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Pandemic Ushers in a New Breed of Movers: Snowmads, Zoombirds

March 9, 2021

As remote work grows during the pandemic, so has the flexibility to move more freely. For some remote workers, that has meant taking their laptops and heading to home rentals along the beach.

Some are testing out new spots of the country by booking Airbnbs or short-term rentals in warmer destinations during the winter. The short-term rental site Vrbo reports these “snowmads” are often targeting vacation homes in warmer climates like Arizona, California, and Florida—where long-term stays have been stretching 15 days or more.

This pattern of heading to warmer climates in the winter was once reserved mostly for retirees. Now, it’s becoming an alluring possibility for the growing remote workforce who are no longer tethered to an office.

“An increasing number of digital nomads have decided to join in the snowbird migration since they realized they can work from anywhere, so why not do it from places with warm weather and plenty of beaches and natural parks?” Maria Gates, a senior editor with StorageCafe, told MarketWatch. Another term catching on to describe these groups is “zoombirds.”

Furthermore, as many children continue with remote school this winter, they are heading to these destinations with their families.

“If your employer is willing to let you work elsewhere temporarily, then it’s an opportunity to live in ‘that destination’ that you’d always hoped to check out, so shopping around for short-term rentals or furnished Airbnbs are a great option to consider until (hopefully) things return to a new normal,” Christopher Norton,  a snowmad from New York who works in the financial industry, told MarketWatch. Norton says his work flexibility has allowed him to move to the San Diego area temporarily during the pandemic.

Places like the Atlantic Hotel & Spa on Fort Lauderdale Beach in Florida, a beachfront hotel, have seen a large uptick in long-term stay bookings this past fall and winter. Twenty percent of rooms are booked for 14 nights or more and 10% of guests are booking extended stays of 30 nights or more.

“Having seen an influx of guests staying for over a month during the wintertime, I foresee this trend extending into the summer months and well past the pandemic,” Samuel Atwood, a general manager of The Atlantic Hotel & Spa, told MarketWatch. “Hotels everywhere will continue to adjust their offerings to cater to guests navigating this new world.”

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