Episode #119 – Marc Miller interviews Queen Michele about moving abroad in the second half of life.
In this episode, Marc interviews Queen Michele, author of the book, Considerations: A Guide For Moving Abroad. Queen was raised in Detroit, Michigan. In the first half of life, Queen became a schoolteacher, teaching second grade in a Catholic school. She then taught into the Detroit Public School System and was in administration for a while. She married and had two children. In 2002, she was an administrator for a startup charter school. She had started with the school but they did not renew her contract. She had been divorced for a couple of years. She moved to Las Vegas when it was booming. She went to teach there and also have some sunshine in her life. She lived in Vegas raising her children for 11 years. When her daughter was a freshman at the University of Reno and Queen was 50, she had a paradigm shift. Listen to this remarkable episode.
[1:03] Marc welcomes you to Episode 119 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings you this podcast. CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
[1:34] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues. The more people Marc can reach, the more he can help.
[1:54] Next week, Marc will be interviewing John Tarnoff, author of Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50. Marc interviewed John in Episode 19 but wanted to do an update with him.
[2:08] This week Marc has a very special interview with Queen Michele. Queen is a former schoolteacher and administrator who chucked it all in her mid-fifties to move to the North Shore of Lake Chapala and has now written a book called Considerations: A Guide For Moving Abroad.
[2:30] Marc introduces Queen and welcomes her to the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Queen shares her biography, from Detroit to Las Vegas and more. At age 50, when Queen’s children were in college, her cousin in Atlanta asked her to come down.
Now on to the podcast…
[5:17] Queen moved to Atlanta and taught there for a couple of years. After 27 years in education, she was burnt out. She retired with a reduced pension at age 52. She started fun jobs to supplement her pension. She drove for Uber, she rented her home for Airbnb. She was a secret shopper and a merchandiser.
[6:50] Queen took a remote job with a software company critiquing curriculum lessons and uploading them to the cloud. Her favorite gig was as a shuttle driver for a transportation company that serviced the railroad, taking engineers and conductors to and from their train in the railyard.
[7:19] It got to the point when she realized she would always have to work to supplement her pension, and it might not always be fun.
[7:58] That’s when Queen ran across an article in International Living on the 10 best places to retire. Queen read the article and started researching those 10 best places. One resonated very strongly with her: the Lake Chapala area in Jalisco, Mexico.
[8:28] The area had three attractions for Queen: the Spring-like climate, considered the “third-most perfect weather in the world”, the cost of living compared to her pension, and the vibrant expat community. In her research, Queen came across The Lake Chapala Society that appeared to be laying out the red carpet for expats.
[10:00] Queen began her research. She first joined Facebook groups affiliated with the area. She was attracted to the Ajijic Hiking group and Everything Lake Chapala. Then there was a foodies group and a group on where you can find dependable drivers, a Moving to Mexico group and a Moving to Mexico By Yourself group.
[10:38] There were so many different Facebook groups. She started joining the groups and following the questions, which were the same kinds of questions Queen was asking. Questions about visas, healthcare, and transportation. When questions were answered, Queen would take those leads and research the questions, herself.
[11:09] She asked Google “How do I get a visa to move to Mexico?”. She asked what are the types of visas. From that research, she developed a binder separated in categories of transportation, visa, healthcare, rentals. The research became all-consuming for Queen.
[11:35] Through that, the decision was made, “I’m moving to Mexico.” Queen had never been to Mexico, except for a four-day cruise to a tourist area in Ensenada. So the research was really important to her.
[12:08] She planned to do a Focus on Mexico visit for a few days to learn more about the area and answer her questions. She considered teaching English as a second language with a TESOL license. A program would allow her to live with a host family and take a four-week course to begin teaching.
[13:40] As Queen continued to research different aspects of the Focus on Mexico and TESOL programs, she was finding enough information on her own that she wouldn’t need a paid program to get set up. She found that didn’t want to teach, anymore.
[14:09] That decision led Queen to come to Mexico, trusting that what she had researched and planned for would fall in place for her. She researched, prepared, and planned for a year. Besides the research, Queen had to plan for the downsizing of her current life. She learned it would be too much trouble for her to bring a car to Mexico.
[15:23] Queen took the year to downsize, sell her car, and close her accounts with other preparations for moving. The car would be too expensive to nationalize in Mexico, so she sold it before she moved.
[16:10] Marc emphasizes that when you move to Mexico, get rid of all your stuff. Queen found it very freeing to downsize her possessions. She sold her car to her neighbors two weeks before she moved.
[16:42] Queen learned through the Facebook groups what it was that she would need in Mexico that she couldn’t purchase there. Queen traveled to Mexico with just two pieces of luggage, three medium boxes, and three storage bins in different sizes. Whatever wasn’t packed, Queen let go.
[17:25] Queen stepped foot on Mexican soil at the Guadalajara Airport on December 1, 2017. She had already housing arranged online — a cozy one bed, one bath condo in a small town right off Lake Chapala, San Antonio Tlayacapan, between Ajijic and Chapala. It is on the paved road that runs around the lake. Short bus rides are 7 pesos ($.35).
[19:57] A lot of people come without cars so they walk or use the bus or taxi.
[20:21] Queen started visualizing her new life in Mexico months before she arrived. She had activities she wanted to do, including hiking, volunteering at the dog rescue and at the theater. She wanted to spend time writing. She had her first day planned out from the time she landed to her dinner, at Adelita’s. She had seen the menu on Facebook.
[22:18] Things aligned for Queen as she set her intentions and had visualizations, down to every event unfolding almost perfectly. She did have some hiccups, but they worked out. At the airport, Manuel, a man she had contacted on Facebook months earlier about transportation, was waiting to give Queen a ride instead of letting her take a cab.
[24:05] Manuel drove Queen into San Antonio where her landlord met her with a key, showed her to the apartment, accepted the rent, gave her a hug, and left. Queen unpacked a few things and headed off to dinner. Queen knew exactly where Adelita’s was. She had spent hours on Google Street View going up and down the streets.
[24:53] Queen knew from Google Street View how to walk to Adelita’s, and so she did. She cannot describe the feeling she had, having arrived and walked to dinner as she had planned out. She did fall once on the cobblestones on the way!
[25:37] Queen bounced back up, dusted herself off and continued to Adelita’s, sat at the bar and ordered what she had intended on ordering, and met her first expat friend. They were both from Atlanta!
[26:11] The area is almost like a college town. Nobody knows anybody, but everybody is so helpful. Queen says she has met more friends in San Antonio than she did in her Atlanta neighborhood. She arrived December 1st; February 5th was her 55th birthday. She had a birthday party on the rooftop of a bar with 30 of her closest friends.
[27:25] Queen had connected with the Ajijic Hiking Club, which is very well organized on a shoestring budget. She started hiking two weeks after arriving. She knew where and when to show up. Queen describes the trouble she had keeping up with people 15 years older than she was. This was her first hike but she was inspired by it.
[28:40] On the hikes, Queen met fascinating people from all over the world. It’s a great organizations. Half of her birthday party friends were from the hiking group. Others were people she had met at restaurants and bus stops. One of her hiking friends had suggested she take Yoga, so she did.
[29:23] Queen feels like part of the community. She says you will find the most friendly, helpful people with smiles on their faces. Queen began waking up from the first day with a smile on her face and joy in her heart. Besides hiking and Yoga, she started writing.
[29:49] Queen says her book was birthed during the very first year of arriving. After getting so much help from websites, she became a person answering questions on those sites for others. Through those questions and answers, Considerations was born.
[30:38] The book has 10 chapters, each chapter being a consideration, based on Queen’s experience. She doesn’t tell anyone how to do it. She tells what she did and what worked for her as a single, middle-aged, African-American female. The number of African-Americans Marc has met in the area, he can count on one or two hands.
[31:13] The book was easy for Queen to write. It explains the things she did, on her own, to move. She suggests considering visas, downsizing, healthcare, finances.
[31:55] Queen receives $1,100 each month and that is her only income. Her rent is $500. With good budgeting, she lives a very comfortable life on the remaining $600 a month. She buys from the open market and lives like a local.
[33:15] Marc says, if you want to live like an American, you can. You will pay for it. He is helping a couple with Tangerine Travel. One had food allergies and Celiac problems. When she got to Mexico, it all disappeared. Marc saw an article that blamed Roundup for autoimmune food problems. Mexican local farmers do not use Roundup.
[34:11] Queen mentions that she lost 40 pounds and has kept it off since her lifestyle changed. Living like a local has made a difference. Queen buys vegetables, fruits, shrimp, chicken, salad vegetables. She makes shrimp salads, grilled chicken salads, shrimp pasta, chicken pasta. She makes small meals that last quite a bit.
[35:31] Queen shops at the Market in Ajijic. Marc goes to the Market in Chapala. Marc shares a story about buying a pineapple from a walkup abarrotes (grocer’s shop) just down the street, for his morning smoothie. What cost him $1.50 might have cost $8.00 at Whole Foods.
[37:17] Queen didn’t expect all the self-discovery that came from moving to Mexico. It took her to higher states of consciousness than she ever thought she would have. She is blissful and happy. The spiritual aspect of personal growth is available in various platforms. Queen is involved in some amazing communities that help her grow.
[38:40] Queen has learned a lot of Spanish words. She is working on stringing them into a conversation. She knows she needs practice.
[39:11] Marc is using Rocket Spanish and will become an affiliate. He is picking up conversational phrases. He talks about chatting with a haircutter in Spanish. Marc talks about the Ajijic Art Walk. Three quarters of the artists were gringos, who picked up their art after arriving. Half of them learned from YouTube lessons. Others took classes.
[41:14] Queen talks about the many musicians, artists, poets, and writers who have come to Lake Chapala in this next phase of their lives and are rediscovering the arts. Queen attributes it to the energy and the vibration that resonates with the spirit. You catch that frequency and you ride it.
[41:53] Queen looks forward to writing articles and short stories about her journey as it relates to higher states of consciousness that she is experiencing in San Antonio. That’s what she is learning and that’s what she would like to write about.
[42:32] Marc thanks Ashton for being on the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[42:38] Marc hopes you enjoyed this episode. Marc suspects Queen will find something in the next year that will fulfill her and bring in some money!
[42:52] The CareerPivot.com/Community website has become a valuable resource for almost 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc is currently recruiting new members for the next cohort.
[43:06] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[43:20] Those in the initial cohorts will get to set the direction for this endeavor. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[43:43] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[44:04] Please come back next week, when Marc will have a great discussion with John Tarnoff.
[44:10] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
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