Frugal Ways to Escape Winter

beachWARNING: The winter weather might be causing us to lose our minds.  Don’t say we didn’t warn ya.

Growing up in Minnesota, I never imagined that I would ever want to move to a warmer climate. The winter was full of fun – skiing, sledding, snowball fights, and of course hockey. Besides that, I thought that I would miss the change of seasons. How could I possibly live without experiencing the wonders of Spring, the hot days of Summer, and the cool crisp air and beautiful colors of Autumn? I knew that I never wanted to leave my home in the colder climates of the North for the perpetual summer of the South.

Then, I grew a brain…or became a wuss, depending on your perspective. Either way, I’m OK with that.

The last few weeks in the northern half of the U.S. has brought ridiculously frigid temperatures and literally feet – yep, not inches but feet – of snow. Suddenly, the allure of temperatures that are perpetually above 50 degrees farenheit doesn’t seem so bad after all. The older I get, the more I think that the trade off for missing Spring and Fall by moving to a warmer climate may not be that bad.

Still, there is a cost associated with leaving the Great White North. (I know Canadians…that usually refers to you. Nobody is trying to usurp your title here, so don’t get your frozen behinds all bent out of shape!) Of course, there is the emotional cost of moving away from your family and friends. Furthermore, there can be a financial cost to moving as well. So during these cold winter months, here are a few ways that you can get a taste of warmer climate living.

Take a Vacation

Not sure if you are ready to take the plunge and move to Antigua just yet? Why not go ahead and visit it first! You can experience the best that warm weather places have to offer without having to pack up your stuff and move. If you live north of the Mason-Dixon line, taking a winter vacation to a warm weather climate can be just what you need to break up those dark and cold winter days.

Holly and I have decided winter vacationing is a must at our house. One of the biggest keys for us is strategically scheduling the vacation toward the back half of winter. By hitting the beach in the early part of February, we know that there will only be a few more weeks of Winter to suffer through once we return home. Furthermore, we get to live the beach life for a fraction of the cost of moving there – even if it is only for a short time. Recently, we saved even more money by using credit card rewards to vacation for free! Score!!!

Become a Snow Bird

If you don’t want to move permanently to a warmer climate, try living there for just a few months each year. Many snow birds purchase their own place somewhere near the coast.  Then they pack up their stuff and head down where it’s warm during the winter months.  While that may sound expensive, many snowbirds rent out their place during the summer to make up for all, or most, of the cost associated with their place.  So, if you have the time and the money to do so, becoming a snowbird may help you to avoid those brutally cold winter days.

Move to the Carribean

So, you just can’t take it anymore and you need to get out of the cold permanently, huh? Try buying a place in the Carribbean. Housing prices in many of these small countries are far less than what beach homes would cost stateside. An island paradise could literally be yours at a fraction of the cost.  When we were in Mexico last summer, we browsed through a bunch of housing magazines and found many beach houses available for less than $300,000.


I like pretending. Sometimes that is the only thing that can get me through the day. So, when all else fails, simply imagine that you’ve escaped the icy north and found yourself in a tropical paradise. After all, the beach life really is a state of mind, right? You could throw a hula party or run around your house in nothing but your bathing suit. Personally, I find a nice drink mixed with coconut rum helps to set the stage appropriately. And usually, the more drinks I have, the easier it is to relax in my new “beachfront” condo daydream. Ahhhh, now that is the life!

Do you have any tips for leaving the cold weather behind? Fire away in the comments below!

About Greg

Greg Johnson is a proud husband, father, and debt crusader who is in the process of becoming debt free. He is the co-founder of the personal finance website Club Thrifty, where he brings the awesome sauce each and every day.


  1. A couple of years ago when my wife and I were in Barbados on a cruise, we talked with a cab driver about living on that island. He said he had never been to the U.S. and had never seen snow. He mentioned that once the temperature on the island got into the high 50s and everyone that thought that was really cold…were walking around in jackets and scarves and making fires to stay warm. I found that really funny for some reason. Guess climate and temperature is relative based on your situation.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted..Grappling With the “Should I Retire Early?” QuestionMy Profile

  2. Awesome tips, Greg. Rick and I talk often about buying a winter place down south after the debt is gone and the savings are cushy. The older we get, the more we hate it here during winter.
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted..The Dangers of Short-Sighted VisionMy Profile

  3. Looks like for now I will have to pretend : ) But I am working on getting a free, or at least reduced, vacation from credit card rewards. I do get jealous of those people on House Hunters International who move to the Caribbean. I can’t imagine that kind of weather year-round!
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..My Monthly Budget BreakdownMy Profile

  4. I probably sound pretty lame in saying this, but every single year about this time my wife and I start talking about moving to San Diego. Winter is just so long and boring here in St. Louis. It seems to go forever. It’s crazy for me to think that half the country is even colder!
    jefferson @See Debt Run recently posted..Why You Should Stop Complaining at WorkMy Profile

  5. Moving to the Caribbean is sounding more and more appealing as we suffer through so many days of frigid temps! At least we get to look forward to a trip to St. Maarten this April, (mostly) courtesy of my hubby’s job. Can’t beat work trips to tropical islands!! Well, unless you’re going there to not work- but hey, that’s not as cheap :-)
    Dee @ Color Me Frugal recently posted..Reflections on 3 Months of BloggingMy Profile

  6. Some day, when I have the money, I think I’ll become a snowbird. I just need one or two weekends of winter a year, then I’m ready for spring.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted..The Danger of Doing What You LoveMy Profile

  7. Haha, love the pretending tip. Sometimes that’s all we’ve got. We may end up moving to Florida and I have to say that while there are many reasons I would be sad to do so, year-round warm weather would certainly be nice. Though that also means crazy hot summers, which I’m not such a fan of. There’s always a trade off. Unless you live in San Diego.

  8. My budget only allows me to pretend that I am someplace warm. Last night, after shoveling again, I spent a very long time in a very hot bath. I even drained some of the water when it cooled and added more hot. My water usage rates just went up 3% so this was a major indulgence.

    I am surrounded by coworkers who are getting ready to head south or are just coming back but I know that most of them didn’t save up to go. I would only go if I could pay up front. Vacations shouldn’t be on the credit card.
    jane savers @ solving the money puzzle recently posted..Can A Canadian Celebrate HELOC Freedom On Independence Day?My Profile

  9. Lol, love the pretending tip. My in-laws are in San Diego so we live vicariously through them when we have the crazy subzero temps. We’ll be going there this summer, but it’ll likely be cooler there than it will be here at the time. ;)
    John S @ Frugal Rules recently posted..What is an Emergency Fund Really For?My Profile

  10. I’m from PA and we’ve been having a brutal winter too- so over it! I spent a few years living in Florida, and if it weren’t for family in PA, I’d consider moving back in a heartbeat. Vacations will have to do for now :/
    Lauren recently posted..Do You Have Unclaimed Property?My Profile

  11. I was born in the Caribbean and I love it there but the summers are rough. I don’t think I could live there year round. I love visiting during the winter months so I like the idea of being a snowbird. Maybe renting out a place for a few weeks sounds nice.
    Raquel@Practical Cents recently posted..Emergency Fund: Why Every Homeowner Needs OneMy Profile

  12. I’m just trying to accept winter and maybe enjoy some winter activities. Well, I *was* until it got so cold that my face got numb as soon as I walked out the door. BAH.
    Pamela recently posted..The power of networkingMy Profile

  13. Great idea! Winter vacations are a must do. I never lived in a super cold climate until I went to college in WNY (near Buffalo). That first winter was quite a shock to the sister as was driving in that snow.

    I love the South (more the NC – Georgia faction) and appreciate the mild winters but fact that you really do have all four seasons. I just can’t get on-board with West Coast living. My little sister is in LA and people think I’m crazy when I say I’m not a fan of the climate. I like pants, long sleeves and a crisp fall breeze.
    Broke Millennial recently posted..Happy First Birthday, Broke MillennialMy Profile

  14. Funny story- My husband had NO clue what a “snow bird” was. I had to explain it. As I was telling him (we were on vacation at the time), came up to us later to tell us they overheard our conversation and told us that “snow bird” was a mean term. They were totally nice about it, but I felt so bad! Who knew!
    Michelle @fitisthenewpoor recently posted..Debt Repayment ConfessionMy Profile

  15. Wow 2 winter related posts! You guys definitely need to escape this polar vortex! And take me with you…it’s only January and I’m tired of winter. I hear there’s record breaking temps out in balmy Alaska. Let’s go there.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted..Is This Still the Land of Opportunity?My Profile

  16. When we first arrived in AZ, I thought the snowbird thing was ridiculous. Now, I want to become one in FIRE: living somewhere that’s temperate from April – September, and coming back to AZ from October – March. Growing up in Pittsburgh, I realized immediately that winter (and, heck, Fall too) is overrated. We don’t want to pay the prices to live in a place like San Diego, which just has a year-round spring/summer…so maybe jumping back and forth is our ticket.
    Done by Forty recently posted..How We Used Mental Accounting to Pay Off Our MortgageMy Profile

  17. I absolutely hate winter and I really hope that we’ll either be able to move somewhere where it’s warm for 12 months or afford going on vacations in warm places. I was also considering buying a sunlight lamp – I tend to get pretty depressed during the winters and we’re starting to get temperatures around 10 degrees Fahrenheit and I feel a depression incoming :))
    C. the Romanian recently posted..Why I Might Never Become a MillionaireMy Profile

  18. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time in South Texas (where a lot of snowbirds go in winter), but the older I get, the more I hate the hot weather – I’m loving the temps in DC right now (as long as the power stays on!)
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted..Student Loan #1 Paid Off!My Profile

  19. It would be really nice to live in a warmer client. Then I wouldn’t have to spend 20 minutes heating up the car before I can go any where. Or struggling to put on layers of clothes on Emmett. These are just some of the things I would have realized before having a baby in a cold climate.
    Jennifer @ Budgeting in Baby recently posted..Somedays all you need to do is ask for helpMy Profile

  20. I’m definitely moving somewhere warmer in 2 years. I can’t stand these long Canadian winters!
    Deia @ Nomad Wallet recently posted..3 Studies Reveal Why Budgets FailMy Profile

  21. I don’t mind the winter. I don’t really get why people living up north get so much grief for having to deal with winters. IMO it’s no different than those that live down south who have to deal with 100 degree temps all summer long!
    The First Million is the Hardest recently posted..Should We Combine Finances After Our Wedding?My Profile

  22. Wait until you’re 40! You’ll hate cold. I like to ski, but 6 months of cold is not worth a few ski days. I think we’re headed to Phoenix or Las Vegas when the kiddo is through school.
    Kim@Eyesonthedollar recently posted..Costs of a College EducationMy Profile

  23. Well you know I’m going to veto the whole live in the Caribbean idea. I honestly have not missed it one day!!! But then again I wasn’t there on vacation which would be much nicer than dealing with day to day life there haha.
    Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) recently posted..Pregnant During Winter? Here Are Some Money Tips!My Profile

  24. I combat winter head on. I play outside and love it. Of course, I don’t have the Minnesota winters I grew up with. They are much milder, but can still be chilly.
    Elroy recently posted..Federal Income Taxes – All the options to fileMy Profile

  25. LeRainDrop says:

    Well, I thought by moving to Atlanta I’d be avoiding the terrible winter weather, but this year has been just awful! Lots of record cold temps, and a “snow storm” today that completely wreaked havoc on the roads, causing massive traffic and no way for the sanders to get through, now declared a state of emergency. I’m talking people in my office in the city with multi-hour commutes home tonight! Multiple people in the 7-8 hour range, one drove for 10 hours and then parked and walked for another hour, and one who is still going now, 11 hours after leaving the office! I’m really looking forward to my trip to LA in a couple weeks :-)

    • I was just reading about that! Snow in Atlanta!!! LOL I bet people were freaking out!!!

      Have fun in L.A.!

      • LeRainDrop says:

        Thanks! They sure were! It seems like every school, business, and government office closed at 1 p.m. yesterday, which totally flooded the streets with cars all at once. Fortunately, I live within walking distance of my office, so got home in like 5 minutes. I’m got a text from my one friend who arrived home at 1:45 a.m., having left the office at 1:20 p.m. Another couple partners who drove for 10 to 11 hours and then walked the last couple miles home. Lots of people still stuck out on the roads since yesterday afternoon.

  26. MMMmmmmmm…. Move to the Caribbean…. There’s something about this cold weather up in MA that makes me want to pack up all of our friends and family and buy an island in the Caribbean… Collectively I’m sure we could get enough money together. What do you say? Grab a dozen PF bloggers and our families and make it happen! ;)
    Nick @ Step Away from the Mall recently posted..The experience experiment.My Profile

  27. We’re headed to Mexico in two weeks and I can’t wait. We’ve never been and with all this cold weather in the North East we’re dying to get away and warm up a little bit. Just anticipating the trip and thinking about how much nicer it will be in Cancun makes me feel better about being here in the cold now.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster? 15 Prepping TipsMy Profile

  28. Have you guys heard of the Evergreen B&B Club? It provides a fantastic way to get away from the cold for a long time because the cost of lodgings is less than $25 per night per couple. (Yes, I said $25!) OK, yes, I’m the club’s PR coordinator, but when I came upon Club Thrifty, I knew I had to share the info at least in the comments section. Here’s the thing: For a membership fee of only $75 per year, you can stay in fellow members’ homes — often in rarely used guest rooms — for a $25 or less gratuity to the host. And this includes breakfast each morning. There are over 2000 members across the US and Canada, so the travel options are wide-spread. One couple in Minnesota, for example, who has been a Club member for many years, leaves the cold and snow there for 2 months every year. They can afford to do so because they stay at fellow members’ homes wherever they go. And there’s more to it than just cost. Take a minute and check out Thrifty Snowbirds will get glad they did!


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