Winter visitors

Visiting snowbirds fuel demand for attractive seasonal rentals.

Courtesy photo

As the summer months hit full swing and temperatures rise, many snowbirds will return to their out-of-state summer homes in cooler climates.

Others, though, will stay. So many in fact, that the term “staybird” has become popular terminology when examining the living habits of those who travel between states and homes based on the weather.

Arizona Local Media asked local residents about their experiences as snowbirds and staybirds, and discovered that while some continue to travel between two homes, others who started as snowbirds have decided to make Arizona their permanent place of residence.

Ron and Cindy Webster

Ron Webster was living in the Bay Area when he visited Oro Valley for a weekend of golf. Ron’s brother, a real estate appraiser who also lived in San Francisco at the time, had a home built the same year in Oro Valley’s La Reserve.

“He had the vision to realize just how special Oro Valley and La Reserve was at that time in their infancy,” said Ron.

It was a vision that Ron soon adopted during his visit, and before he left, he put a down payment on a house. While that deal ultimately fell through because the builder went bankrupt, Ron and his wife, Cindy, returned to Oro Valley on another golf trip and succeeded in buying a finished house in La Reserve, which they then leased out for the subsequent 11 years. The Webster’s continued to visit Oro Valley during that time, staying in Ron’s brother’s vacation home.

After retiring in 2000, Ron and Cindy moved to the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, but continued to visit Oro Valley a couple times a year due.

“After spending the first few winters in snow country, we began staying (in Oro Valley) for the entire months of January and February,” said Ron. “We subsequently took our house back from the property manager and over the next few years, our winter stay became longer and longer. It got to the point where we were here more than in California.”

In 2012, the Websters made the decision to sell their California home and move to Oro Valley permanently, purchasing a new, larger home in Oro Valley.

“We have not for a moment regretted leaving California.  We have fully enjoyed our friends here and the Oro Valley-Old Pueblo lifestyle,” said Ron.

Carol Robertson

Before becoming an Oro Valley staybird in October of 2013, Carol Robertson was splitting her time between Arizona and New Jersey, staying roughly six and a half months in Arizona, and the remainder in New Jersey.

After some consideration, Robertson said she saw more perks about living in Oro Valley than at her east coast home.

“I got tired of the upkeep and expenses of two places,” she said. “I… appreciate the relatively low taxes here versus New Jersey. By this I mean, real estate, income, and estate taxes, all of which are brutal in New Jersey. I also enjoy the weather here. I thrive with sunshine.”

Robertson, in her first summer in Oro Valley, has been playing a lot of golf, and, as she puts it, drinking “lots” of water.

Robertson said she has already noticed some trends with snowbirds and staybirds in her time here.

“My next door neighbors moved to a somewhat smaller home in Marana, and sold their Oro Valley house to a snowbird,” she said. “So it goes with transformation… snowbirds and staybirds.”

Lee Harris

Lee Harris, who along with his wife, splits his time between his Tucson home and his residence in Naples, Fla., says while he does not consider himself a snowbird since he is not seasonal, he believes the typical snowbird still exists. Harris spends a couple of months in one place before moving back to the other, independent of weather, though he acknowledges Naples has better winter weather than Tucson. Like Tucson, Harris says Naples gets its fair share of snowbirds – those who visit with no intent of living there full-time.

“My opinion is that there are truly snowbirds,” said Harris. “The typical snowbird is from a cold weather climate, and escapes the winters to a warm weather climate, such as Arizona, Florida, Hawaii or California.”

Naples is home to many snowbirds- perhaps 60-70% of Neapolitans- who winter in Naples (October through April) then return to Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Canada or Europe where they are from. My sense is that Tucson has many of these but the vast majority of the population is full-time residents.”

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