A Snowbirds Checklist

The weather is starting to get chilly, and your bags are packed to head south for the winter. Here are a few tips if you plan to be away from your primary residence for a few months.

The weather is starting to get chilly, and your bags are packed to head south for the winter. Here are a few tips if you plan to be away from your primary residence for a few months:

  • Bring/have access to certain legal documents, such as healthcare directives, in case of a medical emergency
  • Also on the medical idea — have a list of applicable prescriptions in case of emergency
  • If leaving a car behind — have a family member or friend run the car every so often
  • Arrange for snow removal
  • Depending on timing — also arrange for landscaping/mowing in addition to snow removal
  • Power outage alerts — if available, sign up for email alerts from your power provider on outages. Look into signing up for weather alerts of bad storms coming to the area where you live (i.e. smartphones have an application for this feature)
  • Store valuables in a safe or off-site in a safe deposit box or with family or friends
  • Forward your mail
  • Notify your utility companies that you will be away
  • Turn off exterior water
  • Turn off water to the washing machine
  • Give a key to the house to a family member, neighbor, or friend
  • Have a family member, neighbor, or friend come over and check on things periodically inside and out. A client once had a rubber water line blow that did $20,000 in water damage by the time he about it.
  • Notify the town police or a town official that you will be gone for an extended period of time (police will do more drive-bys and if your alarm goes off, they are aware you are not home).
  • Make sure timers are set for inside and outside lights. If possible, vary the inside light times (think “Home Alone”).
  • Put away and lock up external stuff like furniture, sheds, gates, etc.
  • Reset programmable thermostats so you keep the house cooler but not so cool as to cause a problem with frozen pipes
  • Have your calls forwarded from your home number to your cell or new number
  • For some people, it might be appropriate to install external cameras. The price of such systems has come way down, and the house can be monitored over the Internet through a simple app.