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True Love

He loves me,

He loves me not;

He loves me,

He loves me not …

Well, maybe it worked as a young schoolgirl, but I don’t think this is a very accurate way to determine someone’s love!

So, how do you know when someone really does love you?

(And if you love them?)

I’ve been reading through Philip Yancey’s book, Disappointment With God, over the last couple months. When I came across the following quote, it stirred up a lot of emotions and got me thinking about my current marriage – and how it is vastly different from my past marriage. Here’s the quote from page 122:

“Love is most persuasive when it involves sacrifice.”

Sacrifice.

To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.

Free Dictionary

It’s a word that has a lot of negativity connected to it. And yet, is the “giving up” always difficult, or is the love that prompts us so much stronger than the sacrifice that it doesn’t feel like anything has been lost?

Looking Back

Originally, our top 5 reasons for moving to Mexico were:

5. To give our kids an overseas experience (and have our own, too!)

4. To get out of the “Rat Race” (which leads to #3)

3. To be able to live off less money than we earn (which leads to #2)

2. To buy a sailboat and learn how to sail (which leads to #1)

1. To travel and recreate our lives!

We have certainly traveled a lot with our 39′ sailboat and 37′ motorhome. Summer trips, sailing adventures, and lots of flights to see family during the holidays have filled our vacation time. We have also enjoyed the slower paced life here (#4 above).

Our Family

But, we had to re-evaluate our priorities after having kids. Realistically, the impact that #5 will have on our ability to see family, especially the grandparents, over the next 18 years of our precious children’s lives, has prompted us to make some BIG changes.

This past June, we decided to move from Mexico up to Flagstaff, AZ. We want to provide our kids with a stable and familiar place to call home. And we want to be able to afford the time and money needed to visit with family. But to do that, we had to consider our financial situation. So, here’s the big question:

How affordable is it to own and maintain a sailboat, RV, and a home?

Well, if you’re a millionaire, it’s probably just fine! But for us normal folk … it’s just not realistic. While discussing this reality a few months ago, I asked my husband which one he would prefer to not have.

And without a thought, he said,

“We’re selling the sailboat.”

He’s sacrificing the dream that led us to Mexico, but he’s replacing it with the greater dream of having a family – OUR FAMILY. (Even now, I’m moved to tears by his love for me and our kids.) I told him I appreciated his sacrifice, but he simply turned it around and acknowledged how much I sacrificed to move here by giving up my booming business and the wonderful life I had in Colorado.

His love is so real to me. Every day I see him working hard to provide for us, spending time loving on our son, giving me hugs and kisses all the time, and telling me how beautiful I am. Washing the cars, taking out the trash, folding the laundry, and the list goes on.

Is it a sacrifice, or is it simply allowing previous dreams to be exchanged for what is “considered to be of greater value”?

“Love is most persuasive when it involves sacrifice.”

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Filed under Life Journal, Living in Mexico, Moving to U.S., Travel

What does it cost, really? – Pt. 2

If you read part one of this blog, you would know that M. and I talked a lot about our budget and what living in Mexico would cost, before moving here. Turns out, we were fairly accurate.

Here is a more detailed break down of our expenses:

The basics:

  1. Food – $375/month for groceries and $200/month for eating out. You could easily spend a lot more or a lot less (eat out more or have your own garden).
  2. Clothing – We buy all our clothes in the U.S. I’m an avid second hand store shopper, so clothing can be quite cheap. Also, we live in a beach community, so casual clothes for warm weather are really all you need.
  3. Shelter – Our current rent is $600/month for a large 1 bedroom “casita” on the basement floor of a house (see part one for a photo collage of our place). It has 2 bathrooms, an office, den, living room, large kitchen, laundry area, and two large walk-in closets (we use one for storage of our stuff), and a pool. The gardener/pool guy comes twice a week and is included in our rent. And utilities have been an average of $300/month including phone, internet, propane, electric, water, and a once-a-month housekeeper (required by our landlord).

Other expenses:

  1. Household – $45/month for household goods and bathroom items that are not part of the grocery money (paper products, toothpaste, light bulbs, etc.).
  2. Cell phone – $20/month for one Mexican cell phone. (There are more expensive and less expensive plans.)
  3. Gas – $100/month for a ’96 truck, an ’04 mini SUV (a.k.a. a wanna’-be SUV), and an ’06 motorcycle. This budget does NOT include any trips we take to the U.S.
  4. Gym membership – We are both avid exercisers, so an expensive membership to the new gym in town is something we’re willing to spend money on. There are many options, but we spend about$82/month. (We like to think of it as preventative health care 🙂 )
  5. Entertainment – For $35/month we have movie nights about once a week (more in the summer to escape the heat!). There is a large new cinema in Guaymas (20 min. away) that plays (mostly) new movies in English with subtitles (and movies in Spanish with no subtitles). Great for learning Spanish!
  6. Various other costs – $43/month
  7. Other – haircuts ($8-$20), debt payments, travel costs, food purchased while in the U.S. and brought down (or in bulk at Costco/Sam’s in Mexico), boat equipment, car maintenance, etc.

Therefore, our total average cost of living is $1800/month for two adults.

This DOES NOT include any travel costs, car maintenance, clothing, debt, boat equipment, or items purchased online or while in the U.S.

So, that’s $21,600/year.

As stated in part one … Obviously, you can spend more, or less, depending on your choices. We will be having a baby in August (more to come on that later), so our expenses will increase. We have, however, found a lovely 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom furnished home to rent for $450/month, with approximate utility costs at $150/month. That’s a savings of  $3,600/year compared to our current rent and utilities.

So, for next year, we anticipate our living expenses to be only $18,000.

I’d say that’s pretty inexpensive for ocean front living! And San Carlos is full of things to do. We enjoy beach walks, ocean swimming, kayaking, sailing, boating, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, cycling, running, parties, relaxing, community activities such as walks/runs and concerts, eating out, meeting new (and very interesting) people, and spending time with friends.


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Filed under Finances, Moving to Mexico

What does it cost, really? – Pt. 1

M. and I talked a lot about our budget and what living in Mexico would cost, before moving here. Turns out, we were fairly accurate.

Having both moved from southern California to Colorado, where you get more bang for your buck, we wanted to continue on the road toward financial freedom by moving somewhere we could live well below our means, which would allow us to travel.

So, what do we really need to live and enjoy life?

  • Some would say, the basics – food, clothing and shelter (ie. a garden, two changes of clothes, and a tent).
  • Others would say, the comforts (ie. high-end restaurants, Rodeo Drive, a 6,000 sq. ft. home in Newport Beach and a sports car or two).

Then there’s the rest of us … the in-betweeners. M. and I asked ourselves what we wanted and what we were comfortable with, and here’s where it led …

This is our furnished rental home in San Carlos, Sonora, a Mexican seaside resort community (the header photo is of the beach looking toward our house).

We moved here in June 2010. San Carlos is 250 miles south of Nogales, Arizona, on the west coast of mainland Mexico overlooking the Sea of Cortez. The population of 3,000 swells to 7,000 residents during the winter months, of which 70% are American and Canadian.

It is not the least expensive option in Mexico, but it has everything we want:

  • plenty of sailboats for sale (and sail!)
  • oodles of people around to teach us to sail (San Carlos is a hurricane hole, so many cruisers start and end their cruising season here, or live here most of the year)
  • easy access to the U.S. by land (a 7-8 hr. drive north to Tucson, AZ)
  • a familiar culture for an easier transition (lots of gringos around)
  • plenty of furnished apartments/condos/homes of all sizes to rent (think, snowbird community)

(I’ll have to talk more about these things in future blogs, including our preparation to move to San Carlos, but for now, I’ll focus on the money side of things.)

So the question is:

What does it actually cost to live here?

For food, rent, all utilities, household goods, a Mexican cell phone, car fuel, a gym membership, entertainment (movie nights), and random small items, we spend an average of $1800/month for two adults.

This DOES NOT include any travel costs, car maintenance, clothing, debt, boat equipment, or items purchased online or while in the U.S.

So, that’s $21,600/year.

Obviously, you can spend more, or less, depending on your choices. We will be having a baby in August (more to come on that later), so our expenses will increase. We have, however, found a lovely 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom furnished home to rent for $450/month, with approximate utility costs at $150/month. That’s a savings of  $3,600/year compared to our current rent and utilities.

So, for next year, we anticipate our living expenses to be only $18,000.

But, life isn’t just about money. To quote from another blog:

“Still, money can’t buy happiness. Friendship and community – true community – don’t require money. It can exist in the most remote of places amongst people with nothing to give or share than themselves. At the end of the day, this is what’s important, and if there is an escape from the Rat Race, surely it comes from just stepping off the wheel and spending some time with those we care about.”

We have found an amazing community here. Things have become less important and people (including ourselves) more important.

Giving up and selling many of our material possessions is allowing us to pursue our dreams. What are yours?

Read part 2 for a more detailed list of our expenses.

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Filed under Finances, Moving to Mexico