Let’s get right to it from the start, what you get from reading this is highly dependent on the credibility of the information and especially the one giving it to you. So who am I to say these things to you and why should you listen. Sometimes we listen to someone because they are the only one talking. Sometimes it’s the smooth talking that hooks us, at least for awhile. But at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself should I believe this guy or not. Credibility goes to the heart of who am I. So, without further ado, let me share a bit of my story.
Once upon a time
I was a single guy whose children were grown who was biding time doing the best I could do while secretly holding on to a long-time internal desire to find a new frontier, a new adventure. Long story short, an opportunity to move south of the border appeared and it consumed me. I thought, “Live and work by the ocean, why not?” So, I came to Mexico to work, knowing no Spanish and having only a very limited exposure to the culture. I certainly had no thought of retirement as I came purely for the adventure.
My first challenge was the language. My Spanish, at that time, consisted of two words, cerveza and baño (beer and bathroom) usually in that order. As I learned a few more words, the locals tried to convince me that “mañana” meant “tomorrow”. After a little more time, I learned that “mañana” doesn’t actually mean “tomorrow”, it just means NOT “today”. It could be tomorrow, next week, next month or never, but it was definitely NOT today! But I was determined to learn the language so I was told to either go to language class or get a Mexican girlfriend. Being single, I choose the girlfriend route and then God walked her right into my life like a dream. She came to sell me advertising services and left with a lunch date. We dated for three weeks before she told me she had kids, but it was destiny. After a time to consider the challenges, age difference (she is younger than I am), the cultural difference (obvious) and the feelings of our children, I asked and she said yes! This was the start of my real learning experience. I can say that without a doubt, the single best attribute of Mexico is the people.
Let me digress a moment and say that our society north of the border could learn a few things from experiences south of the border life. I tell people that the life priorities for the Mexican people are simple and pure, religion (having and displaying their faith), family (being with or close to as much family as possible) and enough to eat (simplistic for having the basics to live on). Many of the people I told this to have offered a similar response to by saying, “So they really do not aspire for more”. They could not be more wrong, almost everyone aspires to be a better person and live a better life, but the Mexican people are just not consumed with it or desperate for it. They accept and take pride in what they have while still trying to do better. Pride can be complex or simple but never a bad thing.
“Best decision I ever made”
Getting back to my adventure, I spent the next 12 ½ years learning all I could about the social, economic, legal, political, financial, geographical and cultural aspects of my new surroundings. Of course, since I was not financially wealthy, I was forced to work as well. When I arrived in Mexico, I understood that next to oil and gas, tourism was the next biggest part of the Mexican economy. So, tourism it was. Quickly deducing that since I did not own land and I was not a millionaire to invest in development, real estate was the next best way to earn money. The only problem was I had no real estate experience. Not to be thwarted by the obvious, I learned that at that time there were no laws or rules governing real estate agent qualifications. (Let it be noted that this has changed and is regulated but we will discuss this further later on). Thus I got the best training possible, on-the-job training. After 12½ years of learning as much about what not to do as what must be done, I have a level of understanding of in and outs of living, working, investing, developing and coping with Mexico.
While I will tell you this was the best decision I ever made, I will be quick to tell you it is not for everybody. The key is to give it an honest chance by being smart and using the experience of experts (and I am convinced I am one of them). Look at it this way, it may take you a time to read this (and believe it or not you will learn from it), but what is a little time in the scheme of things pertaining to the rest of your life to find out if you have what it takes to be as courageous as our forefathers and strike out to find your “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Paradise (Happiness)!”
I also want to say if you are reading this, I applaud you for having the courage to think outside of the box and consider that while the good ’ole USA is still home maybe we should expand our thinking to consider a new neighborhood for now. This guide and my attempt at inserting some humor into it is meant to stimulate your interest in considering the possibility that the final frontier in our life, the “after we worked like hell to get here” years, can be that secretly held long-time internal desire for adventure we all dream about. Even those of you who never considered yourself adventurous can find your “Paradise” if you just allow yourself to try.
Let me also state that if you are looking for a travel book on Mexico or other tedious information on the laws, the banking, the regulations or the standard “list of most needed things to know about retiring in Mexico before you go”, there are many to choose from and you should find one of them. My mission is to cover a few of the ins and outs of this subject as I believe you have to understand the vision to determine the outcome. Simply, none of the data and facts on “Retiring in Mexico” are as important to your decision as discovering if have the desire to go and believe it may work for you. Once you are honest with yourself about your beliefs, the rest is a piece of cake. So, read on and let’s explore the possibilities together.
First off I am not retired; not my choice, but the excitement of wanting to pass along my experience to you makes it all worthwhile. So what is the situation? Let’s talk “Baby Boomers.” I am a “Baby Boomer”; well at least my age qualifies me as one. Much has been made of the ~88 million “Baby Boomers” set to retire in the next 10-15 years by numerous experts in the fields of finance, healthcare, prescription needs, Medicare and so on. First I am not sure how comfortable I am with being lumped into an 88 million of anything but I am at that age and can’t do anything about that. So, while accepting that I am a “Baby Boomer”, I can say with confidence that those making all the noise about this seem to have a few things in common and it is not always in the best interest of us Boomers.
We are labeled as the “spending generation” compared to our “saving generation” parents. We also carry the load of being flush with cash to “retire in style” and “live the good life”. Certainly this was our goal during the thousands of hours we toiled to get to this point but life seldom turns out as we imagined it should have.
So, now here we are, the 80’s are the new 70’s, the 70’s are the new 60’s, the 60’s are the new 50’s and so on and so on. I guess this is referring to the old expression that “you are only as old as you feel” and we all seem to be a bit more agile and mobile than those before us. While all this may be true the one thing the “now” generation lacks and seems to have forgotten about us is our adventurous spirit. The USA is without a doubt the greatest country in the world and I am PROUD to be an American. However, I remember my history from days past and how the United States was founded by adventurous people seeking a new life, free from a place where their “Life, liberty and Pursuit of Happiness” was out of their control. They fled to seek freedom of beliefs, religion and a better life, to survive.
But in life, it seems that what goes around comes around in some respect as we are right back in that situation where we are not in control of our own destiny. We have spent the better part of our life working, aspiring to not only make a better life but to just make it to the “Silver and Golden” enjoyment years in life. The current generation seems complacent to accept their fate as long as they have their icons of the times they have become accustomed to; IPods, cell phones and computer chatting. They also seem to be okay with discounting our feelings by saying, “oh, he’s old and hard to get along with most of the time.” Our kids are busy with their own lives, our friends are either in the same boat we are or worse, dead, and the “I’m from the government and I am here to help” politicians are quickly sealing our fate to doom and gloom by using our programs of Medicare, Social Security and other “after years” programs as a piggy bank for the “now” and “future” generations.
Okay, enough philosophy, what is it that I am trying to get to?
Fact: We all will (or at least hope with all our heart we will) come to a point in life where we leave work behind and play out the final years rewarded by those years of toil.
Fact: The reward we have worked for is or most likely will be worth less than we ever thought or imagined it would be.
Fact: Once we reach the time we should be able to reap this reward we will be forced to make decisions we probably never contemplated until we are faced straight in the face with this dilemma.
Fact: Our preoccupation with getting to the “time we should enjoy the fruits of our labor” usually took precedence over thinking about, doing the research on or actual planning for this time of our life.
Fact: Decisions in this time of our life are harder to make due to the ever changing climate of the economy, political and social elements plus not knowing who to trust to guide us.
Conclusion: Once we make to the “after years”, we have to make the best of it and the smart money says improvise and consider all your options.
WHAT DO WE WANT THE MOST?
Okay, now we are at the heart of the matter, we worked, we saved and we retired, now what. We will first look at the priority list for what matters in considering our options. What are the “have to have’s” and how do we rate them? Stay tuned as we continue explore this final frontier, the ¨finding our Paradise¨ adventure.
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About the Author Frank Jackson; is an American, married to a Mexican citizen, resident of Mexico for over 13 years, and he is a prominent business owner in Mexico. Frank is a contributing writer for Escapeartist Mexico and a member of the Escapeartist Mexico Business Development Team.