The term ‘Snowbird’ is defined by people who live in the northern United States who yearly migrate to the South in the winters to enjoy a more clement climate and lifestyle. More and more seniors are finding this retirement goal attainable. Have you ever pondered what it would be like to escape the frigid winters of the Fargo-Moorhead area? The Midwest is a wonderful place to live from Spring to Fall. It is full of amazing, friendly, hard working people. Although, winters here can be less than desireable. For many residents, an annual winter getaway is but a dream. But not for Linda Doeden. Due to hard work and dedication throughout her life, she gradually turned her dream into a reality.
Midwesterners are globally recognized as having a dependable, sound work ethic. If you’ve worked hard your whole life in the Midwest, you may be able to enjoy the snowbird lifestyle as well. Take a second to reflect, you deserve it! If there is anything to be learned from Linda, it’s that life is short and you should make the best of the time you have left.
When did you decide to downsize and relocate to Arizona for the winters?
I started coming to Arizona on vacation for a week or two beginning in 1990, checking out different locations. I gradually worked up to coming for the month of March for several years. That worked best since I was in the construction and real estate business, working about 80 hours a week. March is the month where the winter construction was wrapping up and is not quite time to pour the basements.
What motivated you to make this change in your life?
In 2001, I was diagnosed with a severe heart condition that really scared me. Getting away became even more important. My body was telling me it was not going to put up with the abuse anymore. I didn’t pay enough attention to that warning sign, so in 2005 I was diagnosed with cancer. That really got my attention. It was like God was hitting me over the head with a 2×4. I was only 54 years old. I knew that working those long hours for so many years had taken it’s toll on me. It was time to take care of me and began to spend the winters in Arizona. For me, health reasons were the real motivator. Life is too short to kill yourself working. There is much more to life.
Because of many years of hard work and living simply, I was able to sell my house and move into a little condo in Fargo. Next came a condo in Arizona then later a home. I knew Arizona was where I wanted to retire. I watched so many people wait too long to live their dreams, only to be shattered by health issues or the loss of a spouse. I didn’t want to be one of them. At first I started my retirement with a week or two then worked my way up the the entire winter, instead of waiting to be totally retired. I am so grateful that I did. The rewards have been life changing.
What do you enjoy most about spending your winters in Arizona?
I think what I enjoy the most about winters in Arizona is the fact that the weather does not determine your activities. It is a rare occasion that plans need to be changed due to weather.
There are endless opportunities for adventures here too. You can enjoy the lakes, mountains, and deserts. Every day offers countless things to do, from hiking, art shows, theatre, golf, car shows, rodeos, horse shows and on and on. There are wonderful museums, new aquariums, dining of all sorts, outdoor sports, spring training, and adventures you may never have thought of.
Oh and people ask, “don’t you miss the snow?” I can jump in my car and drive to the mountains to play in the snow and then come back to play golf or go for a swim. I never have to shovel the snow. I can simply enjoy the snow-capped mountains in the distance while enjoying a hike around the fountain in my T-shirt or maybe a light jacket.
It is such a melting pot of people from all over the country, it is a wonderful opportunity to create a family of friends. Many of us do not have family near, so we create our Arizona family. It is so easy to meet people. Most people are from someplace else and are looking to connect with others.
Would you recommend Fountain Hills as a ‘Snowbird’ destination?
Well, I think it is important to find your nesting place. I checked out several options before ending up here. The choices are endless, from mobile home parks with various amenities to luxury living. Arizona is such a diverse state. You can choose to live in the desert or mountains. There is a perfect fit for everyone. Take your time, rent for a month or two, check with your friends, ask questions, and be curious. You will find what works for you.
I fell in love with the small town atmosphere of Fountain Hills, the friendly people, the breathtaking views, very little traffic and the weather. I was not, and may never be ready for a retirement community. I love the energy of young families and children blended with the retirees. It is a small town of under 25,000 people, located a short distance from Scottsdale, Phoenix and Mesa. I love meeting people I know wherever I go around town. I guess, I am still a small town girl at heart, with the option of enjoying what the nearby city offers.
How could you not love the weather? Arizona gets almost 300 days of sunshine a year. I love the sunshine.
What advice can you offer to seniors who may be considering moving south?
I would say that the most important thing is to find a place that you love and fits your lifestyle. A place you can enjoy. Ask friends who have already visited or moved south questions about their experiences. Then explore your options. Does a senior community with lots of activities appeal to you or is it a small quiet town near the mountains sound better? Next determine your budget, there is a place that will fit any budget. Then rent a place first to see if you really like the area. I did that several years. Don’t be afraid to let go of the “big house”. Take a leap of faith and enjoy!