Dramatically Changed My Mindset
We returned to Ajijic, Mexico last week after being back in Austin, Texas for 6 weeks. The trip to Austin and then returning to Mexico has gotten me to realize just how much my mindset has shifted in the last 18 months.
I recently chronicled my wife’s experience on the Repurpose Your Career podcast episode Marc’s Wife, Lotus, and Her Observations on Moving to Ajijic. [Podcast]
I also suggest you listen to the podcast episode The Millers Move to Mexico [Podcast]
In both of these episodes, you will hear my wife Lotus and me talk about how much this exploration has changed us.
You can find all of the blog posts and podcast episodes where I am chronicling our journey and the decision-making process on the How to Move Abroad and Take Your Job With You Series Page.
Our Return to Austin and What We Noticed
We returned to Austin in late October with the plan to stay for 6 weeks, clean out our condo and prepare it for rent. On arrival, my wife and I noticed a number of changes in how we viewed things.
The noise of Austin is constant. We live a quarter mile from the main stage of the Austin City Limits Festival. We are used to the noise, but what we both noticed was the constant white noise in the background. This includes road noise and air conditioning compressors that seemed to always be on.
We live right in the center of Ajijic, a small city of 15,000 or so people on the north shore of Lake Chapala. It can be very noisy but it is a different kind of noisy. It is children in the streets playing, parades and other celebrations, or even the cohetes, which are the wonderful bottle rockets that are launched at just about every celebration.
During the month of October, cohetes are launched at 6 AM to tell everyone to wake up and come to church. Cohetes are launched again at 7 AM to tell everyone that is time to come to church. These noises are different and come to be expected rather than the constant hum that occurs in most major American cities.
My thoughts and mindset around what I want in an outside environment has surely changed in the last 18 months.
Food and Health
I had been stepping on the scale at the gym every few weeks while I was in Ajijic. It was not until I got on the scale back in Austin did I realize that I was down to 170 lbs. I had lost 12-15 lbs in the previous 4 months and I was not trying. I was back at the same weight that I was when I graduated from college.
My wife experienced a more dramatic loss of weight.
Both of us are in better shape and fewer food cravings than we have had for years.
What I really noticed was the amount of salt and sugar that was in foods in the U.S. We ate very little packaged foods in Mexico and even when we ate out, which was usually once a day, it was very noticeable how the food was seasoned without salt and sugar. My blood pressure is the lowest it has been in years in part to the reduced salt intake.
Lotus, my wife, immediately noticed how sugary foods were presented to her in just about every store she went into in Austin. This would trigger all of the bad behaviors and cravings that she had eliminated in Mexico.
My mindset has shifted around how to live a healthy lifestyle.
Fresh Local Foods
I make yogurt smoothies every morning for breakfasts. I vary them during the year to keep it interesting. When pineapples are in season I add a healthy size slice of pineapple to the smoothie. I also use blueberries, blackberries or strawberries depending on what is in season.
One morning I went to make my smoothie and I forgot to purchase a pineapple the day before.
What did I do?
I walked out my front door at 8 AM in the morning, walked 150 feet to a little grocery store which is about the size of your closet, picked out a large pineapple and paid the elderly woman who runs the store 30 pesos or about $1.50. That same pineapple would have cost $4 or more in the U.S. I walked back to my casita and made my smoothie. Total time to perform this task was about 3 minutes. I have fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables at my fingertips for the fraction of the cost of the same in the U.S.
All of the berries I mentioned above are grown on the other side of Lake Chapala by major U.S. growers.
I am eating better, for less money and am far more healthy after only 4-5 months in Mexico.
I would not have believed this 18 months ago. My mindset has completely shifted as it relates to what I eat.
Money, Health Insurance and Healthcare
The last couple of years have been very stressed, mostly related to the cost of healthcare and health insurance. I wrote about this in the post The Looming Healthcare and Insurance Catastrophe for Baby Boomers. My wife and I spent $25K in 2017 on health insurance and healthcare and did not reach our deductible.
After we arrived in Mexico earlier this year, we did an extensive investigation of healthcare availability and both my wife and I were astonished at the quality of healthcare and the affordability. My wife had appointments with an endocrinologist, hematologist, dermatologist, had lab work done and had her teeth cleaned and we spent around $150.
I know, I know you are probably saying that the healthcare was sub-par for that price. I can tell you that my wife is a retired registered nurse, which means she is a pain in the butt patient. She was thrilled with the care. The endocrinologist spent 2 hours with her on the initial visit and she learned so much on how to manage her condition. She received better and more compassionate care from these physicians than she ever received in the U.S.
We have applied for a $5000 deductible policies for each of us, which will cover us everywhere in the world except the U.S. for about $1000 a year for each of us. This is basically catastrophic health insurance, and once my wife is eligible for Medicare in 2019, we’ll not renew for 2020.
WHAT, Medicare does not cover you outside of the United States? Healthcare in Mexico is so affordable we will pay for it out of our pocket. Should some major medical event occur, my wife will return to the U.S. for treatment.
Cost of Living
We will live in Ajijic, Mexico on about 1/3 of what we lived on in Austin. This will only get worse as the cost of living in Austin rose 33% in 2018.
I know, I know you are probably thinking we are living like paupers. I can tell you we have never lived an extravagant lifestyle but we are living well.
My mindset has completely shifted around money and the cost of healthcare.
As I sit in the 2 bedrooms 2 bath casita on this Sunday morning, I have realized how much I have changed in the last 18 months.
- I am healthier than I have been in years
- Eating healthy has become easy
- Worry about money and healthcare are largely gone
- Stress has largely disappeared
- I am being challenged in learning a new language
These last several months where we signed a lease and made a one-year commitment to live outside of the U.S. And then returning to our home of 40 years only to realize that living in the U.S. right now is unhealthy for us.
My mindset and belief systems have been completely rocked by this realization.
What do you think about this? Comment below with your thoughts.