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.Marc Miller
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Kathy Lansford says
I agree with everything you said. Even a city as health-conscious as Austin should have a warning label from the Surgeon General affixed to our Austin City Limits signs.
One of the major life changes I experienced in most parts of Mexico, Europe, Africa, and some American cities as well is that I walked more. Austin is so spread out, I find that either because of distance or lack of time, I’m more likely to drive than to walk or ride my bike to get from point A to B.
I’m ecstatic that you and your wife are healthier in Mexico. We want you both to be around for a very, very, long time.
My wife continues to lose weight which is healthy. I am working my butt off right now but I am so much calmer and less stressed.
All is good.
Maravilloso Marc! Usually in the states you hear negative media about life in Mexico however there are many regions in Mexico safe secure in fact even safer than the states. Someday we might hear about those American illegals living in Mexico speaking their language, taking advantage of the health care system, contributing to the Americanization of Mexicans in Mexico. Having lived and traveled throughout Mexico at different times I was with family on the Pacific coast and along the Mayan Riviera secure sure like in other countries you have bad apples. Marc is correcto the food in Mexico is full of flavor, tasty of course you get better quality for your money. Unlike the states in Mexico you can stretch your dollar. Felicidades Marc y esposa.
Life is so much better than I expected.
Gayle Wooten says
Soooo happy for you Marc! It sounds fantastic and I’m glad you are doing well.
Check me out on FaceBook where I am trying to document what I am learning.
I went to Austin this year for the first time. I couldn’t believe how bad the food was and how big the portions. I’ve recently moved to Portugal and we’re loving the lifestyle here. Relaxed, cheaper than other places in Europe, great food, friendly people, lots going on – and as you say, a new language to learn. Providing Brexit doesn’t completely bankrupt us or make it impossible for Brits to live abroad, we’ll be staying.
The food is Austin can be quite good if you stick with the local establishments. Unfortunately, it has become a big city with big city problems.
My coauthor Susan Lahey plans on moving to Portugal in 2019. I am presuming you are a Brit. If so, how will Brexit affect you? I have heard the exchange rate is badly hurting British retirees.
Les Brown says
As a Canadian, our experience with Mexican Healthcare was a fabulous experience for critical care.
We were in Peurto Vallarta on vacation, we travelled with our son who had a cold. It developed into something more serious while on vacation. 60 Peso’s (About $4.00 Canadian) got us a doctors’ appointment that took over 20 minutes of examination. In Canada, that would have been less than 5 minutes after waiting 2 hours.
On our return to home, we took our son to our regular walk-in clinic, he reviewed everything and said it was all very well done, nothing he would do differently, he was prescribed something that was no longer available in Canada due to some extremely remote possible side effects, but that he wished he could use under the right circumstances.
Thanks for telling your story.
Don’t let let the door hit you in the butt as you leave! A little self control and paying attention to what you eat here would do the same thing. Have a a great life and don’t let the cartels get you! I’ve traveled abroad for years and found many countries I could live in and enjoy the lifestyle. What I’ve never done is blame America for being over weight or stressed out! That’s on you friend.
Who said I am overweight? I was 6’4″ and 185 lbs which is far from being overweight. I am now down to 170 lbs which is what I weighed when I graduated from college.
If things are so great there why the mass migration here? I would seriously challenge the fabulous health care stories I’m reading!
There are over a million US citizens living in Mexico. I am not alone.
Ian Bond says
Mexico is a wonderful country and you’re in a great area. Enjoy all there us to see, but don’t be shy. Colombia and Argentina are on sale too and have a lot to offer.
On my side of the globe, we’ve recently spent time in Malaysia and Thailand— both have incredible healthcare systems with western trained doctors and low costs of living.
Watching your metamorphosis over the last 1.5 years has been fun. I’m looking forward to the next installments to reach my inbox!
We chose this as a starting point primarily for the healthcare and the ease of integration. I have traveled the world for work which is different than being a tourist. Which you are well aware of. My wife has not.
I also wanted to stay in same time zones as the U.S. as much of my business occurs over video and the idea of getting up really early or stay up late to talk to people is not desirable.
Next step is to get our resident visas which will come when we travel back to the U.S. in March as I have a speaking gig in Central Texas.
Hello! I recently found your podcast while googling “Moving to Mexico” and I’ve been binging on these Expat episodes. I’m in shock of how much you and your wife had to pay for medical expenses in Texas.
I was born in Mexico and moved to the US at the age of 9. I’m 32 years right now. I now have a family (husband, 2 kids 2,1) and I’m thinking of returning to Mexico (!). So I’m currently researching and listening to other’s experience and plan and how they came to making the decision on their move.
Thank you so much for your great and thoughtful advice. I will keep listening and reading your blog posts.
Unfortunately the way the ACA is set up so that those of us over 55 years of age get really screwed.
If you would be so kind as to write an iTunes review, I would be most appreciative.