Celebrating the Holidays in the Old Country

Akumal Bay (Source: Q-Roo Paul)

Since moving to Mexico in 2015, I’ve only been back to the United States — which I jokingly refer to as the old country — a couple of times.

When we first moved to Mexico, the main reason we didn’t travel back often was to avoid the heavy penalties under Obamacare for not maintaining insurance in the States. According to the law, if we stayed out of the country for 330 days we were exempt from the requirements of the law; however, one day too many and we would be fined thousands of dollars at tax time.

To tell you the truth, it hasn’t been too difficult to stay away. We live in a beautiful gated community in the Riviera Maya and our quality of life is arguably much better than it was when we lived in the States. We lead a fulfilling, active lifestyle in a Caribbean paradise — what else could we ask for?

After almost a year away, we decided to return to the old country to spend the holidays with friends and family. Since many of them were concerned about our safety when we first told them years before that we were planning on moving to Mexico, I started calling it the Proof of Life Tour.

It was nice seeing family members, old friends and former coworkers — even if we didn’t have much to talk about. Thanks to social media, I already knew what the majority had been doing since I left.

I guess that’s another reason why I don’t feel the need to go back to the States very often. In some ways, I feel like I never left because it’s so easy to stay in touch with people remotely.

What Might Have Been

We spent a total of three weeks in Florida and although we divided our time between multiple cities and towns, I quickly grew bored. Everything had an almost overly familiar feel to it and I told Linda that if we had stayed in Florida once I retired, I would have ended up going back to work within a year just to have something to do.

Granted, Florida is a very popular tourist area with lots of expensive things to see and do. The operative word there is expensive.ย Our fixed retirement income wouldn’t go as far in that environment and we would have spent a lot more time just sitting around the house.

Stopping by my former place of employment only reinforced my belief that boredom would have driven me back into the work force.ย I ran into several of my former coworkers who had returned to the agency after only being retired for a year or so. I asked a few of them why they went back and most responded that they needed something to do.

I often find it difficult to articulate why life in Mexico is so different — but it is. There is something special about moving to a new country and culture that makes it all new and exciting. When you throw in an amazing community of people who like to live life to the fullest, boredom is never an issue.

Let’s Wrap This Up

We enjoyed our trip to the old country but we were both extremely excited to get home to Mexico. As soon as we got home, we swapped out the jeans and tennis shoes we were wearing for shorts and flip flops. We then headed down to our favorite beach bar to chat with friends and enjoy the sunset (shown in the main picture).

Life is good.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking for to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

21 Comments on "Celebrating the Holidays in the Old Country"

  1. You know, you meet the IRS’s “bonafide resident” test, so technically you can spend as much time as you like in the US or anywhere else. The 335 days does not apply to you. https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/foreign-earned-income-exclusion-bona-fide-residence-test

    • Yes, we do now. But the first tax year we didn’t and that’s when we developed the habit of just staying away…lol.

  2. Good for you. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing your where your supposed to be.

  3. Ethel aka Fran | January 12, 2018 at 7:56 am |

    I guess my 3 month trip overseas after retirement gave me an incentive to stay retired, but I went to work at my Church. However, I have been officially retired for 11 years and stay very busy. I guess it pays to have hobbies and interests outside of work which is what I always did. My husband is the same way, as we are always volunteering in the community as well as Church sharing our time and talent. Basically, you and Linda have a hobby with your Blog so you are contributing your time and talent and for that, I thank you because the articles are always very interesting.!

  4. Jennifer Sprung | January 12, 2018 at 8:34 am |

    My husband has decided he wants to retire in Mexico and he’s checking all these places out. I am still working and so I go 3 weeks out of every 8 weeks here in the states. My question to you is I thought residency was expensive and you had to purchase it in Mexico. Please advise what you know about the actual expenses to become a resident of Mexico. I see all of your living expenses in your post and thank you for everything you’ve contributed thus far. I am curious about what Mexico asks prospective residents to pay.

  5. Jerry Beard | January 12, 2018 at 8:45 am |

    We have only been in Mexico a little over three months, the Lake Chapalla area, but have already wondered what we are going to feel when we have to return in April to see family. Your review of your trip back to the Old Country was enlightening and similar to what my thoughts have been anticipating our own return.

    Love your blog and as always, many thanks!
    Jerry & Denise

  6. Cynthia Truitt | January 12, 2018 at 9:06 am |

    Paul, I truly enjoy receiving & reading your updates. Since my husband passed away last November, our dream of retiring in Mexico now seems too scary for me as a woman on my own. Like you, my family thinks I’m crazy why would I want to leave all “this”. Your updates inspire me you made me believe that I will one day be able to do this. Thanks you again and please keep on writing!
    Cynthia

    • I’m sorry to hear that your husband passed away before being able to make your shared dream of moving to Mexico come true.

      It sounds like you still have the desire to move. If it gives you any comfort, we know several single women that moved down and are thriving here. They are all safe and happy.

      Have a great day and thanks for continuing to follow the blog.

      Paul

  7. Hi Paul. I, too am a Police officer who is about 45 years out from retirement. My husband and I are seriously thinking about moving to Mexico; actually itโ€™s stronger than seriously thinking about as we have pretty much decided thatโ€™s what we are going to do. I would love to chat with you on how you came to narrow down exactly where you wanted to go

  8. Thank you for this post. My husband and I are coming down to QRoo and meeting with ******** at the end of February. Unlike you, we are not retired but have our own mostly internet-based company. As I contemplate making such a major change in my life there is a large amount of anxiety… fear of change and of the unknown. It is helpful to know that others have gone before and found peace and happiness. I know everyone’s situation is different, but thank you for sharing yours. And, I am very grateful for the Spanish lessons!

    • Hi Laurie. I can certainly relate to your feelings of anxiety and fear of change — I think we all had those as some point. For most of us, those feelings subsided when we were finally here and started making friends.

      I wish we were here to meet you guys in person but we have a trip planned at the end of February to celebrate our anniversary.

      Also happy to hear that you like the Spanish lessons! Take care.

  9. Latta F Little | January 12, 2018 at 2:32 pm |

    Plan on moving in 2 years (primary paid for) but was wondering about the violence and being put on the no-go by govt travel. What’s up. Thanks Frank Little

    • Mexico is a large country so I never like to make general statements about safety in the country as a whole. Mexico is like the United States in the sense that there are areas where crime and violence is more prevalent.

      To keep things in perspective, let’s look at Cancun as an example of an area that has been in the press last year for an increase in homicides.

      First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that Cancun is a fairly large city with a population similar to that of Baltimore and Detroit. By the way, both of those cities have a higher murder rate than Cancun.

      The increase in murders is attributed to violence between rival gangs and crime groups. The vast majority — but certainly not all — of the victims are people engaged in criminal activities. The majority of the violent acts also occur in select areas of the city known for increased crime activity.

      The exact same thing happens in the United States. Unless you live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, chances are there are parts of your city or country where you won’t go after dark for fear of being a crime victim. No doubt, those areas are often where the majority of violent crimes occur. Those are the places where gang members and drug dealers are shooting, stabbing and killing each other.

      Since you are familiar with your own area, you are aware of this and probably feel safe, provided that you don’t go into those areas or get involved in the criminal affairs occurring there.

      When you come to Mexico, get to know the area and use the employ the same techniques that keep you safe at home (i.e. common sense) — and you should be just fine.

      We live over an hour south of Cancun and this area is much safer than many of the areas where I used to work as a deputy sheriff in Florida.

  10. I like your mindset. Retirement is wonderful in a setting where you’re challenged and stimulated by history, culture, language, music, at and people who are equally interested in you and your thoughts/experiences/opinions.

  11. Thanks Paul! As usual, very insightful! See you soon, Jane & Tim

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