Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Snowbird Economics 101 (SE 101)

We actually realized the essence of SE 101 many, many years ago, perhaps even back in the 1990's in Rocky Point. The lessons of SE 101 became even more clear after spending our first summer or two in Idaho. Now, of course, we live by the Rules of SE 101.

Here's the underlying principle of SE 101: "It costs a lot of money to heat a house during winter in Snow Country." Heat ain't cheap--it comes at a stiff price. Meanwhile, there are a lot of other expenses piling up, water, sewer, garbage, electricity, cable TV, and so forth.

So, by leaving Snow Country, one avoids paying all of the above expenses. Yep, it's true. Before moving to Idaho Falls, one of our first questions was about "vacation suspend" for the utilities. In this city, you pay NOTHING while you are gone--zip, zilch, zero, nada, nothing. They turn everything off and, poof, it's free. For a five month sojourn in Arizona, that means we will save at least $600 and probably more on city utilities and natural gas bills.

The way it is often stated by other Snowbirds is thus: "What we save by not heating our house pays for most of our winter vacation." In other words, it's cheaper to flee than to stay and fight the cold and snow. Pretty cool, huh?

We've been very astute users of our natural gas and our "easy pay" is a mere $16 a month now but that's destined to go much lower after subtracting last year's January-February billings. It wouldn't surprise us if our new annual bill (calculated every summer) would be less than ten bucks a month. The kids who lived here before us had an average monthly bill of $70!

Meanwhile, it gets better. By leaving one vehicle here, it can drop totally off the insurance for up to six months. It's sits in the garage Scot free. That saves at least $125. Cable One gladly suspends the internet at no cost, too. Chalk up another $300 savings. DISH charges a mere $5 a month to suspend the TV. Gee, there's another $250 in savings.

The sum of our annual fixed expenses for the Arizona property are roughly $1250. The approximate savings realized by heading south are $1275. For all practical purposes, we're almost making money by heading south. The only net difference in out-of-pocket cash flow is the round trip gas costs.

Not a lot of people reflect on Snowbird Economics 101 until they near the Snowbird Age Range. Once they grasp the true economics of the situation, they eagerly jump on board--it's danged near a no brainer.

Cheers, jp

1 comment:

Marti Spudboater said...

HOw do you get a way with not heating your house? I assume you run some kind of coolant in your plumbing? What about mold, mildew, etc? And do your really drop your insurance totally for the vehicle? I've put mine on suspended where only comprehensive covers it. That way if the roof collapses or the garage catches fire I get a new rig out of it.
What about trash and sewer? In Boise you must pay sewer year round/same with trash. They don't care if you're not there. Though obviously the cost for sewer is likely less since most sewer rates are based on how much water you use. Yupp, it's tied to that in Boise. And who is your gas provider? There is a base fee whether or not you use any. In Boise it's probably closer to $20 a month tagged on. The water bill has a service fee before a drop goes to your faucet and it's $17 a month. I could leave my house unattended with a pittance of lighting, turn off internet service while gone, winterize the plumbing but I would absolutely not leave the heat off. In fact, it can invalidate your homeonwers insurance. Anyways, I can't figure out any way I could leave and still not pay property tax, utilities while absent of no less about $1200 yearly, homeowners ins of $500 yearly. Idaho Falls must have some unique attributes financially with its utilities.