Friday, March 13, 2015

Why We Sold Everything We Owned and Moved to Mexico #travel

Sold Everything We Owned - Moved to MexicoThe first question that people ask me is “Why Mexico?” followed shortly by “How”.

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.

Sold Everything We Owned - Moved to Mexico-San Cristobal de las Casas2

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.

Sold Everything We Owned - Moved to Mexico-Aries the Cat

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.

Sold Everything We Owned - Moved to Mexico-Beach

What are your Dreams?

Note that Ed runs his own company and is able to do a lot of his work over the internet. I am a Stay-at-Home Mom.

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.

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69 thoughts on “Why We Sold Everything We Owned and Moved to Mexico #travel

    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Maria,

      We always thought in the back of our minds that we’d be gone for three years. The nature of my husbands business has contracts renewing every three years so we went back to work. Ideally, we would have made enough money to live in Mexico but while it’s easy to make a little money, it’s hard to make enough. We have a minimalist lifestyle but still. And, Canada in the Summer is beautiful and it’s rainy season in Mexico. Besides, it’s nice to have access to basic things like kalamata olives, robertson srews and bolts and affordable clothing.

      Splitting our time between the two countries is ideal for us. We’d just like to spend more than 4 months here.

      Thanks for reading, supporting and asking. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…You Can Buy Anything on the Streets of Mexico. Anything.My Profile

      Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Julie,

      My brother has visited three times (over the ten years), a friend has come and my cousin and his girlfriend came for 5 days this January. As for the others, they all think that we live in the jungle and that it’s very dangerous. Couldn’t be farther from the truth but there’s no telling them.

      Why, are you thinking of coming for a visit?

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…Find Out How the Ontario Science Centre Makes Science Engaging and CreativeMy Profile

      Reply
  1. Doris Calvert

    That is brave, most of us talk about it but do not have the guts! We are good with the familiar! Why did you come back? I am curious, if Mexico is where you feel you belong was it not hard to come back?

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Doris,

      We were ready to come back. Living in another culture all the time is tough. Even though we try and assimilate ourselves (we have no foreign friends here) it’s tough after 10 years. I don’t think The Kids notice the difference because it’s all they’ve ever known. Mexico is Mexico and Canada is different.

      When I got pregnant with triplets, we knew that they’d have to be born in Canada.

      We also needed money and wanted to save up some reserves again.

      My heart ached for 5 years because I wanted to be here but for the cultural reasons, Ed wanted to split his time. I’m happy with our lifestyle now. However, I’d like to have the split be; 8 months in Mexico and 4 months in Canada. Soon.

      Thanks for your interest. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      Besos Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…Happy 14 ¾ Birthday! Say What? My Profile

      Reply
  2. Julie F

    We have recently moved back to Canada after living in Poland for three years ,we loved the country but still we were glad to come back to Canada, we only took a few things with us and the house we rented was furnished but I was amazed at how easy it was to get by with so little and am now in the process of de-cluttering our home here!

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Julie,

      For the first three weeks, we used plastic boxes (that we’d brought) as chairs and a table. We brought the van seats into the house and slept on them. We showered with cold water. We made “do” with what we had until we could find and/or buy what we needed.

      After 10 years, I have everything I need (even a sewing machine!). The only thing I miss is my local thrift shop and some specialty foods. If I let myself miss all the other things in my life in Canada, I might not come.

      Let me know if you ever want to guest post and share a chapter of your travelling story.

      Besos Sarah
      Sarah recently posted…WIN a Mike the Knight Prize Pack! CAN, 3/23 #canwin #giveawayMy Profile

      Reply
      1. Julie F

        Sounds like us when we first moved to Canada 25 years ago but at least we had hot water!
        We missed Canadian bacon and good peanut butter when we were in Poland we only found one brand and it came in a wee container so was constantly buying it as hubby gets thro tons of it! There was nowhere near as much convenience food so I cooked from scratch everyday which is not a bad thing.

        Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Heidi,

      I found it really hard to come back to Canada. In fact, for five years after, I was in constant turmoil because I didn’t want to be in Canada. I finally got my head around the fact that I was wasting precious energy on something I couldn’t control (we had to be in Canada to make money) and found peace. Now I’m happy wherever I am and know that sooner rather than later, I will live in Mexico again.

      Freda spoke my mind when she said “Home is where your heart is and that travels everywhere you do”.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…Happy 14 ¾ Birthday! Say What? My Profile

      Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Ashley,

      Our lifestyle isn’t for everyone.

      Often people say to me “I couldn’t do that” when really what they mean is “I wouldn’t want to do that” or “That’s too scary to even think about so I’ll just say I can’t”.

      I lived out of a bag from age 13 to 18 so I’ve always been a traveller. Home was wherever I was. It just came out this week about what I was doing for those five years so I’m going to have to blog about it now…

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…You Can Buy Anything on the Streets of Mexico. Anything.My Profile

      Reply
  3. missbobloblaw

    Love your story. You deserve to find your happiness.

    I know it isn’t spanish or spanglish but….Carpe diem. <3

    Reply
  4. Aneta Alaei

    Sarah, I love you for this! I wish that one day I have the resources and I am brave enough to do something like this. I also am not to attached to material things and keep trying to throw things out or sell them. Hubby still has undies from when I was playing with Barbies….
    Aneta Alaei recently posted…Giving Back #Giveaway #WorldWideMy Profile

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  5. Tammy

    Best article I have read in a while. I am so happy to hear you chased your dreams. Way to go Sarah! We “think” about doing the same thing often…but I don’t think we are brave enough yet to take the leap. Girl you just rock! Xo

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Tammy,

      Thanks for the compliment and reading along with our story. I know what you mean about missing Family. I don’t think about it or I might never come. The joys that I gain outweigh the sadness of my losses. It might not be like this forever so I’m running with it while I can. Besides, a Family member usually comes to visit once a year. Winter is a bit warmer where we are 😉

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…WIN a Mike the Knight Prize Pack! CAN, 3/23 #canwin #giveawayMy Profile

      Reply
  6. Rachel G

    It was really cool to hear your story of how and why you decided to move. You’ve spent far more time in Mexico than my husband has, even though both of his parents were born there, and he still has a grandma and other assorted relatives in the country. 2013 was our year of selling and getting rid of everything we owned and moving overseas–luckily, though we didn’t actually own much at all, so it wasn’t too complicated of a process. 🙂
    Rachel G recently posted…The Great 2015 Book SpreeMy Profile

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  7. Maria Griffin

    Such a great story. I want to live in Maui at least some of the time. Hubby still works. You’re smart and brave. Love people who have the courage of their convictions.

    Reply
  8. Michele

    I love that you are able to follow your dream. I have traveled a little bit but my heart is in New York—the general area where I live now. Material things have never been my thing or I could never live here. I was told that once I retired I would have to move out of New York–well I am semi retired now and I am still here! There are places I could live for a year or so–but I know on my heart I’d always come home.
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  9. Aliya D

    Wow, good for you guys! I spent a year living in Paris, another in Los Angeles and another in Ottawa, and lastly in Washington DC; I found these moves to be the best things at that point in my life. Really shook up my world, and made me reflect on what was important.

    Reply
  10. Debbie S.

    Such a great story Sarah. I’m happy you are living out your dreams. My son has many medical conditions so we are best off here. Although I’d love to visit many places, and I really want to take my grandson to Disney World, I will stay here in Canada, and travel more here. Hubby and I will take the odd holiday out of country, I’m thinking Vegas! If I’m ever in Mexico I will definitely let you know and we could meet up for popcorn, caviar and chocolate, lol. I wish you all the happiness in the world!

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Debbie,

      I totally understand your limitations with respect to your movements. I think it’s great that you want to travel and are trying to meet your needs. Canada is beautiful and there are a few places on my bucket list that I want to see.

      I went to Las Vegas last April and had a really good time. I normally don’t go back to the same place (except here of course) but I would go back there. Vegas is whatever you want it to be.

      Thanks for your kind words and unrelenting support.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…Are you Feeding Your Special Needs Pet the Best Food Possible? @PetcureanMy Profile

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  11. MrsWhite

    I love this post. It is very inspirational as I am pretty much trying to get my husband to do the exact same thing. I have heard MANY stories about people passing RIGHT before retirement and let me tell you, it has me completely freaked out. Btw – I am so sorry to hear of their passing.
    There is never a “right time” to live your dreams. Don’t wait, do it now.. You really never know what tomorrow holds. I would love to hear more about your life in Mexico (lots of pics too please!) lol! 🙂
    MrsWhite recently posted…Creamed SpinachMy Profile

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  12. Deanna T.

    The one thing I always wonder is what will happen with school as the kids get older. Do you need to “prove” to anyone in Canada that they are being educated? I mean once they are old enough for Grade 1 they are legally required to be in school, or being homeschooled. How does that work?

    Reply
  13. Wayne Seto

    Very inspiring read! I just took a leave of absence from work to travel for the next year. I’m currently in India and looking to plant some roots in Thailand next month; and wondering if living outside of Canada is for me also. Thanks for the post. A great read 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Wayne,

      How exciting! Visiting India is one of three places that’s on my bucket list. I’ll need to pick your brain about what foods are safe to eat. Do you have a blog where we can follow along?

      Thanks for stopping by and all the best on your trip, wherever and for however long it may take you.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…Have You Ever Forgotten Your Child?My Profile

      Reply
  14. Brenda A

    Bravo! I often fantasize about doing just this. What an adventure to add to your life, not to mention new friends.

    Reply
  15. Julie (xfallenmoon)

    Ah ok, the title was misleading!! Lol.

    We also hope to retire in Mexico. I think it’s a wonderful country (for the most part). We own a house in Playa del Carmen. I also lived in Australia for 4 years, that was awesome. It’s my dream country, but it’s just a tad too far from the rest of our families for us.
    Julie (xfallenmoon) recently posted…A quick and easy Easter center pieceMy Profile

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  16. Merry120

    You are NOT helping my desire to move to another country. In fact, I got my hubs to read this post. My preference would be to move to Bali but Mexico would make much more sense from a work and time zone perspective. Hopefully one day.

    Reply
  17. Louanne Baelde

    I absolutely loved your article about moving to Mexico, as it is something that we almost did, not Mexico, but somewhere else where it was warm and far away. You had the guts to do it! Fantastic!!

    Reply
      1. Louanne Baelde

        We also moved to Belize, but the cost of construction for the materials, fear of the unknown area as at that time it wasn’t as yet developed, and the difficulty for family to visit changed our ideas. Perhaps a visit in the future.

        Reply
        1. Sarah Post author

          Dear Louanne,

          My husband and I spent three weeks in Belize (Placencia) in 2002 in our search for the place to retire. We found it really expensive (based on US dollars), the beaches weren’t that great and we couldn’t find anything to do besides party all day. We loved it for a vacation but couldn’t imagine a lifetime of it. I hear that the Cayes are really beautiful. The poor in Belize are really poor and there’s a lot of them (in comparison to the wealthy).

          When in Mexico, we’re really close to Belize but that’s as close as I’ll get. We love Mexico because no matter where you are, it’s around 12 hours door to door and is really stable.

          Besos Sarah.
          Sarah recently posted…Given the State of my Oven does my Dishwasher really Surprise You?My Profile

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          1. Louanne Baelde

            Thank you for letting us know, then it was a good choice then not to move there.

  18. Rikki

    So inspiring! My husband and I visited Mexico earlier this year and we talked about what life would be like once we were financially able to winter out of Canada. We’re in our late 20’s right now, and my goal is to be location independent by 35. Maybe we’ll be neighbours 😉

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Rikki,

      Where were you in Mexico exactly? I love that your looking to follow your dreams. It’s not for everyone but so many people think that you can’t do it until you’re old. I was 33 when we left for three years. I would never have come home if it weren’t for my husband and the fact that I had a high risk pregnancy (Triplets). I can’t wait to hear about all your adventures. Please let me know if you have any questions.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…Would You Have Stopped to Help? My Profile

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      1. Rikki

        I visited Playa Del Carmen. Not my favourite place, but I saw a few smaller towns nearby, like Tulum, that were really beautiful. And I definitely don’t want to wait until retirement! How much approx. did it cost you to live in Mexico per month? I’m not totally sold on Mexico, but I do love it there & it’s a pretty quick flight home.
        Rikki recently posted…3 Easy Ways to Get Followers on TwitterMy Profile

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        1. Sarah Post author

          Dear Rikki,

          We are no where near the “touristy” cities and you won’t find us ever living there.

          The smaller cities cost less (our has a population of 120,000) and a guesstimate would be $1,500/CDN a month for everything to live. You could do it cheaper if you shared accommodation, didn’t eat out, shopped at the markets, didn’t have internet, the list goes on.

          Guatemala is cheaper to live and (apparently) beautiful but there is more political unrest. The world is your oyster and I hope you get the chance to achieve your dreams. Whatever they may be.

          Besos Sarah.
          Sarah recently posted…A Friendship that Just Keeps Getting Better With AgeMy Profile

          Reply
  19. Elizabeth Matthiesen

    As expected a wonderful blog post, you definitely have a gift as a writer Sarah 🙂 I too have sold up and moved abroad, a few times in fact. When I was 21, I moved to Denmark (I’m from England) and spent a fantastic 2 yrs there. I enjoyed every minute of it and I’d probably have stayed if I hadn’t got engaged. So then I moved to Germany for roughly 18 yrs. All my children were born in Germany and when the youngest was 9 mths we moved to Mb for 4 yrs (loved it there too and cried when we had to return to Germany for another 4 yrs) then it was Macedonia for 2 yrs. Then I moved back to Germany alone with 3 of my 7 kids (the other 4 were all adults and elsewhere) for 8 yrs waiting for permission to emigrate to Canada. Two of my children already lived here and had families here. Now I have 7 grandchildren scattered across 3 continents. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Sarah Post author

      Dear Elizabeth,

      Wow, you have quite the story yourself! So happy to hear that you’ve made it to Canada and are (hopefully) happy here. I wonder where The Kids will end up (although that’s a long way off) but I know that I can’t stay put for the sake of my parents and I’m glad that they understand that. Thanks for sharing.

      Besos Sarah.
      Sarah recently posted…You Know You Live in Canada When… My Profile

      Reply
  20. Laura Byrne Paquet

    Wow, what an inspiring story! It takes a huge amount of bravery to turn your life around on a dime like that. Maybe my part-time Spanish studies (I’m currently taking a night class) aren’t in vain after all!

    Reply
        1. Sarah Post author

          Dear Laura,

          As long as you don’t think you’re asking for cilantro but (in a local dialect) ask for a particular part of the man’s body. I was wondering why the older ladies were snickering…

          For the six months (in Mexico), I clucked like a chicken and we managed to eat. You’ll be fine.

          Besos Sarah.
          Sarah recently posted…You Know You Live in Canada When… My Profile

          Reply

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