The 6 Best Places to Be a Snowbird

Avoid winter in these balmy retirement destinations.

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On the East Coast, winter arrived early this year. And as we move closer to the official start of the snow season, many people are wondering where they could go to escape it.

It used to be that snowbirds looked to Florida and Arizona for wintertime sun. Today, you have many other appealing options, some only slightly farther away.

[See The 10 Best Places to Retire in 2012.]

Each of these locations promises sunshine and warm temperatures in November through March. These cities are affordable and easily accessible from North America, with many options for flights and points of departure. You should also have no trouble finding a furnished rental for the snowbird season, meaning you could easily try the destination on for size and soak up its sun without making any costly or long-term commitment. Here are the top six places to be a snowbird this season.

1. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This Pacific coast city has first world amenities, including marinas, yacht clubs, and golf courses, and a reasonable cost of living. Rent near town, and you don’t need to own a vehicle. In fact, Puerto Vallarta can be a great year-round retirement choice, but you could begin to get to know the area by escaping here this winter.

2. Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza is the capital of Argentine wine country. The area has good food, great wine, reasonable prices, and pleasant weather.

[See Affordable Places to Retire Abroad.]

3. Granada, Nicaragua. Granada is an affordable retirement destination with colonial flare. A couple could live here very comfortably on as little as $1,000 per month. This 500-year-old city is situated on a lake with many outdoor activities nearby. Plus, Granada is home to one of the biggest and most established expat communities in the region.

4. Medellin, Colombia. Medellin is a top year-round retirement choice that also makes a great winter escape. One of its main appeals is the weather, which is near-perfect 12 months a year. Medellin is also a cosmopolitan choice, a city that boasts international-standard museums, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife.

5. Cuenca, Ecuador. Cuenca is one of the most affordable and comfortable retirement options in Latin America. Like Granada, it is a colonial city. Unlike Granada, it is situated in the mountains, meaning the climate is less tropical.

[See 10 Tips for Retirement Overseas.]

6. Christchurch, New Zealand. Christchurch is a small coastal town that is more affordable than the internationally renowned Queenstown. The big downside to Christchurch for North Americans is that New Zealand is all the way on the other side of the globe.

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter. Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.