Will Snowbirds Flock To U.S. En Masse If They Can Stay Eight Months Instead of Six?

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Alys Beach

Winter in Canada is a long, cold slog for the country’s 34.5 million residents. From the first snow to the final melted puddle, we’re talking 8 months, sometimes 9.

Now, if you were Canadian and you owned a second home in say, Alys Beach, Florida, you’d want to trade the shoulder-high mountains of grey snow for sandy dunes while you work on your tan for as long as possible, right? Me too. But under current laws, “Snowbirds” are allowed to stay in the US for 6 months. If a bill authored by Sen. Chuck Schumer is passed, they could escape Canada’s bitter cold for an extra two months.

That has to be good news for our neighbors to the north:

The impetus for the change comes from the Canadian Snowbird Association, based in Toronto, which estimates that Canadian snowbirds made 1.08 million trips to the U.S. During 2011. The association defines a “Canadian snowbird” as someone aged 55 or older who spends 31 or more consecutive days in the US during the winter time.

“The association estimates that 70% of Canadian travelers spending over one month in the sunbelt states choose Florida as their destination,” stated Evan Rachkovsky, research officer for the Canadian Snowbird Association, in an interview with USA Today. There are many Canadians who own second homes in the U.S., particularly in the states of California, Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

“A lot of people want to stay longer,” explained Bob Slack, president of the Canadian Snowbird Association, and a keen supporter of the new bill. “They’d like to stay for seven months if they can.”

Other popular winter residences for Canadians include the states of Arizona, especially around Yuma, Lake Havasu, Tucson and Mesa, and California, in particular the Palm Springs area. Meanwhile, Texas is another choice destination for Canadians, especially around Rio Grande Valley, McAllen, Brownsville and South Padre Island.