The Arizona Snowbirds Are Back!

They’re back. Groan! Lately I’ve seen the telltale return of the non-descript, taupe Buick Regals with Indiana license plates. Homes in my neighborhood that have been closed up for the last six months are once again becoming occupied and aired out. I’m trying to ignore the increasing numbers of shoppers  with “Corn Husker” baseball caps and “Ohio State” t-shirts on Senior Wednesday at our local grocery store.  The snowbirds have returned just like the swallows of Capistrano.

I’m going out on a limb with my blog post today, because it’s mine and I can. I don’t particularly care for snowbirds. For those of my dear readers who aren’t familiar with Arizona – snowbirds are the migrant senior visitors from northern locales such as Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, and North Dakota who flood the state, particularly Scottsdale, during the fall and winter months . Sorry for those who I offend, but they irritate me.

You may ask, why on Earth, would I have a problem with these kindly, aging, down-home, Midwesterners who contribute to our state’s economy. Here’s why.

In a nutshell, they’re fair weather friends – both figuratively and literally.

They breeze back to the state when it’s cool and comfortable casually picking up where they left off when they departed last spring – without a thought in their head that the rest of us have weathered the hellfire of summer. They owe us some respect.

They typically keep to themselves and don’t add much value to a community because they don’t invest the time to get to know the full-time residents. They bring their passion for their Midwest lifestyle here, flying their college football team banners, while the rest of us wonder why, if they have such spirit for their Midwest alma maters, aren’t they back home cheering on their teams.

When I moved to Arizona, I made a commitment. I didn’t do it half-ass. I bought into the whole program – heat, monsoons, scorpions, Valley Fever, dust storms and all. I built a life here, started a family here, grew a business here.  I contribute to the economy 12 months of the year, not five. I’m a neighbor even in July. I’m a registered Arizona voter.

Many argue that snowbirds are good for the economy. Is this really true? I’m not so sure. While they spend large amounts during the time that they are here, they are not contributing to the economy for much of the year. It seems to me that our economy would be better served by attracting full-time residents that contributed to the workforce and the economy all year long. However, to do this, there has to be more jobs, and this requires having an economy that’s based on more than just real estate, hospitality, and healthcare.  Whether that can ever be done, I have no idea. But, as long as Arizona has the reputation of being a snowbird state full of retirees wanting to escape the freezing winter weather, it may not be taken seriously by companies or educated, talented individuals thinking about relocating here.

So, we are now entering into the busy time when Scottsdale turns into the winter playground for our fair-weather friends from the Midwest. I will do my best to be kind when they haphazardly park their Buicks too close to my car in the grocery store parking lot.  I’ll even try to strike up a conversation with a few while I wait in line at Starbucks for my Venti iced tea (yes that was a plug). However, you will not see me cheering for Ohio State, and you will not catch me wearing a Corn Husker baseball cap.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Arizona Snowbirds Are Back!

  1. Kim

    Julie,

    Great post! I lived and worked in Florida for 12 years – the retirement capital of the south! And I completely agree with your sentiments. Specifically, I worked at Disney World and every winter we were bombarded with snowbirds trying to get the Florida “resident” ticket discounts. Um…if your driver’s license says Wisconsin, you’re not a Florida resident. 🙂

    I find myself either nodding in agreement with or cheering loudly for your blog posts! Love it – Take care,
    Kim

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