Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Problem in Paradise

100_1566.jpg by klsterndahl
Sunrise over the lagoon between Barra de Navidad and Melaque
My daughter was in her early twenties when she came to see my new home in Mexico.  She loved it!  She was ready to move down here, too.  My advice to her was to go back home, find a good job, save your money, and when you have enough, you can come back down here to live. Of course, that was not what she wanted to hear, but that's the way it works.

One of the problems that I see every day down here in Mexico is the number of people who have either retired too early, with not enough money saved up, or who just come down here and expect to somehow make enough money to support themselves. Then something happens - accident, illness, or some other crisis - and they think the gringo community should donate money or get together to raise money to get them out of whatever problem they are facing.  And it does happen that way a lot of the time, but I refuse to be a part of it.

That sounds really selfish and mean, so let me explain. In order to live in Mexico legally, we expats are required to prove a level of income that the government has decided we will need to survive - somewhere just above $1,000US per month, or less if we own property.  That amount is really pretty accurate. There are ways around this.  One is to come in on a 180 day tourist visa and leave every six months to renew it.  Another is to come in on that visa and just never leave. The first is legal, the second, of course, isn't, but it happens all the time. If they live quietly and don't draw the attention of the authorities, they may get away with it for many years. 

I was lucky to be able to retire so young, but I gave up a lot to get where I am today.  I did without, saved my money, and kept my eyes on my goal.  I waited until I had enough saved up to be reasonably certain that I can take care of myself financially.  If that should change, I know that I will have to go back to the states and get a job and save more money until I can afford to come back down here.  But it's not fair to cheat and then expect others to cover your butt!  People either have enough to retire or they don't.  If they don't, then they should go back to work until they do!

I don't want my readers to come away from this thinking that I am a selfish person.  I'm not.  I just prefer to have my charity go to someone who really needs it - not someone who is trying to cheat the system.

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