I met Jeanette at a social event this summer. Our conversation moved quickly from our professional lives to “I will retire in Mexico,” she said. I think she noticed my bewilderment after she mentioned her retirement plan. Based on OECD analysis of quality of life cities like Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver are among the 23 best places to live in. Why to move south then? I did not ask at that moment but a few days later I invited Jeanette for a coffee to learn more about this idea.
It seems she is not alone. The Expat Insider 2018 report by InterNations indicates that “nearly a quarter of US American expats (23%) describe their current employment status as retiree.” I visited additional online resources to prepare myself for my next conversation with Jeanette. Kathleen Peddicord, author and publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, advises on the benefits of retiring abroad, while others like Chris Powers, who runs PanamaForReal.com, has a more cautious approach.
Armed with coffees Jeanette and I started talking. “How did you decide to retire in Mexico?” I asked.
As a passionate traveller she and her husband are always organizing trips around the world. They see living in Mexico as an opportunity to continue travelling even when they start their transition to retirement. They have been influenced by Jeanette’s father-in-law’s own experience as an expat. This connection has helped them test drive the idea of living in Mexico. She has been visiting the lake Ajijic area to experience the daily life in this community made of mainly expats. The weather, the country’s slower pace, the lifestyle, the shops and affordable health care are among the benefits she and her husband see in this option.
I must tell you, I admire these expatarees™, as I call them. I left Latin America more than 20 years ago to move to Canada. I have lived in 3 countries by now. I have experienced first hand the culture shock, the loss of a social network, the awkwardness of not knowing the language and the rules. The baby-like feeling of having to learn everything from scratch. Would I like to start again in a new place at 64 or more? I asked myself. Jeanette’s explains me that, as a bonus, living in Mexico allows them to include more travelling in their retirement budget.
If, so far, you’re more intrigued than discouraged test drive your retirement plan as Jeanette and her husband did.
Find a culture that fits your psyche.
Rick Steves, Americans living in Europe
Time passes fast when listening to Jeanette’s plan. I want to stay longer and ask more questions but we both have busy schedules for the day. Before finishing the conversation, I asked a last question. I know she is an active member of the community who regularly works on social causes. Do you have a life purpose for your retirement? With a big smile she says, “Now we are talking!” She has visited associations in lake Ajijic to continue her social work there too. You can see that she has done her homework. She left me with one final thought, “don’t go to a place to change it,” she said. On that, I cannot agree more.
I join those that are intrigued, or cautiously intrigued rather, by the idea of becoming expatirees™. If you are too, tell us what has worked and hasn’t worked for you as you look for the next city to call home.