect place for snowbirds looking for the same kind of lifestyle. The Villages boasts one of the five highest culture and recreation scores in the country, thanks in no small part to the fact that the city boasts 121.6 golf courses per 100,000 people, the highest rate in the country by a wide margin.

Additionally, The Villages has some of the nation’s highest per capita rates for shopping centers, retail stores, and performing arts centers.

4. Sebastian, Florida

Located near Vero Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast, Sebastian boasts weather that is in line with its neighboring Florida cities with average temperatures in the 61 to 69 degree range between November and March. Additionally, the cost of living in Sebastian is 12.4% lower than the national average, making it a relatively affordable coastal city in which to spend the winter months.

5. Punta Gorda, Florida

Punta Gorda completes our top five cities, making the state of Florida a perfect 5 for 5. Punta Gorda does well when it comes to livability, as the city features the third-lowest property crime rate per 100,000 people of any city in these rankings and the 11th-lowest violent crime rate. Additionally, 50.9% of the city’s population is over the age of 60, a rate that is second only to The Villages (65.7%).

6. Brunswick, Georgia

The first and only non-Florida city in the top 10, Brunswick is located on Georgia’s Atlantic coast and features a slightly cooler climate than every other city in the top 10.

Brunswick is the most affordable city in the top 10, with a cost of living a full 19% lower than the national average, median monthly housing costs of just $1,292, and median monthly rental costs of $994, all of which are more affordable than most other snowbird cities.

7. Homosassa Springs, Florida

Homosassa Springs is located near Florida’s Gulf Coast and features Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, one of the best places in the state to see manatees and wildlife in general. Homosassa Springs ranks particularly well in the area of livability, with some of the nation’s lowest crime rates per 100,000 people and the third-highest percentage of the population over the age of 60 (47.1%).

8. Cape Coral, Florida

Cape Coral is the largest city between Tampa and Miami. Thanks to average November to March temperatures between 64 and 71 degrees, Cape Coral boasts the highest weather and climate score of any city in the top 10 and the fourth-highest among all cities evaluated. A note: Cape Coral and surrounding areas were heavily affected by recent weather events, and rebuilding efforts are currently underway.  

9. North Port, Florida

North Port is a Gulf Coast city located near Sarasota and Siesta Key. A significant portion of North Port’s residents, 41.2%, are over the age of 60, which is the seventh-highest rate among all cities we examined. That statistic coupled with very low crime rates per 100,000 people earned North Port one of the five highest livability scores in the country.

10. Deltona, Florida

Located near Daytona Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast, Deltona finishes the list of the 10 best cities for snowbirds. Deltona secured a top 10 ranking thanks to strong scores in the areas of weather and climate and affordability. The cost of living in Deltana is 6% lower than the national average, while the median monthly housing cost for homes with mortgages is just $1,359.

Cities where the largest and smallest percentage of people are over 60

Percentage of the population over the age of 60


Since many snowbirds tend to be older, one key indicator of a great city for snowbirds is looking at the percentage of a city’s population that is over the age of 60. Being able to relate to those around you helps make people more comfortable in their surroundings, and cities where a large segment of the population falls into a specific demographic tend to feature stores, restaurants, and more that cater to that population.

When looking specifically at the proportion of people over 60, the retirement hotbed of The Villages easily takes the top spot, as nearly two-thirds of all people living there (65.7%) are 60 or older. Even though more than half of the residents of Punta Gorda (50.9%) are over the age of 60, that rate is nearly 15 points lower than The Villages, putting Punta Gorda in a distant second place.

Cities with the most and least golf courses per capita

Number of golf courses per 100,000 people


When people think of snowbirding, one activity springs to mind for many: golf. Being able to enjoy a comfortable 18 holes down south while snow is on the ground up north is a big selling point for many snowbirds. For that reason, we wanted to see which snowbird cities have the most and least golf courses available relative to the population.

Once again, The Villages handily claims the top spot. GolfPass indicates there are 165 courses near The Villages, while the city and surrounding area have a population of around 135,000 people. That means there are 121.6 golf courses available for every 100,000 people, a rate that is nearly 50 courses per 100,000 higher than second place.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Miami, Florida, has just 64 courses available, according to GolfPass, with a population of more than 6 million people in Miami and surrounding areas. That is a rate of just 1.1 golf courses per 100,000 people, the lowest rate of any snowbird city.

Expert advice

Whether you’re ready to retire now or just headed south for the winter, planning ahead can help you live the retirement of your dreams within your financial means. To help you explore the best place for you to escape the colder months, we asked some experts to share their tips on things potential snowbirds should think about before taking flight.

Dr. Richard Buttimer, Ph.D.

Dean and Professor of Finance

University of North Florida Coggin College of Business

What should retirees take into consideration when planning for purchasing a second home?
Lots of people live at their primary home — meaning, you’ll have to outsource at a second home for two reasons. Firstly, you’re not living there all the time. Secondly, most are buying a second home viewing it as a vacation property. You don’t want to spend your vacation painting walls, cutting the grass, and taking care of maintenance. That’s the biggest challenge to think about: how will you maintain the property?
What are easy mistakes to make when purchasing a home in another state?

Not having either an accountant or a financial advisor who understands the taxes of both states. A state like Florida doesn’t have an income tax, and you’re spending some fraction of the year there. How does this affect your tax liability in your primary state? Are you earning money while you’re in Florida?

Renting [out] your property can also come with its own series of easy-to-make mistakes. Federal tax rules allow up to 14 days [per] year with no income tax on the income made from a rental property. But if you end up renting for 15 days, then you need to pay income tax on it. Renting a property can depreciate it as well. This gets very complicated very quickly.

Sara Stolberg Berkowicz

Chair of the Advisor Development department and an assistant professor at the College for Financial Planning

What should retirees consider when planning for the purchase of a second home?

Cash flow is crucial to consider when planning for the purchase of a second home. If there aren’t enough excess funds to support the anticipated outlays for mortgage payments, real estate taxes, association fees (if any), homeowners’ insurance, and utilities, then debt will be incurred.

What are easy mistakes when purchasing a second home in another state?

Many states assess real estate taxes, so it is important to find out the tax burden of the property. Some states require that property owners file income tax returns, and if the property is rented out then tax might be due on the rental income in both states, and it will cost more to prepare their tax returns.

Homeowners may be expected to maintain the property according to a particular standard; the homeowners’ association will likely have that information. Speaking of homeowners’ associations, they should be asked if there are any special assessments anticipated or in process to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Tips to save and savor your retirement

Choosing a place to live during retirement isn’t always as easy as downsizing or moving closer to family, especially if you enjoy warmer weather during the winter months. But regardless of where you want to live and whether you decide to buy a second home, there will be some choices involved. Here are some savings tips to savor your retirement:

  • Build up your savings. By choosing one of the best savings accounts, your money is safely stored and earning interest at the same time.
  • Find the right mortgage. Regardless of what your homeownership dreams look like, building up a list of the best mortgage lenders can help you reach your financial goals.
  • Get the right plan in place. Being able to retire when you want to and enjoy your 50s or 60s is the goal, right? With a strong plan in place, you might be able to retire early.

Methodology

FinanceBuzz collected data on 183 cities, most of which are south of the 38th parallel north, which runs across the country along the northern borders of states like Arizona, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. Several cities north of that mark in more temperate states near that line such as Virginia, California, and Nevada were also included.

Data for four major categories related to snowbirding appeal were collected for each city. Those categories were livability, affordability, culture and recreation, and temperature and climate. Each of those categories was created using individual data points, listed below. Each data point was indexed using a 0-5 scale. Those scores were then weighted and added together to create a score of 0-25 for each category and added together to give each city an overall score on a 0-100 scale.

For individual data points, a weight of 1.00 is standard, with weights above 1.00 having a larger impact on a category’s score and those below 1.00 having a lesser impact. The weights and sources for the individual metrics used in each category are as follows:

  • Temperature/Climate
    • Winter climate comfort index - Sperling’s Best Places - Weight: 1.50
    • The average temperature in November (degrees fahrenheit) - Weather Spark - Weight: 0.70
    • The average temperature in December (degrees fahrenheit) - Weather Spark - Weight: 0.70
    • The average temperature in January (degrees fahrenheit) - Weather Spark - Weight: 0.70
    • The average temperature in February (degrees fahrenheit) - Weather Spark - Weight: 0.70
    • The average temperature in March (degrees fahrenheit) - Weather Spark - Weight: 0.70

In all cases where population was used to create a “per 100,000 people” calculation, population data came from the United States Census Bureau.

Note: Some locations featured in our top cities for snowbirds list may be affected by hurricanes or other weather events typical of these locations. Prospective snowbirds should keep a close eye on hazards associated with these types of events, and follow rebuilding efforts in these cities for more information. 

Complete scores and overall rankings for the top 25 cities for snowbirds

Top 25 Cities for Snowbirds
Ranking Metro Livability Affordability Culture/Recreation Temperature/Climate Overall Score
1 Naples, FL 16.5 16.3 17.4 21.9 72.1
2 Sebring, FL 18.1 20.8 12.3 20.2 71.4
3 The Villages, FL 15.7 18.2 18.6 18.3 70.9
4 Sebastian, FL 16.0 18.0 14.5 20.8 69.3
5 Punta Gorda, FL 16.4 16.7 14.8 21.1 69.0
6 Brunswick, GA 15.4 21.0 15.5 15.2 67.1
7 Homosassa Springs, FL 17.6 19.8 11.0 18.4 66.7
8 Cape Coral, FL 16.1 16.9 11.4 22.0 66.4
9 North Port, FL 17.0 16.8 9.4 20.9 64.1
10 Deltona, FL 14.5 18.2 9.8 19.2 61.7
11 Kahului, HI 11.0 7.4 18.7 24.3 61.4
12 Daphne, AL 11.7 20.7 14.8 14.0 61.2
13 Savannah, GA 12.2 18.9 15.3 14.3 60.7
14 Hilton Head Island, SC 12.5 15.7 18.3 14.2 60.7
15 Port St. Lucie, FL 13.9 16.4 8.8 21.5 60.6
16 Ocala, FL 12.9 20.3 9.1 18.0 60.3
17 New Orleans, LA 13.0 18.7 11.2 17.0 60.0
18 Dothan, AL 11.6 22.5 11.8 14.0 60.0
19 Carson City, NV 15.9 17.9 23.1 2.9 59.8
20 Tampa, FL 15.4 16.6 7.0 20.4 59.4
21 Brownsville, TX 10.6 23.0 5.2 20.5 59.3
22 Palm Bay, FL 12.0 18.1 8.2 20.9 59.1
23 Panama City, FL 11.2 19.1 12.7 16.0 59.1
24 McAllen, TX 11.4 22.3 4.3 20.8 58.8
25 Miami, FL 15.0 12.2 8.3 23.1 58.6

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Author Details

Josh Koebert Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how personal finance overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.