How we got started down this path

It’s interesting how much can change in just one year. But it’s even more interesting when you can precisely document when and how that change occurred. Which is what I just did.

2021 has been a whirlwind. In January, Stephanie and I stayed at an Airbnb in Roma Norte for two and a half weeks, and we visited several of the top neighborhoods in Mexico City with an eye toward future visits. Then, on the last day of our trip, our lives changed: we walked around the corner, saw that the apartment building there was having an open house, and we toured two of the apartments. Then, we flew home, and, within days, we hired someone to represent us there, indicated to the owners that we wanted to purchase a specific apartment, and put down a small deposit. Within a month, we had returned to Mexico City to make a down payment. And then a month and a half later we came back again and closed the transaction. We got the keys that night and started furnishing the apartment. In the span of four months, we went from thinking about spending more time in Mexico City in the future to owning a place.

But we did put ourselves in a position to do this. And we did so the same way we always do things when it comes to planning for the future. It starts with a nudge, some communication from the outside world that causes me to do a bit of research. That research can last hours, days, or weeks, but it usually ends in defeat because it will turn up some information that proves to me that this isn’t the right direction for us. But sometimes that research changes things, and I’ll discuss it with Stephanie. And, if it’s important or good enough, perhaps share with her the newsletter, article, book, video, or whatever it was that sent me—and now us—down this new path.

And that’s what happened with Mexico. In my mind, it all started in early 2021 when something caused me to begin researching Mexico. By this point, we had lived through about a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we believed that we’d be able to travel again that year. And thanks to that pandemic, we had been reassessing things, and thinking about moving forward with some long-discussed but vague plans to start splitting our time between the U.S. and some international destination. Maybe Mexico—a place we had visited but didn’t think much of—could be that place.

“You’re going to think this is crazy,” I recall telling Stephanie once I had done a bit of research. “But I think we need to look into Mexico for the future.” She gave me that look that many Americans give you when you tell them you want to spend time in Mexico. That “are you nuts?” look. “I know,” I continued. “Let me explain.”

And I did explain. And we did visit Mexico in 2021, twice. Once in June, when we stuck to Mexico City for about a week. And once in August, when we came for two weeks and visited San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, and Mexico City; the kids joined us for the second of those two weeks, in Mexico City. And then we returned again in January 2021 for two and a half weeks. And … well, you know. Our lives changed.

Probably because of this strange and sudden turn of events, I’ve been wondering lately exactly how we got here. That is, what specifically triggered the research that led to the trips that led to the purchasing of an apartment? How did this happen?

And I figured there was no real way to find out. As noted above, I know that I started researching Mexico in early 2021. But I wondered when. And why.

So I looked. And I found the answers.

On January 31, 2021—almost exactly one year to the day when we would walk into the apartment we would buy soon thereafter—I watched three informational videos about Mexico, all by “QRoo Paul” of Two Expats Mexico: Can I afford to live in Mexico on Social Security?, Top 10 Tips for Retiring in Mexico, and Why We Moved to Mexico from the U.S. I also watched a variety of retirement- and finance-related videos (like Roth IRA conversions). And, unrelated, some Dennis Miller standup.

I was surprised that my YouTube history went back that far. But I was also curious about what had triggered this viewing. And I didn’t have to look far: for years, I had subscribed to an email newsletter from Live and Invest Overseas because of our interest in splitting our time between the U.S. and some international destination (probably Europe, originally). And one of their newsletters that week caused me to check out their YouTube channel. And watch several of their videos, among them No More Snow Shoveling: Our TOP 6 RETIREMENT DESTINATIONS to escape winter, Isn’t there a Social Security penalty for retiring overseas?, and Where Should I Retire? Soul Searching is Step 1.

So that was the nudge, what caused me to start my research on YouTube: these videos rated Mexico very highly.

I found other Mexico-centric YouTube channels pretty quickly, of course. And I started buying books. I purchased The Move to Mexico Bible on February 9, 2021, followed by Retirement Secrets of Mexico – Thrive as a couple in safety and comfort for <$25K per year! a week later, and Fodor’s Inside Mexico City, The Fun Side of the Wall: Baby Boomer Retirement in Mexico, and DK Eyewitness Mexico (Travel Guide) in March. I was off to the races. We were off the races.

And in just one year, everything changed. Amazing.

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