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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Retirement in Mexico: What will I do all day?

Expats share their insights on what day-to-day life looks like south of the border.

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We wait to retire, but then imagine how to fill the days. Photo: Getty

Paul, an American retiree considering condo life in Mexico wondered what day-to-day life would be like south of the border.

“I have always been active and wondering what most people do all day in a small condo. It sounded great to lay on the beach all day but then what?” the Missouri native queried on a Facebook group catering to expats in Mexico.

Normally, questions like this bring out the trolls. But instead of discouraging or insulting replies, members of the group replied with some thoughtful comments.

Simple pleasures were the thing. Someone from Mexico City said she gets by with “yoga, coffee, walking, reading (at the) English library, lunch or dinner with friends in their or my home or out.”

Learning new things also keeps a retiree busy.

“Take classes. Spanish, if you don’t know it already. After you mastered that, then art or history. School is a great way to meet people too,” was another suggestion.

Some expats went into surprising detail about their own situations. The observations were priceless.

“I totally understand your concern. My husband and I retired two years ago and we moved to Ecuador,” said a retiree from Indiana who urged Paul to be sociable.

“The first thing that we had to do was to put ourselves out there. We found out where the expats met and we went and we introduced ourselves and then we started making friends. That’s how we found out about local activities. My husband started playing Texas hold’em. I joined a koffee klatch, for example. We found out about different volunteer activities and participated. Same thing with the locals. We started with a Spanish teacher and then we met a taxi driver and his family and then all of a sudden we have Ecuadorian friends too. So you can really be as busy as you want to be. There were times whenever we thought ‘whoa, we are busier in retirement than when we were working.'”

The retiree questioning condo life was also invited to look within.

“Well, you might look inside yourself and ask some questions. Are there things you’ve dreamed about in the past? Are there things you always wanted to do? Other parts of yourself you haven’t tapped into – creative parts, perhaps?” said a group member also about to retire in Mexico with “a long list of things that I might be interested in doing. Some of them involve creative pursuits that I never fulfilled. Some involve education and learning. Some involve helping others and volunteering. Some involve nature and health. Some involve socializing and fun!”

And don’t just hang with other foreigners, she advised. With proficiency in Spanish “you will have even more options to connect with people and activities in the local culture that aren’t only expat-focused.”

But the most succinct piece of advice from a Cuban member was possibly the most profound.

“OMG … learn to be with yourself,” she said.

The cheesy old adage is true: “No matter where you go, there you are.”

For ongoing advice (and some unfortunate snark) from thousands of people who have taken this path, ask to join “Expats Living in Mexico,” “Expats in Mexico” and “U.S. Expats Living in Mexico” on Facebook.

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