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
    Are you interested in Parkinson's Disease?
    Take a look at my novel "Pickle Jar Test".
    Available on Amazon Worldwide


    1. Terry I loved ready this. It's very interesting and so glad you are both happy with this even though I miss you so much being closer. LOVE MOM

    2. Interesting article, we live in Cozumel 6+ mos a year and now fully retired so will be increasing our time..MX is retirement paradise in my opinion..and every yr we go back am amazed at the increasing #'s of folks retiring down there..

      1. Thank you, Deborah, for reading my blog and for your nice comment. We lived in Mexico for 6 months per year also, until one day we didn't want to leave. That's when we knew it was time to buy a small house and retire there. You are right, more and more people are choosing Mexico for retirement!

      2. Terry ~ I've fallen in love with what I've seen and heard about Sayulita (the surf and art scene) and would like to know more practical info: is there a good library with interlibrary loan (U.S. books)available? GOOD hospitals and doctors? Do you have to order prescriptions from the USA? TV and Netflix mail service? Health food stores? These are my priorities, we don't eat out and I hope there are good farmers markets there. Affordable rentals? Bus service if you don't own a car and is a Visa needed to move there as a retiree? Thanks!

      3. I forgot also, can you drink the water? Tap water OK for bathing and cooking? How is the infrastructure, does the electricity stay on all the time? Are there any hurricanes there and how much rain do they get?

      4. Hi Arly,
        Thanks for reading my blog and commenting. Sayulita is a special town--you really must visit to get the full impression. I'll try to answer your questions. We don't have a library in Sayulita, but Kindle works great to get our books. We have found a good doctor in Punta de Mita and a good dentist in Sayulita. We buy one year's worth of our prescription medications when we visit the U.S. in August. Generics in the U.S. are inexpensive that way and some of our meds are specialty items that we can't find in Mexico. Hospitals are very good in Puerto Vallarta. We have Netflix Mexico. TV is available through TelMex though we don't subscribe. Internet through TelMex is very good and inexpensive. We have several health food stores with organic products. During high season, we have a wonderful Friday Market with organic produce, nuts, cheeses, etc., clothing, and crafts, etc. We don't have a car and use the bus service to travel to Puerto Vallarta and Lo de Marcos. It is inexpensive and comes into Sayulita about every 20 to 30 minutes. We don't drink the tap water, but use it for bathing, cooking pasta, disinfecting produce. We buy purified water for drinking in 5 gallon reusable bottles from the water delivery truck. The electricity is on most of the time. We haven't had hurricanes since we have lived in Sayulita. If you want to stay for longer than 6 months at a time, you need to apply for a Permanent or Temporary Residents Permit. You might like to read this blog post: Top 10 Reasons we moved to Sayulita: Here is the link. . You might also be interested in my book evaluating our other favorite cities in Mexico, "Retirement Before the Age of 59--Healthy Living in Mexico #2". Here is the link for that: Best Wishes with your retirement move.

    3. Great article, Terry. So glad to see you two doing so well.
      We love MX too. Maybe we can see you this winter!

      1. Thank you, Linda and Don, for reading my article and for your comments. We hope to see you this winter.

    4. that was great to read. I am hoping to be doing the same thing as you but solo within the next few years. Do you think it would be cheaper if you rented in Mexico instead of owning?

      1. Thanks, Kim, for reading my blog and for your nice comments. I do recommend renting at first and it may be cheaper in the long run. But we are glad we purchased a small casita in the barrio. We love owning our own home.

    5. We have been full timing in our RV for nearly 6 years now but Mexico living could very likely be in our future for the next chapter in our lives....

      1. heyduke50, we full-timed it in our motorhome for about a year and a half before we got the itch to own a brick-and-mortar home in Mexico. Now we like having 10 months in our casita in Sayulita and 2 months in our RV in the U.S.--it's a nice balance for us. Good luck with your decision!

    6. Hi, I enjoyed reading your blog! My husband and I are doing the same thing next year and moving to the beach by Merida. We are both in our 50's and I just got a remote job I can do from anywhere and my husband will look to teach English. WE can't wait to get out of the rat race and pursue our dream of living in Mexico. Thanks so much for your budget breakdown...that really does help us figure things out! Have an awesome day!

      1. Hi Sunphotopf, Good luck with your life change and moving to Mexico. It is an exciting step! I posted this blog on the "Friends Riviera Nayarit Mexico" Facebook page and it generated a nice discussion about expats' budgets in Mexico. You might like to take a look at that to get other ideas.

    7. Very much like our experience in Ixtapa Jalisco (near Puerto Vallarta, not the famous Ixtapa). Retired at age 60 nine years ago. You didn't mention medical insurance or expenses. Curious how you handle that. Nice article.

      1. Yes, I know Ixtapa Jalisco as we rode the bus through there by mistake one day, trying to learn how to ride the bus to Wal-Mart--the fun of adjusting to life in Mexico:) My husband has Medicare but I believe health care is not covered by Medicare while in Mexico. I pay for a medical plan in the U.S. that only covers critical care so it is inexpensive. We find that health care in Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico is good and inexpensive enough that we pay for it out of pocket. We are fortunate to be in good health, so it works for us. What do you do for your medical insurance and expenses?

    8. Hi there. I enjoyed reading this. I'm booked to come visit sayulita in April. Am really drawn to downsizing and living part time in Mexico. Two questions: Price range of your casa? And my adult daughter is deaf. Have you noticed any deaf young adults in Sayulita?
      Thanks so much. Rebecca Rodriguez

      1. Hi Rebecca,
        Thank you for reading my blog and for your positive comments. Our casita (little house) price about a year and a half ago, including closing costs, was a little over $150,000 US. This included the Deed and Trust, which is important when you buy in Mexico, especially in an ejido such as Sayulita. The services of a good Realtor and Notario are recommended.
        I haven't noticed any deaf young adults in Sayulita, but you could check with CVIS (Costa Verde International School) for information on teachers and deaf students in the area. Good luck with your downsizing and move to Mexico.
        When you are in Sayulita visiting, you may want to attend my Zumba class at the Casa de la Cultura, 9am, Mondays and Wednesdays. Have a great visit to Sayulita! Terry

    9. Hi Terry, Thank you for this article, it's super helpful! I'm hoping to make a temporary move to Sayulita in 2017 from SF with my husband and 5 year old daughter. Do you have any recommendations on how to find a an apartment for rent that isn't sky high like the ones on the internet? Any tips would be greatly appreciated :) Dionne

      1. How exciting, Dionne! The best way to find a reasonably priced, furnished apartment or house for rent in Sayulita is to come and talk to the locals. Rent a room or bungalow for a few days while you look around and ask lots of questions. You will meet lots of new friends this way, too! Good luck with your move to Sayulita! We love it here. Terry

      2. Ahh, Thank you so much!


    10. Hello Terry! I just found your blog as I was trying to find a vacation rental for that area! Such great blog with lots of great info! Hay we livein Bend Or is that where your Son lives? Small world. I am having a hard time finding a vacation rental that costs under $2000. A month do you or friends know of any place ? We are two older adults and one small dog. We have been in our Motorhome for a couple years also. Not right now we are in over house. Any help would be great!, thanks Virginia Crews

      1. Hi Virginia and Gordon, You might try Sayulita Suites. My friend Lyn Hainstock owns it, though I don't know her rates. It is a little ways away from centro, so might be less expensive. The Sayulita Trailer Park is usually full during that time, especially for larger rigs, but you could call them (better than emailing them) if you decide to make the drive. We keep our RV in Lo de Marcos where it is less expensive, about a 30 minute bus ride away. Yes, our son lives in Bend, OR--it is a small world! There are quite a few Oregonians who live in Sayulita. Let me know if you have any other questions. Good luck with your vacation plans! Terry

    11. Oh I forgot ..we want to get out of all this snow Feb 17 for a month our so. We are planning to fly. But who knows maybe a road trip in the MH. Virginia and Gordon

      1. Oh, and thank you for the compliments on my blog!

      2. Virginia and Gordon, In case you are interested in my eBook "Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico", today (12/27) is the last day for the 99 cent discounted price on Amazon.

    12. We can also make economic arguments for protecting biodiversity,

      1. Hi Jade, I read your home page about shopping sales. A very different approach to living in small-town Mexico. For instance, we shop for fresh fruit and vegetables every 3 days or so as we walk by a fruit stand on our way home. Yesterday, we purchased a bag full of of a mango, carrots, oranges, apples, 2 kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, and an avocado for 85 pesos (about $5 U.S. at this time). We still had 2 reusable shopping bags empty, (and we were walking, so lightweight stuff was good) so we purchased 6 packages of toilet paper at the mini-supermarket on our way home, 150 pesos ($8 U.S.). All of this while walking, not burning any fuel in a car. We live healthier for less, we believe. We love Mexico and I'm so glad to leave the supermarkets behind. I don't hate shopping any longer.
        Thanks for reading my blog and commenting, Jade.

    13. Great blog, very helpful. My husband loves to surf and I'm looking for a quiet place to sit and write. We are looking for a town where we can both retire happily. Thank you for the resources.