My Mexican Secret

6 Dec

This year has really flown by.   I can’t believe it is already December and the New Year is quickly approaching.

I did something earlier this year that I’ve been very reluctant to share with everyone.   Mainly because I think people will think I’m completely insane.  I know I need to get it out now before another year passes by and my trepidation increases.

So here it is:

My husband and I cashed in all of our life savings and bought a vacation property in the Mexican Riviera.

There I said it.

Ok, let me try to explain.

It all started when my husband and I read the book, The 4 Hour Work Week.  The book is really so much more than the name suggests.  It’s of course about working less but it’s also about making the most out of life and rethinking the status quo.  It’s a completely different philosophy than what has been ingrained in us since we were young.  Instead of saving everything and waiting until retirement to enjoy life, it’s the “anti” of that. Tim Ferris, the author, lives a different lifestyle that involves taking mini retirements throughout his life instead of waiting until he’s old.  He also doesn’t believe in keeping with the Joneses or buying lots of large expensive possessions to fulfill happiness.

Most of what Tim was saying really made sense to my husband Manny and I based on our past experiences.  In 2005-2006, we lived in Mexico City and traveled all over Mexico while living there.

It was a life changing experience.

I started learning a new language, experienced gorgeous places I’d never seen before and absorbed myself in the different foods and culture.

When we traveled to beautiful Mexican travel destinations, many places were filled with retired Americans and Canadians living abroad.  Not one time did we ever find an expatriate living there who was young.  I remember telling my husband that we were at least 30-40 years ahead of the curve.  There we were in our 30’s really experiencing life.  We were getting the opportunity to explore beautiful places and interesting people while we were healthy and young.

So you can see why the book The 4 Hour Work Week hit a nerve with us…

We started the book before we went on vacation to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, Mexico and finished reading it while still on vacation.  We had previously seen quite a bit of Mexico but it was the first time we had ever been to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.

If you’ve never heard of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo, it’s the tropical paradise in the movie the Shawshank Redemption where Andy wanted Red to meet him after they got out of prison.

Reading the book was such a whirlwind.  It was easy to daydream and imagine working less and living like a king when lounging at the beach without a care in the world.

We really drank the juice and believed in it.  So we did the unthinkable.  We made an offer to buy a property we fell in love with while on that same vacation!  We saw it, loved it and said we’ll take it – all without having any cash or means to buy the place.   All within a week’s time.

We were maybe 5 days into our vacation when we placed the offer to purchase and on our 7th day, exactly when the taxi was picking us up to take us to the airport, we found out the owner said yes.

So it was going to be ours.

(Living area)

 (Amazing table made from a plant root)

 (One of the bedrooms)

We were so excited!

But then reality set it.  We returned home to the real world wondering if we did the right thing.   Well… we could wonder all we wanted but there was no turning back.  The offer we made on the home was legally binding and we needed to come through with the $$ and buy it.

We knew we had the money in savings.  But that meant cashing out our entire retirement.  Completely depleting everything to $0.

30 days later after the typical home closing process, the property was ours.

(View from our terrace)

Giving up all our retirement seemed like such a terrifying thought.  But now that it’s been done, we don’t regret it.  We’ve already started trying to build our retirement account back up and having our tropical paradise has brought so much happiness.   I have spent well over 20 days there this year.  Talk about a mini-retirement!

Our family spends quality time there together also. For example, we celebrated our family Thanksgiving there a few weeks ago.

Here was our amazing Thanksgiving dinner.  Poolside!

Another reason, I’ve been hesitant to share this secret is because not long after we bought our little Mexican paradise, I quit my job.  It seemed so daring and not something I wanted people to ridicule or judge.  Quitting my job meant that my husband and I would be living on one income with no retirement.  Manny had actually wanted me to quit my job a long time ago so that I could start something new I enjoyed.  I had wanted to quit so many times before but the thought of not contributing to the household and being dependent really scared me.  I didn’t want to feel useless.  I am not sure if I ended up quitting my job because of the inspiration I found in the book or maybe just because I just finally had it working at a job that was meaningless…  But on April 1st, after years of being unhappy, submitted my resignation.  Also ironically done while on vacation in Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.  I guess I become fearless when I am on vacation there!

The first couple of months of unemployment didn’t end up being hard at all. We had to make some cut backs in our spending but I was able to relax and enjoy massive amounts of free time.  We also realized how much we had previously overspent on stupid stuff.   I may have had less money but for once I was able to spend more quality time with my husband and even had the time to start working on some new exciting business endeavors.

And in an ironic twist, our little Mexican paradise started generating revenue!  Even though we initially bought it to enjoy ourselves, we ended up deciding to rent it out as a vacation rental while it was empty.  Since it was empty most of the time, not renting it out would have been a wasted opportunity.  It’s hard to tell with the way the economy fluctuates but it appears that renting it out as a vacation rental has had a much higher return on investment than if we would have kept our savings in our retirement accounts!  I am still floored by the fact that people contact me every week to rent out our place.  It’s nice to see other people love it just as much as we do.

So that is finally the story of my Mexican secret.

I wanted to finally share with my story with you.  I am not saying cashing out a retirement account or buying a home in another country is something everyone should do.   It’s definitely risky.

But it has been working for us quite well and has created some unforgettable joyous memories for our family this year.

And I really hope you don’t think we are too crazy.

Travel Reservations:

If you or anyone is ever interested in traveling to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and staying in our little paradise, here is information on where to rent:

I am only sharing our rental website because Ixtapa-Zihautanejo truly is an amazing place to visit in Mexico and I hope others get the opportunity.  I am not trying to exploit our readers with this information.  We already get plenty of rental bookings through our website and I would have shared my story almost a year ago if financial gain was my intention.

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11 Responses to “My Mexican Secret”

  1. Angie & Carrie December 6, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    I am so happy you finally shared this amazing experience! One of the things I love most about Angie is she is fearless, confident, and lives with no regrets. Your home in Mexico is stunning and you are such an inspiration to me! love you!

  2. Rebecca December 6, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    That looks amazing!! Good for you. Enjoy life!

  3. Andrea @ Vegvacious December 6, 2011 at 10:46 am #

    Wow! What an amazing place – it sounds like your risk paid off and this investment will be something you’ll enjoy for years!!! I’m in my early 30s and my husband and I don’t have kids and I hope that someday in the near future we will be able to do something as fabulous!!

    • Angie & Carrie December 7, 2011 at 5:28 am #

      Thanks Andrea! Do it if you can! You only live once!!

  4. Pamela December 6, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    WOW! I’m so incredibly jealous and that is AMAZING! I’ve been there before and it is GORGEOUS!
    What a brave risk to take … soooooo excited for you guys!!!


    • Angie & Carrie December 7, 2011 at 5:27 am #

      Thanks Pamela! I love that you have been there before. Usually when I mention the place, people have never heard of it!

  5. Jennifer December 7, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Good for you!! It looks like heaven and i completely understand why you’d do this! A girl after my own heart!!

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