Author Topic: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico  (Read 3412 times)

6-Saturdays

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One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« on: January 14, 2020, 01:53:56 PM »
Thought I would try and write down some of my experiences since FIRE just a bit over a month ago.

At the ripe old age of 44 and a ― my last day of work in Texas was December 6th 2019, after that DW and I started to get ready for our move to Mexico. We were lucky enough to see some good friends that had moved away from the area or had been deployed in the armed forces just before we left, so it was a good send off.

Divesting ourselves of our accumulated worldly possessions was both easier and harder than I thought it would be (we were only bringing what would fit into a Toyota Prius with a roof bag for the trip, everything else had to go!).

We had purchased our home in the Lake Chapla area of Mexico about 2 years ago so we knew where would would land at the end of our journey. Crossing the border at Laredo was a lot more confusing than I thought it would be. I had expected a bit more formalized of a process, but it was pretty much a free-for-all. I think we were supposed to self-declare on our entrance to Mexico, but I just drove through the check-point and even though we had a Prius stuffed to the gills with stuff we got a green light so the border agents just shrugged and let us through. For those of you that think U.S. public workers donīt give a shit let me tell you Mexican public workers could teach a masterīs class :)   

The drive through Mexico from the border to our home took two days. If you have never experienced a 3 lane (1 ― each way) road you are not missing anything joyful unless one of your bucket list items is to play chicken with an oncoming semi. Aside from aging 3 months each time I needed to pass a slow moving vehicle the trip was fairly uneventful. Only had one gas station try the scam of not zeroing out the pump before they start pumping your gas, but we caught the attendant before he could pull it off.   

The transition to living in a foreign country has been hard. We had no illusions going in that it would be easy (neither DW or I are fully fluent in Spanish), but we had a few issues right off the bat that if spread out over a couple of months would have been no problem, but in the span of about 2 weeks was rather daunting, these included: our fridge dying late Christmas Eve, something in our electric meter burning out the following week and the electric company taking their sweet time getting it fixed, a blackout just a few days later due to a large truck hitting an electric pole in our neighborhood. As a side note when we donīt have electricity we donīt have water or the ability to get our car out of its parking space, so you really learn to appreciate stable power!

On a personal level Iīm still trying to find my groove in this new reality. What day is the best day to go grocery shopping? When should I try to add weight lifting back into exercise plan? Should I devote a morning or two to my writing instead of going to play pickleball? What outdoor or indoor project should I tackle at the house next? Like many before me I donīt know how I had time for a job before early retirement. Although I will say waking up naturally and not to an alarm is pretty damn nice, and sitting here watching my two cats lounge on our patio that overlooks the lake and Mount Garcia in the distance isnīt bad either.

ixtap

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2020, 02:08:07 PM »
The whole point of the red light/ green light system is to avoid profiling and haphazard agent decisions. They would need an actual reason to stop you.

The best day to go grocery shopping is market day!

The best time to start weight lifting is yesterday, unless you have an injury.

Do you write better in the mornings? Unless the answer is a resounding yes, pickle ball is probably building your social network, which is very important right now.

Ricochet

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2020, 12:39:00 PM »
Looks like you could / should take up Stand-up Paddle boarding as well. I wish I didn't have to hit the snooze button then drag my ass out of bed to go to work today. Keep reminding yourself that you are living the dream, and do you really need the power to be on in order to dream?

dougules

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2020, 09:52:28 AM »
I love Mexico, but driving there sounds scary to me.  Honestly I'm getting a little anxious even just thinking about it.  Is it something you're getting used to?  Do you take buses at all?

6-Saturdays

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2020, 06:52:24 PM »
You get used to the driving, you just have to keep your attention on the road and know that the ubiquitous mopeds will pass you on the right or left if they think they can squirt through. Dealing with Houston drivers for a few years was good practice for where I drive in Mexico.

Telecaster

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2020, 02:26:15 PM »
PTF

Padonak

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2020, 02:29:51 PM »
Great report!

I understand that you don't share specific numbers, but what's a good monthly budget, in your opinion, to retire in Mexico as a single person? How much does a small house or a nice 1-2br condo cost?

Hunny156

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2020, 07:49:56 PM »
Hello from the Austin metro!  About 2-3 years behind you, and Lake Chapala is on our list.  Sorry to hear the start is a bit bumpy, I hope things pan out soon and you find your groove.

Are you planning on living there year round?  Or will you be spending time both in the US and Mexico?  What is your plan for medical care?  International insurance?

Looking forward to your answers and future updates.  Congrats on making it this far into your FIRE journey.  :)

6-Saturdays

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2020, 12:32:33 PM »
Great report!

I understand that you don't share specific numbers, but what's a good monthly budget, in your opinion, to retire in Mexico as a single person? How much does a small house or a nice 1-2br condo cost?

Youīll hate the answer, but it really does depend. On the absolute low end I think you could get by for a single person for around $1200 USD a month, possibly even lower depending on things like: how much do you want to cook at home, do you have expensive hobbies or like to go hiking, do you want to live a bit away from the main towns and have a car, or live in town and be able to walk/take public transport everywhere etc? This can also be affected by renting vs buying a place.

I would say a budget of $2000 a month would allow for a pretty nice lifestyle in the Lake Chapala area for a single person, especially if you have inexpensive tastes and are laid back about things like home decor and appliances etc.

Home prices can vary quite a bit in our area, typically places closer to Ajijic (the main Gringo/Expat town) are more expensive than if you go either east or west along the lake. You can pick up a nice place here for around 120-150K especially if you are willing to live outside of Ajijic. But just know that mortgages are almost unheard of here so you need to have the capital to buy the place outright. I would also budget a bit higher than the U.S. for home maintenance, simply put construction techniques down here can leave a bit to be desired. One fun game DW and I like to play is "What the hell is that wire? Where does it go and what does it do?" . After we get a bit more settled I will put together a monthly budget and share with the group.

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6-Saturdays

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Re: One month and some change into FIRE in Mexico
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2020, 12:41:33 PM »
Hello from the Austin metro!  About 2-3 years behind you, and Lake Chapala is on our list.  Sorry to hear the start is a bit bumpy, I hope things pan out soon and you find your groove.

Are you planning on living there year round?  Or will you be spending time both in the US and Mexico?  What is your plan for medical care?  International insurance?

Looking forward to your answers and future updates.  Congrats on making it this far into your FIRE journey.  :)

We currently plan to live in Mexico year round. We just didn't know how to budget for healthcare in the U.S., and private health insurance in Mexico is very affordable, we basically have medical plans that cover what I call the 3C's (Cancer, Cardiac Arrest, and Car Accident), and for a typical office visit, the cost to see a doctor down here is about the same as my co-pay in the U.S., so we basically "self-insure" for the day-to-day.

Have a good one.

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