February is a great month to watch the traditional “Snowbirds” take flight.
Thousands of boomers and seniors, not unlike real migrating birds, will head to warmer environs in recreational vehicles or setup shop in a second home. Retirees, and those quickly getting to the stage where they can work in any place they choose, will pack up their laptops and golf clubs with the hope that their part-time work will not interfere with strategic tee-times.
While that winter life may seem too good to be true, the lifestyle is not just popular among Midwest and East Coast Americans. For example, The Conference Board reported that Canadians, many of them full-time residents of Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto, spent $537 million in Florida alone during the first three months of last year – an increase of 21 percent from the first quarter of 2002.
Before you, or your parents, hit the road make sure that your family home is prepared for your exodus. For example, before you drive away, double-check to be sure all doors and windows are locked and light timers are set. Make sure you’ve provided relatives or friends with your contact information so you can be reached in an emergency.
Safety and money have become huge domestic issues, especially given the rising cost of insurance policies. Most of the time, claims can be avoided. Insurance companies report that most homeowner claims are not caused by fires or storms, but by neglected maintenance that grows into a larger problem.
Here are a few of the easiest things to help you get your home in shape – that do not take a lot of muscle and elbow grease or significantly delay your expected time of departure:
There’s plenty of free information available about taking care of your home before you take off. For example, the Home Safety Council, a North Wilkesboro, N.C.-based organization focusing on home safety and education, offers useful consumer and insurance tips.
Remember, if you won’t be back for a while, try to guard against the possibility of returning to a preventable problem. The effort will put more energy into your golf swing.
Tom Kelly, former real estate editor for The Seattle Times, is a syndicated columnist and talk show host. Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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