Gord and Nancy Hopcraft: Drive to Panama City Beach

Summer 2005 CSANews Issue 55  |  Posted date : May 20, 2007.Back to list

In this and future issues of CSANews, we will go straight to the source
and ask snowbirds like you how they came to be, and why they continue
to live this unique way of life.

Q: What enticed you to spend your winters in the south?
A: The cold and snow enticed us to head south.

Q: How long do you like to spend down south each winter?
A: We stay for three months each year.

Q: How did your snowbird lifestyle start?
A: Six years ago, we decided that we would drive to Panama City Beach.

Q: What made you choose Panama City Beach as a winter home?
We chose that location because we do not like high humidity and because
we know many people who have visited the area and enjoyed the location.

Q: The first time you went to Panama City Beach, what was your game plan for finding a winter home?
A: We decided to go without accommodations and that we would return in a few weeks, if we didn't find a condo for rent.

Q: So, what happened, how did it work out?
When we arrived, I made appointments with a couple of rental agencies.
On the way to the first appointment, we stopped at an agency en route.
The agent told us that she had several condos for rent across from her
office. She handed us a key and said, "Go look at this one." We looked,
liked it and have been there for six winters.

Q: Why do you keep going back?
A: We like being right on the beach (on the Gulf of Mexico).

Q: How much does the residence cost on a monthly basis?
A: Rent is about $1,000.00 USD per month. Off the beach, you can rent a condo for much less.

Q: How much time do you give yourself for the journey south?
A: We spend three nights en route to the condo.

Q: What do you do for recreation down south?
We play cards, attend Happy Hours and Potluck Dinners. We arrange a
monthly trip to the casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Panama City Beach
has many golf courses in the area which charge VERY reasonable rates.
There is an activity centre at the beach, which many people use. There
are several activity courses to choose from and you pay for each course
on a monthly basis (about $30.00 per month plus materials, if needed).
For regular exercise, my husband plays shuffleboard and I go to Curves
gym at least three times a week.

Q: What is your family budget for recreation?
A: We spend about $20.00 a week for our activities. You can go to a movie for as little as $1.50!

Q: What arrangements do you make to care for your home in Canada?
A: We are lucky in that we have family and good neighbours to take care of our home while we are away.

Q: Do you continue to pay for services at your Canadian home?
A: We cancel many services while we are away, and we turn down the thermostat. This works out to be a savings.

Q: So, overall, do you think that it is an expensive lifestyle to be a snowbird?
Basically, the only additional living cost is rent, out-of-country
travel insurance and travelling to the location. Three months in the
south is cheaper for us than the two-week holidays we had while we

Trip Details
Trip Length: 90 Days
Distance: 1,651 Miles/2,642 Km.
Travel Gas: $541 USD/$660 CAD
Hotel: $420 USD/$525 CAD
Rent: $3,000 USD/$3,750 CAD
Insurance: $554 USD/$652 CAD
Recreation: $240 USD/$300 CAD
Total: $4,754 USD/$5,887 CAD