The first thing you want to consider is whether you want the year-round commitment of maintenance and upkeep.  Owning can give you certainty – and the ability to make long-term relationships with new friends and neighbors – but it also entails an outlay of capital, real estate taxes and the possibility of an out-of-state probate.  The last part is important, as it can be time-consuming and expensive for your survivors – but is easily avoided with the right estate planning.

Renting is less complicated.  Many people are able to rent the same property year after year.  This leaves them open to change properties or locations whenever they wish.  The downside is that the monthly rental rate, especially in popular areas, can be high.

Make sure to do your homework before making a move.  You can find state-by-state information on sales taxes, personal income taxes, real estate taxes and other taxes on the website.  If your snowbird state has low or no state income tax and you will be spending at least one-half of your time there, consider changing your state of residency but only after you understand all of the other forms of tax that the state and specific county can impose.

Ultimately, this is more a lifestyle decision and less a financial one.  The smartest thing you can do is rent for at least one season in your chosen location.  You will be amazed at how much you will learn – both the good and the not so good – and you will be able to make a more fully informed decision.

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