10 Best Places to Live in the Winter

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There are usually only two camps when it comes to winter—you either love it or despise it. 

Some hate sweaty summers and can’t wait for cozy sweaters, hot cocoa, and bundling up before going outdoors. Others wake up to that first coating of frost and immediately think of having to scrape your car every morning, always feeling cold, and being engulfed by darkness at 5:00 p.m.  

Luckily, we have ample choices here in the United States when it comes to climate. Whether you’re looking to make snow angels in heaps of beautiful, white snow or burn all of your bulky cold-weather gear and celebrate with a fancy umbrella drink, we have some of the best places to live in the winter months, starting with the cold places to live. 

1. Duluth, Minnesota 

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If you’re on the lookout for a winter home and fun snow activities, Minnesota may be the place for you. Duluth is the fifth-coldest city in the U.S., with temps that frequently go into the negatives. Even in summer, the temperature tends to hover in the high 70s, which is good news for people who currently live in sweltering heat and are looking for a change. Just make sure you have a great home warranty for your heater.  

The residents of Duluth don’t let a little thing like frigid weather keep them down. Outdoor sports are very popular—places like the Snowflake Nordic Ski Center have stunning areas for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It’s also a beautiful place to hike in the warmer months. 

As you might expect from a state that is nicknamed “the land of 10,000 lakes” ice fishing is a major pastime. Lake Superior’s icy waters are perfect for trekking out on the ice and dropping a line. And after a long day of being out in the cold, you can pack it in and enjoy a drink at one of the many breweries Duluth offers, or have a delicious meal at one of their cozy restaurants. Minnesota is known for its freezing temps, but with the right cold weather tips and preparation, this is a city you can really thrive in.   

2. Rochester, New York

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Do you really, really, REALLY like snow? Good news, Rochester has more than enough to spare. This winter city gets an average of almost 100 inches a year. Residents experience all four seasons pretty consistently though. It can get up to the 90s in the summer with humidity and in the winter, it gets cold enough to keep the snow rolling in, but rarely dips into the negatives.  

If you’re looking to ski, Bristol Mountain is a short distance away from Rochester. They also offer lessons, so the whole family can learn. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park is a great place for ice skating and features a warming area with a heated floor and fireplace.  

Rochester is also beautiful in the spring. Nicknamed “Flower City,” the city doesn’t disappoint when it comes to horticulture. There are beautiful gardens everywhere, and it hosts the Lilac Festival every summer.  

3. Frankenmuth, Michigan  

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If you love the holiday season, and can’t get enough of the Christmas lights, trees, and décor, this little town in Michigan is calling your name. Their claim to fame is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, which is the largest Christmas store in the world. The store is open 361 days a year, and their “Christmas Lane” of spectacular lights is lit nightly year-round. They have over 50,000 decorations and gifts to choose from, and you can even decorate your own Christmas ornaments.  

The town itself is decked out in an old-fashioned Bavarian style and is considered to be “Michigan’s little Bavaria” with charming German shops and eateries. Zehnder’s is world famous for their award-winning restaurant, hotel, and water park—the largest in Michigan. Zehnder’s also hosts Snow Fest, an annual event that features amazing snow and ice sculptures. If you’ve wondered what it's like to live in a Norman Rockwell painting, Frankenmuth at wintertime comes pretty close. Have you recently bought a home in Michigan? Here are some tips on how to winterproof your house

4. Fairbanks, Alaska

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This entry is for diehard winter lovers. Fairbanks is number 1 when it comes to the coldest cities in the U.S. Their lowest temp record was a staggering -62 degrees back in 1961. Did anyone else feel a chill just reading that? On average, the lowest temperatures are in January, when it can get down into double-digit negatives. In the summer, the temperature rarely even hits 80 degrees. If you really don't like to sweat, and aren’t a fan of roasting on a beach, then you’ve found the perfect new home.  

It may seem odd that the coldest city is on this list, since that kind of weather doesn’t seem like an ideal winter home. But if you can brave the cold, the magic of Alaska will reward you. One of the best things to see in Fairbanks is the aurora lights. The best time to see this amazing light show is typically between August and April, but in Fairbanks, you can see it all year round, when it’s dark enough and you know when to look.  

Fairbanks also offers great ice fishing opportunities and amazing cross-country skiing trails, as you would expect in such a wintry climate. But Alaska offers something you normally don’t see in other cold cities—the opportunity to go dog sledding. You can have a lot of fun flying through the wintery trails and watching the gorgeous huskies bask in their natural habitat. Just be sure to do a little research so you can choose an ethical company that treats their dogs humanely. Here are some tips if you’re moving to Alaska

5. Bangor, Maine 

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New England really shines when the temperature starts to drop. If you live in Maine, you get to watch the beautiful fall foliage paint the forests in breathtaking sunset colors. And then when winter hits, it’s time to get your sled and snowmobile out for some snowy fun. Bangor has some of the best and well-maintained snowmobile trails.  

Bangor is also a great place to live if you like all things spooky. It’s rumored to have many haunted sites. If you get bored during the long winter months, you can take in a show at the Bangor Opera House, which has been visited by many famous paranormal investigators due to the reported presence of spirits. Mount Hope Cemetery is also thought to be haunted and is featured in the movie “Pet Cemetery.” Speaking of Stephen King, he lives in Bangor and many of his books contain Maine locations. Often, when he refers to “Derry,” he’s actually talking about Bangor. You can even take a Stephen King tour.  

Okay all of you snow-haters, you can stop shivering and put the blanket away, because next up are some of the best warm places to live in the winter. If you dread having to drag out your bulky coat every year, or absolutely hate having to walk across driveways and parking lots like a penguin so you don’t slip on ice, this part of the list is for you. 

6. Miami, Florida 

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If you dream of beach life all year round, Miami can provide what you’re looking for. The summers are long and tropical, and winter temps only dip down to the high 60s. Have no fear though, the average winter temperature is typically in the high 70s to low 80s, so you can still lay in the sun on one of their pristine beaches any time of the year. This city is also known for its spectacular food and nightlife. If you like the heat, Miami definitely ranks high when it comes to winter destinations in the U.S. 

7. San Antonio, Texas  

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San Antonio can get a little cooler in the winter months, but only compared to places like Miami. The lowest it usually gets in San Antonio is in the low 40s. It gets just cold enough to get into the holiday spirit—and San Antonio knows how to spread the cheer. There are fun winter activities like boat caroling, SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, and the Ford Fiesta de las Luminarias, where you can enjoy a relaxing walk beside San Antonio river and bask in the glow of all of the beautiful lanterns that are lit in December.  

San Antonio gives you all the holiday wonder without the ice and snow. And in the winter, you can warm up with some of the best chili on the planet. Talk about win-win. Protect your new San Antonio abode and check out the best home warranty companies in Texas

8. Phoenix, Arizona 

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If you love the high temps but aren’t a fan of the sticky humidity, Arizona is a great choice. In Phoenix the temperature can easily soar over 100 degrees in the summer, which is usually the average. But the winter months are typically much milder, almost never getting below 45 degrees. Phoenix is also a great city to soak up the sun—it ranks on the top of the list when it comes to sunny days.  

Many retirees, or “snowbirds,” have second homes in Arizona so they can escape the cold in the winter but avoid the intense heat in the summer. Talk about the best of both worlds. If that’s your plan, make sure your home is winter ready before you leave town for an extended period. Here are some tips on how to prepare a vacant home in winter

Phoenix also has some fun attractions. The Phoenix Zoo puts on a fantastic light display, and so does the Desert Botanical Garden. If you're willing to drive to Tucson, you can attend the Winterhaven Festival of Lights, a free event where locals deck out their homes. You can walk, drive, or even reserve a hayride to take in the lights and festive decor. Arizona is one of the best places to live in the winter in the U.S. 

9. Charleston, South Carolina  

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If you’re not a fan of extremes, Charleston has nice weather all year round. In the summer, you can expect warm weather but not the blistering heat of Phoenix or Miami. Wintertime in Charleston is more like sweater weather since it very rarely snows and usually hovers in the high 40s or low 50s.  

Charleston is also a wonderful place to live if you’re a foodie. It is known for its fine dining options, and is home to Restaurant Week, one of the most highly anticipated culinary events in South Carolina. They also have a Lowcountry Oyster Festival with live music and an array of oyster dishes made by local restaurants. If you love good food and are looking for warm places to live in the U.S., Charleston could be the right location for you.  

10. San Diego, California 

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So, where is the best place to live in winter? That usually depends on your personal preferences, but many argue that San Diego may have the best weather year-round. Zillow even rated it the place with the greatest number of pleasant days in the United States. The average temperature is between 55 and 75 degrees, and there’s little precipitation. 

When it comes to winter, San Diego may be even more beautiful than at other times of year with stunning sunsets, warm breezes, and a clear night sky. Like many of the cities we’ve listed, San Diego also has a light show in December—but with a twist. The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is literally on the water. The San Diego boating community lavishly decorates their boats with seasonal lights and drives them in procession around the bay. 

Whale watching is also the best in winter. The whales migrate from Alaska between December and April, and San Diego has numerous spots to see these massive, majestic creatures. Spotting one is an experience your family will never forget.  

American Home Shield knows just how important it is to find the right location to call home. When your long day is finally done, there’s nothing better than coming home and relaxing in your happy place. American Home Shield can help you protect your home with a home warranty. With three plans to choose from, you can find the right coverage to meet your needs and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing an unexpected disaster won’t break your budget.  

AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

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