Snowbird cities
November 10, 2018 1:43 PM   Subscribe

I have the opportunity to be a snowbird this winter for a few months, as I'll be working remotely. I'm looking for cities that are reasonably warm in the United States with a low cost of living where I can reside for a few months.

I'm not terribly particular, but would like a decent sized town in the US where there are a variety of places to shop for groceries, a planet fitness and local library, with coffee shops where I can work in public. Ideally it would be a city with excellent public transportation, or a city that is car friendly (I don't want to have to pay to park in the town where I live). I really like parks and would like to live somewhere where I can visit a public or private park regularly.

Suggestions? Where should I live temporarily?
posted by sockermom to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
St. Petersburg, FL?
posted by vivzan at 1:55 PM on November 10, 2018

Seconding Florida. I know Tampa has public transportation.
posted by Delia at 2:01 PM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Tucson AZ is full of snowbirds every winter. There are mobile home parks that specialize in renting to snowbirds. This also applies to Phoenix (but I just wouldn't live in Phx). Also, Yuma. Deming NM is probably too small for your wants but weather-wise it's fine. Uvalde TX is another option, as is Corpus Christi TX.
posted by MovableBookLady at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

I’m in St. Petersburg and it does indeed tick all your boxes. (So does Tampa.)
posted by _Mona_ at 2:10 PM on November 10, 2018

I lived in Tucson, AZ for 11 years. I can't say enough good things about it. It ticks all your requirements.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 2:13 PM on November 10, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions thus far. I would love to hear the reasons behind suggestions - what is it about the city that would interest me/make me want to live there, beyond it ticking all my boxes? Especially if there is specific information about parks I might like, good coffee places, or things that can give me a sense of what living there would be like if I were to search for specific places you suggest in and around the cities.

I am a woman in my mid-30s, if that helps contextualize things.
posted by sockermom at 2:13 PM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Arizona is a heck of a lot cheaper than anywhere decent in Florida. There are cheap parts of Florida, but they are also the places where you will be surrounded by Trumpists and have zero public transportation. The rare exceptions that existed 10-20 years ago have gotten expensive.

If you consider $1000-1500 a month in rent "not expensive," your options open up a lot..
posted by wierdo at 2:14 PM on November 10, 2018

Best answer: Here's more background on St. Pete. It has a small town vibe but has good restaurants and bars. It's close to a major city, Tampa. Access to beaches. You do need a car, but downtown St Pete is walkable.

If you like to be outdoors, kayaking in the area is pretty great. There are parks right on the water for running and being outdoors.

I like and recommend the Old Northeast neighborhood. Black Crow coffeeshop is awesome. Walkable to downtown and close to the water and parks.

It's an area that skews younger for Florida, so you wouldn't be out of place in your mid-30s.

Check out There are some good threads on what there is to do there an in the Tampa Bay Area.
posted by vivzan at 3:07 PM on November 10, 2018

Best answer: One more thing: St Pete is LGBT friendly and a liberal progressive area in Florida.
posted by vivzan at 3:15 PM on November 10, 2018

Best answer: Tucson AZ is car friendly (public transit sucks here). COL is low, especially if you don’t need good schools. Areas near the University of Arizona have good parks and coffee shops. Himmel Park and Mitchell Park are two that I especially enjoy. Search for them on google and do street view. There are three large State parks with excellent hiking at a wide range of levels. Sabino Canyon is great for nature walks. Some notably great local coffee shops are Exo, Raging Sage, and Cartel Coffee. There are three Whole Foods within an easy drive, as well as chains like Safeway and small natural foods stores. Local food culture is nice but not upscale. Check out pictures of the Mercado San Agustin, a very nice little courtyard area with restaurants, shops and a year round farmers market. Barrio Bread is also amazing, as well as a year round CSA. And I guess we’re a purple state now, but Tucson itself is consistently very blue politically.
posted by permiechickie at 3:34 PM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

St. Pete is OK. But, I might rank that behind Sarasota or West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, or Boca Raton. WPB has some relatively inexpensive areas as does Delray. There is a large state university in Boca and plenty ‘roommates wanted’ ads. Public transport up and down the US1 corridor is good. Better beaches and warmer than St. Pete.
posted by sudogeek at 7:12 PM on November 10, 2018

On top of Tucson, you could consider Albuquerque.
posted by slidell at 7:55 PM on November 10, 2018

Gainesville, FL. Great weather, lots of culture, an hour or so to either coast, lots of nature, it's a liberal college town with great libraries and amenities.
posted by onebyone at 8:09 PM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I thought about Albuquerque but it can get quite cold there and even snowy, so I thought southern NM would be better. That's the same reason I didn't recommend Alamogordo.
posted by MovableBookLady at 9:06 PM on November 10, 2018

Best answer: Tucson plays Austin to Phoenix as Dallas. Which is to say -- Phoenix sucks it. Living in Austin as I do, neither city has a pulse at all, as far as music/art/festivals/etc but living here gets you pretty damn spoiled, the bar is pretty high on that sort of thing. Still, of the two cities, Tucson wins out, even just on feel -- it feels a lot better than Phoenix. To me.

And: East of Tucson and west of Tucson are two -- count them, two -- saguaro national monuments. All of southern Arizona has saguaro cactus but those two parks, east and west of town, they are just totally rocking. If you dig desert. If you dig cactus. If you dig thorny stuff. And big red rocks. I've traveled a bit and I still think that the Saguaro National Monument West is my favorite place on the planet. Bring water.

Get out of your car and climb up on one of those rockpiles and watch the sun set -- it's spectacular. And -- watch the moon rise, especially if it's a big honkin' moon -- amazing beauty. Spectacular beauty. Just be careful where you place your hands as you climb, esp in the evening to see the sunset, as you don't want to put it next to a rattlesnake -- they come out to eat at that time of day, look for a mouse or whatever. Part of the beauty of the desert is how raw and real it is, and you're in their yard now. Just be careful, is all, and/or go with a native.

It's awfully warm come summer but it's oh so dry -- I prefer Arizona 116F to Austin 103F, any day of the week. But you're not going to be there in the summer. Still -- bring water. I'd say Austin Austin Austin except it's not inexpensive anymore. Tucson prices shot through the roof 20-30 years ago, Californication, which also happened in Boulder, and any other nice place west. Still, Tucson might be it for you. Bring water.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:39 PM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I won't knock Tucson, it would be a great choice, but I'm chiming in to recommend Tempe and pockets of Phoenix, which may tick off all your boxes. I live in Tempe and have no less than 4 independent coffee shops, the public library, and the best independent book store in the State, all within 1 square mile of my home. Plus, there's a Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Sprouts AND Planet Fitness in this same area. The Orbit shuttle circulates through most of these neighborhoods, with the library being a primary hub - and the Orbit is free! Only downtown Tempe and the area immediately around ASU charge for parking, but I believe it's minimal ($1.50 per hour?). Tempe was planned with neighborhood parks in mind - I read somewhere that there is a public park within a half mile of every home in Tempe. The cost of living here varies depending on the neighborhood, with the downtown and south Tempe areas outside my price range, but many homes in the area from Southern to Guadalupe and Rural to Price are reasonable (well, I can afford it, and I'm solidly middle class).

I'm not as familiar with the residential neighborhoods in Phoenix, but there are definitely some artsy and fun areas with lots to do within walking distance, that is, as long as you're just considering the winter months. We Mefites met at an independent ice cream shop near 16th Street and Bethany Home a few months ago and I've been wanting to go back to explore that area.
posted by kbar1 at 11:39 AM on November 11, 2018

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