Since we’ve announced to our friends and family we’re pulling up stakes and moving to Mexico, we’ve gotten a lot of questions — sincerely curious and concerned questions, so I thought it best to address some of those here, more or less at the start of this journey. We covered the question of what happens if Biden wins already, so here are some others:
Q: Why Mexico?
Why not? But seriously, we had several requirements of any place we considered relocating and Mexico checks all of those boxes and then some. I’ll get into those, but we’ve visited several Mexican cities over the years and have always felt welcomed and at home there. From living in Las Vegas for the past 12 years, we’ve absorbed quite of a bit of Mexican culture even beyond the cuisine and it just seems like a natural fit.
Anywhere we want to live has to have several things:
• A warm climate (sorry, Canada)
• A less expensive standard of living than the US (sorry, Canada)
• Unique culture and cuisine (sorry, Canada)
• Welcoming to expat Americans (sorry, Canada)
• Ease of obtaining a visa (sorry, Canada)
Q: Why didn’t you consider Canada?
See above. We love Canada and Canadians, don’t get me wrong. It’s just as well too because Puerto Vallarta is full of them, especially in the winter. But moving to Canada was never realistic for many, many reasons.
Q: Are you worried about crime/safety?
Not really, no more so than we do in Las Vegas or did when we lived in the Detroit area. The neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta that we’d like to live in — Zona Romantica, Centro or 5 de Diciembre — are full of other expats and as safe as any major city in the United States. That is somewhat damning with faint praise as the United States is much more unsafe than other developed countries, but the stories you see about Mexico being a crime-ridden hellhole are simply not true, at least not in the areas frequented by tourists in coastal cities like Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas, etc.
Q: What are you going to do for a job/money?
The sale of our house should provide us with a small nest egg, but it won’t be enough to make it until we can start to tap our retirement plans at 59 years old. And ideally we won’t have to start tapping those until even later than that.
Fortunately, my employer is allowing me to switch my work status to be a contractor instead of a full-time employee. This comes with some negatives and some positives that I won’t get into but ultimately, we should be able to hopefully live comfortably on about $2,000/month while still continuing to save quite a bit towards retirement.
I can’t guarantee the future or if the arrangement will work for them as well as my living in Las Vegas has but as long as I have access to high-speed Internet I should be able to continue working for the foreseeable future. They’ve been incredibly accommodating so far and I can’t thank them enough.
I’d also like to augment our income by trying to write more. I’m doing this for free, but having people pay you for your writing is a unique thrill. I’m generally too busy with work to want to spend a lot more time at the computer, but I’m hoping to do more in Mexico. After retirement I’ll hopefully have a lot more time to see what I can produce that would interest more than just my family and friends!
Q: Are you going to stay in Mexico forever? When would you move back?
Like the saying goes — Man Plans, God Laughs. But I’m still hoping to only have to work until around my 50th birthday in September 2023. Unless she picks up something that she can do online, Tanya might very well already be retired at age <age redacted>!
We’d likely plan on staying in Mexico until then and decide if we want to stay or try a different city in Mexico or a different country for awhile.
We loved Thailand and would like to live there at some point, but have also discussed living in Ecuador, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Belize or Panama. Access to “retirement” visas are available at age 50 in all those countries, so we’ll have to see what our options are around then. Moving back to the United States long-term is unlikely short of some kind of setback we don’t want to contemplate.
Q: What about health care?
That’s a bit of a concern. I had my brain tumor a few years ago and I learned how important access and availability of health care is. Without my health insurance, the bills would have bankrupted us 10 times over. One of the disadvantages of going to contractor status with my employer is I lose access to my company’s health care plan, but that wouldn’t have covered us in Mexico anyway.
We’re essentially going to be like the tens of millions of Americans that don’t have the backstop of health insurance because the Republican Party doesn’t think that’s a right Americans should have. So in that sense, we’re no worse off than lots of others. Fortunately, Mexico does have very good medical care for all but the most serious of issues and we’ll probably be able to afford all but a catastrophic illness.
Q: Why are you moving in the middle of a pandemic?
The timing is less than ideal, right? A competent federal government might have made this an easier time to move, but it is what it is. Home values are staying strong in our area and the time to do this seems right.
The pandemic doesn’t really factor in to the decision very much. We’ve been monitoring the number of cases in Jalisco state, where Puerto Vallarta is located and it’s comparable to some of the better-managed states like Maryland, Michigan and New York. It sucks that we won’t be able to explore our new city as much as we’d like right away, but it will also provide a bit of a period to settle and get our bearings. Also availability of rentals in PV are hopefully a lot better than they would be for the winter months if there were no pandemic, so that’s a bit of a silver lining.
If there’s anything else you want to know, leave a comment or drop me an email. We have a lot of work yet to do, so there’s plenty more to share as the weeks move on. Hopefully our house will be on the market by the second week of October, which is the next big landmark.