As I sit here this morning I hear the waves crashing on the beach 4 blocks west. The sun is up the birds are singing and in the distance I hear roosters ringing in the day. I am drinking coffee and just had a scrumptious, sweet banana ripened from our plant in the yard – yes we have bananas – all is well and as it should be.
Yesterday we ordered new window frames and screening to replace our two year old termite infested existing ones. We also ordered a dining room table and four chairs to again replace our also infested slightly older pine furnishing with fast growing and sustainable harvested Parota wood. A tip: Do not waste your money here on pine wood anything – it will be eaten – pay the extra dough for the lovely Parota-wood-anything.
After the order with Tivo which you will read more about later we had dinner at Bananas with Harvey, Mati, Matao and Ron and Roxanne – some of our favorite people. It was a good day.
This morning Babs has a Blog on the vagaries of moving to Mexico without good planning. It is a good read.
In that regard, the other day we stumbled on to a questionnaire – everyone loves a (pick-a-number) question list. This was a 20 question job (source lost) – I boiled it down to 19 as two were quite redundant. Here you have them and my answers – Enjoy – And DO NOT move here without asking these and a whole lot more!
Why did you retire early?
The simple answer is because we could. The more complex: We were squeezed out of a business (long story) finding ourselves without jobs living in a small town in Oregon. There was some trauma from the drama that required some rebuilding, rethinking and relocating. We had no ambition to get into another work situation. We retired to 80 acres in Colorado for six years while delving into Mexico. Retirement embraced us. We were ready for it and it penciled out that we could do it.
Aren’t you too young to leave jobs and a secure paycheck?
We certainly are not too young now – but at the time of our retiring 22 years ago (in our mid-forties) we could see a hole in the net. It is never a question of too young in our opinion. It is a matter of whether you are ready – financially, mentally and practically.
Aren’t you wasting your lives?
OK now there is a biggie. We can yell a resounding, “No Way!” to that one. We are taking advantage of so many things we never had time for. For example I have written 10 books or so right here. We have a screenplay completed and several in various stages of development. Every day is Saturday – and we have never wasted away a Saturday – not one.
What did your friends and family think of your unconventional plans?
I think we left them bewildered with a wait/watch and see attitude. A couple of friends and families folks have actually followed in our footsteps. I think that might weigh heavier on us than our own decision. One couple has stayed with it. One not – they lasted less than two years. In our estimation they were defeated by poor planning, unrealistic expectations and lacking a willingness to stick to or give it a chance.
I can’t sit around and do nothing, aren’t you bored?
Anything but! The astonishment is how did we have time for living when we were working? Our daily lives are full, rewarding and adventurous. We look forward to the new twists and turns every day.
How do you manage your finances and mail while traveling or out of the Country?
We have been very lucky to have the help of Anita’s sister (and her husband). Actually in the last 20 years it has gotten more difficult to deal with finances. Since 911 all the money laundering possibilities have provided the governments excuses to pile on red tape (read invasion of privacy). To date we are able to get money changed to pesos and have funds as needed fairly easily. Remember we have purchased three properties in Mexico and a car – so some large ticket items. It can be done.
How do you figure the dollar amount to spend each year?
Keeping track of expenditures and how that relates to our nest egg is required. We seem to be getting better all the time at combatting increases in the cost of living – it is in fact a battle. Learning to live efficiently – this requires an awareness of an ongoing necessity to balance the books. This is critical. There are programs and no shortage of advice on this subject.
Do you own a house?
Four actually! To date we have purchased three places in Mexico and kept a house in New Mexico. We look to reduce this inventory some in the next five years – we have always enjoyed not paying rent. This of course makes one less mobile – but thus far that has not stopped us from the joys of ownership We were buying and selling houses in the last few years before we left the U.S. which always paid off. All of our places are modest and simple. They play to the snowbird life we like. The future – maybe Guatemala?
Guys Versus Gals – How did you give up the idea of having a traditional home “with the white picket fence?”
We never were the lovely house with the white picket fence types. We have owned places in the woods, fixer uppers and even an Earthship So this just was never part of our lives. This is more me than Anita – but she has been following along willingly these 25 years (Happy Anniversary to us two weeks past).
How much capital is enough? How/when did you know you were ready to retire?
Would that there was a simple answer for this. The short answer is it varies on individual tastes and requirements. The more complex is you will need to put numbers on your lifestyle that reflect and define what you have, what you need and where might things go financially in the future (where is that crystal ball?). Be honest with yourself. Include all family members in the decision making process (even the little ones). We see articles of advice on what is enough all the time – Again gather information –and evaluate conservatively. Due diligence is an absolute requirement here.
With your investments in the stock market, were you hurt in the recent bear markets and did it affect your lifestyle?
We were out of the market since prior to the 2008 crash. We made some safe long term interest accounts which are running out. We were hoping the interest rates would have recovered more by now – we shall see come this coming summer. Low or no interest for cash on hand has really hurt the conservative retiree (us). Six years is a long run recession – believe it – that is what it has been. No crystal ball here either.
Healthcare – What do you do about health insurance?
I have only the B-part of Medicare. Anita has no insurance. We are vegetarians and extremely health conscious placing our insurance on good genes and healthy life styles. There are risks, but you should keep in mind paying medical out-of-pocket is much more manageable here than in the insane medical establishment in the United States.
What do you do about transportation; do you own a car?
We own a Mexican car, two Mexican motor scooters and an American truck (we are not counting the Suzuki Samaria that has been in a garage for 10 years). Transportation is more affordable within Mexico to some degree. Certainly local buses, cabs and colectivos are more economical than their U.S. counterparts. Gas in Mexico is currently about double that of the U.S. during this most frequent barrel sale. When we moved here and up until about two years ago gas was cheaper here. Using the fuel efficient scooters has helped a lot in many ways. Insurance, repairs and maintenance are cheaper here in Mexico also.
Do you have children?
We have a 25 year old son who lives on his own in the United States. We have visited with him each year we have been gone save one – always look forward to that.
Do you have any regrets? Would you do it differently?
We have little or no regrets for our move to Mexico and for our lifestyle. Looking back I realized we relied on people that had hidden motives or agendas which has caused some inconvenience to our process. No matter how friendly or seemingly wise some may be – use great caution when it comes to advice – ALWAYS get a 2nd or 3rd opinion. I do not want to write not to trust anyone rather double down on this advice: Be EXTREMELY wary of any advice you get along the way.
What have you learned by being retired for these 22 years?
1.) It is a lifestyle, not a vacation.
2.) The stress does not stop, it just changes form.
3.) Utilizing the K.I.S.S. system; Keeping it simple pays dividends in time and enjoyment.
4.) Retirement is a work in progress, and we are in charge.
5.) Don’t take life so seriously, have fun with it! It’s later than you think!
Good question – good answers – personally I am learning every day – my list could be quite long. Maintain as low stress level as possible (even go out of your way to protect yourself). There is a fine line between optimism and naiveté. Trust yourself. Double check on all others.
I admire what you are doing, but it sounds risky. Aren’t you being naive?
No I think not – see all of the above and then read the rest of the story herein.