Maintaining multiple properties is a joy — especially if one of your homes is located south of the border. Travellers from all areas of the country call the States home for many months of the year. With warm weather and plenty of space on the golf course year-round, it’s no wonder why so many people choose to trade frigid winter chills for the cool breeze and comfortable surroundings of warmer states.
Being a snowbird is a lifestyle, and you need to have your home taken care of when you’re ready to head back to the south. At Yardly, we know that managing two homes is quite the juggling act. Many of our customers ask us for tips and advice on getting their property all squared away before they leave town. How do you close up a home for the winter? We’ve compiled this list of helpful suggestions that provide direction on seasonal property preparation.
Table of contents
- Snowbird Checklist
- 1. Get Your Home in Order
- 2. Stop Your Mail and Deliveries
- 3. Let Your Neighbors, Close Friends, and the Police Know You’ll Be Gone
- 4. Hire a Snow Removal and Lawn Care Service
- 5. Consider Outdoor Pest Control Services
- 6. Enroll in Auto Billing for Utilities
- 7. Bring All Outdoor Possessions Inside
- 8. Close Blinds and Open Doors Throughout the Home
- 9. Get a Furnace Checkup Before You Leave
- 10. Unplug All Appliances
- 11. Get Rid of All Perishable Foods
- 12. Air Seal Your Home and Consider a Roof Inspection
- 13. Secure Your Waterfront Area or Perimeter
- 14. Trim Your Trees
- 15. Clean Your Interior
- 16. Make a List of Valuables to Pack Weeks Before You Leave
- 17. Take Photographs or Video for Peace of Mind
- 18. Double-Check Your List Before You Leave
- 19. Have an Emergency Plan
- 20. Install Smart Security
- Don’t Get Overwhelmed!
- How Yardly Can Help
- Other Snowbird Tips
Closing up your home for the winter may seem like a daunting task — but don’t worry! The following 20 snowbird tips for securing your home while you’re away will help you make caring for your home a breeze.
1. Get Your Home in Order
Before you leave your house, you need to make sure everything is in order. We suggest cleaning and organizing your home as well as possible. Strip the beds and put away all laundry. Store all items that are not decors, such as blankets, books or magazines, tools, dishware, and other miscellaneous possessions. By storing these items before you lock up, you’ll know exactly where they are when you return. And don’t forget to turn off the water to the outside, keeping your pipes free of water will reduce issues that may occur on cold winter days.
2. Stop Your Mail and Deliveries
This is one house care tip many seasonal travellers forget. While most homeowners will remember to have their mail forwarded, others will completely forget about their recurring deliveries. This is especially true for newspaper deliveries, as they operate separately from the Postal Service, and can give the appearance that no one is collecting them. If you’re an Amazon or other delivery service user, make sure you update your address on your profile so all of your shipped items will go to the home you’re currently in.
3. Let Your Neighbors, Close Friends, and the Police Know You’ll Be Gone
When you’re away from home, it’s always nice to have others lookout for your property. This can help give you peace of mind, and it will also empower someone to act on your behalf should you be unable to get to your home when necessary.
If you have a trusting relationship with your neighbours, ask them to keep an eye on your home while you’re gone. You can also ask trusted friends or family members to drive by periodically to make sure everything is intact. If you would like someone to go inside your home occasionally, make sure you provide them with a key and a guest code to your alarm system so they can get in and out with ease.
It’s also never a bad idea to let the local law enforcement station in your neighbourhood know that you’ll be away. Many of these police stations are happy to know the situation. Should there be an unfortunate event like a fire, break-in or storm damage, they can let all emergency service personnel know that no one is residing in your home currently
4. Hire a Snow Removal and Lawn Care Service
We know, this is important and of course what we do at Yardly. We are here to make sure your home looks cared for. We want you to have peace of mind and for that reason, we remove snow the same day it snows, even at trace levels. We always provide a picture demonstrating quality and providing you with an updated photo of your home. Get your online quote today!
5. Consider Outdoor Pest Control Services
With cold temperatures throughout the year, there’s a good chance that pests will make their way from your yard to your home’s perimeter not long after you’re gone. You want to make sure no insects or other critters make their way into your home while you’re gone. Many pest control services specialize in the types of insects, spiders and small animals that frequent your area. They have the solutions available to prevent everything from ants and spiders to rodents and birds from turning your house into their own.
6. Enroll in Auto Billing for Utilities
Many homeowners choose to keep their electricity and water on while they’re away. You could request that your bills are sent to your northern home, but this will increase the time it takes to pay your bills since you need to wait for the mail to get to and from your southern home. Instead, we recommend that you sign up for auto-billing services so that you can pay them on time, every time. You can still opt to receive paper statements in the mail or handle all transactions and information online.
7. Bring All Outdoor Possessions Inside
Closing up your home for the winter will likely have you focused on everything inside of your home, making it easy to forget the possessions you have in your yard or on your patio, deck or balcony. You absolutely need to remember to pull all of these items into your garage or home before you leave. Your lawn furniture and decor could get stolen or damaged or worse, become projectiles during heavy wind storms and cause damage to other people or property.
8. Close Blinds and Open Doors Throughout the Home
Here are two more tasks that can easily slip your mind — closing the blinds and curtains on your windows and leaving your interior doors open. Leaving interior doors open allows air to flow through the home, keeping the whole house at a consistent temperature without overtaxing your heating system. Closing your blinds and curtains enhances your privacy and limits the amount of direct sunlight streaming into a room. The sun will increase the room’s temperature, and UV rays can also damage carpets and furniture when exposed for longer periods.
9. Get a Furnace Checkup Before You Leave
When you close up your home for the winter, most choose to leave your furnace system running. Many other homeowners will do this and set the thermostat to a level that keeps the house comfortable without costing too much money. No one wants to pay high utility bills for a home they’re not living in, which is why we recommend getting your system serviced before you leave.
Annual furnace check-ups will assess your entire system to make sure everything is in proper working order. Components will be cleaned, repaired and replaced if necessary. Another option for your snowbird maintenance checklist may be to have your ducts cleaned at the same time. You may also consider purchasing a smart thermostat that you can program to maintain your home’s temperature while you’re away.
10. Unplug All Appliances
Another great way to protect your most important and costly investments is to unplug your appliances. Television sets, toasters, lamps, microwaves and other machines do not need to receive power while you’re away. Either unplug them from their wall outlet or shut off the breakers to those rooms. If you need to keep your appliances plugged in, consider purchasing surge protectors to protect them in the event of a power surge.
11. Get Rid of All Perishable Foods
A couple of weeks before your exit date, you should start cooking your meals with the perishable food currently in your home. Even if you only have a little, you’d be surprised how many meals you can get out of just a few items in your refrigerator or freezer. Eating your food will prevent you from wasting it and ensure that nothing is left to spoil while you’re gone.
If you choose not to eat some of the non-perishable foods in your pantry, consider donating it to a local food bank or other charity. These centers are vital resources for many families throughout your town.
12. Air Seal Your Home and Consider a Roof Inspection
If you’re planning on leaving your furnace unit running while you’re away, you should ensure that you’re not wasting money warming a home that is gaining heat and losing air throughout the day. Small cracks and holes around your windows and doors allow heat to seep out and cold air to seep in, increasing your utility bill. Enlist a professional to assess your home and seal it appropriately.
Many roofing companies offer what we consider to be the perfect property package for people who travel during the winter. They’ll assess your roof for damages, evaluate your insulation levels and air seal your home. Each of these actions can regulate your home’s temperature. Annual roof inspections are also smart services to schedule to ensure your home is prepared for hurricane season.
13. Secure Your Waterfront Area or Perimeter
Though this doesn’t apply to all homeowners, one house care tip many travellers forget is to secure the areas bordering the water. This includes canals, rivers, lakes, oceans and even swimming pools and hot tubs. For swimming pools and hot tubs ensure you are draining them well in advance of leaving your home. Make sure all entryways to the pool/hot tub are locked as well.
For natural waterside spaces, clear any trash or major debris along your shoreline. You also want to make sure that your dock, boathouse or other structure is secured and safe. You may want to consider extending your property’s fence up to the waterline to deter others from trespassing.
14. Trim Your Trees
While we do suggest that you hire a landscaping service to tend to get any trees on your property trimmed before you leave. This is especially important for any branches that hang over your home, shed, driveway or sidewalk. Trimming them before the winter season limits the likelihood of your trees causing property or personal damage. Consider calling an arborist for advice.
15. Clean Your Interior
It may sound silly to clean your entire house only to leave it empty for a few months, but we believe it’s an important snowbird maintenance task. Obviously, cleaning your home will ensure that no debris or mould is left to sit. However, cleaning the house also forces you to look closely at certain areas of your home. You may discover minor damages like leaks that could become major hassles while you’re away. Cleaning your home is a way to make sure you won’t encounter surprises upon returning.
16. Make a List of Valuables to Pack Weeks Before You Leave
If home is where the heart is, then your fondness for your home extends to two properties. As a snowbird, it’s natural that you’d fill your home with possessions of monetary and personal value. You should have an evolving list of the valuables in your home and which ones you’ll need to take with you. These items are based on your personal preference, but we suggest at least packing jewelry, identification like social security cards, driver’s license and passports, physical cash and photographs.
If you don’t plan on taking these with you, consider storing them in a safe space. Purchase a waterproof, fireproof safe for your home or rent a safety deposit box at your local Florida bank to make sure these items remain safe and secure.
17. Take Photographs or Video for Peace of Mind
Whether you bring your valuables with you to your southern home or not, you should consider taking digital photographs or videos of your home. In an emergency, you can reference anything that’s damaged or missing. These images — including those showing a secured and organized home — may be useful if you need to submit a claim to an insurance company or file a police report.
18. Double-Check Your List Before You Leave
Preparing to move south is a process that may take you a few weeks. With so much to do before you leave, a list becomes a valuable resource. Even if you believe that you’ve checked off everything on your Snowbird Homes Preparation List, we encourage you to review it at least one more time. Trust us — it’s easy to forget the simplest tasks like making sure every window is locked, especially if some of these to-dos are those you’ll only do once or twice a year.
19. Have an Emergency Plan
Unfortunately, there’s always a possibility of an emergency occurring at your home. When you’re hundreds or even thousands of miles away from your home, dealing with an emergency can cause a lot of stress and overwhelm your family. We suggest having an emergency plan in place to handle these rare instances.
You should always have a family member, friend or trusted neighbour available and willing to respond to an emergency at your home until you can arrive. You should also have room set aside in your budget for last-minute transportation, lodging or any other costs you may need to incur should a fire, flood, burglary or other emergency happen at your home.
20. Install Smart Security
Smart security systems are dynamic and can be controlled from anywhere in the world, making them the perfect resource for people who travel during the winter. We suggest you install a system with features like motion sensors, video doorbells, exterior motion sensor lighting, window-break alerts and carbon monoxide detectors. These systems will notify you via your smartphone immediately when a break-in or accident has occurred. Many of these services also allow you to view the camera feed in real-time so you’ll always know what’s going on around your home.
Don’t Get Overwhelmed!
Closing up your home for the winter involves many steps, but it’s a process that doesn’t need to overwhelm you. With snowbird property preparation lists like this one, you can secure your home inside and out in no time at all.
How Yardly Can Help
Now that you’ve seen the appeal to heading south during the Canadian winter, you’ll need to get your ducks in a row at home. One headache that arises is property maintenance! Yardly’s here to help maintain your property with snow removal while you’re down south in Arizona. And, if you choose to stay longer we even offer yard care services including lawn mowing, weed control, and spring and fall clean ups. Request your free quote today!