Snowbirds: Able to Head to Warmer Climes Worry-Free



Photography by Wes Battoclette

For those who love to travel in their retirement years, owning a home or condo can bring responsibilities and worries. One of the advantages of living in a retirement community is the ease with which one can just get away.

That is what one hears from residents of Deupree House, the premier independent living community operated by Episcopal Retirement Services. 

“I just shut the door and go. It’s safe and secure and I don’t give it another thought,” says Juddy Solomon, an avid golfer, who has spent four months each winter in the Sarasota, Florida, area for nearly 20 years.

It’s a similar story for Alan Gast and his wife, Tal, who have wintered in Sanibel Island, Florida, for nearly two decades. “Having that peace of mind is one of the advantages of living at Deupree House. We just lock the door and we are gone,” says Gast, an enthusiastic bird-watcher who relishes doing volunteer work for two months on the island at one of the largest bird sanctuaries in the country. “The only thing we have to worry about is to get somebody to water our plants.”

And such a service can be easily arranged through Gini Tarr, Deupree House director of community relations. 

 “Almost anything can be arranged,” Tarr says. “We have lots of resources to take care of any concerns residents might have, whether it’s plant watering or just looking in on their apartment.” 

Residents like the security the residence offers. 

“When you have your own place, there is so much to worry about like whether the pipes will freeze. I don’t have to worry about draining pipes and can keep the temperature very low,” says Barbara High, who has vacationed at Bonita Beach, Florida, for 15 years. “And there is the security of knowing this place will not be broken into when I am gone.” 

“There is 24-hour security and residents are able to leave all their belongings and feel safe and comfortable about that,” Tarr says. “The break-in worry you have with a house is not an issue.” 

Tarr says perhaps a third of the Deupree House residents leave for a significant period of time each year. She says one large group are snowbirds in Florida, but another significant number head to northern Michigan for the summer to avoid Cincinnati’s sticky weather.  

While the freedom to travel hassle-free is nice, most residents acknowledge they like being able to return to the cozy confines of Deupree House. Most rent condos in Florida, choosing to not maintain two homes. 

“It’s very difficult to maintain a condominium in Florida when you live in Cincinnati,” Tal Gast says, “but it’s very easy to go to Florida and know everything is fine at your apartment here.” 

Tarr makes sure the snowbirds stay up on Deupree House happenings. She sends email or postal packages with the Deupree House newsletter and other news. She often corresponds with residents and laughs that “it usually involves telling them how cold and snowy it is here and how lucky they are.”  

High found out it was nice to be missed. Some of her friends threw her a welcome home party after her most recent Florida vacation. 

“I have some very good friends. I’m fortunate. So, I don’t want to be away from here very long, frankly,” says High, who has lived at Deupree for six years. “I get very involved when I’m here and I love it. After a month, I want to get back. We have companionship here and get-togethers on Saturday nights. You can easily find a buddy and you look after each other.” 

Tal Gast also looks forward to returning since Deupree House fits their needs when the couple decided to give up their East Walnut Hills condo. “We knew a lot of people here already, the grounds are beautiful and it’s not a huge complex. It’s a comfortable size.” 

For Alan Gast, he continues his bird watching from their patio overlooking a wooded area that borders Deupree House. It might not be a wildlife refuge on Sanibel, but Gast says he’s documented 68 species of birds in the six years they’ve been in the East Hyde Park location. 

Deupree House is located at 3939 Erie Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45208. For more information, call 513.561.6363 or visit deupreehouse.com