Friday, 21 February 2014

A great video on retiring and living in Mazatlan.

A great comprehensive video on retiring and living in Mazatlan.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Back in my happy place

Annie, Teddie and son Tim
Our lives are a continuing work in process.  The other day someone asked me, shaking his head, "How the heck do you keep everything straight?"  I looked him in the eye and said, "I'm a genius."  Then I laughed because that's not true, and sometimes I screw up.  Despite my desire to simplify life, it resists simplification. It may appear to many that I am a young retiree.  At best, I am semi-retired.  I choose to live in a place where I would retire to, because I can, but it is not without challenges.

On my recent trip up to Canada to take care of things there, such as visit elderly parents, see my doctor to reassure him I am still alive and taking my medications. (Well, not ALL of them that he has prescribed - we have an understanding - I don't blindly accept the medical and drug companies' recommendations, but he continues to try.  This time he finally told me that the protocols for cholesterol have been changed - statins are NOT necessary, and, in fact, studies have shown that although they lower cholesterol, that has made no difference in preventing heart attacks. I could have said I told you so but I didn't.)

I'll just drink red wine every day, thank you very much.

Along the way, many people inquired about my tan.  Had I just come back from vacation?  When I briefly described my lifestyle (it's rather distracting and surreal to be talking about it while my doctor performs a pelvic exam), invariably I got responses such as - oh, that sounds wonderful, I wish I could do that too but I have another four years to retirement - or, I want to do that but I have a house, cars, and stuff here, but boy I would be happy to have a hot-dog stand on the beach and live there instead of here right about now.

My answer to all of them, if I had responded with something more than a smile because I didn't have time for more, would have been - it just takes imagination.  You have to step back, look at what is and imagine (as in "image") something different.  What would it take?  Would waiting four more years to retire really make a difference?  Do you really need all your stuff?  If you sold it all, would that finance an early retirement in a relatively inexpensive place?  Take a first step - you don't have to make a huge decision all at once.  

I started by coming to Mazatlan on vacation and talking to others who winter or live here full-time.  I scoped out the landscape of renting, transportation to and from Canada, all of details I felt I needed to know to take another step.  Then I took that step, then another, and another, until I had finally sold most of my stuff, including my house, and rented a year-round apartment. And I enjoyed myself in the process.

Of course, there are in-between lifestyles that don't include selling everything and renting year-round.  And some people wouldn't want to spend all of their time here - a month or two or three away from the deep freeze winter-time of their home is bliss enough.  But going all the way and making a place like this the home base certainly cuts living costs back dramatically, which is all it might take to be able to retire or semi-retire.

Even with lives as complicated as ours, Mike and I, it is workable.  And man, it is complicated.  And changeable.  A contract consultant has no security, no assurance that the client will continue with the contract he has (there is always a clause that allows both parties to end it with sometimes just a week's notice), or that the contract will be renewed.  On this contract, Mike can be sent to work in any of the client's locations around the world.  He, too, has to get up to Canada from time to time to visit his mother, see his doctor, and we have to make and take opportunities whenever we can to spend time together - either here or wherever Mike happens to be.  

We still have to maintain some kind of "residential" status in Canada, even if it's just a mailing address for now, to keep our health care there and for business purposes.  Then there is the Alberta-plated Nissan Versa currently in Houston that I have to drive back to Canada and find a place to park it.....maybe in April or May....  And the Jeep Grand Cherokee we just bought from a friend in Georgia that is being trucked to Houston and licenced/registered in North Dakota (no residency requirements) that I have to go up and drive back down here....maybe in March....

Yeah, it's complicated.  But if I can be here, in my happy place, I can handle it.