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10 Things I Learned from Rick and Leo About Creating an Inspiring Retirement

By Elizabeth Dunkel July 19, 2017 Lifestyle

I am now officially retired. Yes, I know, the word retirement is antiquated and ridiculous. I didn’t retire from life. Rather, I stopped working 9-5, five days a week and getting a paycheck. Now I work 10 hours a day writing, researching, reading and blogging – and get no paycheck.

No one ever tells you that retirement is a shocking moment. Yet, it’s challenging to make the transition from having your whole life programmed, time wise, to having nowhere to be.

Then you have to make peace with the fact that you will see your net worth go down for the rest of your life, not to mention the worry of running out of money. Both of these issues must be resolved before you can enjoy your new life.

That’s why I and my fellow bloggers are writing for Sixty and Me. To turn these issues inside out and inform the up and comers about the process and how to navigate it.

When I figured out my time and money, I was free to “enjoy.” But as the weeks turned into months and into two years, I wondered why I wasn’t having fun yet. I still felt wracked with suspicion, guilt, shame, surprise, wondering.

Then I met Rick and Leo. After spending some time with them, I realized that they were really good at retirement. They were having fun, living beautifully, being happy and enjoying their lives to the max.

I realized Rick and Leo didn’t just slide into retirement; they actively created it. Lesson #1: Retirement isn’t something that happens to you. You have to design it according to your passions. And that means something different for everyone.

There’s an art to retirement. Bottom line, Rick and Leo confronted their fantasies and passions and crafted their lives together to make it happen.

What I learned from Rick and Leo


They created a beautiful home specifically for retirement. They wanted a small house that was good for entertaining, with a great kitchen and open spaces. They adapted the house for the future of possible wheelchairs and had the bathrooms equipped with grab bars.

The guest bedroom would easily turn into the caregiver room when the time comes. Their needs and ease determined everything about their space. They decorated with passion and flair.


This is the second marriage for each of them, and they are truly happy to be together. That’s luck at work, but still, it has to be mentioned as a component in their happiness.


They looked hard at their finances. To have the lifestyle they wanted, they decided to leave Canada and live abroad in a lower-cost country. They moved to the Yucatan peninsula, which is a place and climate they like.

The cost of living is inexpensive and allows them to live in easy style, without worrying about money. They rent a beautiful house, dine out whenever they want and spend on entertainment and travel.


They created a community. Rick and Leo are very social. They bring people together. They are doers. They make an effort to create events for the beach community in which they live.

Once a month they organize restaurant nights or bar hopping nights in Merida and rent small vans so no one has to drive. In the past, they have planned and led group excursions to other parts of Mexico and Cuba.


They help people less fortunate than they are. One time they lent money to a young man with a promising career who needed a boost, and he paid it all back. Rick pitches in as a volunteer quite often. Leo tutors English. They are very well liked, and wherever they go, someone comes up to say “Hello.”


They decide what brings them pleasure and pursue it. They are foodies, and they love to travel. They love to cook, to shop for cooking, to think about what they’re going to cook, as well as eating out and trying new restaurants.

Rick publishes a recipe on his blog every week. They are always planning trips for themselves as a couple as well as group trips for other retirees in the community which brings the costs down for all.


They are accepting of their families and place no expectations on family visits. As Rick puts it, “They know where we are, and they know they’re free to come and visit anytime.”

There are no resentments as they realize that their children and grandchildren are busy with lives of their own. They are receptive to visits whenever the family can come and of course, plan visits on a regular basis when they travel back to Canada.


They take care of their health. Taking care of your health is a commitment – emotionally, financially and time wise. They don’t let things slide; they see to the appointments. They are committed to feeling good and staying in shape, and so they work out five days a week at the gym with a trainer.


They embrace the present and the future. There is a plaque on their house in Maya that reads, ‘The last house.’ Rick says, “This is the place we want to finish our lives in.”


They are thankful for every beautiful day and enjoy it to the max. Grateful and satisfied.

Now I’ve got to go and fine tune my retirement. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have you already “retired?” Are you enjoying your life in retirement? What would you like to change? What do you wish someone had told you before you retired? Please share your thoughts and experiences below!

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The Author

Elizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who recently moved back to the U.S. after living in Merida, Mexico for 25 years. Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. As a Cambridge CELTA certified teacher of ESL, she considers herself not just a teacher but a dream maker. “Teaching English empowers people to reach their dreams.”

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