Choosing a Place to Retire: Qualitative Checklist Required

I’m not sure I’d choose to move to Cuernavaca if I had it all to do over again. (Though I don’t have another place that I’m convinced I’d rather be). It’s just that I didn’t list out enough criteria to use to be sure that Cuernavaca was the right place for me. Now that I’ve lived here for a while, I am starting to see how much we have to consider before we choose a new home for ourselves. I hope you can gain from my experience as you plan to retire in Mexico.

I didn’t ask myself questions, such as…

What do I spend most of my free time doing?

What activities do I find most refreshing or satisfying?

What items/activities do I feel I couldn’t live without?

What am I most excited to leave behind when I go to Mexico?

What do I really like and what gets on my last nerve about my current town?

Beware of Vacation Mode

When you visit Mexico in search of your retirement location, it’s easy not to notice if you are still in the “vacation” mode to some extent. We can all “go without” certain preferred things for a while and not even miss them, but when the daily grind begins to wear on us, then we really seek them out. The opposite can be true. When we get to Mexico we enjoy the new activities so much, we don’t notice the ones we might miss later. It’s easy to read along, thinking “yeah, yeah, yeah” but not really understand.

I like to give my readers examples so that they can really feel what it might be like to retire in Mexico. Imagine you are a champion league bowler. You also love the beach. When you visit Mexico you follow your heart and choose a small, quiet beach town so that you can enjoy walks on the beach daily. After you finally make your dream come true and retire in Mexico you find you really miss the ego boost you used to get on Saturday nights bowling strike after strike. You do walk on the beach every day, but let’s face it. There is no ego boost from strolling along in the sun.

Details, Details, Relationships, and Stress Reduction

I’ve been in Mexico for six, no, 7 years and I still miss having a bath tub! When I moved I knew that I loved taking baths and knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to have a tub in my home in Mexico, but I guess I thought I’d get over it eventually. I’m not getting over it. It’s not just that I love taking baths, it’s that it’s a strategy I used to use for stress reduction. Ooops. I underestimated the importance of having a bath tub. Other things hadn’t even occurred to me. I love to walk and really, really, no matter how much I wrack my mind, can’t find good (free and safe) places to get out and get relaxed and refreshed in Cuernavaca. This seems like a small thing, but it’s not. It’s about getting cabin fever, about feeling trapped.

What about rare, but important treats? For example, imagine that you love to see art films with your oldest child? What if he/she were to visit you after you retire in Mexico and you couldn’t take in one single film? Would you still have a rewarding visit? This is a drastic example, but I think it helps to illustrate how some things are so ingrained in our experience in our current lives, that we may not even think to consider if we can still enjoy them when we move.

Ease Into it Baby: Retire in Mexico Like You’d Get into a Hot Tub

Mexico is just so different from the U.S. and Canada. I just can’t put it into words and you can’t picture it until you live there. Then you’ll know what I mean. This is why you’ve really got to ease yourself into your retirement in Mexico. Make extended stays. Rent, don’t buy at first. Finally, when getting on the plane to head back to Mexico feels like going home, then you can buy or build your dream home.

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