Podcast #142 – Marc Reflects on his First Year as an Expat
This episode covers some of the specific benefits the Millers have found by moving to Mexico. Besides saving money on food and rent, they enjoy the beautiful surroundings, they walk more, hike regularly, eat local food, live like locals, and take local transportation. They have lost weight, they are healthier, they have less stress, they have made many friends, and they are happier.
[1:22] Marc welcomes you to Episode 142 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot is the sponsor of 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. Check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
[1:51] 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 reaches, the more people he can help.
[2:09] Marc has uploaded the manuscript of Repurpose Your Career, Third Edition to KDP Amazon, the self-publishing arm of Amazon.com. Marc has ordered multiple proof copies of the paperback edition, to send to the volunteers of the Repurpose Your Career release team to review for fit and finish.
[2:31] The release team is moving from reviewing the book to getting ready to write reviews. Members of the review team who have committed to writing a review on Amazon after publication, and are willing to spend $.99 for the initial Kindle version, will get a PDF version of the book to read before the publish date, and later a paperback.
[2:53] Marc plans a soft launch of the book on Thursday, September 12, and a hard launch on Monday, September 16, followed by both a virtual and a real book tour starting Monday.
[3:14] If you are interested in joining the review team, please go to CareerPivot.com/RYCTeam.
[3:24] Marc has recorded many podcast guest appearances, some of which have already been published with more to come. Go to CareerPivot.com/launch you’ll find all the links of all the podcasts.
[3:38] Marc will be in Austin the week of September 22nd, the New Jersey area the week of September 29th, and D.C., the following week. Marc would love to meet his readers and listeners.
[3:51] Marc has multiple events planned for Austin, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Marc will then have a meet-and-greet in D.C. You can find the events on CareerPivot.com/launch.
[4:09] Next week, Marc will interview Russ Eanes. Russ is a member of the Career Pivot Online Community who left his job more than a year ago at the age of 60. Russ suffered a double whammy: both his industry and his career path were disappearing.
[4:25] Come listen to his story of getting lost and finding his way to writing a book and starting a business to help others self-publish.
Now on to the podcast…
[4:35] This week’s episode will be Marc’s one-year reflection on being an expat. Marc and his wife have lived in Ajijic, Mexico for a little over a year. He will reflect on what he has learned and how the Millers have changed in the last year.
[4:59] You will find all the posts and podcasts on becoming an expat at CareerPivot.com/Expat.
[5:17] Marc introduces his reflections on the first year of living in Mexico as an expat. He recorded this episode on August 19, 2019.
[5:28] The Millers arrived in Ajijic on June 23, 2018, after a three-day drive from Austin, Texas. Their planned three-month experimental trip turned into four months and while they were there they decided to sign a lease. It has been 14 months since they left Austin, Texas. The Millers have lived in Ajijic for about 12 of those months.
[6:00] The one-year lease on the casita the Millers are renting is running out and they are signing another one-year lease. During this next year, they will decide whether to rent or to buy something. Marc has written a large number of blog posts and podcasts on their move to Mexico and they are found at the Expat link above.
[7:00] On June 21, 2108, the Millers drove the four-hour drive from Austin to Laredo, Texas and spent the night. Fairly early the next morning, they crossed the border and met Juan Pablo Chavez, who guided them through the immigration process and started driving them to Ajijic, on the North Shore of Lake Chapala.
[7:36] Lake Chapala is the largest lake in Mexico, about a 40-minute cab ride from the Guadalajara Airport in Guadalajara, the second-largest city in Mexico. It was a two-day drive from the border. They stayed overnight in Matehuala, which is where they always stay when they drive back and forth.
[8:05] The drive down was pretty easy. Mrs. Miller kept the two very large cats company in the back seat. They drove about seven hours each day. The Millers have since made the trip, multiple times by themselves.
[8:31] When the Millers first arrived, they rented a one-bath, one-bedroom house, outside of Ajijic, in Riberas del Pilar, a bedroom community, booming with expats.
[8:53] The Millers spent the rainy season summer in Riberas and looked for a rental for January. It turned out they had to take action sooner than January. Just as in Austin, everyone is moving there, real estate prices are going up, the old gringos don’t like the new gringos, locals are being priced out, and there is a lot of gentrification.
[9:59] Earlier than planned, the Millers started looking for a rental, and signed a lease for the casita in Ajijic starting September 3, 2018. The casita is half a block from the plaza, which puts them right in the middle of things. It’s kind of loud, but not as loud as Austin.
[10:26] When the Millers moved in, they had a special seven-foot-tall cat tree made by a retired local named Nacho (Ignacio) for a third of what they would have paid in the U.S. They scheduled to go back to Austin for six weeks at the end of October and clean out their condo for rental.
[11:08] It was a nice three-day drive back. The cats were well-behaved and the roads are almost entirely toll-roads between Guadalajara and Laredo, except for around 10 miles at Lagos de Moreno. The truck traffic on the highways is amazing.
[12:02] Back in Austin, the Millers discovered six weeks was not enough time! They had rented a five-by-ten-foot storage room in South Austin that they filled up. They got rid of almost everything they owned. They had planned to process their resident visa applications in Laredo. They canceled the appointment when they ran out of time.
[12:52] The first week in December, the Millers traveled back and spent Christmas in Mexico. The owner of a restaurant they frequented invited them to her home for a Christmas Eve party! Parties in Mexico extend into the early morning, so they didn’t stay that long.
[13:43] The Mexican people take Christmas and New Year’s very seriously, with a lot of celebration.
[13:51] The Millers traveled back to Austin in late February for a speaking engagement Marc had in early March. They found some friends in Ajijic to house-sit and watch their cats for this three-week trip. The Millers stayed with friends in Austin.
[14:20] One of the things that stands out to the Millers every time they go back to Austin is how noisy Austin is and how little they enjoy it, contrasted with Ajijic. In Mexico, there are always fireworks (cohetones) exploding, music blaring from cars, and festivals. It is loud. But the U.S. seems to have a constant “white noise” of traffic, machines, etc.
[15:28] Americans ask if the Millers feel safe in Mexico. Marc contrasts Ajijic to SWAT Teams across the street from his condo in Austin and various problems that just don’t occur in Ajijic.
[16:31] Before the September trip, Marc and his wife had taken a hike up the nearby mountain. Marc calls Ajijic Paradise with an average temperature of 72°. The lake, about four blocks away is at 5,000 feet. The mountains behind them go up to about 7,000 feet. They hiked up to a waterfall and it was not a hard hike.
[17:11] Since the Millers returned to Ajijic in December, Mrs. Miller hikes up into the mountains just about every day for one, two, or three hours. It’s beautiful.
[17:30] Because of frequent walking, Mrs. Miller has lost significant weight. Marc has lost enough to be the same weight now as when he graduated from college. On their Spring trip to Austin, they bought new clothes to fit better.
[18:09] Mrs. Miller can shop in Mexico but Marc is 6′4″ so it is very challenging to find Mexican clothes to fit him. He buys some things from Amazon.com.mx. The Millers have found that they still eat out too much, as it is very inexpensive to eat out in Mexico and the food is so good.
[18:48] For the equivalent of $25.00, the Millers can eat entrees, wine, and split an appetizer at a fine Italian restaurant. The same meal in Austin would have been over $100.00.
[19:04] The Millers are eating well. They have lost weight. They are living, as much as possible, like locals. This year, they started taking Spanish classes from the Lake Chapala Society with many other gringos. They have an amazing teacher, Berta, who is getting her teaching certification. She is really good with gringos!
[19:53] The Millers have gotten into a regular rhythm of things they do. Mrs. Miller goes to Yoga two or three times a week. Marc goes once a week. Mrs. Miller hikes almost every day.
[20:11] Marc hikes on Fridays with the Ajijic Hiking Group, which is a bunch of organized and friendly gringos. There are a variety of hikes of different difficulties available to interesting spots and ceremonial grounds.
[21:23] The rainy season runs from June through October with about 30″ of rain. It only rains at night. The rest of the year is pretty dry. How long will it stay a Paradise? There are lots of folks moving there, so it’s hard to say.
[22:03] The Millers are living on about $2,500 a month. Mrs. Miller turns 65 in September and they have just enrolled her in Medicare and Social Security, over the phone with the U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara. They could have done it online. They are maintaining a U.S. address in Austin. [
22:42] Both Marc and Mrs. Miller have changed. Their stress levels are way down. They are learning Spanish slowly. Almost every establishment they visit speaks some English, so it’s easy to get by with only English.
[23:06] Marc asks gringos in Mexico. “Will you go back?” For many, and for Marc and Mrs. Miller, they just don’t see themselves going back.
[23:22] Marc counts it a big benefit that he doesn’t get TV in Ajijic, especially not cable news! Marc subscribes to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper and Apple News on his iPad. Being a news junkie, Marc has turned a lot of the news off.
[23:45] The Millers are happier and healthier. They are associating with the local population more and more. They are surrounded by businesses and restaurants. They have American friends who have been in Ajijic for years. They all lose weight because they walk everywhere.
[24:23] If you live like the locals, eat like the locals, and transport like the locals, you’ll live longer, healthier, happier lives. If you want to live like a gringo, you can, and packaged food is available, but it is more expensive, and not as healthy.
[25:16] A lot of expats, particularly the Canadians, come for the winter, from December to April. During Holy Week, there was a huge shift this year with all the Canadians disappearing and many Guadalajarans moving into their vacation homes.
[26:20] April and May is the hottest time of the year. It gets up to 90° and 65° at night. The humidity is 10% to 20%. Marc always wears a hat and long sleeves to protect from burning.
[27:13] The Millers know how much money they are spending. Last week they drove into Guadalajara to go to Home Depot and Costco. Costco carries American products that aren’t available elsewhere in Mexico. They sell VitaMix, a favorite of Marc’s.
[27:58] The Millers are making a trip back to Austin for the book tour and combining that with a trip to New Jersey for Marc’s 45th high school reunion. On this trip, the Millers plan to empty their storage room. Except for the condo they are renting out, this will free them up from their ties to Austin.
[28:28] With Mrs. Miller on Medicare, she will not need health insurance in the States, but Marc will buy a temporary health insurance policy for about $7.00 a day. Mrs. Miller already has doctor’s appointments set up. The medicine she takes for thyroid is only available in the U.S. She gets a year’s prescription at a time. Other expats do the same.
[29:18] To learn more about the medical aspects of being an expat, please listen to this podcast episode: CareerPivot.com/Episode-131. To learn about the financial challenges and the technology, please see these blog posts: How to Move Abroad — Banking and Making my Business Location-Independent. [30:08] Marc does not plan to move back to the States until he is on Medicare, more than a year-and-a-half from now if he ever moves back.
[30:31] Marc hopes you enjoyed this episode. If you have any questions for him, please leave a comment at the show notes at CareerPivot.com/episode-142.
[30:46] The Career Pivot Membership Community continues to help the approximately 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project to grow and thrive. The community has moved on to the next phase where community members who have experienced success get to share their successes and teach others.
[31:04] This is a community where everyone is there to help everyone else out. They have been hovering at about 50 members for a while. Members are experiencing successes like going back to work, starting new businesses — even someone buying a franchise. Some leave the community when they’ve found success, while others stay.
[31:26] Their legacy stays with the community as they have built an extensive library of forum entries and discussions. Marc will be publishing shortly testimonials of what they got from being part of this community. There are successes in just about every week.
[31:52] Marc is recruiting members for the next cohort. If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community.
[32:03] Those who are in these initial cohorts set the direction. This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Please go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[32:22] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you listen to this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[32:39] Please come back next week, when Marc interviews Russ Eanes on his journey of getting lost and finding a direction.
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