Living a Stress-Free Snowbird Lifestyle in Florida and Maine
Tom Kerr writing on a snowbird lifestyle…
Jim Kovaleski’s got the right idea.
The 55-year-old enjoys the flexibility of both a winter and a summer home…without paying exorbitantly for that kind of highly desirable lifestyle.
“For about ten years I’ve done the snowbird thing,” he says, “spending my winters in Florida and my summers in Maine.”
As soon as the Sunshine State starts to heat up each year, Jim migrates to farmland just a few miles from the Canadian border in rural Robbinston, Maine.
“It’s beautiful. I am right there at the water’s edge, fifty feet from the edge of the Bay of Fundy. I’ll be working in the field or in my garden and look up and see wild turkeys, or there’s a moose standing there.”
While in Maine he lives in a big, old-fashioned trapper’s tent on an organic farm. The owners don’t use the farm, so Jim offered to keep it mowed…in exchange for a free campsite overlooking the water and the freedom to farm a small portion of their land.
For several years, the barter arrangement has worked out great for everyone involved.
“The stars really come out at night because it’s so dark, and the sunrises are great. Since I’m so far north I get to watch how quickly the sun comes up, much faster than in Florida. I’m a morning person, so I get up early and by noon, when it starts to warm up outside, I’ve usually got my whole day done.”
Some days he’ll head to the nearby town of Eastport, where there is a farmer’s market and a grocery store where he sells his produce. His customers also buy raspberries that he grows, and wild edible mushrooms that he forages in the woods.
But the biggest annual windfall awaits him upon his return to Florida.
Jim plants produce there that will grow while he’s up in Maine. In the autumn that yields about a ton or more of marketable vegetables. He also loads up about 5,000 pounds of the food he grew in Maine.
“I’ll sell that in Florida when I get back,” he explains, “for around $9,000.”
Jim supports himself growing produce the organic way…including star fruit, avocados, peaches, guavas, and vegetables. He co-owns half an acre in a residential neighborhood of Port Richey, Florida.
By selling produce cultivated on that property, he saves about $15,000 a year to apply to the loan, and predicts he’ll have the entire $55,000 mortgage paid off in full within five years.
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