Four years ago, Rob Bohlen and his wife left their Pennsylvania home in the middle of winter and took a two-week RV trip Florida.
Now, like many other snowbirds from the frozen climes up North, the Bohlens spend seven months of every year at Breezy Oaks RV Park in Bushnell, Fla., in their 38-foot Jayco fifth wheel, according to a press release.
But unlike most snowbirds, 58-year-old Bob Bohlen isn’t retired. He continues to work as a business consultant, just like he does back home. Only now he lives like a snowbird.
“As long as I have a cellphone with data, I can work anywhere,” Bohlen said, adding that he can easily fly out of Tampa whenever he needs to attend client meetings around the country.
“While most of Florida’s snowbirds continue to be retirees, growing numbers of RV enthusiasts are realizing they don’t have to wait to retire to enjoy the snowbird lifestyle. They can do it now,” said Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts CampFlorida.com, the travel planning website.
The working snowbird lifestyle works out well for Bohlen and his wife, who is disabled. While he takes care of his clients, his wife can enjoy the many activities available for snowbirds at Breezy Oaks RV Park.
His wife also came up with the idea of converting their western Pennsylvania home into a duplex, which generates enough rent to cover the cost of their annual seven-month stay in Florida.
Bohlen said that as the workplace becomes more mobile, it makes it easier for people like himself to enjoy the snowbird lifestyle much earlier in his life than would otherwise be the case.
“It’s a wonderful way to live,” he said.
The numbers of working people with telecommuting jobs who are enjoying the snowbird lifestyle are increasing, according to Mike Wood, who owns and operates Breezy Oaks RV Park, as well as RV Village a Lake Panasoffkee, Travelers Campground in Alachua, and Wildwood RV Village in Wildwood.
“All four parks have working professionals, younger semiretirees, and others still actively working,” Wood said.
Mark Blomquist’s family has owned an architecture business in northern Michigan for 60 years, developing a base of clients that has sustained his family for three generations.
But Blomquist realized a couple of years ago that with a laptop, a cellphone and an RV, he could escape Michigan’s winters and continue to work as an architect on the road, ideally someplace in sunny Arizona.
“I told my wife, ‘Let’s buy a fifth wheel, pick a spot in Arizona, and see how it goes,” he said.
The Blomquists bought a 42-foot Montana High Country fifth-wheel and landed at Vista del Sol RV Resort in Bullhead City, whose amenities include swimming pools, an exercise room, pickleball courts and Wi-Fi, which enables him to work just as well as if he was at home in Michigan.
“I can use Google Earth to examine sites for different projects almost as if he was standing there in person,” he said.
So far, Blomquist’s idea of working remotely to enjoy the snowbird lifestyle is working out so well that he recently sold his Michigan architecture practice to his son while he develops a new architecture business based in Arizona, where he eventually plans to purchase a home.
“The technology is there for me to work remotely as we go through this transition,” he said. “Having an RV is also a nice bridge as we go through this transition.”
Having an RV also enables the Blomquists to avoid having to spend $1,500 a month in rent or be constrained by lease commitments while they search for a permanent home in Arizona. Long-term rents for RV sites at Vista del Sol RV Resort range from $1,875 for three months to $3,300 for six months.
“We’re seeing more and more people quasi-retiring early, but still doing something to make ends meet,” said Scott Roberts, president of Scottsdale-based Roberts Resorts, adding, “I only see that trend continuing to grow.”
While the majority of Snowbirds continue to be retirees, Roberts said growing numbers of people from colder climates are deciding they want to enjoy the Snowbird life now rather than wait until they can fully retire. Many have consulting jobs that they can do from the road or from wherever they happen to be.