Top 12 International Destinations for Canadians Snowbirds (beside Florida)

One perk of retirement is having the luxury of deciding where to spend those cold winter months. Picking an affordable tropical destination where you can enjoy a pleasing weather and a bustling community can be quite the task.

For thousands of Canadian snowbirds, the choice is simple: the sunshine state of Florida! With big communities of active retirees, Florida is the most visited state by Canadians for extended stays. Trends show that people from Quebec have a preference for the Atlantic Coast of the Sunshine state while Ontarians tend to favour the West Coast. Popular spots include St. Petersburg, Hollywood Beach, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach and Daytona Beach.

While Florida receives the largest number of snowbirds every winter, there are many more places where you can soak in some vitamin D while also engaging in multiple outdoor activities, meeting other active members of the community and making the most out of retirement.

Here is a list of 12 destinations to discover in the United States, Latin America and Europe for Canadian snowbirds.

UNITED STATES

As the Canadian dollar is slowly rebounding, the United States remains a favourite among Canadian snowbirds. The proximity, the language and the culture are all factors why, year after year, flocks of retirees find their home across the border during those harsh winter months. Here are five states which are worth considering:

– California
The West Coast attracts a lot of visitors with its abundance of national parks offering great hiking trails and a multitude of canyons to discover. California also caters to beach lovers and wine lovers wanting to explore its lush wine country. Canadian snowbirds will appreciate these all-time favourites: Palm Springs, San Diego, La Quinta, Napa and Palm Desert.

– Arizona
The Valley of the Sun offers unlimited golfing options with over 300 golf courses in the State. It is undoubtedly a golfer’s paradise! Settled in a more desert landscape, Arizona has drier temperatures which allow for cooler nights (around 20 degrees), perfect to engage in outdoors and wildlife activities. Five popular spots for snowbirds in Arizona are Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona and Mesa.

– Texas
Positioning itself as a good market for shorter term leasing options, Texas has something for everyone. From outdoor activities, beaches and a vibrant art scene, this southern state is still an affordable alternative for those wanting to enjoy a more subtropical climate. Dallas, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Plano and Galveston are the most sought-after destinations for seasonal travellers.

– Hawaii
The dream of paradise awaits! With imposing volcanoes, green jungles and stunning beaches, Hawaii is the ultimate destination to escape winter. Although being a little more expensive, Hawaii offers unparalleled scenery while avoiding the cultural shock of other tropical countries. More affordable cities which are very popular with snowbirds include Maui, Hilo, Pahoa, Princeville and Waikiki.

– New Mexico
Surrounded by mountains, gorges and canyons, the outstanding landscapes of New Mexico attract more adventurous travellers. The rich native culture, the variety of outdoor activities and a blooming foodies’ scene are all reasons to head to this state before it becomes too popular. For extended stays, these are the five cities not-to-miss in New Mexico: Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Alamogordo and Caballo.

LATIN AMERICA

With the weakness of the Canadian dollar, it might be tempting to consider more exotic and international destinations. Of course, there might be a bit of a language barrier, but many of those places have growing expat communities making the integration a lot smoother. Here are five Latin countries to discover:

– Mexico
As a classic destination for Canadian snowbirds, Mexico is blessed with beaches that extend as far as the eye can see on both coasts. While still offering a lot of western amenities, it is possible to explore historic towns, Mayan temples and ruins. The most popular spots for Canadian retirees to settle down during the winter months are Lake Chapala, Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, Playa del Carmen and San Miguel de Allende. Travellers are highly encouraged to exercise caution due to the increased crime rate in certain Mexican states.

– Belize
This Latin country, still a hidden gem, is home to the second largest reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The white sand beaches with turquoise water are not the only ways Belize is attracting more and more snowbirds: the Qualified Retired Person Incentive Program makes it even simpler to retire to this idyllic country. Growing expat communities can be found in Ambergris Caye, Corozal, Punta Gorda and Stann Creek.

– Dominican Republic
Not just a holiday destination, the Dominican Republic is becoming a popular low-cost Caribbean alternative for Canadian snowbirds. Many will fall in love with its tropical weather, crystal clear beaches and its selection of outstanding golf courses. Aside from widely known Punta Cana, it is possible to enjoy the Caribbean Sea in towns like Sosua, Las Terrenas, La Romana and Santiago.

– Panama
This Central America country not only has great infrastructures, a good health care system and widely spoken English, they also have the Visa Pensionado program to attract retirees. Through this initiative, they provide an easy visa allowing for long-term stays and various senior discounts on recreation and entertainment facilities, public transport, accommodation, restaurants, medical services and many more amenities. Popular destinations to relocate for the winter include Panama City, Coronado, Santa Fe and Boquete.

– Nicaragua
The historic cities of Granada and Leon not only boast a colourful colonial style, but have been seeing an increasing number of expats and retirees. Nicaragua offers one of the most affordable costs of living in Central America along with welcoming people, beautiful beaches and lush jungles. Granada, Leon, Matagalpa and the area around San Juan del Sur are the most common destinations for long-term travellers.

EUROPE

The increase of low-cost carriers offering extremely low airfares for transatlantic flights has created a revival of popularity for The Old continent. As many European countries are slowly recovering from the recent economic downturn, one can expect cheaper prices, especially for long-term travellers. Here are two attractive destinations, where the weather is still enjoyable during the winter months:

– Portugal:
Known for its wine and rich cultural history, Portugal has much more to offer such as world-class golf courses, amazing beaches, fishing and hiking. With a cost of living lower than most other European destinations, it’s no surprise that Portugal attracts more and more retirees each year. Popular spots among those wishing to spend their winter months in Portugal include the coastal region of Algarve, the Silver Coast, Alentejo, Lisbon and Cascais.

– Spain:
With year-long great weather, impressive infrastructure, easily accessible amenities and all-around vibrant culture, Spain remains a favourite among retirees. Many Canadian snowbirds are charmed by the eclectic art scene, the rich history and the world-famous gastronomy of Spain. Spanish destinations receiving a growing number of seasonal travellers are Bilbao, Nerja, Granada, Málaga and Madrid.

Before heading out to any of those exotic destinations, make sure to have a valid travel insurance suited to your needs and health conditions. Contact your travel insurance agent now to find the best plan for you. A good coverage will give you the necessary peace of mind for your next extended stay in the sun!