I have finally found the perfect retirement location – for me. I’m sure there are others out there, but this spot is the first that meets and exceeds all my requirements. A big part of the equation is affordability, but before the big reveal – and you will be astounded – I want to give you a good idea of what I need to be happy, in the order of importance.
- A place that has some element of beauty. In Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, it was the lake itself and the surrounding volcanos. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, it was all the amazing temples, the mountains and the markets. In the historic district of Guadalajara, Mexico, it was the plethora of plazas and the colonial buildings that surrounded them. Here in Manzanillo, it is looking out at an ocean view every day.
- Lots of interaction with the locals. I thrive on trying to connect with people and cultures. Although I’ve had lots of that everywhere I’ve traveled, here in Manzanillo I see the same people often enough that our relationships have grown, even over less than three weeks, because my language skills are evolving and they are willing to help me by talking with the gringa who speaks Spanglish.
- Because I don’t have or want a car, there needs to be good, inexpensive transportation. Here I hail a taxi from the curb outside my building (just like in NYC but it costs me $2.50 one way – with tip – to go to the mini-mall). The bus to the smaller town of Santiago is 7 pesos each way (about $.30) and the four-hour luxury bus trip to Guadalajara is $25 each way.
- I need convenient shopping, so speaking of the mini-mall: it is where I grocery shop, will eventually go to the movies, and can just hang out if I want. It’s also where the best ATM is, so I end up going there about once every 5-6 days.
- Finally, I need to feel safe. I haven’t had any fear in most places, but of all of them I’ve visited, I feel the safest here. My neighborhood is mostly tourist-oriented, but it is also a haven for the middle class, even drawing people in from outside the hood to frequent the restaurants regularly.
Manzanillo has all these things. So, I’ll be returning to the States in June to care for my mom after she has knee surgery but I’ll be coming back to Manzanillo when she’s up and running around again. I plan – at this point – on staying about 6 months. I may buy a bicycle when I come back, because I still want to have an epic bicycle adventure in the US but first I’ll return here to build up my nest egg. Here come the figures you’re dying to see (and the reason why I want to come back to save up some cash for the next big adventure). These are monthly cost of living figures:
$300 – Rent for a two-bedroom, fully furnished apartment with A/C and Wi-Fi, no TV (Yay!) which covers everything.
$100 – Groceries – but I’m vegan so my food costs are way less than others. I’d double that for “normal” eaters.
$50 – Eating out (again, I only have guacamole, smoothies etc., so less than most people)
$60 – For a weekly treat of either a facial, massage or pedicure.
$15 – Laundry (washed, dried and folded) about one load every 5 days.
$60 – My insulin for the month
$30 – Transportation (taxis & local buses)
$15 – I don’t need a whole lot of entertaining – this is based on going to a movie three times a month. This would be a much bigger number if I went out or drank (more than the occasional 2/1 margaritas and beers). I’ve had one poolside beer since coming to Manzanillo, so I’m not a big boon to the restaurants or bars.
$630 Total – That’s so low I must go back and double-check. Just a minute……..I’m back and yes, that’s right.
Now that is based on what I’ve spent to date on regular items. I did buy two summer dresses and two pairs of shorts – for just under $30 – and spent about $40, setting up my kitchen supplies, buying a rice cooker and my very own broom (so I don’t have to borrow the café’s).
So simply put – if I ever just want to settle down again, I know where to come – MANZANILLO!