Middle-aged couple walking in marina at a coast in Spain

Choosing Your Perfect Snowbird Long Stay

The concept of “snowbirding” is familiar to a lot of North Americans, particularly those looking to escape the chilly winter for a month or more at a time. It might mean Florida, Arizona, the Caribbean, Mexico, or even further south if you’re feeling adventurous. Of course, a Long Stay can also be a fantastic way to really get out there and experience living in another country.

Ready to take the idea even further? How about barbecues on an Aussie beach, or sipping wine, overlooking the green hills of New Zealand? Or, escape the chill the way the Europeans do, on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Sure, it’s still technically winter there, but the weather would pass for a pleasant spring day in many parts of North America. Think Californian “winter” and you’ll be close to the mark, particularly when it comes to destinations like Portugal, Spain, and Malta.

Why choose a Goway Long Stay? Because we’re dedicated to offering packages that immerse you in the destination. That means maximum flexibility, with accommodation typically within 3 and 4 star self-catered apartments. You’ll have the support of a local rep, return transfers to the airport, and optional excursions to take the hassle out of planning. Plus, our Europe long stays have the option of upgrading to half or full board, just to make dining in that much easier.

So, options abound. But which Long Stay is right for you?

The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

As Auckland’s favourite escape from the big city, the Bay of Plenty’s “regulars” are people who already live in one of the most liveable cities on Earth, so you know this region is something pretty special. “Holiday homes” are a big deal in New Zealand, and there’s no spot more popular for them than Mount Maunganui in the town of Taraunga. When you see the spectacular view over the bay, you’ll understand why. The white sand beaches that stretch around the bay attract surfers, swimmers, kayakers, and “beach bums” of every description. If you do feel the need to indulge your touristy side, the famed mud pools and geysers of Rotorua are little more than an hour’s drive away.

Who it’s for: Independent snowbirds who want to see the beauty of laid back New Zealand like a local. Proximity to the tourist sights also makes it ideal for New Zealand first-timers.

Suggested Itinerary:
31-Day Bay of Plenty New Zealand Long Stay

City of Tauranga as seen from the famous scenic lookout place on Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
City of Tauranga as seen from the famous scenic lookout place on Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

The Cook Islands

Are you ready to slooooow everythiiiiing doooooowwwwwn? The Cook Islands could be the long stay for you. Rarotonga’s small size makes it easy to get around and explore in depth, but the relative lack of obvious “tourist attractions” forces you to disconnect, adjust to local time, and immerse yourself in Cook Islands culture. Don’t worry, there’s no language barrier. But you might find yourself zipping around on a motor scooter, or even singing along at a church service (non-believers are more than welcome) before you know it. The Cook Islands may be administered by New Zealand, but their cultural identity is all Polynesian. The road system is mostly all one ring, so there’s no risk of getting lost. If you do want to get out there, glorious Aitutaki is just a short flight away.

Who it’s for: Travellers on a Long Stay looking for an island paradise with very little tourist crush and a relaxed sense of time. Easy to adapt to, yet far enough from your everyday to feel like an adventure.

Suggested Itinerary:
28-Day Cook Islands Long Stay

Saturday Market Cook Islands
Enjoy going to a Saturday market in the Cook Islands

The Gold Coast, Australia

Besides being blessed with some of Australia’s most beautiful white sand beaches, the Gold Coast is packed with attractions and activities to suit every interest. It’s also insanely popular, particularly in the Aussie summer. If you’re here for a while, we recommend staying in one of the coast’s less densely developed, more “local” towns like Coolangatta. Part of the so-called “twin cities,” Coolangatta sits right on the border with New South Wales. It puts a wide range of friendly local clubs, top notch restaurants, pristine national parks, and glorious white beaches at your fingertips, far from the noisy, fast-paced glamour of Surfers Paradise. What’s more, “Surfers” is still easily reached by car when it’s time to enjoy the kitsch of it all.

Who it’s for: The sheer variety of the Gold Coast means there’s something here to please most types of travellers, whether you’re looking for the excitement of urban beach living, or more secluded shores.

Suggested Itinerary:
31-Day The Gold Coast Long Stay

Aerial view of Snapper Rocks and Coolangatta, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
Aerial view of Snapper Rocks and Coolangatta in the Gold Coast, Australia

The Sunshine Coast, Australia

The Gold Coast has a more laid back cousin to the north of Brisbane. Everything about the Sunshine Coast is just that little bit quieter and smaller, including the cities, the tourist attractions, and the beaches. If you think that sounds appealing, you’re not alone. Aussies flock to the Sunshine Coast for a more relaxed Southeast Queensland stay. Many choose to retire here, while artists find their niche in the beautiful towns that dot the hinterland. From the Glasshouse Mountains to Fraser Island, there’s something for everyone to see, taste, and experience on the Sunshine Coast.

Who it’s for: Travellers seeking a laid back holiday that still offers plenty of local attractions and unique features. The Sunshine Coast is also a very kid-friendly destination.

Suggested Itinerary:
31-Day Sunshine Coast Long Stay

View of Mountains Beerwah and Coonowrin in Glass House Mountains region in Queensland, Australia
View of Beerwah and Coonowrin mountains in Glass House Mountains region, Queensland

New South Wales Central Coast, Australia

Queensland doesn’t have the monopoly on gorgeous Aussie beach destinations. Not far north of Sydney, the Central Coast of New South Wales has a vibrant surfing and coastal culture that’s an essential part of the state’s identity. You’ll notice a distinct absence of man-made tourist attractions, which allows the area’s beautiful waterways to take centre stage. All in all, this Long Stay is the perfect place to experience a taste of New South Wales beyond the big city sights and non-stop pace of Sydney.

Who’s it for: Globetrotters who really want to holiday like a local, away from big cities. This is a chance to slow life down in an idyllic climate and live like an Aussie for a while.

Suggested Itinerary:
31-Day North of Sydney Long Stay (Central Coast)

Mantra Ettalong Beach - 1 Bedroom Apartment, Central Coast, Australia
One bedroom apartment at Mantra Ettalong Beach Resort in the Central Coast

The Algarve, Portugal

If Lisbon is Portugal’s beating heart, The Algarve is its glamour strip. Dolled up with gorgeous beaches and year-round mild weather, the region is a treasure trove of Portuguese culture wrapped up in a series of resort towns on the country’s south coast. Enjoying its moment as Europe’s star attraction, Portugal still offers one of the continent’s most diverse, culturally rich, and affordable destinations. Adjust your daily schedule to match the Portuguese, and discover the pleasure of self-prepared tapas-style lunches and dinners, in between visits to historic castle towns and delightful fishing villages. The country’s excellent rail system makes day trips a breeze.

Who’s it for: The Algarve will please just about anyone, including beach bums, culture vultures, foodies, and party animals. Golfers also take note. The region is famous for its links.

White Sand Beach on the Algarve Coast, Portugal
White sand beaches on the Algarve coast

Costa Del Sol, Spain

Break out the sangria! The Costa Del Sol has been luring visitors to Spain’s southern coast for some time. This well-developed 150 kilometre stretch of coast spreads between Malaga and Gibraltar, with Granada, Cordoba, and even Seville within day tripping distance. All are part of Andalusia, one of Spain’s most culturally dynamic regions where centuries of Moorish, Christian, and Jewish influences all come together. Europeans crowd the coast for their summer vacation, but if you’re here to escape the winter, you’ll enjoy much milder temperatures, lighter crowds, and lower prices. The winter might not offer ideal “beach weather,” but it’s still very mild, and is by far the best time to take a cultural vacation in Andalusia.

Who’s it for: Culture vultures and lovers of Spanish and Moorish culture will be in heaven, particularly with lighter winter crowds. It’s also an ideal base for a no-rush adventure through Southern Spain.

Puerto Marina in Benalmadena, Costa del Sol, Spain
Puerto Marina in Benalmadena, Costa del Sol, Spain


If this island nation in the middle of the Mediterranean, hasn’t pinged your bucket list yet, consider the following. Centuries of history at the literal crossroads between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, with a rich influx of culture from each of those regions. Idyllic weather year-round, with relatively light tourist crowds. English is one of the island’s two official languages, or try learning some Maltese, a language more closely related to Arabic than anything European. Malta’s tiny size also makes seeing different regions and exploring its fascinating history a breeze on a Long Stay.

Who’s it for: Globetrotters who want to experience a unique corner of Europe not yet on the mainstream tourist trail. History buffs will find plenty to discover.

Traditional houses and walls of Valletta, Malta
Traditional houses and walls of Valletta, Malta
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Christian Baines
Christian Baines

Globetrotting Contributing Editor -
Christian’s first globetrotting adventure saw him get lost exploring the streets of Saigon. Following his nose to Asia’s best coffee, two lifelong addictions were born. A freelance writer and novelist, Christian’s travels have since taken him around his native Australia, Asia, Europe, and much of North America. His favourite trips have been through Japan, Spain, and Brazil, though with a love of off-beat, artsy cities, he’ll seize any opportunity to return to Paris, New York, or Berlin.

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