We came, we saw, we built a house. But we’re still in Connecticut, preparing to rent out Casa Nana before we finally settle in possibly sometime next year. (And it kills me to have to add possibly to that sentence.)
You’d think by now we’d be able to picture what living in Mérida will actually be like. But we can’t. Last year, I kind-of could, but now I’m wondering.
I’ve lost sight of why we’re even moving to Mérida. Because I’ve always wanted to live abroad, and Mérida seemed like an up-and-comer, friendly, and well-situated destination? Or was it to escape a country that we could no longer picture ourselves staying in, with careers that don’t seem sustainable for very much longer? Four years ago, it simply seemed like a good idea, an outside-the-envelope solution to a problem we envisioned having down the road.
Now that we’ve built the “dream house,” and decided with 90 percent conviction that 2015 is “the year,” we are giving more serious thought to what will occupy our days besides puttering about the courtyard.
Complicating things is that Mérida, to the north, is starting to resemble those American cities we said “no” to when we chose Mexico over Fort Lauderdale or Phoenix. Even the Centro got a little trendy among young locals. It’s comforting to see modernization and investment come in. Also, confusing.
The more I learn about Mérida, the less it seems life is going to be the way it was described just four years ago when we first visited. A life where we’d struggle by in a perplexing, but charming city, adapting to live without our north-of-the-border comforts, which we will have decided were insipid and inauthentic, anyway. A life of gardening, cooking, napping, and a little freelance work now and then. And cheap lunches from the cocina economica.
And the idea of puttering around, doing a little income-producing work, but also spending more time in the kitchen, and the garden, and the pool, maybe take up painting … etc., etc … well, the more I see other expats’ fancy cars and photos of their trips to Italy and whatnot, I really want to do more than a little income-producing work.
For better or worse, it seems like we’re not leaving behind a way of life. Strip malls and upscale-ish shopping is growing big-time, and the streets of the Centro are looking a little more polished with every visit. The cars are nicer and nicer. The sidewalks are still a disaster, but trees are increasingly beautifying the neighborhood, and crumbling walls are being supplanted with attractive façades.
I never quite believed the hype about a quaint, simple corner of the world with happy peasants grateful for our crumbs. It wasn’t cheap to build here, and it’s not cheap to keep up the property. More affordable than north of the border, but not exactly cheap, underscoring a piece of advice that has proved true: Don’t move here unless you really love it. Don’t do it because you think it’s cheap. You have to love it, and we both still do. We just don’t quite know what to do with it.
But the idea that we’ll be in early retirement, living off a pension and an annuity, doesn’t seem accurate any longer. We’re realizing how unsatisfying that will be. And Mérida is getting so up-to-date, that other piece of expat wisdom that says you can’t really get much done in a day, is beginning to feel a little dated. Mérida seems less and less “foreign” with each trip.
There is a lot of money to be made here, if you do it right. So many expats that landed here in the 2000s today post photos on Facebook of their new cars, or of their travels abroad. Young locals I’ve met are also doing well, judging by the cars I’m seeing them drive, and their homes. People are putting photos of their restaurant visits on social media, and these are upscale restaurants, not cocinas economicas, or even places like Rescoldo’s, which four years ago seemed like a miracle oasis. Buffalo Wild Wings opens, and nostalgic expats go wild for that taste of casual-restaurant-chain-goodnesss.
We’re still young… under 60, anyway. We have skills, and our health, knock wood. Is there something not involving real estate or beer that could make us money? Hey, I know, I’ll start a blog! That’s a very easy way to get rich quick!