It's easy for RVers to get caught up in the excitement of heading south and certain elements of everyday life can often be forgotten, when the winter months roll around. Being a snowbird comes with much responsibility, not only with the upkeep of your RV, but also with your life back at your sticks-and-bricks home. These responsibilities can include mail, bills, insurance, and the security of your home, so we've created the following checklist to help you get on the road faster, and with peace of mind:
Depending on the details of your trip, you have a few options for taking care of your mail. If you're gone 30 days or less, simply notify USPS in person or online and they will hold your mail for you. If you plan to be gone all winter long, you can have your mail forwarded to you through USPS's premium forwarding service. Unfortunately, this service costs $17 weekly, so it may be cheaper to ask a nearby family member or friend to check your mail periodically, and forward you the important pieces when necessary. If you plan to stay in one place during the snowbird season, you can also inform certain prime companies of your new temporary address, including your mortgage provider, water, car insurance, credit card, banks, and medical offices.
Winterize Your Home
You do not want the cold getting the best of your home while you are away, so we suggest taking a few simple steps to keep your house and your wallet safe. Before hitting the open road, turn off the water to your home, making sure there is no water going to your dishwasher or washing machine. You will also want to drain your water heater. While all of the water may be drained, it is possible for some H2O to linger in your pipes, causing them to freeze and lead to damage. Combat this problem by blowing out the water lines, which you can either do yourself or have performed professionally.
Once all of your water lines are spic and span, flush your toilets until empty and then fill them with anti-freeze solution, same as you would in an RV. Next, make sure to take care of your budget by turning down your thermostat. Be strategic in your decision on choosing a temperature, and base it on your location and risk of ice storms. The best thing to do is have a friend check on your thermostat if a storm is brewing.
Keep in Mind: Bills and Insurance
Take a look at which services you pay for monthly and decide which ones you will not need while living the snowbird life. You will want to disable or pause your cable and internet plans, and even downgrade your home phone plan if your provider allows for temporary changes. If you use a private trash service, make sure to pause it for your time away. Another cost to keep in mind is insurance. If you are gone for more than 30 days, you may have to add a vacant home policy to your insurance. The good news is that you many plans allow for you to alter your auto insurance and have your car listed as being stored, which will often lower your rate. Lastly, minimize stress during your trip by taking care of bills ahead of time and/or setting up auto payments online whenever available.
There are many simple steps to take to keep your home secure and your belongings safe while you are away. It is often best to give the illusion that someone is living in the home, so leave some of your curtains slightly open and have a friend shovel your driveway once in a while. Keep track of your possessions by taking photos of high-priced items in case of theft, and be creative with your hiding spots. A few things to consider purchasing are an alarm system, electronic timers for your indoor lighting, and motion sensor lights for outside. Figure out what is in your budget and make sure to research the crime rates in your neighborhood to see if these are necessary purchases. Lastly, check with your local police department, as many offer vacant home check programs that can really put your mind at ease while you are enjoying some sun down south.
Switching to a home on wheels comes with plenty of responsibilities, but it is important to also be mindful of the home you are leaving behind. We hope these tips ease your transition into the snowbird life, while saving you some money! If you have any tips you would like to add, please leave them in the comments section below. Wishing you safe and warm travels!