Finding a New Purpose in Retirement

Source: Linda Kurtzweil

Since starting the blog less than 10 months ago, over 1,500 readers have contacted us directly to ask questions about moving to Mexico. That’s a lot of people.

Linda and I personally responded to every email; however, the ones from AOL email addresses would always bounce back. Sorry AOL users.

The majority of the questions that we receive on a daily basis deal with the logistical, financial and/or legal aspects of starting a new life in Mexico. Once those are answered, a large percentage of the readers – and this is the interesting part – share with us that they have reservations about retiring because they’re afraid they’ll be bored.

Seriously?! You slaved away for decades at a stressful job counting the hours each day before you could go home and now that you have the opportunity to leave it, you’re choosing to stay voluntarily?

This type of attitude is akin to a prisoner being institutionalized to the point that he or she feels more at home in prison than on the outside making their own decisions. You have to break that mindset.

Speaking from Experience

Prior to retiring in 2015, I was a lieutenant with a large sheriff’s office in Central Florida. I was a hard-charging, workaholic that came in two hours early every day to finish administrative paperwork so I could spend more time in the streets with the deputies assigned to my platoon.

Even on my off time, I would often do something related to my profession. For example, I started a legal database for law enforcement officers across the state. I dedicated a significant amount of my free time to maintaining, updating and expanding that resource.

In other words, I was very institutionalized.

When I first mentioned retiring and moving to Mexico, none of my coworkers took me seriously. Many told me that I would never be content sitting on a beach in the Caribbean doing nothing all day. The consensus was that I would return to work within a year — they were wrong about that last part.

I have to admit that I shared their concerns when I first retired. Although drinking a cold beer on a hot beach is one of my favorite pastimes, I knew that I would have to find other activities to keep my mind working and my liver healthy. I just didn’t know what those activities would be prior to moving down.

Once we were actually living in Mexico, we discovered a rich, fulfilling lifestyle that keeps us very busy. Between traveling, blogging, volunteering and spending time with a lot of new friends — we haven’t had the chance to be bored since we arrived.

Linda and I agree that these have been some of the best times of our lives and we’ve never regretted our decision to move down.

Needless to say, I won’t be going back to my old job anytime soon — or ever, for that matter.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Retirement is not the end – it’s a new beginning. It’s a time to redefine yourself and create a life on your own terms.

I believe that the key to feeling fulfilled and happy in retirement is to completely change your surroundings. If your life is basically the same except for the lack of a job — you’re more likely to feel that loss of purpose. That won’t be a problem if you move to Mexico. There will be new things to experience and new friends to make.

Don’t worry about what you’ll do to stay busy once you arrive. Just focus on getting here and the rest will work itself out naturally.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul

Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years and retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He moved to Mexico with his wife six days later to enjoy a laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle on a tight budget.

In 2016, Paul started a blog to share information with other people who may be thinking of making the move to Mexico. The blog, Two Expats Living in Mexico (qroo.us), has been viewed over a million times and Paul’s articles appear in periodicals across Mexico.

37 Comments on "Finding a New Purpose in Retirement"

  1. Yes! I have been self-employed my entire adult life (except for brief temp jobs in college). By the time I became disabled from my calling as a chiropractor, the profession, like all of US healthcare, had turned into just another job, with the “boss” being government regulators and insurance companies. They are happy to keep you running on that hamster wheel, trying to kick one through the ever-moving goalposts. I look at retirement as just another form of self-employment; whether I’m blogging, writing fiction, or freelance editing.

  2. My wife and I just returned from Puerto Aventuras. We are considering moving there within 1-2 years. I would love to talk with you.
    We also spent 5 days in Isla Mujeres and an evening in Playa del Carmen. We love the whole area.

  3. Very true! Retiring isn’t about closing a book, but opening another chapter.

  4. I can’t agree with you more, Paul. We’ve been in Mexico eight wonderful years and are never at a loss for something to do. The other day, my husband (who as a young man thought he would never retire — because work mattered so much to him) turned to me and exclaimed “I LOVE OUR LIFE”. Yep. That wraps it up! 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing that! I love to hear from people who have been doing it longer than we have and still love it!

  5. Love you blog and going through retirement withdrawal! We are looking people close to Puerto Aventuras who are here full time as we are. What is the best way to contact them ? Thanks Bob and Barb

    • My advice is to attend a few events there that attract full and part time expats. I know that there is a Karaoke night there that several expats from here go to but I’m not sure where it’s at. Once you meet one or two, they can introduce you to everyone else.

      Another option is to come a little south to Happy Hour 5:30-6:30 every Friday at Lol Ha Restaurant in Akumal. The expats from all over the area meet and everyone is very social. I’ve met a few from your neck of the woods there as well.

  6. Hi Paul,
    thanks so much for this write up. Your words are exactly my thoughts. My friends in the States think my husband and I are crazy! We are in Playa right now, but it was only a weeks visit, why only one week? Because that is all the time my husband could get off from his job in the USA. After 15 years at the same job he gets 2 weeks vacation per year! He is a workaholic but not by choice. But the exciting part about our short week here, is that we were here checking on our new home that is being built 10 minutes outside of Playa. My husband is 68 years old and still works long hours for a big builder He is passed retirement age but he works because we need the money. We do not have an extravagant lifestyle in the USA. But we cannot afford to retire there and I am afraid he will work until he just dies on the job.

    We visited Playa for the first time in June of 2016 and on a whim we purchased a home and said “Lets go for it”, We have put everything we have financially into this home, it is scary but also very exciting! But I feel that we will be able to live comfortably on the measly few dollars he gets from social security and my small income from selling on line. With the home paid for and the low cost of living here in Mexico, we are so excited to be starting a new adventure this late in life. I was terrified of ending up a widow like so many of my friends in the states. Sitting around and not being able to enjoy a rich life in retirement due to lack of money has no appeal for us. It is like being in Gods waiting room. Now we are moving to “El Cielo” better known here as “Heaven” A new and exciting future awaits us in our golden years! We are headed home tomorrow to sell our home and everything we own. Scared to death, we speak no Spanish but we will learn, and we couldn’t be more excited!
    Thanks so much for your blog and encouragement!
    Cannot wait to be able to say “Soy Payense”
    Carol Watson

    • Carol, congratulations on making the decision to retire in Mexico….you will not regret it. I am very glad you are enjoying the blog and wish you all the best on your move!

  7. I love your outlook on life. I totally agree about retiring and changing up ones life. We did that 14 years ago by taking early retirement and moving full time to Q. Roo. While we have adjusted easily to our new life I have also seen several folks move here and who can not find a “purpose” in life. Too many of them have traded addiction to work for addiction to drinking. They become addicted to drinking morning noon and night. Their only friends are drinking buddies. They have not gotten to know any local people except the bartenders. They become bitter and jaded and spend their time drinking and sharing stories about how they or someone they know has been ripped off by a local, how they have been cheated or the untrustworthiness of the locals. They do not travel. They get involved in nothing, unless it enters around booze. They start experiencing health problems related to their abuse of alcohol and become more and more removed from life. In short, I believe that people who do not make friends easily or are not willing to get involved in community should just stay where they are.

  8. Paul, Thank you for taking the time to talk about such an important topic. It’s as if you’re reading my mind every time you post. My situation is very similar to yours. I’m 49y/o and am a lieutenant on a department right outside of Chicago. I plan on retiring next year when I’ll be 50 with 26 years on. My wife is in the process of getting her Mexican citizenship and we plan on eventually moving to Mexico. My co-workers think I’m nuts but seeing someone like you who has done it is very encouraging. Keep it up. Thanks.

  9. i followed your blog now for few months my son 43 and myself 70 who just retired are making the plunge to Mexico we are both Canadians i will not be looking for work but my son has a online business and he is going to look for opportunities on the Riviera
    we arrive in Cancun April 5th we have rented for a week in Chemuyil we will be looking for longer term to see if we can call it home
    we would like to meet you and Linda
    thanks for all good info so far

    • Thanks for reading the blog and congratulations on your decision to give Mexico a try. Let us know when you are in the area by sending us a message through Face Book or the contact form on the blog.

  10. love the blog. You have answered several ques for me before and I am AOL. What are 2br condos in your area selling for today with the peso at 20/1? it was 22/1 recently, but I understand the peso is undervalued and will continue to climb more. We will be in COZUMEL looking at Rental property to buy/use/resell March 4-18 and April 10-24.REALLY appreciate your insight. Steve and Kay Neal

    • Steve, thanks for reading the blog! We have a 2BR 2BA condo that is over 1000 square feet. The condos go for around $200,000 but there are other options such as townhouses, lofts, and even free-standing residences.

      If you can set up a free google e-mail account it would be easier for us to communicate with you and we can give you more information. If you decide to do that, just fill out another contact form.

  11. Amen Brother! I’m 4 months out and I can’t wait!

  12. Cristina Esparza | February 24, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Reply

    You have the right attitude! Can’t wait for our unit to be finished and we’ll join you on the beach!

  13. Retired & loving it for three years so far!!! My only question is: who the heck still uses AOL? LOL

  14. Greg Archibald | February 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Reply

    Paul, I agree with you completely re workaholoic withdraw. I am on the edge of retirement with plans to move to Loreto. We’ll be in your area next month to check out that Caribbean side.
    I’d like to add to your theme, that many people seems to have “hesitations” about the dangers of living in places like Mexico with all the stuff they hear about going on there.
    Are you kidding me? Have you looked objectively at any US newspaper, all the crime & up-tight attitudes that one reads about every day throughout the United States.
    I’ve been lucky enough to have spent time living in the Congo, Jamaica, France & Hungary and can testify that, if you just pay attention, there is no more to fear than living in the US and a lot less to fear than living in one of the many crime holes here in the US.
    Add the ideal climate, glorious scenery, friendly Mexicans (especially if you show respect) and warm ocean waters and I’m certain that I will not be suffering from any job withdraw.
    Greg Archibald

  15. Thanks for all your advise you guys are a wealth of info keep it up

  16. Not a single day passes that I am bored or I wonder what I will do. This is heaven!

  17. Moved to Mazatlan, Mexico 3 years ago and it was the best decision we ever made. I have more of a social life now than I ever did in NJ.

  18. When you retire or move abroad to a foreign country, you must first of all, be versatile and open-minded to make your transition much easier in your new home. Remember, your new foreign home is not your native-country and there may be some similarities, but you have to always be aware that it is not your native-country and you have to change your rules and state-of-mind to their standards in life or ways of thinking in general. You simply have to adapt and accept, in order to live comfortably and be happy/content in your new country of residence.

    I think this is fundamental as well: I believe you must live in a foreign country for at least, 2 years before making any long-term goals like buying real estate, as one example. After 2 years or so, you are more in depth and very aware of: your foreign country’s culture and their ways of doing things and/or life in general. In other words, like anything new, you will not see things in their proper light and it takes time for the newness to wear off and then you will notice things are a bit different, reality sets-in, and you gain (almost totally) a new perspective regarding your life in that foreign country. <-They also call this the "Rose-Colored-Glasses" syndrome and once the glasses come off, you see things differently then what they were initially, or when you first arrived. And during your 2 year+ stay, you will of course, gain almost everything you need to know – in order to assess, make a decision (long term goals), and say for sure: "I will stay or I will go."

    Also, tour the foreign country in this time period in order to get fully educated regarding your foreign country: rules, culture, lifestyle, etc. The Mexico Peso to USD exchange rate will help here favorably as your money stretches much further than it would in your home-country! Even though you are in a foreign country, every place and area – will have their unique differences – which you may or not prefer. Partaking in this "new country touring event," will also allow you to compare and contrast the different areas and as a result, you can make a better choice or an educated decision, regarding a place to stay or live for a long while or maybe permanently(?). Mexico has many different land-forms both, low and high altitudes, and various climate differences as well and every community will be somewhat different as compared to other areas too.

    Another plus, is to learn the country's local-language and this way, you are much more aware of everything (because you understand the words said) and the local people will be much more accepting of you too. Life will be much easier for all: local-people (native) as well as you (the expatriate). Although, it can be very difficult for some – especially as you get older – to learn that foreign language; just set your mind to it and the positive results will follow.

    Once you take the above into consideration, it will be so much easier for you to live and be content in your new foreign country of residence. Not only that, you cannot not say that you will be bored or suffer from fear of nothing to do. How can you be when you are actively touring the country, learning the culture/life and the local-language? Seriously, when you have only lived in your home country for so many years – half a century; more or less – this new country will have so much to offer to you because in reality, you have only been there for a short length of time time and (if I may use this as an example) you will always be like a new student, in a new classroom, learning new content every single day in and day-out.

  19. Finally made it. If you ever come to the island give me a holler. We’ll swap some war stories over a few Tecates.

  20. Just last week my friends and I (in San Felipe) were saying that we are more busy as retirees than when we were working. It is just that we are doing things that are fun and also help the community instead of slaving our lives away.

    • Dulcey, thanks for reading the blog! That is exactly how we feel as well. We are much busier in retirement, but of course it is doing things we enjoy. We absolutely love it.

  21. Hello, I enjoy your blog. My wife and I are from Canada and we are planning on going to mexico for at least one year. We are considering driving our car there so we can have a vehicle with us. What is the procedure and your recommendation for Mexican car insurance?

  22. Nice post about retirement being a beginning, not an end. Thanks.

  23. I got to Coz Feb 1st to set up our unfurnished rental, as I had already retired from my job as a Patrol Sgt. for a sheriffs office in La. After buying all new appliances and a bed (air mattresses are not intended for 64 year olds), the wife put the skids to any more furniture till she gets here so we can share the adventure. She is in the states selling everything and is retiring this week. Since I now had time on my hands I volunteered to assist with the English class at Universidad de Quinta Roo. It was amazing time, however I dont think they get the concept of “yall” and “yonder” 🙂

  24. Paul: I admire your courage and sense of adventure to seek out a new lifestyle in a completely “new” culture. You and your wife seem to truly embrace the “cuerpo de cultura de Mexico”, traveling, writing and living the life. I see our lives in phases, in the first we are growing, developing our sense of self, and our aspirations. In the second phase, we seek sucess in our chosen fields to develop our finanical foundations, social status and stability of our future. In the last phase, WE TRULY APPRECIATE LIFE ITSELF AS WE FULLY REALIZE IT’S TEMPORAL NATURE. Every breath is sweeter, each sunrise , a blessing. We seek to do what we truly want to do, not what we have to do. Retirement should be a word that is banned, and should be replaced by TRANSITION. I am phasing out of my life as a dentist and beginning my journey as a USPTA tennis instructor, we have begun teaching Wounded Warrior Tennis for the vets, and I will soon teach at a private club. I have a son playing for Whitman College. We are frequent visitors to Mexico and love Playa Del Carmen. We hope to live in Mx for six months, and split our time with the States. Thanks for the blog and I hope to be in touch when we are ready to purchase in MX.

    • Hi Karl. I really think you hit the nail on the head with your description of three phases. I suspect that there is an amazing book inside of you that is just waiting to be written.

      It is wonderful that you’re working with the Wounded Warrior Tennis Program. I have to admit that before your post I hadn’t heard of the program; however, I just read quite a bit about it online and it looks fantastic. Thank you for your service to those who served us all.

      Good luck during your “transition” and stay in touch.

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