After an unseasonably warm fall and early winter in the D.C. metropolitan area, the other shoe finally dropped last weekend.
With the onslaught of “Snowzilla” we found ourselves gassing up our cars, running around town looking for shovels and salt, and chatting about what was to come while standing in the bread, milk and toilet paper lines at the grocery store.
We spent the early part of the weekend posting “here’s what it looks like now” photos on Facebook every few hours, as well as videos of our pets refusing to venture outside, our children braving the elements to play in the yard, and ourselves sitting with food and drink in front of a roaring fire.
On Sunday we awaited the promised snow plows on the side streets but by evening, when we learned that the federal government would be closed for yet another day, many of us were beginning to get a little bored with the whole thing, our thoughts drifting to warmer climates and sunny vacations.
Now that the airports are open again, we can make some getaway plans for the short term, but wouldn’t it have been nice to get out of town before the snow hit to our very own 75-degree hideaway in the sun?
We may have missed this opportunity but it’s not too late to plan for next year, so here are some areas to think about when considering where to go if you don’t like snow.
Florida, once referred to as “The Home of the Newlywed and Nearly Dead,” continues to be an attractive haven for those seeking warmth and a lower than average cost of living, with the added excitement of an occasional hurricane and steam room-like humidity.
On the Gulf Coast, there is Fort Myers, where the median sales price for a home hovers around $190,000. A little bit north you can settle in the Saint Petersburg/Clearwater area where the median price is only $160,000 or push farther up the coast into the Panhandle to choose from nearly 350 houses available in Pensacola for under $100,000.
On the southernmost tip of Florida you will find Key West, noted residence of Ernest Hemingway and known for its liberal, fun-in-the-sun lifestyle, but you must pay for the privilege of having a winter home there. Only 18 properties are available for less than $1,000,000, one of them an adorable two-bedroom, one-bath home consisting of 570 square feet for a mere $995,000.
Along the Atlantic Ocean north of the tony areas of Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Boca Raton is New Smyrna Beach, offering homes in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. Near the Florida/Georgia border, a Jacksonville Beach condo with a marsh view can be yours for as little as $90,000.
Arizona is another popular destination with a warm climate and a dry heat. In Scottsdale, located just outside of Phoenix, sales prices average $650,000, but just head down the road southeast to Gilbert and a similar home with a screened patio and pool commands less than $250,000.
If you eschew Palm Beach and La Jolla, there are many parts of Southern California that will fit the bill, including the San Diego-adjacent cities of Chula Vista, where prices can be as low as $115,000 and Imperial Beach, where you can still find a two-bedroom, two-bath property a skipping stone’s throw from the Pacific Ocean in the high $400s.
If you have more travel and vacation time at your disposal, Hawaii may be your favorite destination. While Honolulu may be cost-prohibitive, consider moving your search from Oahu to the island of Keeau where you can reduce the price of your average 4-bedroom home from $1,100,000 to $283,000.
While it’s tempting in the middle of winter to run right out and find a warm haven for long-term enjoyment, the grass may not be greener in the other locale (although there may be grass there instead of snow).
Try out a few areas by booking an Airbnb, renting a friend’s timeshare, or arranging for a whole house lease at HomeAway.com before making a large financial commitment. And do let me know where you opted to purchase your slice of warmth so I can schedule my visit in time for next year’s “Snowtastrophe.” (You heard it here first.)
Valerie M. Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 or Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Each Keller Williams Realty office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.