3 min read
19 May

When Jay visited Dee and me two weekends ago, it was a beautiful spring afternoon, warm enough to enjoy a drink on the deck overlooking the pool.  We talked about many different things, one of which was my concern about continuing to write my blog on the path it seemed to be taking.

Both said they thought I should continue, but not in the form of a personal diary which it had become and that would likely appeal only to my friends.  

They suggested I tell people what I had learned in my first full year of a nomadic lifestyle.  They agreed that would be of interest, not only to those who know me, but also to strangers who may be motivated to read about what I had learned.  

Their suggestion excited me.  I reflected on what the past twelve months taught me about becoming a happy nomad.   

I began to make a list of these things and was surprised at how quickly It grew!   If I were to write a "how to" book on becoming nomad, it would have 15 important rules, rules I would have liked to know before I set out.

The book would begin with the most obvious  question - "What would convince you give up everything you own to start an entirely new way of living?"  

I'm sure the answer to "what?" would be different to almost everyone depending on their particular circumstances, but that question needs an honest answer before you proceed. 

My "what" was: to avoid living in Canadian winters for as many years I had left as I could.  

My response, however, was not achievable for a very simple reason - money!  

At 88 years of age, I had no company pension.  All the money I owned was what I had saved by contributing to RRSPs, (Registered Retirement Savings Plans), the monthly government pittance misnamed Old Age Security, my monthly CCP (Canada Pension Plan), plus the proceeds from the sale of my very modest house the previous year because I felt I could no longer maintain a house.     

How many more years was I going to live?  

How many of those years could I afford to pay rent for the Seniors Apartment I had moved to and pay for accommodation in a warm climate each winter.  

How old would I be when I outlived my money, because that was what was going to happen?  

These questions were depressing.  

Of course no one knows how long they are going to live unless they have been diagnosed with a life-ending health problem and given a timeline for the inevitable.  

Having been diagnosed with heart failure the previous year, my doctor now considered my condition stable.  With no other health problems, I could envision myself living until 100,  In fact, my GP several years ago told me that she would take bets on it!  A comforting thing for your doctor to declare!I 

I estimated how long my money would last, to cover my monthly expenses.  It certainly wouldn't last until I reached 100 if I tried to escape winter for 3 to 6 months every year while still paying rent and expenses in Canada. 

It was then that I decided there was only one way I could live the life I wanted - move permanently to Mexico.  No more cold weather, dangerous slippy sidewalks, snowbanks to maneuver, snow to shovel to get into my car, bundling up in heavy pants, jackets and non-slip boots to venture outdoors, and extra care taken to avoid a fall.

Even my horoscope in the National Post that week seemed to be in favour of this decision.

I could afford Mexico in the winter if I cancelled the lease for the one-bedroom-plus-den seniors apartment.  My home would be gone! Then, instead of renting a storage container for my possessions, I could sell everything I owned, which consisted of the apartment furnishings, kitchenware, etc., and a 2007 Nissan Altima. My unsold paintings and other valuables, I could give to family members - they would get them at my death anyway, so why not now.  Anything left would be given to charity.

I would be unencumbered of everything except my summer clothes, laptop, iphone, a suitcase, a carry-on case, and my prescription drugs.  These moves  made me feel free as a bird and ready to live an exciting life of six months in Mexico followed by six months in an Airbnb somewhere - anywhere - in Ontario. 

My health is always better in Mexico.  I am outside all the time, except to sleep.  The sun shines daily so I get lots of vitamin D.  I eat healthier - more fruits, vegetables and seafood. Manzanillo is at zero sea level meaning blood pressure is usually normal without medication.  I don't have a car so I walk a lot.  I also do aquafit three times a week and swim every day.  I have excellent doctors and my only dentist is in Mexico.  If you need them they see you immediately at very reasonable cost. But if I was to have  an unforeseen serious health condition or a traumatic accident, I would need health insurance.  

The only way I could get it (health insurance) at my age is by maintaining my coverage of Canadian universal healthcare which, for me, is Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). The only stipulation for this health plan is you must be in the province five months in each calendar year.

So, there were the first two rules!

Rule #1 - Be in good health and have health insurance for unexpected expensive changes to your health.  And...

Rule #2 - Have enough money to live your new lifestyle for your best guess for what will be the rest of your life?  

With Rule 2 in mind, It is cheaper in Mexico to rent a one or two bedroom apartment or condo with a pool and a maid twice a week in a nice area than in Canada.  

Although food and restaurant prices have gone up, they are still cheaper in Mexico.  Fruits and vegetables taste better because, for the Mexican market, they are harvested at the optimum time - when they are ripe. They have to be harvested before their ideal date because they have to be shipped thousands of miles to reach Canadian markets. 

Seafood is plentiful and caught daily.  Pork and chicken are raised in large numbers and are very reasonable. Consequently, you eat  healthier, enjoy the food more and pay less for it.

When I crunched my numbers, I found to my delight, that I could save  $12,000 to $15,000 a year. by being a nomad.  

Doing more research I found, on average,  nomads spend between $1000 and $3000 per month. 

I was in the latter category.  This budget includes a two-bedroom, two bath accommodation in Manzanillo with twice a week maid, pool, wifi, electricity and water; food, local transportation, and leisure activities.  I put a Mexican chip in my iphone for $16 a month and I get my same Mexican phone number, all data, and free long distance to anywhere in Mexico, U.S. and Canada 24/7.

Renting a one bedroom Airbnb when I return to Ontario for six months is considerably cheaper than the rent I was paying for a seniors apartment, and I get to choose where I want to be for the summer - a different place every year.

So far, becoming a nomad made a lot of sense for me healthwise and financially.  And the bonus?  I am living the life I want to live - I am more active, involved, meeting new people, doing things I thought I couldn't do anymore (like dancing and gardening) and enjoying my life to the fullest.

Next week, I'll tell you about more rules I discovered. Until next time!  Hasta Luega!  

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