3rd Expat Anniversary, Condo in Austin Sold, I Turn 65, and What’s Next!
In May, I celebrated my 65th birthday. Well, I really did not celebrate my birthday because I never celebrate birthdays. That is a whole different discussion of childhood baggage. However, this marks my eligibility to sign up for Medicare.
In June, my wife and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary as expats in Mexico. We have been legal residents of Mexico for over 2 years as we received our resident visas in March of 2019.
In July, we sold our condominium in Austin for a lot more than we expected. This in many ways cuts out ties with Austin where we lived for over 40 years. We were in Austin for May of 2021 to get COVID-19 vaccinated. What we experienced told us that now was the time to cut ties.
Let me cover each of these but in a different order.
I have been asked many times over the last 4 years when my wife and I would be coming back.
My original answer was we would not return until both of us were Medicare eligible. In 2017, my wife and I spent over $25K on health insurance premiums and medical expenses and did not reach our deductible. We came close to meeting my wife’s deductible.
My wife, a little less than a couple of years older than me, is already receiving Social Security and is covered by Medicare A and B.
I will sign up for Medicare before we return to the United States in September so that I do not have to purchase travel medical insurance.
Medicare covers virtually nothing outside of the US. Even if you sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan, coverage outside of the US is spotty at best. On our last trip to Austin, my wife saw a specialist for no other reason than to establish a relationship with doctors so that they will be familiar with her medical conditions.
If you are thinking my wife does have health insurance in Mexico you are correct. Please read one of my recent posts called, Example of Amazing Expat Healthcare in Mexico in the Time of COVID-19 and you will understand that healthcare is incredibly affordable and good. If something really bad happens we will return to the United States for treatment. This is a common strategy used by expats in Mexico who can afford to pay for medical expenses out of pocket.
Now, my answer is that we have no current plans to return to the United States.
Condo in Austin – Sold
We held onto our condominium in South Austin, found a good property manager, and rented it out. We would be approaching 3 years of renting out the property at the end of 2021. At which time, the capital gains exception would run out unless we moved back and reestablished it as our primary residence.
With the explosive price escalation in Austin, now was the time to sell.
I moved to Austin in 1978 and bought my first home at the age of 22 for just over $33K. Austin was the most affordable housing market in the United States at the time. Those days are long gone which saddens me because Austin was a great place to live back then.
We put it on the market in late June. We had a contract within a week and closed the deal in the middle of July. The closing was handled completely online using a platform called Pavaso. This allowed for the title company to notarize the closing documents remotely. In 2018, the Texas legislator passed a bill that allowed this but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic did anyone take advantage of it.
The only place I can get a US document notarized in Mexico is the US consulate. Currently, the consulate in Guadalajara has no appointments for notarization, and I would have to go to the Mexico City consulate which is incredibly inconvenient.
This essentially cuts our ties to Austin. Technically, we are still Austin residents as we maintain a mailing address in Austin. Our bank accounts are with a couple of different Austin-based credit unions and our car is registered in Texas. We have Texas driver’s licenses with our Austin mailing address. And, finally, we are registered to vote in Texas.
We will still return to Austin to take care of business but less frequently. We will return in September to renew the registration on our car. On that trip, we will fly to Maryland to visit with our son and his wife who just purchased their first home.
The sale frees us from worries like another snowpocalypse in Texas.
3rd Anniversary as Expats in Mexico
We are definitely much more comfortable living here than we were 3 years ago. We just signed a one-year lease on the home we live in. I finally have reliable “kind of” high-speed Internet.
What have we learned in the last year?
We have no television service by choice which means no cable news. That is a blessing.
Watching the political discourse in the United States from South of the Border has been a learning experience. We were able to vote last November via the Vote from Abroad website. This is an amazing service!
Community is key. We have built a community of expats and Mexicanas. Check out my post Community – What Is The Value Of Belonging To One?
I have reached a minimal ability to communicate in Spanish. The pandemic interrupted our Spanish classes, which have resumed over Zoom. I also realized that learning a foreign language in your 60s is hard.
Both my wife and I are healthier than we have been in years which I attribute to the healthy foods available and the healthy lifestyle. We use the car infrequently and walk just about everywhere. We have learned that the American “lifestyle” is not a very healthy “lifestyle”.
I have partnered with Amava.com to offer a variety of “circles” on their platform on becoming an expat.
The first is a free introductory session, Experiencing Expat Life: An Introduction to Becoming an Expat.
If you’re thinking of moving overseas, thoughtfully considering all the different aspects of life that go into making a successful transition abroad will ensure your transition to life as an expat is a smooth one! In this introduction expat session we will discuss how the challenges of maintaining and building relationships when you’re an expat relates to the following key areas:
- Immigration and Finances
- Healthcare and Health Insurance
I am also offering 5 low-cost “drop-in” circles called Becoming an Expat. There is one session for each of the 5 areas listed above.
I have been offering a similar program for the last 4 months and I have learned it is all about relationships.
Considering Buying a Home in Mexico
After 3 years, we will start exploring the possibilities of purchasing a home. My wife and I are not sure if we want to do this as renting gives us a lot of flexibility. Buying property in most countries outside of the US and Canada is just different. Most homes tend to be very illiquid. Houses may sit on the market for years at a time. Therefore, if you buy you had better plan on staying.
We will take our time and look. We are very happy about where we are renting right now.
Selling our Car
We will be selling our Texas-registered car within the next year and a half. I have a Mexican temporary resident visa which I can have for 4 years before I am required to convert to a permanent resident visa. You can’t bring a foreign-registered car into Mexico once you have a permanent resident visa. You can take it back to the country where it is registered and sell it. Alternatively, you take it back to the border and “nationalize” it, i.e. get Mexican registration. Getting a car nationalized is very expensive and is fraught with complications. Most experts say do not nationalize a car.
We will return to Texas and sell the car when we are ready. We will either go carless or purchase a car in Mexico.
If you have any questions feel free to comment below or take my free circle, Experiencing Expat Life: An Introduction to Becoming an Expat.
Hasta luego mi amigos.Marc Miller