Snowbirds: Try Renting Before You Buy

May 23, 2016 11:38 am

Sean M. Giles

Senior Financial Advisor

As a Financial Advisor in New England for more than 10 years, I’ve met with quite a few clients looking for advice on a second home to escape our most unpopular season: winter.

Usually the conversation starts with my client telling me of the deals they can find on buying a vacation home in sunny Florida. These discussions become even more popular around mid-February. While layers of clothes are shed, I hear the grumbles of “I’m sick of this weather”.

Are You Afraid of Running Out of Money in Retirement?

Before you sign any purchase and sales agreement on that beachfront condo, here are my reasons to try snowbird rentals first:

  • Renting gives you the ability to try different locations each winter. Maybe you want to switch from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic or the Outer Banks.
  • Next year you may have guests, so a place that has an extra bedroom or two is a must. Whether it’s your kids or grandchildren, they too will want to escape winter and save on hotel expenses.
  • If there are any building or maintenance issues it’s on the landlord’s dime, not yours.
  • Packing for the winter will be light. No need to worry about furnishings, cutlery, bedding and the like. Just you and your flip flops.
  • How long? You call the shots each year. Maybe it’s only four weeks this time instead of eight. You’re not worried about the tenant renting from you offseason and when they leave.
  • More importantly, the financial commitment of owning can have its downsides. Taxes, condo fees, insurance and maintenance are never ending regardless if you are using it or not. You own it. I’m not even factoring in a mortgage or the funds for a down payment. If you offset the cost by renting it now, you are a long distance landlord with limited availability of using it yourself.


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Yes, of course there are benefits of owning, but I encourage my clients to try snowbird rentals first. If you do fall head over heels for a place and you are ready for a long term commitment, do your homework and talk to your financial advisor about making the leap.

In the meantime summer is almost here so, go enjoy the best of New England. Native corn is tops on my list.


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Sean Giles serves as Financial Advisor at StrategicPoint Investment Advisors in Providence and East Greenwich. You can e-mail him at

The information contained in this post is not intended as investment, tax or legal advice. StrategicPoint Investment Advisors assumes no responsibility for any action or inaction resulting from the contents herein. Sean’s opinions and comments expressed on this site are his own and may not accurately reflect those of the firm. Third party content does not reflect the view of the firm and is not reviewed for completeness or accuracy. It is provided for ease of reference.