I get that our lifestyle has people scratching their heads trying to figure out the logistics and wondering where we’ve hidden our money tree. The answer “Why We Sold Everything We Owned and Moved to Mexico” is quite easy. As for the “How” part, there are a lot more factors in play. I’ll try and do my best to explain.
Since the first time that I met Ed, I knew that things were going to be different. How different I had no idea. Shortly after meeting, we decided to travel to different destinations in the hopes of finding the place that we would retire. You know, in 25 years.
Our list of requirements were pretty short; Cost of Living, Climate and Language.
– Not too expensive.
– Not too hot. Not too cold. Temperate.
– A spoken language of French, English or Spanish. Ed is trilingual.
We investigated Paris, Belize and Panama* but none of them were quite right. We decided to give Mexico a try and when we first visited San Cristobal de las Casas in 2003, we knew that it was “The Place”. The place where we would retire.
We went home excited. Pumped that we’d checked “Find Location” off our list of things to do and then we got back to our regular life. I mean, we had plenty of time to figure out the other details. Twenty-five years was a long time.
And then it happened.
Two of our business associates at work died in their sleep. Just like that. Both were less than six months from retirement. Both had been saving up all their vacation and sick days for two years. One even had booked his first trip to Daytona Beach. Neither of them made it.
Ed and I reflected. We knew that we didn’t want our story to be the same as theirs. So, we made a decision.
We would sell everything we owned and Move to Mexico… Now.
We would not wait 25 years, 10 years, or any time at all. Effective immediately, we would begin getting our affairs into order. For some, it might be the biggest and hardest decision of their life but for us it was easy.
It was the right decision. The only decision.
And so we went about liquidating all of our assets. All of them. We spent many a night listing items on ebay, having garage sales, selling businesses, motorcycles, a cottage, you name it. The neighbours awoke each morning and rushed to their windows to see what item we had chained to our tree the night before**. If it couldn’t fit in the van, it had to go.
And so it went. The process in itself was very cathartic. Things became just that… things with a monetary value associated with it. It’s value allowed us to live out our dreams. When we looked at it that way, it was really easy to part with. Neither of us are sentimental in the least so that probably made it easier.
I would get rid of everything I owned again in a heartbeat.
In the end, after less than 18 months after the passing of our friends, we loaded our van, with Aries the Cat of course and headed south. For how long we didn’t know. What we did know is that we wanted to stay for at least one year. You know, let the honeymoon phase pass and find out what life was really like living outside of Canada and if it was for us.
Turns out, it was for us.
Three years later, we loaded up the van again and headed back to Canada. Since that time, we’ve been wintering in Mexico and hope to someday spend more time there again. I can’t imagine my life without Mexico in it. For every “unfortunate experience” that you read about, there are 10 things that happened that make Mexico special. They just don’t make for as good blog fodder.
As for the “How”, I won’t try and tell you that it was or is easy. But it is possible.
Over the three years, we lived off of savings in Canada, I taught English at a local University and offered private classes out of our home. We took in boarders (only women) and held garage sales. We didn’t make a lot of money but we made enough and that was fine for us.
Nowadays, we don’t have all the things that other people have. The Kids wear hand-me downs and clothing from our local thrift store, House of Lazarus. I buy in bulk, on sale or used. We drive a 14 year old reliable vehicle. What we lack in material possessions, we make up for in time, memories and life experiences.
We’re living our dreams. Today.
What are your Dreams?
— Journeys of The Zoo (@zoojourneys) March 13, 2015
I know that I have a print picture of Ed, Aries and I in front of the loaded van but it’s in Canada and I’m in Mexico. I’ll post it when I get home.
* Ed’s parents were born in Panama and he has citizenship. He has lived there as an adult. Since it’s so hot there all year long, we ruled it out as a possibility.
** We sold many an item that was chained to our front tree and became quite well known in the neighbourhood.