Apache Junction + 7 other Arizona cities makes 2021 list for Best US Places for Snowbirds & Zoombirds.


The season of the snowbirds is upon us again! And one of the best places to welcome snowbirds and ‘zoombirds’ – of all ages – this year is Phoenix Metro, which ranks with seven cities in our top 100 best destinations for snowbirds.

In order to find the best places in the US for winter visitors, StorageCafe researchers analyzed almost 1,000 cities based on 11 metrics, such as Oct.-Mar. average temperature, seasonal housing stock, the availability of beaches and park space per capita, internet speed, accessibility to health centers and more.

Here are the main highlights on the Phoenix metropolitan area:

  • Apache Junction (aka AJ) ranks 5th overall thanks to great October-March temperature (62 °F), 314 sq. ft. of park space per capita and six golf courses. It’s also the safest city in our top 100, and with around 40,000 residents it’s also a great place for fans of less-crowded places. 16% of the housing stock is dedicated to seasonal use.
  • Gilbert takes the 13th spot, partly due to a fast internet speed of 458 MBps. Snowbirds get access not only to great scenery but also to seven golf courses.
  • Mesa manages to take the 35th spot with 23 golf courses, an internet speed of 414 MBps and affordable self storage prices of $108/month – for the winter visitors who prefer to keep their belongings in storage when they are not snowbirding in the south.
92 Tucson, Arizona 59 3% $283,297 $1,115

Arizona: Winter sun, desert and mountains, plus a renter-friendly housing market

The Grand Canyon State has a drier heat than Florida that some people prefer, especially those who suffer from asthma and pulmonary diseases. And you get a different, perhaps less tourism-obsessed vibe here. The metropolitan area centered on the state’s capital, Phoenix — the Valley of the Sun — is a magnet for snowbirds. In addition, the geography in this part of the country is enjoyably varied — just escape to the mountains when the desert gets too hot. Prices are reasonable and Phoenix storage units rent for an average of $118. Arizona has eight destinations in our top 100.

Apache Junction, our #5 snowbird destination, has around 40,000 residents and the dramatic Superstition Mountains nearby. There are six golf courses, and its average October-March temperature of 62 °F is typical for the area. It ranks higher for safety than any other top-100 snowbird destination. The average rent here is reasonable at $1,158, while the current house price figure is $329,673.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction, AZ

Gilbert, with a population of around a quarter of a million, is another Metro Phoenix town. Visitors enjoy its proximity to the state capital and its attractions, and zoombirds appreciate its fast internet speed of 458 MBps. Snowbirds get access not only to great scenery but also to seven golf courses. For other entertainment, especially for families, there are the Gilbert Regional and Desert Sky parks.

Mesa is right next door to Gilbert and even closer to the center of Phoenix. The share of housing dedicated to seasonal use is 8% — that works out as a lot of snowbird accommodation in this city of around half a million residents. Internet speed is 414 MBps, making it a good place for zoombirds, and there are no fewer than 23 golf courses here. The average rent is $1,391 and a self storage unit costs $108 monthly.

Report by Storagecafe

Christine Vogt, Emeritus Professor, Arizona State University, School of Community Resources & Development

What US destinations would you recommend to snowbirds in 2021-22?

Snowbirds like sun and warmer temperatures. So states in the southern part of the U.S. are generally most popular with snowbirds. Wildfires, smoke, and weather are other considerations that snowbirds are likely to consider in 2021-22. Covid rates and vaccination rates continue to be a concern for all travelers. States with higher vaccination rates and public health policies to protect the public are more likely to be preferred by those who are vaccinated. Southern California and Southern Nevada would be winter choices. For those not vaccinated and less supportive of COVID measures Texas and Florida would be attractive. Travelers should also be aware of hospital capacities if any health concerns come about on a winter stay in a new community.

Christine Vogt, Emeritus Professor, Arizona State University, School of Community Resources & Development

Philip Xie, Professor of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management, Bowling Green State University, School of Human Movement, Sport, & Leisure Studies

What US destinations would you recommend to snowbirds in 2021-22?

There are two types of US destinations recommended for snowbirds in 2021-22: (1) traditional destinations located in warmer places in the Sun Belt including Florida and Arizona, such as Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Panama City, Tucson and Phoenix. These destinations have an excellent infrastructure, well-established retirement communities and winter vacation rentals for snowbirds; and (2) emerging destinations beyond Florida and Arizona. For example, the growing popularity of Coastal Mississippi, parts of California and South Carolina have drawn snowbirds to find affordable housing with rich culture and natural beauty. These destinations are perfect for the snowbird seeking warm weather without the crowds of some retirement communities. Affordability is also a major factor for snowbirds to choose a suitable spot.

Philip Xie, Professor of Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management, Bowling Green State University, School of Human Movement, Sport, & Leisure Studies

Fang Meng, Ph.D., Professor, School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, University of South Carolina

What US destinations would you recommend to snowbirds in 2021-22?

Florida is always one of the top states for snowbirds, as well as California and Arizona. South Carolina and Texas would be more budget friendly for snowbirds. Other Sun Belt states such as New Mexico, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia are also good choices.

Fang Meng, Ph.D., Professor, School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, University of South Carolina

Report by Storagecafe

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