- By Kerry Baker
For many 50+ women, work is becoming more and more contractual and virtual, pushing us to develop new ideas and to reinvent ourselves.
As we determine our next income-producing strategy, it might be time to develop a financial defense strategy that preserves our assets while we’re planning the next stage of our lives.
That’s why I think single women over 50 might want to relocate to Mexico as I’m doing (you can follow my progress on my blog, Ventanasmexico.com).
My Move to Mazatlan
I recently left my home in Denver and traveled to Mazatlan (a Mexican city across from the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula) to determine if I could approximate in Mexico the features of a good life for a single woman in the U.S. — and at what cost.
I also wanted to see how connected I could stay to friends and family stateside as I researched new work opportunities.
(MORE: Great Places in the World to Retire)
Many people have chosen to move to Mexico to stretch their savings, of course. And there are plenty of books, websites and chat rooms geared to life there for an expat. But most contributors to those resources are part of a couple, with different priorities than those of a single woman.
I wanted to know things like:
- Would I be able to find single girl friends?
- How could I stay in shape?
- How could I keep in touch with my friends back home?
- And the ever-important: How much would it cost for me to be happy there on my own?
I figured, if I couldn’t answer those questions, what else mattered?
After spending a month with my flip-flops on the ground, I’ve realized that I didn’t need to have an answer for every challenge of living in Mexico for the rest of my life. Instead, I should have focused more on the basics, studying customs procedures and practicing currency exchange. Managing money produced much more anxiety on the trip than any fear of Dengue fever.
(MORE: Retire Overseas on Under $25,000 a Year)
Mexico's Allures for Single Women Over 50
After my immersive approach to life in Mazatlan, I’ve identified nine reasons why single women over 50 should consider moving to Mexico:
1. Life is more interesting here. Many people suggested I move somewhere in the U.S. that had a cheaper cost of living than Denver, such as Stratton, Colorado or Dallas, Texas. But I think living on the beach and taking a water taxi to the gym is way better. I still have a lot of adventure left in me.
2. You can make your nest egg last longer. Living in Mexico is less expensive than many parts of America. Once I found a place I liked on the beach, I calculated I’d cut my monthly expenses by half. Once I learn my way around, I bet I’ll spend even less, which will help make my savings last longer.
3. Technology has made connecting with people in the U.S. easier than ever. Facebook, Skype, Viber (a service that lets you call or send messages or photos to other Viber users anywhere for free) and online has created numerous ways of staying in touch.
Long-term friendships, a lifeblood for most women, are much easier to maintain abroad than even five years ago. Some friends will require a bit more coaching (as I did), but once you walk them through the steps of setting up internet-based communication, it’s easy.
(MORE: The 5 Most Enticing Countries to Retire In)
4. It’s easy to make new friends there. Ever-larger expat communities in Mexico, largely Canadian and American, means there are more people to meet. Expat living promotes an egalitarianism that facilitates building friendships quickly with women of all ages and backgrounds.
Within two weeks of my arrival, I was strolling down the Malecon (a stone embankment or esplanade along a waterfront), drinking horchata (a dairy-free, sweet milky beverage) and swooning over hand-made purses with women I felt like I‘d known for years.
5. As a single woman, you won’t feel shy asking for help and advice. There’s truth to those stereotypes that women ask for directions but men don’t. I’ve found that women are typically more comfortable asking for help and advice than men.
This attribute comes in handy when you move abroad, since you’ll be on a constant quest for information. Whether it’s ‘What rent should I expect to pay?’ or ‘What’s the Spanish word for celery salt?,’ being able to ask is an essential skill in a new country.
6. It’s a great place to be when you’re in a life transition. Many of my friends moved to new cities after going through a divorce and I’ve discovered that a sojourn in Mexico can offer a distracting change in environment that lets you financially tread water while putting yourself back together. People laughingly told me that half the expats in Mazatlan were recovering from breakups.
7. Your sense of opportunity will be on overdrive. Within hours of landing in Mexico, I was already thinking of new business enterprises that would allow me to earn income there. Expats are often inspired to meet local unmet needs that seem obvious when you just arrive.
8. It’s a cinch to go back and forth to the states when you want. As a single person, you only have your own agenda and schedule to follow. So it’s a breeze to pick up and go.
9. Living arrangements here can be more flexible when you’re single. I’m sharing a house near the marina for my first six months in Mexico with a wonderful Canadian who has lived in Mazatlan for 12 years and is eager to introduce me to life there. That kind of arrangement is a great way to get to know a place and have fun, too.
Kerry Baker is a fundraising professional and development consultant currently living in Mexico who is researching and writing about topics related to single women dividing their time working and living in Mexico and the U.S. Her U.S. home is Denver, Colo.