Art & Judy Devlin - Drive to Brownsville

Fall 2005 CSANews Issue 56  |  Posted date : May 23, 2007.Back to list

Q: What enticed you to spend your winters in the south?
A: Those cold and dreary winters in the north. We love new adventures and meeting new people.

Q: Where do you spend your winters in the south?
A: During our first year as snowbirds we spent six weeks in Hawaii and four weeks in Oxnard, California at the Radisson Resort on a Canadian Snowbird Golf Package Holiday. Our second year we rented a condo in Mesa, Arizona for six weeks and returned to the Radisson for our four week Golf Package. In our third year we travelled across Canada, drove through the Maritimes in the fall and headed south to a condo we rented in Myrtle Beach. Then as winter settled in, we went further south to Florida and stayed in nine different retirement communities for periods of three to seven days in order to get a clear picture of the options that Florida has to offer for long term visitors.

Q: Did you end up finding something you liked?
A: We found a nice community in Nokomis, Florida, between Sarasota and Venice, and we rented a mobile home there for the next ten years.

Q: So, Florida is where you like to spend the winter.
A: Well, it was, but two years ago we decided to try Texas for a change.

Q: Well, you have obviously entertained several winter resident lifestyle options. Which one have you found to be the most suitable?
A: We have bought a 16' X 68' mobile in Palm Resaca Park, Brownsville, Texas.

Q: What factors did you consider in making the decision to own or rent?
A: Each has its own merit. We have been fortunate to have found good value both ways. When we were in Florida for ten years we rented below market value because we did a lot of work to keep up the property for the owner – an older lady that appreciated having responsible, hassle-free tenants that took care of her property. After two years of renting in Texas, we decided to try turning our winter lifestyle into an investment. The homes in our community are a good value, our park is well managed and is owned by the residents, it is under excellent management, and that keeps the expenses down. The low U.S. dollar also contributed as a stimulant to buy. In the last two years we have seen it drop from 1.58 CAD to 1.22 CAD.

Q: Has it been a reasonable investment?
A: We expect it will be, as housing values are increasing, the population is growing and we expect the U.S. dollar will grow stronger as well.

Q: Do you drive south
A: Yes!

Q: How do you get there?
A: We drive straight south from Kelowna to Las Vegas, stay a few days in Laughlin, take the I-10 East to San Antonio and then head south to Brownsville, Texas.

Q: What kind of vehicle do you like to travel in?
A: We have a full size 4 Door Mercury Grand Marquis with a big trunk!

Q: What do you do for recreation down south?
A: Both of us like to golf three days week. We bought a package that lets us play a round of golf for $6.74 per game for fifty-three games. It is a first-class public facility and there is virtually no waiting! We like to go to the beach two days a week at South Padre Island – fabulous! We also like to go to the dances in our community and at the city facility.

Q: How much do your recreational activities cost?
A: We spend an average of $44 CAD per day.

Q: What happens to your home in Canada?
A: It sits empty in our retirement community. We could rent it out easily, but we haven't yet.

Q: Does your family watch your home or do you pay for a house sitting service?
A: Four community residents share the responsibility and check in on our home for $1.00 a day. Incidentally, 25% of the residents in our community go down south for the winter as well.

Q: Do friends and family visit you at your southern home?
A: They did in Florida during the ten years we stayed there. It was one of the reasons we went there in the first place. So we would be able to entertain our eastern relatives and friends.

Q: How often and for how long did your guests typically stay?
A: The time varied. But on average 1 day to 2 weeks max.

Q: Do you have a social network at your southern home?
A: Yes, we have met a lot of new friends in two years. People in the south are very caring and go out of their way to get you involved in community activities, as well as in the park.

Q: What kind of people do you typically spend time with down south? Are they Canadian? Are they American? Are they snowbirds or winter residents?
A: All three. We found little distinction between the locals and the visitors and are involved with all types.

Q: Do you keep up with Canadian news when you are down south?
A: Yes, by phone, both east to west and we attend a monthly Canadian Breakfast. Friends in the park also keep you up to date. But, it is also nice to forget some of the politics we left behind in Canada.

Trip Details
Trip Length: 126 Days
Distance: 2,739 Miles/4,382 Km.
Travel Gas: $1,247 USD/$1,559 CAD
Hotel: $700 USD/$875 CAD
Rent: $3,629 USD/$4,536 CAD
Insurance: $783 USD/$979 CAD
Recreation: $4,435 USD/$5,544 CAD
Total: $10,794 USD/$13,493 CAD