Now that retirement has come and our house finally sold, Abby and I were pondering how we were going to realize our dream of moving to Mexico on just our monthly Social Security checks. A few years ago we decided that getting out of the cold weather and moving to a more benign climate was a top priority for us. The southern states were discounted after we did the math and could see that our fixed income would not be enough to maintain a comfortable life style.
During one of our many vacations to Mexico it became obvious that, with a much lower cost of living and higher quality of life, we needed to find a town to settle in. We had narrowed the list to 2 areas where there was a significant ex-pat community: Puerto Vallarta and Lake Chapala. There were other places worth considering, Manzanillo and San Miguel de Allende.
Our friends, who had already retired to Mexico, advised us not to buy a house anywhere until we had lived in the area for a while. They suggested that we rent a furnished house in each town to see how we would enjoy living there. Vacationing in a town and living in it are different experiences.
We agreed that it was the right way to go. After investigation on the internet we discovered that renting a furnished house for a short term(less than 6 months) put the rents in the vacation rental category: very expensive!
Disappointment set in. How could we live in a place for a while and get to know it with out breaking the bank? Once again Peter and Julie, who had been living in Puerto Vallarta for 3 years had the answer to our dilemma. It seems that many of the “snowbirds”, ex-pat homeowners who spent only part of the year in their vacation home, were turning to housesitters to care for their properties while up north. They suggested that we find housesitting assignments in the different places we wanted to research. That would solve our problem.
So off we went to our favorite internet search engine looking for “housesitting in Mexico”. We were surprised to learn what a big industry housesitting is after seeing all the webpages that came up. There were a number of agencies advertising housesitting opportunities all over the world. We found one that specialized in Mexico only and there we found what we were looking for, a treasure trove of housesitting opportunities all over Mexico. We signed up so that we could contact some of the places we had seen on their website.
The site was easy to use and we put up our profile and a photo. After seeing photos and descriptions of the homes available it was obvious that these were luxury homes belonging to Americans and Canadians. There were 2 houses in San Miguel seeking a housesitter during the dates that we would be available. We contacted both and after numerous email exchanges we were made an offer to housesit. This homeowner was returning to Canada for the summer so we would have only 2 months to stay. Other than paying for the electric bill and leaving a small security deposit we would have no other expenses. Wow, what a deal! A fully equipped luxury home rent free for 2 months. Oh yes, we were responsible for watering the garden and feeding their outdoor cat. We love cats.
During those 2 wonderful months exploring the area and enjoying a taste of living in Mexico, our friends from PV came to visit and stay in the guest house. They noticed that we were falling in love with San Miguel and urged us to try PV before making a decision to buy.
We went back to our website and although there were many other housesit opportunities throughout the Republic that were available at the end of this assignment non were in PV. The next one available in PV was in 5 months. Should we go back to our home up north or take another housesit?
This world of housesitting, which had been completely unknown to us, is an exciting adventure. We were liking it a lot. Complete freedom to travel without the financial burden.
We applied for the job in PV and after a few phone calls with the owners we were offered the position. The house is on the southside of town with a view of the ocean. We were excited!
These last few months have been incredible. We took 3 short term assignments and got to know Todo Santos, Lake Chapala and La Manzanilla. We have become friends with all of the homeowners, ex-pats like ourselves.
Tomorrow we will arrive in PV. Now we get to live in Puerto Vallarta near our close friends. Pretty good for our first year of retirement thanks to housesitting….