Owning multiple properties is a joy — especially if one of your homes is located within Florida’s gorgeous coastline. Travelers from all areas of the country call the Sunshine State home for many months of the year. With warm weather and plenty of space on the sand year-round, it’s no wonder why so many men and women choose to trade frigid winter chills for the cool breeze and comfortable waters surrounding the state. People who travel to warmer areas during the winter, and frequently own a second home, are sometimes known as snowbirds.
Though we know you never want to leave, you need to have your Florida home taken care of when you’re ready to head back to the north. At Banko Overhead Doors, 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 Florida home for the summer? We’ve compiled this list of helpful suggestions that provide direction on seasonal property management.
Snowbird Checklist Florida
Closing up your Florida home for the summer may seem like a daunting task — but worry not! Living in Florida means living easy. The following 25 snowbird tips for securing your Florida 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 decor, 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.
2. Stop Your Mail and Deliveries
This is one house care tip many seasonal travelers 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 separate from the United States 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 look out 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 neighbors, 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 neighborhood know that you’ll be away. Many of these police and sheriff stations are happy to perform occasional checkups by driving around your street. 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 Lawn Care Service
If you’ve lived in Florida for more than one year, you know that our summer rains are fierce! Within two weeks after you leave, your lawn will surely be overgrown or at least higher than what’s considered acceptable by many neighborhood standards. We suggest that you hire a lawn care service to mow your lawn once every week or two. You can also schedule them for edging and trimming every month to ensure all of your landscape remains presentable while you’re away.
5. Consider Outdoor Pest Control Services
With warm temperatures throughout the year, there’s a good chance that pests will make their way from your lawn to your home’s perimeter not long after you’re gone. Though a lawn care company will help you limit the types of insects roaming through your yard, you also 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 termites 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 mail to get to and from Florida. 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 Florida home for the summer 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 cool without overtaxing your HVAC 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 an HVAC Checkup Before You Leave
When you close up your Florida home for the summer, you may choose to leave your HVAC 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 HVAC checkups 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. With the potential for hurricanes every year, these goods will also be available for those impacted by storm damage.
12. Air Seal Your Home and Consider a Roof Inspection
If you’re planning on leaving your HVAC unit running while you’re away, you should ensure that you’re not wasting money cooling 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 in and cold air to seep out, 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 management package for people who travel during the summer. 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 travelers forget is to secure the areas bordering water. This includes canals, rivers, lakes, oceans and even swimming pools. For swimming pools, cover above ground pools and consider draining in-ground pools if you’re going to be gone for more than six months. Make sure all entryways to these pools 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 your grass and bushes, we also recommend that you 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 hurricane season limits the likelihood of your trees causing property or personal damage.
Another thing to note — depending on the health of a tree, some property owners may be responsible for damages caused by a tree located on a neighboring property. This Florida law surprises a lot of residents, especially when they discover that they have to pay for damages incurred by a tree that they have no control over. 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 mold 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 Florida 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 northern home or not, you should consider taking digital photographs or video of your Florida 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 back up north 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 Florida 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 Florida 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 neighbor 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 Florida 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 to Florida 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.
21. Invest in Reinforced Windows
Most Florida homeowners know the value in a new set of windows. If you still have the original single-pane windows in your Florida home, we recommend that you consider replacing them with new models. Today’s windows lend you plenty of benefits. Many of them are energy efficient, limiting the amount of heat transfer in your home. Some are exceptionally strong as well, with durability that can withstand impact from objects at hurricane-force wind speeds. Security and comfort make these resources a great investment for your Florida home.
22. Consider Hurricane Shutters
Hurricane shutters are another great resource you may choose to install on your Florida home when you’re going to be away for months. Naturally, these shutters protect your windows from the wind, rain and debris that hurricanes bring. They also protect against sunlight penetrating your home, keeping it cooler at all times of the day. Hurricane shutters will prevent others from looking into your home, giving you added security.
23. Invest in a Hurricane Rated Garage Door
One way to close up a Florida home for the summer is to protect every entrance into the house, including the garage. Garage doors instantly increase your curb appeal and your home’s security. Banko Overhead Doors can provide you with the stylish, durable garage doors manufactured the industry-leading standards. We carry hurricane rated garage doors that deliver the long-term performance you need to keep your mind at ease. These doors are specifically designed for Florida climates to help protect your home and garage during more severe weather such as:
- Powerful winds
- Windblown debris
- Heavy rain
- Sudden changes in pressure
Even if you have recently replaced your garage door, now is a great time to schedule a quick maintenance checkup before you leave to ensure that you have less to worry about while you are away.
24. Consider a WiFi-Enabled Garage Door Opener
With a WiFi-enabled garage door opener, you can monitor your home from anywhere. The MyQ app works with certain opener models to allow you to monitor your garage door and open or close it from anywhere. You can also integrate it with other security systems to program lights to turn on and off.
25. Don’t Get Overwhelmed!
Closing up your Florida home for the summer involves many steps, but it’s a process that doesn’t need to overwhelm you. With snowbird property management preparation lists like this one, you can secure your home inside and out in no time at all.
Snowbird House Care With Banko Overhead Doors
Banko Overhead Doors has had the pleasure of serving snowbirds and full-time residents alike since 1984. We’re dedicated to providing high-quality garage doors that look great and perform exceptionally. Browse our hurricane rated garage doors to help secure your Florida home for the summer. You can also contact Banko Overhead Doors for the garage door repairs and maintenance you can count on at a moment’s notice!
Additional Resources on Living in Florida:
- Tips for Moving to Orlando Florida
- Tips For First-Time Home Buyers in Florida
- Garage Doors in West Central Florida: What You Need to Know