Wednesday, August 17, 2016


Living Simply, Life is Inexpensive & Healthy in Sayulita

A Simple Mexican House & a Comfy Porch Swing: Contentment
     We have found that significantly simplifying our lives and moving to Mexico has increased our personal happiness. We gave up working in the rat race in the United States and life slowed down. We gave up the focus on owning a nicer, newer home every three years, a new high-tech car, our handsome Stickley furniture, and most of our stuff. We sold all but a few necessities and mementos. What a release! What a relief to let it all go! Then we moved to Sayulita, Mexico!
We Don't Need a 4X4 Pick-up Truck in Sayulita!
     It was time to find out if we could really live off of our meager savings. I retired before the age of 59, before I could collect Social Security or access my IRA funds without having to pay high amounts of taxes and penalties. Jon opted to start drawing Social Security early at the age of 62 at the lowest rate and quit working completely at 65. The economic downturn of 2008 had hit us hard financially. We had sold all of our investment real estate to pay the bills, banked the small amount that was left, and began to look forward to our new life. We envisioned a life in Mexico where life is slow and peaceful, the sun is always shining, flowers are always blooming, the ocean is three blocks away, and we were pretty sure it would be cheaper to live there. We were happily surprised to discover how much cheaper!
A Year Round Flowering Garden Brings Tranquility
     But, would we really be able to stretch our savings and retirement funds far enough to live the quality of life we wanted? Would we have to scrimp while living in Sayulita, giving up life’s little luxuries? We were thankful that we had found a relatively inexpensive little home, since Sayulita real estate is high for Mexico. Purchasing it for cash eliminated mortgage interest. But what other monthly expenses would we have? It was time to develop a budget for living in Sayulita 10 months per year and the United States for the other two months!
Relaxation While Dining on the Beach & Watching the Ocean

Our Monthly Budget for Two
     If you’ve read my previous blog articles, you guessed what our highest expense is—dining in restaurants! These budget figures are listed in United States Dollars (USD) for ease of reading, though all of our spending is done in cash, using the Mexican peso. A big part of the reason we can afford to live so inexpensively in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico is that the U.S. Dollar to Peso exchange is very good at this time, about 18.5 pesos per dollar. This makes our dollar stretch about twice as far as it did when we were traveling in Mexico 10 years ago and more than twice as far as it does in the United States at this time. Some people are more frugal than we are and live on less than we do; others have larger homes and more extravagant lifestyles with expenses much higher than ours. 
We Look Forward to Dining at Calypso & Other Fine Restaurants

This monthly budget is for the two of us:

  • Restaurants:                                      $550 USD

  • Allows for dinner in nice restaurants about 14 times per month, including a shared salad or appetizer, a shared high quality entree, wine, and, occasionally, dessert, plus a minimum of 15% tip, and lunch at cafes or taco stands about 8 times per month. We share meals to decrease the cost and the calories.  

  • Groceries, Wine, Purified Water:      $290
  • Personal Care:                                     $ 90
  • Health & Fitness:                                $300
    • Includes exercise classes, health insurance premiums, vitamins, prescription and over the counter medication, doctor visits, dental visits with twice yearly teeth cleaning, and eye exams and glasses. All are less expensive in Mexico except the vitamins and some prescription medications that we bring with us when we return from the U.S. Our simplified life in Mexico revolves around living outdoors: daily walks to the beach and town, gardening, throwing the ball for Bella, home-improvement projects, talking to our Mexican neighbors, and lots of boogie-boarding and Stand Up Paddleboarding, all free, healthy activities.
  • Laundry Service:                                $ 40

    • One of my favorite perks of living in Sayulita—we drop our laundry off at the lavandería one day and pick it up washed, dried, and neatly folded the next day, for less than $3 USD per load!

  • Weekly Housecleaner:                       $ 60
  • Utilities: Water:                                  $ 12
  • Utilities: Electricity:                           $ 60
    • We don’t have a dishwasher or clothes washer or dryer which are electricity hogs. Our maid won’t use our vacuum cleaner because she says it uses too much electricity (good old fashioned sweeping saves us a little on our electric bill). Jon significantly reduced kilowatts used by switching all light bulbs to LEDs.  We splurge with an air conditioner in our master bedroom, using it at nighttime in late spring. Our electric usage is highest in June and July when daytime temperatures are high and we choose to air condition the entire three rooms of living space in the afternoon, but low usage in the winter offsets this.
  • Utilities: Gas for Cooking & hot water: $ 16
  • Utilities: Internet:                                  $ 18
  • Phone and Miscellaneous:                     $ 80
    • Phone usage is something we have practically eliminated, and what a peaceful change in our lives! We use Skype on our computer and iPad when we want to call our family members. Skype also works for most local calls in Mexico. Jon bought a smart phone by Blu for $49 at Best Buy in the U.S., but we only use the phone option, not data. We buy 100 pesos (about $6 U.S.) worth of minutes through TelCel online which lasts us about 2 months. We use the phone mostly to call for taxis and for peace of mind in case of emergency.
  • Property Taxes:                                   $  8
    • Amazingly low! What a nice surprise!
  • Property Bank Trust Fee:                   $ 32
  • Bus and Taxi:                                       $ 54
  • Entertainment & Netflix Mexico:       $ 40
    • People-watching provides some of the best, free entertainment in Sayulita, whether on the beach or while sitting at a downtown café. Listening to live music in a restaurant or in the central plaza and watching fire jugglers or other street performers costs us a small tip, the equivalent of 50 cents or a dollar, here and there. Once a month or so we splurge by paying to attend an event such as a fiesta in Sayulita, a show at Circo de Los Niños, or Salsa Dancing to a Cuban Band at Don Pedros. We enjoy watching a movie every week or two since Netflix Mexico has recently become available for the equivalent of $5.50 USD per month.
  • Spanish Lessons, Books, Etc.:           $ 50

    • Buying eBooks on our Kindles is one of our biggest luxuries! Reading is one of our passions!

  • Clothing:                                            $100

    • Shorts, bathing suits, and flip-flops are our main wardrobe. A few nice “going-to-dinner” shirts and pants plus a sweatshirt for cool winter evenings complete our simple needs for beach life in Sayulita.

  • Charity:                                              $ 60

    • Most of our donations are to local organizations such as ProSayulita, SayulitAnimals, the Turtle Program, and EntreAmigos, all for the improvement of Sayulita and the surrounding area.

  • Dog Food & Vet. Costs:                     $ 50
  • Home Repair/Maintenance:             $150
    • Hopefully, we are estimating on the high side here. So far, our home has been low-maintenance, but we are still in the first year of ownership of this seven year old home and don’t yet have much history.
  • Home Improvement:                          $ 60
  • Travel in Mexico:                                 $ 80
  • Round Trip Airfare to USA:               $100
  • RV Travel in USA for 2 months:        $100
    •     This is the amount we set aside monthly all year-long to allow for RV Parks and campgrounds, RV Fuel, RV Repairs, RV storage for 10 months per year and higher cost of groceries, dining out, laundry, and other expenses. That is $1200 for our two months of RV travels in Oregon. We keep this expense to a minimum by boondocking (free camping) at American Indian Casinos and camping in Forest Service Campgrounds with Jon’s Senior Pass which gives us a 50% discount, about $12 a night.               
    Our Total Monthly Budget for Two:   $2400
         We have no home mortgage, no automobile expenses, and our lifestyle is as good or better in Sayulita than in the United States for about half the cost. We have enough money left over to travel and live in our motorhome, visiting our family and camping in Oregon for two months each year. Our dreams come true!
    Boondocking at Three Rivers Indian Casino in Florence--Free!

         When we live this simplified way, we find that in addition to saving money, we feel healthier and more at peace. We hope that others notice and follow our example. My purposes in writing this are to show that we can get out of the “rat race” in the U.S., escape the endless pursuit to get ahead financially, stop the pointless trap of working more in order to have more, and learn to live on less money. Letting go of the “rat race” routine is the first step to simplifying and living a healthier life. Happiness follows when we leave behind the drive to excel, let go of the need to push ourselves harder every day, and enjoy living.
    Siuslaw/Sutton Forest Service Campground--$12 per night!
         Take a look at my eBook, "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico" available on worldwide by clicking HERE (Free with kindleunlimited!)

    "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico" eBook
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