international living

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Ever wondered if you could retire on $3,000 a month? Well the answer is “Yes!”. Not only that, you might be able to get by on only $2,000 a month!

Of course, you’d have to sell you gas-guzzling Tahoe and move -out from your swanky Downtown condo and move somewhere cheaper. But cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean inferior! A Canadian couple who retired and moved to Mazatlan are actually spending only $2,000/month.

When Anne retired, we sold our house outside of Calgary, which had 10.5 acres of land. With the proceeds from the sale, we paid off the house in Mexico and bought a 14 x 44-ft mobile home in a beautiful RV park south of Calgary. Now we spend November to April in Mexico and the summer months in Canada.

Overall, I’d say living expenses in Mexico are between a third and half of what they are in Canada. The two of us can live very well on about $2,000 a month. When we worked out our monthly expenses, we were paying about $135 a month for shelter, including utilities, property taxes, Internet and telephone.

Some costs seem absurdly low to Canadian eyes. Our property tax, for example, is just 381 pesos per year($40), although we pay an additional bank trust fee of $422 annually because our house is within 50 km of the ocean. Even with air conditioning in the hot months, our electricity costs have averaged $16 a month. Of course, we never have any heating costs. If it gets chilly at night, you just throw on an extra blanket. Fire insurance is not necessary except for contents because all the houses are built of concrete.

Food is cheap. You might pay $2 for a 1.9-litre bottle of milk, 43 cents for a kilo of tomatoes and $2.50 for enough large fresh shrimp for a meal. Services cost even less. You can visit the dentist for $20 to $30, hire a cleaning lady for the day for $10, have your hair cut for $4, and get your laundry done for about $4.50 for three kilos.

We don’t need a car — the bus system is great and the local bus costs 4 pesos(41 cents Cdn.), or you can pay 8 pesos for the air-conditioned bus, which is mostly for tourists. That means we can afford to dine out often. On Valentine’s Day we went all out and had dinner at a Mexican-Greek restaurant. We had a large margarita, a bottle of wine, a delicious meal, a dessert flambé and cappuccino for about $50 including tip. Normally, we don’t spend that much. There are many places where the two of us can get a simple meal for $10.

Another advantage to being in Mexico, as opposed to, say Thailand or Costa Rica, or some of the other places where Canadians can live cheaply during retirement, is that it’s fairly close to home. The flight to Calgary costs us about $700 so if we need to go back to see the kids, it’s not a problem.

On the flip side, if your house is paid off, you probably might be able to live on $2,000/mo in San Diego! You might have more fun in Mazatlan, but if you’re retired, your partying days are probably older, and you’d more than likely enjoy the quiet company of your friends and relatives. Having spent so much of my life moving between very different places, I probably wouldn’t mind. But the average person might not want to suddenly move to new country when he or she is 60-65.

Anyway, its a different perspective on adjusting your means to fulfill your living!

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