The Winter Texans

Many folks who live in northern climes for the majority of the year like to travel where there’s more hospitable weather during the winter. It’s a tradition that terminates everywhere from Florida to California, and there’s even a collective nickname for it: Snowbirds. Unfortunately, the term has taken on a negative connotation in some areas, where they’re considered invasive and unwanted. As a result, the preferred term around here is Winter Texans.

These are folks who aren’t year-round residents, but love the region and become “locals” while they’re here, establishing relationships and living patterns just like home-grown Texans. They’re a vital and welcome part of the community, some of them staying up to five months per year. While the majority of Winter Texans are retired citizens, there’s a growing number of younger folks with independent circumstances that allow them to set up a home base almost anywhere.

There are three hot spots for Winter Texan migration: the Texas Gulf Coast, surrounding Galveston and Houston; the Rio Grande Valley, around El Paso; and our own Texas Hill Country, west of the I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio. As automobiles transformed the American way of life in the early 20th century, people were able to expand their horizons not only for vacations, but for establishing second homes in distant areas that had previously been out of their reach.

The Great Depression and World War II held back long-distance traveling to a degree, but an economic rebound afterward opened the whole country to more of the population. Initially, the Winter Texan phenomenon was a closed system, with word of mouth passing from those who made the trek during the winter, and would return in the spring to share experiences with their northern neighbors.

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, Texas entrepreneurs recognized the influx of Winter Texans, and in turn created RV and mobile home trailer parks to house seasonal residents. They also put together advertising campaigns to attract people looking to escape the Midwestern snow, ice, and wind. In short order, catering to Winter Texans became a cottage industry.

The Texas Hill Country has one major advantage over other Snowbird regions such as Florida, southern California, and desert metro areas like Phoenix and Las Vegas: cost of living. The Hill Country is a popular tourist area, but it’s more of a down-home, take-your-time sort of tourism as opposed to the more aggressive style used in the other places we mentioned. The more high-profile tourism tends to be, the higher the cost of everything seems to be. In contrast, an extended visit to the Hill Country is pleasant and won’t cripple your bank account.

While many Winter Texans like to drive their own RVs or trailers south, we realize that may not be an option for many. Don’t let that leave you in the cold! Backroads Reservations has over 120 Hill Country guest homes and cabins available, and many of them are open for extended seasonal stays. We invite you to unpack, settle in, and make yourself at home as a Winter Texan. Feel free to contact us for more info!

Whether you’re here for a weekend getaway or extended stay, we also offer a powerful tool of traveler support. For more information on over 20 towns in the Hill Country, take advantage of the Texas Hill Country Travel App! The FREE download provides up-to-date information about local businesses, events, and much more. It’s available on both iPhone and Android!