While we waited on our return flight out of Houston, we called our financial advisor and explained we needed some TLC. We needed to know how to rustle up more than we had planned for the log cabin, because we were considering buying a house in Mexico, where they (at the time) did not use mortgages. Since we were funding new construction, we had a full year to come up with the cost. So we asked our advisor to determine IF we could pull that off, and how. Second, we asked him to re-run our retirement plan, based on the different cost-of-living (full time and only) in Mexico. We sent him cost of living documents provided by Focus, and told him we had about a week to make a decision.
The next week was a muddle of getting back to work while wondering how the “Mexican retirement” issue would play out. Finally our advisor called us back and scheduled a weekend meeting. He told us first “yes,” we could put together the money to secure the house over the course of the next year. It would not be easy, and we would have to do some juggling, but it was doable. Next he addressed the cost-of-living data; he told us that it was way too low, and he didn’t trust it, so he ran the numbers twice: once with the numbers we gave him, and a second time at triple those numbers. He said “either way, it all works. Further, we can accelerate your retirement. You can skip the 10 years working as a contractor and simply retire at age 56.” Judy started to tear up, and I was shocked. I had just bought back 10 years of time!
We executed the offer paperwork and bought our retirement casa in Mexico.
Explaining this sudden change in plans to our extended family and grown children was NOT easy. They had not gone through the process we had, done the research, visited, run the data. Additionally, when we left for our first visit, they expected my wife Judy to be the voice of reason pulling us back from the ledge. Instead, we returned and she was more convinced than I had been. So we had to patiently explain and re-explain that:
- No, we weren’t renouncing our citizenship; we still pay US taxes, and vote in US elections.
- While drug violence is a problem, it is concentrated along the border, along certain trafficking routes and in big cities, and is generally avoidable.
- Health care was excellent, and in fact many grandparents host their grandkids for dental vacations to get braces at cents on the dollar.
- We lived only minutes away from an international airport, with easy connections to anywhere in the US.
- Since we were not working anymore, we were free to come visit for as long as they could stand having us, without having to de-conflict three or four work schedules.
- The weather was great year round, so we could welcome visits any time they cared to come.
- Yes, you could get by Lakeside without learning Spanish, but why would you want to? We planned to do immersion language training once we moved there.
Our family members’ responses ran the gamut from implied concern to outright “are you nuts?” Over time, most simply admitted they just couldn’t fathom making such a move, but wished us well.
Around the end of 2012, the house was completed and we visited, with my father in tow, to take possession. We really enjoyed having Dad along, and he was able to report back on how nice the weather, the people, and the food were.
So here we were, owning a vacant home in the quaint Mexican village of Ajijic, but still working in Washington DC and waiting for the calendar to roll over a few more times, to 2016.