I remember it was a weekday. An evening. There wasn’t anything particularly special about the day, only that we were a little more frustrated with work than usual.
Typically, we get home around the same time and decompress with a glass of wine and the news. This evening we were in the kitchen preparing dinner and competing with worst-day stories.
Kristi grimaced as she crushed the garlic and made an offhand remark about retiring early and moving to Mexico. She wondered if we could afford to retire earlier if we spent at least some of our time down there. “It’s a lot cheaper to live there”, she said. I wonder if she’s right?
Regardless, the idea paired with wine and garlic, was very appealing.
“Mexico … It’s a lot cheaper to live there”
Retiring is akin to the spiritual sense of death — a transition rather than an end. It’s a mysterious passage to a paradise of endless joy and leisure. It’s the reward you’ve been promised all your life — the prize for living a life of sensible decisions and austerity rather than frivolous gluttony and waste.
Like death, retirement is supposed to be a one-way trip to the land of perpetual glory. But is it really?
Turns out it’s not always the gilded, gleeful afterlife that we’ve been told. Fifty percent of all retirees continue to work part time and one third ultimately return to full time jobs. Some don’t like (or understand) budgets and blow their nest eggs. Some want to spend more freely, and others get bored and go back to the lifestyle that gave them identity and meaning.
While those statistics are facts, the causes aren’t well understood. But if you ask me, I think it’s due to poor planning and idealistic expectations. It’s never a good idea to make major life changes without proper planning, and retirement is one of the biggest life changes we’ll ever face.
I’ve lived a pretty good life, made some good decisions, saved some money. When I retire, I certainly don’t intend to run out of money or get so bored that I end up back in my beige laminated cubicle again. So, I’m going to plan, and I’m going to research, and I’m going to maximize my retirement years by doing it right. Spending at least some of that time in Mexico is a pretty crazy and exciting idea. Who wouldn’t want to live out their retirement in a place called Margaritaville? I wonder if it would be cheaper there and we could truly retire sooner? Maybe my wife is right — imagine that.
“I’m going to plan…”
I’ve always loved Mexico.
Many years ago, I lived and studied in Morelia on an exchange program during college. Morelia is the capital of Michoacán, and is located about 200 miles (320 kilometers) west of Mexico City. It’s been the home of several drug cartels, with La Nueva Familia claiming to be the current saviors of the troubled region. There weren’t any cartels around when I was there — at least as far as I know — and my memories of the warm and friendly people and the vibrant, colorful city are only positive.
I keep telling myself that one day I’ve got to go back there to visit, but there’s no one there that would remember me, and I don’t think that’s a place I’d care to retire to. Danger is not my middle name, and the history of gang violence in that area is worrisome. Now — let’s be clear — Mexico is not a hive of rapists and murderers; It’s not filled with roaming packs of bad hombres. It is quite safe and serene in 99 percent of the places one might care to visit, and even safer in areas where a couple of part-time expatriates would want to retire.
I read somewhere recently that if you don’t want to get murdered in Mexico, follow two simple rules: Don’t buy drugs. Don’t sell drugs. Sounds easy to me — who needs drugs in a tropical paradise!
“Two simple rules:
Don’t buy drugs. Don’t sell drugs”
So today we begin a journey of discovery that may lead to an early and successful retirement. Hopefully soon we’ll be spending some of our time living in a mixed up, crazy and strikingly beautiful country where friendly people speak a strange language and march to the adagio beat of a different culture. Moving from town to town or maybe buying a place and settling down? Will it be beach living, mountains, or jungles? Maybe all of them. Will our dream become a reality or just another quixotic quest? Could this be your dream too?