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The Snowbird’s Guide to Maintaining Your DSM Property

Snowbird Homes in DSM

November 10, 2023

It’s no secret that Iowa’s winter weather can be extreme. Thrillist ranked which states have the worst winter, and Iowa was 6th due to its cold temps and high winds. Given the harshness of our winter, it’s no wonder that those who can enjoy snowbirding in other states take off for the harshest months of the year. However, your Iowa home is still here, dealing with hazards ranging from storms to thieves.

Knowing how to maintain your property her in Greater Des Moines (DSM) while you snowbird in better climates can give you peace of mind while ensuring your home is ready to welcome you back in the spring.

Security While You’re Away

Being away for a week of vacation already puts your home at risk for theft or vandalism. Being gone for multiple months amplifies that risk. Fortunately, there are several ways to improve security at home while you’re gone.

First, consider who you can trust among your neighbors and have them keep an eye on your property. You can also ask friends to drive by occasionally to ensure everything looks like it’s in good condition.

Also, it’s important that your home does not look unoccupied. Stop the mail, but also arrange for someone to remove snow from your sidewalk and driveway so the property doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb compared to others on your street. Trim trees and bushes away from windows before you leave to provide less cover for thieves.

Finally, ensure that your security system is working properly and let the local police know you’ll be away for several weeks or months. Today’s security devices are accessible from anywhere, so even in Arizona or Florida you’ll be able to check in on your home from your smartphone.

Keeping Your Home in Good Repair

One of the risks of snowbirding is that you’re not home to take care of regular maintenance and ensure that any damage to your property is repaired quickly.

However, there are steps you can take to keep things under control so that your home isn’t damaged when you return in the spring. Because you’ll be gone for quite some time, consider turning off your water supply and draining the pipes. This will ensure water doesn’t freeze in the pipes over the cold winter.

Sometimes turning off the water doesn’t make sense, like if you have a sprinkler system in case of fire. In that case, keep your heat at 55℉ or higher to keep pipes warmer and prevent freezing.

Other important maintenance steps include:

  • Adding insulation to the attic to help prevent ice dams
  • Weather-stripping windows and doors to prevent drafts
  • Trimming branches away from your home so they don’t fall and cause damage
  • Clearing the gutters
  • Cleaning thoroughly and blocking any routes pests can use to get into your home, including the fireplace flue, chimney and gaps around windows and doors

Accidents do happen, but with these actions, you’re more likely to come home to an intact house that you can easily nest in.

Will You Rent Your Home While You’re Gone?

Another way to have folks keep an eye on your home — and pay you for it — is to rent your property while you’re away.

Airbnb is one of the most popular platforms for short-term rentals, but it’s important to know the laws in and around Des Moines. In Des Moines, you’ll need a rental certificate from the city, as well as property liability insurance. You may also need to be a specific distance from other properties listed on rental websites.

Renting your home during an Iowa winter might be challenging, but if you make the right improvements to your property, it will be more attractive to vacation renters. Quick and easy vacation rental improvements include having a well-stocked kitchen, setting up furniture in a way that’s stylish and comfortable, setting up cleaning services and keeping communication with renters flowing smoothly.

Keeping Your Property Safe While Snowbirding

Many people find that it’s good for their health to avoid the dark, cold Iowa winters and snowbird in more moderate climates. Changes in the weather can cause everything from illness to skin problems to mental health issues, and being someplace sunny and warm can be an important cure.

However, before you leave DSM, make sure your home is secure and well-maintained. That way, you’ll be able to come home in the spring to a property in great condition, ready to provide you with a welcoming environment to enjoy spring, summer and fall.

And for those who aren't snowbirds, being prepared for winter weather in DSM will help. Residents can ready for the cold this time of year by shopping local for cold weather clothing.

With the #7 Lowest Cost of Living in the U.S. and a Top Metro for Number of Economic Development Projects (among metros with a population of 200,000 to 1 million), Greater Des Moines (DSM) is a region where you can have it all. Learn more about what it’s like to live here.

Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman writes about people, tech, wellness and how they merge. He enjoys getting to utilize the internet for community without actually having to leave his house. In his spare time he likes running, reading and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.