During the winter months, Arizona is home to a very specific population. "Snowbirds," or people who escape the cold climates of the Midwest and Canada to enjoy warmer weather for a few months, flock to Arizona every year.
In fact, according to Arizona State University's Center for Business Research, approximately 300,000 people journeyed to The Grand Canyon State in the winter of 2003-2004, the last time the center conducted the survey. If you are one of these people, you are in good company.
If you are new to the snowbird lifestyle, you may have some concerns about how to maintain a seasonal home. Most people who winter in Phoenix stay between three and six months. This means that for six to nine months of the year, your seasonal home might be unoccupied. When you arrive back at your home away from home, it's important that you do a full examination of the property to make sure everything is in working order and not infiltrated by unwanted guests.
Check the premises
The first thing you may want to do after your long trip back to your summer home is take a relaxing nap. However, you may want to double check to make sure everything is in the condition in which you left it last spring. Examine all the windows, doors and other openings to make sure they didn't suffer any damage while you were away. If they have, arrange for these to be repaired right away. Also, look for any subsequent damage this could have caused, such as:
- Shattered glass
- Water infiltration, leading to mold
- Insects, rodents or other animals living in your home
If you have a fireplace in your home, be sure to have it checked out as well. Debris or animals caught in the chimney could cause havoc the next time you try to light a fire.
Your air conditioning unit hasn't been in operation in the better part of a year, but it is an important part of life in Phoenix. Check this to make sure it is still functioning well and will keep you cool this winter.
Also make sure your water is flowing well through your pipes. Ensure your water heater is working correctly and the water in all faucets looks normal. It's also a good idea to check for leaks. In the months you were gone, it's possible an old pipe took a turn for the worse and now needs to be fixed. It's better to discover this at the beginning of the season than to waste water and money throughout your vacation.
When you turned off your electricity, you probably unplugged or otherwise disconnected all of your appliances. When you flip the electricity back on, go back and plug everything back in. Double check to make sure everything is working. If something is not, it could be the item itself or it could be an issue with the wiring in the home. Be sure to have any electrical problems inspected by a professional.
Spring cleaning in the winter
While you were away, the curtains were drawn, the house was dark and dust collected. When you open your home for the season, be sure to dust, vacuum and clean all surfaces. This is especially important if you have allergies.
American Premier Insurance Agency explained that dirty windows can keep 20 percent of the sunlight from entering your home. The sunshine is likely one of the reasons that drew you to Phoenix in the first place, so be sure to let the light shine in.
Your curtains probably collected a good deal of dust, so be sure to clean them, too. House Cleaning Central suggested dusting from the top, down, and explained it is important to focus on the hems and seams of the curtains, because excess dust will collect here. Be sure to dust your curtains before sweeping or vacuuming the rest of the room - the dust from the curtains will fall on the floor. Also, don't forget to dust both sides of the curtains before you're done.
Don't forget to stock up on groceries at the beginning of the season. If you had any nonperishable items waiting for you, be sure to check their expiration dates before opening them and examining the containers to make sure no creatures treated themselves to your snacks last summer.
Once you have your refrigerator plugged in and confirmed it is running well, fill it up with essentials like milk, eggs, fruits, vegetables and bottles of water.
If you would rather have some of these tasks completed for you before you arrive, there are other ways to accomplish this. If you know your neighbors, ask if they would be willing to check off some of these tasks in exchange for a favor later on. Some cleaning services might also be willing to come in a few days before you arrive to tidy up your home. Just make sure there is a key available for them to use. Once your home is clean and everything is working properly, you are all ready to begin enjoying your warm winter away.