The Best Places To Live Where $200k In Retirement Savings Will Last 30 Years

By Scott Alan Turner

So you have $200k in the bank and you’re probably thinking you’re set for retirement, right? While it’s not easy to calculate exactly how much you personally will need for retirement (everyone has different lifestyles, health issues, etc.), in the United States, experts say you should try to save at least $1 million to retire comfortably. Want to find out specifically how much you will need to retire comfortably?

Unfortunately, Americans aren’t great at saving. While we’re doing better now than we were in previous years, the personal savings rate in the US is 5.7%. According to The Motley Fool, “this means that out of every $100 in after-tax income Americans bring in, we’re only saving $5.70 for things like retirement, emergency expenses, and rainy-day savings.”

So how can you make your money in retirement go farther? No, you don’t have to eat cat food or start selling all of your possessions. Instead, consider retiring abroad. You may not have thought of it before, but retiring abroad (or at least part-time) is very common in Europe. People do it for many reasons, including saving money on living and healthcare. Here are the best places to live where $200k in retirement savings will last 30 years.

Mexico

Mexico - the best places to live in retirement

Listed as International Living’s number one world’s best place to retire for five years in a row, Mexico is a serious contender for many Americans. Whether you’re retiring or looking to escape the rat race early, take your $200,000 and enjoy great health care, beautiful beaches, and delicious food.

Not convinced? Take healthcare. Not only is health care in Mexico significantly cheaper than in the US, many Mexican doctors were educated at US institutions and speak English. According to International Living, “there are first-rate hospitals throughout the country – every major city has one. ‘Even paying cash at private facilities costs a fraction of what it would in the US. Most doctors have received at least part of their training in the US or Europe… and many speak English.’”

Also, Mexico is very close to the US, you’re only a few short hours from most major US cities. If you need to come back for health reasons, to visit family, or any other reason, it is easily done.

Runner-up: Nicaragua! With an even lower cost of living than Mexico, Nicaragua is a great place where your $200k will go far, especially if you plan on running a business while in retirement. According to “The World’s Best Retirement Havens in 2017” by the Huffington Post, “it doesn’t take long to get your resident’s card, and it’s easy for expats to open businesses. Many find that when they open a business they make a U.S. profit, but in a country where their costs are a fraction of what they are back home, allowing for a superior lifestyle.”

Malaysia

Malaysia - the best places to live in retirement

Want to put down some roots in the country where you’re retiring? Look no further than Malaysia, which will even let people buy property without living there. Upon arriving in Malaysia, you’re given a three-month visa, and if you decide to purchase property while there, you can.

There’s also a lot to see and do in Malaysia, especially if you’re a fan of UNESCO world heritage sites. Malaysia has four world heritage sites: the Lenggong Valley, the Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu Park and the cities of George Town and Malacca. In addition, healthcare is top notch in Malaysia, as it is in many parts of Asia. According to International Living, “Malaysia has some of the best-trained doctors in Asia, and most have learned their profession in the US or the UK. They all speak English, too.”

Runner-up: If you’re looking for slick, modern, and orderly, look no further than Singapore. Singapore has some of the most beautifully kept streets and transit facilities, but that’s because their littering laws are strict. Keep your trash to yourself. Singapore is only a few hours from Malaysia, with outstanding healthcare facilities as well. Singapore is more expensive than Malaysia, making it a runner-up, but is still cheaper than many US cities.

Panama

Panama - the best places to live in retirement

Panama is a beautiful country with a lot of ex-pats, who retire and play in Panama due to its proximity to the US (only a 2.5-hour flight from Miami) and its use of the US dollar. According to Investopedia, you’ll need anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 a month to live in Panama comfortably, but where you’ll really save is in utilities, rent, and healthcare. In addition, Panama’s Pensionado program is very generous and offers discounts on a variety of amenities including:

  • 25% discount on your restaurant bill
  • 15% hospital services discount
  • 25% discount on your water bill
  • 25% discount on your electricity bill
  • 10% prescription medication discount

In order to receive these discounts, you will need to qualify and apply for the pensionado program, but anyone over the age of 18 is allowed to apply.

Runner-up: Argentina! While Argentina is slightly more expensive in some aspects and is farther away, Argentina’s health system is even better than Panama’s, and the culture in Argentina is definitely something to enjoy (beef and wine are some of Argentina’s two famous exports, among many others).

Southern Spain

Seville Spain - the best places to live in retirement

Always wanted to live in Europe but never thought you could afford it? Take a look at Spain – specifically, the southern, Andalucia-region of Spain. With all the wonderful culture and amenities of Spain, southern Spain is more relaxed about life. This relaxation is reflected in southern Spain’s cheaper prices than what you’d find in Madrid or Barcelona.

Granada, one of the biggest cities in southern Spain, is full of lively entertainment and Moorish/Spanish culture. It’s a great place to retire if you’re looking for city amenities within a short drive to the beach (two hours to Marbella, a lively resort town on the pricey Costa del Sol). According to the cost-of-living site Numbeo, one person’s monthly expenses in Granada are estimated at less than $600 a month. Siesta time (a time to relax, nap, and recharge) is strictly enforced in many parts of southern Spain, too, so if you’ve been looking for an excuse to relax, you’ve found one!

Runner-up: Portugal! Very similar to Spain (but don’t confuse their languages!) Portugal has many similar amenities to Spain, including a vibrant ex-pat community, affordable health care, and great beaches. It’s slightly harder to get out of Portugal, especially if you’re driving, thanks to the mountains, but it’s easy to travel around Europe from Portugal by air.

Guam

Guam - the best places to live in retirement

I couldn’t end “The Top 5 Countries Where $200k in Retirement Savings Will Last 30 Years” without mentioning Guam! Guam is a US island territory in Micronesia, in the Western Pacific. According to the Huffington Post, it’s also the most “exotic destination in America”. That’s right – you don’t even need a passport to retire to Guam.

Guam is perfect for those who want to get away and make their retirement last longer, but don’t want to get that far away or worry about their health care benefits. If retiring in the Pacific is your dream, put Guam on your list and ditch Hawaii. Perfect for beach and history buffs, Guam offers beautiful tropical beaches, and the War in the Pacific National Historical Park, which includes Asan Beach, a former battlefield.

As it is a US territory, the dollar is the currency, and retirees can use Medicare for their health costs. While Guam is pretty far from the US (7 hours from Hawaii, 12 hours from LA) almost everything in Guam is cheaper than the US except for food, which is often more expensive as most products have to be shipped in.

Runner-up: You can’t get any closer to the US than a US territory – other than being in the US!

As you can see, there are a lot of options where your $200,000 in retirement savings can last you 30 years and not have you relying on cat food to get by. However, you do have to travel a bit, which is an unnerving thought for many. Particularly for those worried about health care.

However, given the ease and affordability of international travel, many doctors in other countries (particularly the countries listed above) have studied in the US or Europe and have some of the best, and exact same, training as doctors in the US. At a fraction of the price, it’s hard to argue against saving your money and getting the same care abroad. Not to mention the incredible opportunity to travel, relax, and see places many others never will.

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Top 5 Reasons to Retire to Mexico

Dinner

By Thomas Lloyd 

About half of all Americans and Canadians are experiencing stress about being able to retire comfortably. But the good news is that while those fears may be well-founded for those who decide to stay home, others who are interested in moving may find a better option to the south. The International Living Global Retirement Index recently released their rankings on the best places to retire, and Mexico was ranked as the penultimate destination. From the quality of life to the culture to the climate, there are innumerable reasons why retiring to the Mayan Riviera is an excellent option. Here are the top five reasons why you should retire to Mexico.

Cost of Living

Many retirees are living on a fixed income which is often a challenge to get by on in our increasingly expensive world. However, in Mexico, a couple can easily live on as little as $1,500USD per month, including housing and healthcare. A couple can easily grab a round-trip taxi, a fancy dinner and do some shopping for less than $20USD. Moreover, there is no need to be thrifty.

Lifestyle

Thanks to such a low cost of living, individuals with what might seem like a low income can still live a full and active life when they retire to Mexico. Exploring ancient Mayan ruins or deserted beaches might be a great option for the more physically able. Or for those who prefer to stay city-side there is no shortage of restaurants or amenities. Moreover, there are hundreds of inexpensive flights available to destinations all over the Americas.

Climate

Tulum

With a mean annual temperature of 75-77 °F (24-25 °C), the Mayan Riviera is an ideal destination for anybody looking to escape the cold and dreary weathers we experience in most of the rest of North America. Cooling down is never a problem. Between the pristine beaches along the coast, beautiful cenotes located all around the area, or the full amenity pools open to guests at countless resorts and beach-side clubs, there is no excuse.

Healthcare

For those who are over 60 and are legal residents of Mexico, the public healthcare system is completely free! And for those who are taking advantage of an early retirement, public healthcare can be acquired for a mere few hundred dollars a year. Even private health insurance can be purchased for less than half the cost of US prices. Besides, medical tourism in the Riviera Maya has become increasingly popular due to the state-of-art technologies and professionals. This is one of the top reasons why Americans and Canadians decide to retire to Mexico.

Culture

Day of the Dead

From Day of the Dead to Mexican Independence Day, there is no shortage of celebrations and events to take part in to celebrate the incredible history of the country. On days without national celebrations, you can still take part in any number of activities. These range from shopping, fishing, sunbathing, diving, biking, mountain climbing, parasailing, collecting crafts, going to concerts, or fine dining. The list is endless!

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Why We Chose to Retire in Mexico Instead of the U.S.

By Q-Roo Paul

One of the most important aspects of retirement is financial planning. You want to make sure that you’ll have enough income to maintain your current standard of living, as well as have some disposable income so you can do fun things, like travel.

The general rule of thumb for middle and high-income earners is to have a retirement income of at least 70% of their former household income. Keep that number in mind as you read on.

I suppose that my wife and I would be considered mid-level earners. We had been in our respective careers for many years and had worked our way up to management positions. I was a lieutenant with a sheriff’s office in Florida and Linda was a director for a children’s advocacy center that assisted with child abuse investigations.

After 25 years on the job, I was eligible to retire and I looked forward to having more free time to spend with Linda. The problem was that Linda was still too young to retire and we determined that if she did stop working, we would only have about 33% of our former income.

That’s a long way from the 70% recommended target income. In fact, the amount barely left us enough to eat regularly after we paid our all monthly expenses — which included a sizable mortgage and car payment.

If You Can’t Win the Game You’re Playing, Find a New Game

For over 15 years, Mexico was our favorite vacation destination and we would go there as often as we could. We loved everything about the Riviera Maya and we would often talk about moving there someday.

We started thinking that maybe someday was now.

I started researching everything I could about living south of the border — especially the cost of living. On paper, it looked like we could make it work, but only if we could eliminate all of our debt in the U.S. and reduce our spending.

We decided to give it a try and we then sold, donated or discarded 99% of our belongings in the U.S. We didn’t even want the expense of having to rent a storage shed.

We applied for and were granted resident visas at the Mexican Consulate, packed our belongings into four large suitcases, and flew to Cancun with the intention of trying it for a year.

So, How’s It Going?

We’ve been in Mexico for over three years now and we absolutely love it.

We ended up using the money we had left over from the sale of everything we previously owned to buy a condo in a gated resort community and a car. We now live 100% debt free for the first time in our adult lives.

The lack of debt combined with the low cost of living in Mexico, has made it easy for us to live very well here. We enjoy a higher quality of life than we did in the U.S. and we have plenty of disposable income to enjoy our retirement to the fullest.

Let’s Wrap This Up

This article may make it sound like we moved to Mexico on a whim and we were just lucky it worked out — but that’s not the case at all. We conducted countless hours of research and carefully planned our move to increase our odds of success.

I’m sure that if I ended the article right here, we would be inundated with emails from readers asking for more information about the type of research that we did and the results etc. If you’re one of those folks, my advice is to subscribe to the blog and I’ll answer those questions one article at a time.

Well, that’s enough blogging for today. It’s another beautiful day in the Riviera Maya and there’s a beach chair with my name on it. Hasta luego.

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How to Keep Investing After You Retire

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By Brian Sterz | Investopedia

Retirees who maximize their investments can enjoy retirement at the same time they are growing their nest egg for the future. Regardless of the status of your finances as you approach retirement, or if you’ve already crossed that threshold, the years leading up to and the first few years of retirement are some of the best times to be financially savvy.

There’s a certain amount of frenzy among both families and financial experts concerning how little Americans are saving for retirement. Estimates regarding a potential shortfall in retirement savings vary from a relatively manageable $1 trillion to a more whiplash-inducing $14 trillion; it’s not hard to see why the so-called retirement crisis has everyone from average savers to financial pros in a panic.

With the retirement age set to climb to 67 for those born in 1960 or later, and the segment of workers in the 64-75, and 75 and above, age groups returning to the workforce growing faster than any other brackets, all indicators point to Americans extending their working years longer than ever before. Whether by choice or out of necessity, many people who have worked their whole lives to achieve financial freedom may find themselves heading back to work part-time or taking minimum distributions from their retirement accounts in order to make their funds last longer. (For more,

Here are some ways retirees can maximize their investments and not outlive their savings.

Start With the Basics

Every investment strategy begins with the same basic principle – measuring your expenses against your regular sources of income. Naturally, this is something that should be done on a consistent basis. It is the best way to determine the areas where spending may need to be reduced. This evaluation will also highlight where investments can fill the gap in retirement and, if you have a surplus, will guide your budgeting efforts to establish your future investment plan.

Plan for a Long Life

Longevity is one metric that has become increasingly important in the retirement community. In 1900, the average American life expectancy was only 47 years. Today that expectancy has more than doubled. Many U.S. residents live well into their 80s and 90s. As a result, it’s important to ensure that your financial plan encompasses the need for income for a longer life span.

In order to make sure that your funds will cover your expenses for the projected length of your lifespan, set aside a portion of your retirement funds in a low-risk reserve that’s invested in products like money market funds and certificates of deposits (CDs). Once you have saved up a reserve that will cover your basic needs for a period ranging from three months to two years (depending on your risk tolerance), consider adding a diversified portfolio of fixed-income investments to generate a stable income return.

Delay Taking Social Security Benefits

If you postpone your retirement date, you may be able to extend your retirement income. Though there are exceptions, waiting beyond the age you’re eligible to retire until your full retirement age (which varies depending on the year of your birth) will mean that your benefit check will be greater. In fact, for each year you can put off applying for Social Security up until the age of 70, your monthly check will increase by 8%, until you finally begin receiving benefits. If it’s possible for you to wait, this may well be the best and safest rate of return.

Be Flexible

After you have the basics covered, it’s important to build a component of flexibility into your retirement planning, because things happen that are impossible to plan for. It could be that you or your spouse becomes ill, or perhaps you unexpectedly have to raise a grandchild. You may even need start-up capital for a product you’ve come up with.

Whether your unplanned financial event is good or bad, life happens and you may find yourself in the position of needing to add some risk to your investment portfolio in the form of stocks that will accelerate your rate of return. This is okay, and so is temporarily adjusting the rate of withdrawals you’re making, as long as you’re monitoring the situation and making the needed recalculations once possible.

Enjoy Your Nest Egg in Moderation

If you’re in the position of having amassed an attractive base of retirement savings, parting with the funds you’ve worked so hard to save can cause anxiety. First, recognize that you can’t take this wealth with you. Second, if you have a good nest egg, it is certainly time to enjoy the fruits of your labors.

However, failing to invest these funds and outliving your money will assuredly only result in even more stress. As noted above, fixed income –essentially a portfolio of quality bonds that may provide you with a source of income on a monthly basis – may be a good choice in this instance.

Maintain Control to Maximize Investments

Maintaining control is the key to success in maximizing your investments after you retire. At times it can seem overwhelming, but once you are experiencing a long and fulfilling retirement, you will be grateful for the groundwork you too the time to establish.

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Things You Should Know About Condo Meetings in Mexico

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By Harriet Murray | Expats in Mexico

Understanding how condominium ownership works should begin with the things you should know about condo meetings in Mexico.

First, knowing how homeowner meetings for condos in Mexico work is an important responsibility for owners. The homeowner meetings are the top authority for the running of the building. Meetings are both ordinary and extraordinary. There will be at least one ordinary meeting a year, held within the first three months of every year.

The general meeting agenda includes:

1. Reports from the administrator and the executive committee.

2. Election of the executive committee.

3. Election of the administrator

4. The approval of the budget for the coming year.

Notices for the ordinary meeting are legal if at the first meeting, there are at least 51 percent of the condominium rights represented. If 51 percent are not present, a second meeting will be scheduled no sooner than seven days or later than 14 days. At this second meeting, the majority of the homeowners, or their representatives, present will be declared a majority.

The general meeting must take place in the city where the condominium is located and notice for the meeting must be issued at least 15 days prior to the meeting.

In addition to the general meeting, an extraordinary meeting can be held at any time to cover these agenda items:

1. Modification of the condominium Bylaws

2. Approval of any improvements

3. To modify or dispose of the common areas

4. To vote on the dissolution of the condo regime

5. To approve the addition of new common areas

6. To request a civil judge to make an owner sell his rights to the property

7. To approve the rebuilding of the building if it has been damaged

8. Other problems or questions that are of concern to the homeowners

Notice for an extraordinary meeting should be 20 days before the meeting and may take place with whatever number of homeowners attend. However, for a proposal to be legal, 75 percent of the ownership must vote and approve it.

Besides the notices to the individual owners for both types of meetings, a copy should be posted in visible places within the condominium. An owner can also require that the administrator notify him/her by certified mail. The notice must include the date, time and place of the meeting, the type of meeting and the agenda. An important point to know is that items OFF the agenda cannot be binding unless 100 percent of the homeowners are present to make the decision. This is a critical point to understand when voting on issues of importance.

If you have a disagreement to air, you should know that controversies among homeowners are subject to the executive committee’s judgement. Here a few other guidelines relating to disagreement resolution:

1. The city secretary will judge conflicts within the condominiums in the city.

2. In Puerto Vallarta, the civil code and Jalisco code will be followed.

3. Other conflicts, such as a dispute with a utility authority or a disputed charge for products or services, will be decided by the city judicial legal system.

The administrator also can take to court homeowners or their guests who fail to fulfill their obligations or follow the condominium bylaws. The condominium can ask the judge to force the homeowner to sell his condominium ownership. This is a strong position that the owners in general can take to remove an owner who disturbs or destroys the right of enjoyable use by the majority of owners. A tenant can be required to vacate a unit and the condominium can sue the owner, if they oppose such an action.

Decisions made at legally constituted meetings are legal and binding to all the ownership, whether they are present or not. This applies to third parties or unknown owners as well.

Maintenance fees are also a consideration in condo ownership. Condo dues and reserve fund are determined on the percentage of ownership of an individual unit to the whole condo regime. Dues and the reserve fee are paid in advance. If the condominium expenses exceed the income, the homeowners are required to cover the expenses as an extraordinary maintenance fee.

If you own or are considering buying a condominium, be sure to ask about the condominium laws and the condominium regime rules and regulations, wherever you are considering a purchase.

This article is based upon legal opinions, current practices and my personal experiences in the Puerto Vallarta-Bahia de Banderas areas. I recommend that each potential buyer or seller conduct his/her own due diligence and review.

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How will a couple’s retirement look when there’s a big age gap?

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By Michelle Singletary | Tha Washington Post

I’m a planner. Always have been. When it comes to retirement, my husband and I are working the numbers, discussing whether we want to stay put or move and talking about how much traveling we want to do.

We are just a year apart in age — he’s older — so the plan has generally been that we would retire together. I’m looking forward to spending even more time with my “boo.”

But a reader raised a question recently that could create problems for some couples: “What can age difference mean when it comes to retirement?”

The Pew Research Center looked at the age gap in couples. For the most part, people marry someone close in age. However, one stereotype proved to be true: Men who are remarrying tend to wed younger women.

“Not only are men who have recently remarried more likely than those beginning a first marriage to have a spouse who is younger; in many cases, she is much younger,” wrote Gretchen Livingston, a senior researcher focusing on fertility and family demographics at Pew Research Center. “Some 20 percent of men who are newly remarried have a wife who is at least 10 years their junior, and another 18 percent married a woman who is 6 to 9 years younger. By comparison, just 5 percent of newlywed men in their first marriage have a spouse who is 10 years younger, and 10 percent married a woman who is 6 to 9 years younger.”

Among remarried women, the likelihood of having a much younger spouse is far smaller than among remarried men, Livingston wrote.

So, does age matter? It can when it comes to retirement.

“As you approach retirement together, that age gap becomes a factor in decisions about when you retire and when you take Social Security, and in planning how much money you need to save and how it should be invested,” wrote Arielle O’Shea for NerdWallet. “Especially if the younger partner is a woman, an age difference can mean you need your money to last longer. Women outlive men on average, which adds additional years to retirement.”

One of the biggest issues when there is an age gap is when to retire.

“Couples with big age differences may need to plan for different retirement dates and life expectancies — with related implications for portfolio-withdrawal strategies, asset allocation, and Social Security filing,” wrote Christine Benz, Morningstar’s director of personal finance. “Long-term-care considerations can also take on greater prominence for couples where there’s a big age discrepancy.”

Benz offered advice on how to plan when there is a significant age gap.

“Couples with big age gaps should craft their plans to accommodate the partner with the longest life expectancy,” she suggests. “That means that a 70-year-old husband and a 58-year-old wife should plan for their portfolio to last over the wife’s longer time horizon — 28 years, on average, and even longer if she has good health and a family history of longevity.”

Be careful about retirement withdrawals, and definitely give more thought to when you both will start taking Social Security, Benz said.

“If the older partner had the higher income over his or her working career, delaying Social Security filing past full retirement age, as late as age 70, may be especially valuable” she said. “Not only will that enlarge the higher-earning spouse’s benefits during his or her lifetime, but it will also enhance the lifetime benefits for the surviving spouse.”

If there is a wide age gap between you and your partner, you definitely need to have the retirement discussion sooner rather than later. Here’s more on the topic of retiring as a couple:

Your Thoughts

Is there a big age difference in your marriage that may affect your retirement plans? I’d also like to hear from couples on how they handled the question of when to retire. Did you retire together? If not, why not? And how is your plan working? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and state. Put “Age Gap” in the subject line.

Retirement Rants and Raves

I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement or aging. What do you like about retirement? What came as a surprise? If you haven’t retired yet, what concerns you financially?

You can rant or rave. This space is yours. It’s a chance for you to express what’s on your mind. Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”

Have you decided to make changes to your retirement portfolio based on recent events in the stock market?

Fran Skomo of Pittsburgh wrote: “I was concerned about the market in January but did not move money. Boy did I regret that. So about a month ago I was getting worried about the stock market highs, so I did move a lot of my equity holdings into bonds and even some into a money market account, which is now earning more than my bond and stock portfolio combined. I suppose I am now exposed about 25 percent equity, 30 percent bonds and 45 percent cash equivalent. Until all the trade agreements are ironed out and I see what is going on globally and with third quarter corporate profits results, I won’t be back into the market to any great extent. I am retired, and I have to be careful that my income lasts another 30 years or so.”

Charles Anderson of Chesapeake, Va., wrote: “My wife and I are both retired, age 68. The recent drop in the market lowered our retirement funds. No panic. We lived through worse (1987, 2008/2009), but we read your column on retirement planning with a link to ‘Reducing Retirement Risk With a Rising Equity Glide Path’ that suggests getting more aggressive as you get later into retirement and want to do less traveling etc. This changed our investment strategy. It made sense. Kind of a retirement ‘life happens’ fund. We calculated how much we would need to withdraw in the next 15 years and moved that into short-term investments and left the rest in stocks so we can do what we wished in retirement. Every year we will readjust accordingly, based on our health and family matters. Yes, we took a loss, but it was all gains from earlier gains.”

“I look at stock market losses differently now,” wrote Scott Fossum of Houston. “The October stock market drop put me back three months to the first half of July as measured by the S&P 500. Still up year-to-date, so I’m mentally okay. As long as I only have volatility and not a bear market, this method of rationalizing market drops works for me. I was happy three months ago and I’m still happy now. No need to get complicated and calculated nominal versus real returns, as I can’t see inflation in a three-month time span. If we get a bear market that takes years to recover from, like the ones since 2000, then it gets more complicated, and I look at real returns and would be depressed if I was a ‘buy and hold’ guy.”

Deborah G. from New York wrote: “When the market dropped recently, I think I gasped, but then moved on. That’s because my grandparents lived through the Great Depression. Back when the market crashed in 1987, I was much younger but still had some savings and lost $700 in a single day. That was a lot to me then. I immediately closed my money market fund and put everything into cash savings. When I told my grandparents, they told me I shouldn’t have done that — to never bet against the stock market because it always comes back. I still follow their advice. And I saw that proven still correct after the 2008 crash. While I have little faith in current leaders, and worry if the current Washington insanity will destroy that, I am trying to remain hopeful that my grandparents’ advice stays the course into these uncertain times.”

Deborah continued: “To plan for my retirement, I have decided to prepare to use the bucket strategy — to keep enough cash in my portfolio so that if there is a crash when I am retired, I have enough to go two years without taking anything out of equities, so there is time to recover before I make any withdrawals. I’m not there yet, but that is what I am working towards. I do check my account balances several times a week, but that is mostly because I worry about identity theft, that someone will steal my ID and clean me out. It can be nerve-racking to see the drops, but I also keep thinking about the long game.”

Scott E. from Sheboygan, Wis., wrote, “About three weeks ago, I sold $15,000 worth of stock to free up cash for when — not if — the bottom drops out of the market again as it did in 2008 and 1987.”

On retiring in general, Mark Press of Henrico, Va., wrote: “Looking ahead, what one plans on doing in retirement is at least partly correlated with how much one will need when the paychecks stop. A lot of retirement material focuses on finance but not so much on lifestyle, and that, too, needs to be taken into account. After all, time, too, is a limited resource to be managed.”

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Living Near the Enchanted Forest of Guadalajara

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By Robert Nelson | Expats in Mexico

Did you know that Guadalajara is located at the confluence of five ecosystems in Mexico? John Pint discovered this remarkable land over three decades ago and has been living near the enchanted forest of Guadalajara ever since.

John Pint, Pinar de la Venta, Mexico
John Pint

Pint, 77, is a man of many stories and accomplishments. He lives with his wife Susy on the outskirts of Guadalajara’s Bosque de la Primavera, a beautiful pine and oak forest that covers more than 139 square miles. Known as “Guadalajara’s lungs,” it was declared a Protected Area and Wildlife Refuge in 1980 to save it from developers.

“We live in Pinar de la Venta, which was once part of the Primavera Forest,” Pint said. “It was created as a community for people who had weekend homes, but when we came we said wow, this is just the kind of place we want. It’s like living in the woods.”

The journey to his enchanted forest began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Pint was born. Later, he graduated from high school in Cincinnati, Ohio before entering the Catholic seminary system and receiving a bachelor’s degree in theology at the Pontifical Seminary of Milan, Italy. Four years later, following a stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica, Pint graduated from the Brattleboro School for International Training in Vermont with a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language (TESOL).

His graduate training opened the door to many years of international travel with his wife, Susy, a student he met while teaching English in Querétaro in 1971.

Susy Pint, Pinar de la Venta, Mexico
Susy Pint

“After we got married, we decided we would like to get to know the world and the best way we could do that would be if we went as teachers of our own languages,” he said. “We spent the next few years in South Korea teaching English and Spanish. Susy had no problem finding students who were interested in learning Spanish. There are a lot of people who are very happy to sit down and have a conversation with a native speaker. Teaching a foreign language is a great formula for people who want to see the world.”

Their next stop was Saudi Arabia, which they found was a lucrative way to earn the money they needed to purchase a home when they returned to Mexico.

“After only four years in Saudi Arabia, we saved up enough money to be able to buy a piece of property just outside of Guadalajara in Pinar de la Venta, which is about eight kilometers west of Guadalajara,” he said. “Our house is about 2,200 sq. ft. with three bedrooms and one bath. It’s at the edge of the Primavera Forest and is all jungly, wild and full of creatures.”

The adjacent forest has about 750 species of plants and at least 225 species of animals, including around 140 kinds of birds. By day, said Pint, you may come across white-tailed deer, ground squirrels, kingfishers, woodpeckers and road runners, while at night the woods come alive with raccoons, grey foxes, possums and more exotic animals like lynxes and even a few pumas.

Before Pint bought the house, he convinced the seller to allow him to spend the night there so he could get a feel for what sleeping there would be like.

“The next morning, I heard a strange creaking sound and I could see the doors were moving,” he said. “When I looked outside even the trees were swaying. That was the famous earthquake of 1985 that destroyed a big part of Mexico City. Luckily, our home had no damage.”

Although Pint and his wife visit Guadalajara, they are people who are most at peace in the countryside, enjoying the area’s ecological riches.

“Guadalajara is very unusual because it is located at the point where five big ecosystems meet in an area called “the magic circle,” he said. “It’s 500 kilometers in diameter with Guadalajara right in the middle. There are few cities where you can go in five directions and end up in a different ecosystem.”

Pint has been explaining and promoting the ecosystem through his website, three books and numerous articles that have appeared in mainly expat newspapers and magazines.

“If you are an outdoor adventurer, this is the place for you,” said Pint. “If you talk to rock climbers, they will tell you to keep it a secret because it’s the most wonderful place to climb you can ever imagine. Whitewater rafters say the same thing. The area is a paradise for rafting. Canyoners, also, come from far away to repel down the waterfalls.”

Pint is currently writing an article for Mexico News Daily about the Jalpa River, which is not far away from him.

“It turns out there are 12 waterfalls along a two kilometer stretch of this river that are absolutely beautiful,” he said. “One is about 20 meters high with a beautiful pool of water at its base.”

Caving in Mexico
Credit: John Pint

Caving is another adventure sport that draws people to the area, including Pint. He said there are hundreds of amazing caves to explore but few people know about them, and like many of the other natural wonders nearby, they are hard to reach.

“Nothing is really easily accessible,” he said. “You need to have a pickup truck or a vehicle with four-wheel drive to see everything. Many of these wonderful places are at the end of a rocky dirt road with 1,000 ft. drops. I have, though, a long list of places that are reachable by ordinary sedan where people can go camping and hiking.”

There are additional benefits to living in the country outside of a large city. Pint told us the cost of living where he lives is much lower than Guadalajara. When he and his wife dine out, their meals rarely cost more than $350 pesos.

But the real secret to happiness in Mexico, Pint said, is the friendliness of the Mexican people.

“It’s extraordinary and might be the number one biggest attraction for being here,” he said. “People are generally interested in having a chat with you, sitting down and relaxing. I think this is rather unusual. We saw so many different kinds of people when we were living in other countries and can tell you that it is the most attractive thing about living in Mexico.”

Pint does not believe that the U.S. media’s portrayal of Mexico as a dangerous place where people are decapitated is a true picture of Mexico.

“The truth is totally opposite,” he said. “The big attraction of being here is the warmth and genuine friendliness of most of the people you meet.”

Living in the nexus of five ecosystems makes a natural nature lover like Pint very happy.

“I love nature, hiking, camping and other outdoor activities,” he said. “The fact that I am out here in nature and have all of this available to me is the second biggest attraction for living in the Guadalajara-area.”

Pint also is very much in step with the relaxed attitudes he has found in his adopted homeland.

“I would say that there is sort of a laissez-faire attitude of not worrying about laws and rules and regulations,” he said. “It has a good and bad side to it, though. In some sense, you’re free of the hassles you might get in other countries where they have rules and regulations for every little thing. Here, you find much less of them.”

But Pint is delighted that local authorities are making laws to control loud noise, a common complaint in Mexico.

“People that have the misfortune of being right next to a cantina that’s blasting out music all night long are now going to have a system by which they can control it. I think that’s good.”

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