6 Reasons I Left This Popular Retirement Destination and Went Back “Home”
I moved to Merida, Mexico, 25 years ago and became part of a group of the first expats to settle here. Life was very different and difficult then, in every way. Shopping was a “challenge” and ingenuity in all ways of life was required.
I learned to sew towels from terrycloth. If I wanted a bagel, I had to boil and bake my own. If I wanted to give my kids an ice cream sandwich, I first baked the chocolate wafers then made the ice cream, then assembled the confection.
Living or Leaving?
After living here for 25 years, is this my home? Or is it time for a change?
The answers are yes and yes. Times have indeed changed. In addition to Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart, scores of U.S. restaurants and retailers have arrived, bringing along with them a wave of boomers, thrilled to retire in Merida.
Not only boomers, but also families and professionals seeking a low-cost lifestyle, sunny weather 365 days a year, good medical care, and the ability to hire help to care for you and your home.
I’m an established member of the local community (not the expat community), so why am I thinking about going back ‘home’? I put it in quotes because where, really, is my home now?
Everyone Wants What They Don’t Have
People are moving here for the reasons I mentioned above, and I am craving the U.S. life they long to leave behind.
Whilst I have a comfortable life here, albeit with the challenges of tropical housekeeping which is no small endeavor, I’m seeking a different quality of daily life.
I’m craving an international, cultural life. World class museums, theatre in English, serious ballet and opera. I want bookstore readings and signings, knit nights at a local yarn store. I want to be involved in politics in my own country.
I feel very far away here. I want easy access to visit my friends inexpensively all across the U.S., either by driving or flying. From Merida, there is no such thing as simple visits with friends and family. All travel requires serious expenditures and planning for international travel.
Seeking New Weather
I want seasons. I want to feel fall’s chill and spring’s delight. I want to wear a sweater, a shawl, a scarf. I want weather! I want normal, grey drizzle days, instead of monsoon rainy season days.
Having Access to Air Transport
I want a good international airport that goes a lot of places. Currently, from Merida I can fly only to Houston, and that’s only a few days a week. It’s also very expensive because we’re a captive audience and there’s no competition, just one airline.
Wanting Lifestyle Services
I want services that I can’t get in Mexico. Like a magazine subscription! The idea of getting The New Yorker delivered on a weekly basis – at a low cost! – seems like heaven to me. Being able to order yarn from Stephen and Penelope in Amsterdam and having it arrive would be a miracle!
Looking for Recreation
I want recreational opportunities that just aren’t here: parks that I can walk in at any time of day, bike trails and hiking trails. Bike trails are not to be found in Mexico, and it’s so hot here no one would dream of going out to walk at any other time than 6 a.m. or earlier.
The Things I Won’t Miss
I’m tired of gringos trying to figure out Mexican life. The gringo expat forums are filled with: “Help! Where can I buy Oreos?” (In the grocery store.) and “How did you learn Spanish?” (The hard way, in a language school. Yes, it costs money and takes months.)
I don’t want such rigorous housekeeping. Green mold on my shoes. Soles ungluing from shoes because of humidity. Rain that seeps under doors and pours through windows. Rust on stainless steel appliances. Nothing is sacred in the tropics.
Some people think life is simpler here. Other people think life is simpler in the first world. It’s all a matter of what you’ve become accustomed to and what you crave.
I want to stop being a foreigner. I’m tired of being ‘different,’ of being treated differently, of being noticed, of standing out.
There are things I will miss when I leave Mexico and there are things I won’t. There are things I will like about the U.S. and things I won’t.
There’s only one thing I know for sure at this moment: It’s time for a change. So, I will dedicate the next few months to traveling in the U.S. and decide where I will create my next lifestyle. I’ll keep you posted.
Do you love where you live? Do you want to go somewhere else? Are you daunted by the challenge of packing and moving? Or are you happy right where you are? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below.