In this episode, Marc recounts the details of traveling back to the U.S. from Mexico without a guide other than Google Maps. They clean out the condo and prepare it for rental. They sell what they don’t want to keep, store what they do, and give the remainder to the Salvation Army. Marc shares the health benefits he and his wife have experienced through walking more and eating healthier and the financial benefits of a more affordable healthcare system including health insurance at a fraction of the cost of the ACA programs. Marc describes the trip back to Austin and why you don’t drive at night in Mexico!
[1:11] Marc welcomes you to Episode 106 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[1:22] CareerPivot.com brings you this podcast. CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of lives and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources that are delivered to you, free of charge.
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[2:07] Marc has released the 2018 Repurpose Your Career Podcast Survey. Marc thanks listeners who have already taken the survey.
[2:15] In order to improve the show, Marc needs to know something about you — how you listen to the show; if you read the show notes; what kinds of episodes are your favorites.
[2:25] Marc asks if you would kindly go to CareerPivot.com/podcast-survey (where you will be redirected to SurveyMonkey) to take the survey. Marc will publish the results in a couple of months. In the last week of November, Marc has 35 survey participants, so far. He thanks you in advance for doing this survey for the podcast.
[2:50] Next week, Marc will interview Dr. Lynn Marie Morski, who is a quitting evangelist. She helps people quit strategically, through her book, Quitting by Design, and her podcast, Quit Happens.
[3:06] This week, Marc takes you on the next steps in becoming an expat in Mexico. Marc and his wife have returned to Austin for six weeks, where they are cleaning out their condo and preparing for their return trip to become semi-permanent residents of Mexico.
[3:24] Marc tells of their plan to clean out the condo, apply for visas at the Mexican Embassy in Laredo, get route advice from Juan Pablo (J.P.), get a new car battery, bring cats to the vet, get inn reservations, and use Google Maps for their first solo trip back.
[5:15] Mexican highways include several roads in various directions with the same number. Google Maps was invaluable for directions.
[5:37] The Millers left on a Tuesday, to avoid trucks that are usually released on Mondays. Going North is very different from going South, primarily because of security checkpoints.
[6:04] The Mexican countryside is “drop-dead gorgeous.” Marc wants to take a lot more pictures on their way back down. As they started toward Matehuala there was fairly minimal truck traffic for a good distance.
[6:32] Once the truck traffic picked up, there were stretches with one car for every 10 trucks. Marc found a truck going the speed they wanted and followed it for hundreds of miles, as J.P. had suggested.
[7:08] On Day One, the Millers ran into one security checkpoint but they were not stopping anyone. The first day was pretty uneventful. They had brought all the food they needed to eat on the trip, so their only stops were for bathroom breaks.
[7:33] At the end of Day One, the Millers stayed at the Las Palmas Midway Inn in Matehuala. It is a 1950s style motor inn. Many expats stay there because it is pet-friendly. It was almost full when Marc made the reservation, a week ahead of the trip. This is when all the snowbirds start coming down.
[8:11] This time, the cats were a whole lot more comfortable traveling. They were fine at the inn and in the car. The first day was easy. The Millers stopped at the Matehuala Walmart and bought a few things. The hotel restaurant was actually very, very good.
[8:46] On Day Two Marc and his wife started out at 7:30, and boy, did they see trucks! Trucks and more trucks. They went through multiple security checkpoints. One of the major ones actually backed up things for an hour. They were in bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour as they diverted all trucks off to be searched.
[9:16] When the Millers got up to the checkpoint, cars were funneled to the left and were waved through. The car in front of the Millers was a high-powered car driven by a Mexican, and the security officers pulled it over to inspect.
[9:37] There was also a fruta stop to check for fruit. Marc knew enough Spanish to be able to answer no when the officer asked if they had any fruit in the car.
[9:53] Marc and his wife drove all the way up to Nuevo Laredo, to cross at the Laredo border crossing. First, they had to stop at the Banjercito where they surrendered the Temporary Import Permit (TIP) for their car and received back the $400 deposit they paid for their car. If you miss this, you will be barred from bringing a car back to Mexico.
[10:55] Marc pulled into the wrong side of the Banjercito booth, and they directed him to turn around and approach on the correct side. They peeled the sticker off and informed the Millers the deposit would be refunded to the Millers’ credit card in three or four days.
[11:14] Next was the Immigration (IMM) Office where they took the Millers’ tourist visa (FMM) card. Next would be the U.S. Customs on the other side of the border.
[11:37] The Millers had all the paperwork for the cats, as they were supposed to have. That was good because Customs did check their cats.
[11:49] These are highly-crossed borders, and closing them is a huge inconvenience for business and locals who go across the borders to work. The Millers crossed at about 5:00 p.m. after a 45-minute wait. They made it to a La Quinta in Laredo, where they stayed the night.
[12:37] The next morning, the Millers drove the nice, easy three-to-four trip home.
[12:53] The Millers discovered when they got back to Austin that Marc had lost 15 pounds and his wife had lost 20. In Mexico, other than drives to Guadalajara, they hadn’t put 20 miles on the car. They walked everywhere. If they had something big to bring back, like a sack of kitty litter, they brought a little hand truck to carry it.
[12:38] Another reason for the weight loss is that Mexican food has no added sugar and salt. Every kind of food the Millers ate tasted better. Local fruits and vegetables, and local baked goods tasted so good.
[14:36] Marc’s blood pressure is back to normal and still improving. Marc is now back at his college graduation weight at age 62 — 170 pounds at just under 6'4". He hasn’t been this healthy in years.
[15:05] Marc also noticed how much constant noise there is in Austin from machinery and traffic, contrasted with Ajijic. The pace of life is booming in Austin, and Marc finds he doesn’t like it anymore. Austin has changed dramatically in the 40 years the Millers have lived there.
[15:38] It used to be a sleepy little university town with state government. “It ain’t that no more.”
[15:44] Marc is healthier than he has been in years. His wife has more stamina than she’s had in years. Marc cannot say what the last four months have done for their health. They are looking forward to going back.
[15:58] The Miller’s first concern in Austin was what to do with all their stuff. They rented a 5'x10' room at a small storage facility for about $70 per month. Their goal had been to get rid of everything but — not quite everything. They’re storing a few things they are not sure they want to discard and things they will bring down to Ajijic on their next trip.
[16:33] The Millers will leave their bikes for now and bring them down on their next trip. They also have a really nice king-sized bed they will store, just in case they come back to stay. Items they wanted no more, they put up on their local condo Facebook group and on Marc’s regular Facebook page, saying no reasonable offer will be turned down.
[17:16] The Millers started selling things for $30 to $50. Whatever is leftover that the Millers do not want, the Salvation Army Austin will have come and picked up by the time this episode is released.
[17:35] Marc lists the repairs that were needed before renting the condo — new dishwasher, new seals in the toilet, new knobs for the range, some painting, and general maintenance.
[18:31] The Millers went through all their paper photos. They got rid of a lot of them and took the rest to a camera shop to be scanned. They will still keep the scanned photos in paper form as well.
[18:48] One of their biggest problems was moving George, their 45-year-old ponytail palm. George is nearly 10 feet tall and 500 pounds and was on the third floor. The condo manager found three guys to move the tree and it was an ordeal. They had to take it out of the pot, which was heavy in itself. They gave the tree to a former neighbor.
[19:55] They changed their correspondence address to that of an old family friend they’ve known for over 40 years. They are applying for health insurance. Marc has been approved and Lotus Miller is waiting for approval. Marc tells the premium and deductible for his own policy for a year, which will be much less than his monthly ACA premium.
[20:55] Lotus’s policy will be a little more than Marc’s and is going through the approval process, now.
[21:05] The Millers have just prepared their 2015 Subaru Outback with new tires and a full-size spare. They had to install a lockable Yakima roof rack for the spare, for about $500.
[22:15] Marc tells of going through a fog thicker than any he had driven through in his life. The temperature dropped 30°F immediately, and the low-pressure gauge for the tires popped on. Now Marc is getting an electric tire pump to keep in the vehicle.
[23:21] Within 10 days of crossing the border, the cats must go to the vet with all the paperwork needed.
[23:36] Marc will get a temporary resident visa for himself. Lotus will get a permanent resident visa for herself. You can’t bring a car in on a permanent visa! The car is in Marc’s name. Their marriage certificate shows a different name for Lotus.
[24:18] Lotus changed her first name about 10 years ago. The name on their wedding license needs to be certified by the Mexican government. After The Millers get their marriage license certified by the Mexican government, Marc will get a permanent visa and they will get rid of the car. The Mexican government does not like American cars.
[25:01] By the time this episode is released on Monday, the Millers will have stopped at the Mexican Embassy in Laredo to process the visa applications. They will cross the border, go to the IMM office very early and leave for Ajijic on Tuesday morning, making it a two-day trip.
[25:36] The key piece is — you do not drive at night in Mexico! You do not! There is livestock on the road, even the toll roads. There are also speed bumps that come up fast that you don’t see at night. Marc will leave Laredo with a full tank of gas. Gas is well over $4.00 in Mexico. The only stops will be for bathroom breaks.
[27:01] The Millers are excited to go back. Marc is happy to leave Austin. The stress of getting everything ready and turning it over to the property manager has been really difficult.
[27:33] Marc and his wife will be coming back to Austin in early March, as Marc has a speaking gig then in Central Texas. The car is also due for registration in April and a car inspection. Marc shares some travel plans for that time.
[28:12] Marc hopes you get a feel for this being an amazing experience and a healthy experience. Having spent five months in Mexico, their 2018 spending expenses are way, way down, probably 60% to two-thirds of 2017’s expenses. They have not lived a frugal lifestyle in Ajijic, Mexico.
[29:04] Marc hopes you learned something from this episode! If you have any questions, please go to the Show Notes at CareerPivot.com/Episode-106 and put some comments. Marc will be happy to answer your questions. A lot of people have been following the Millers on this journey, including some visits to see them in Ajijic!
[29:36] Susan Lahey and Marc are working on the next edition of Repurpose Your Career, and they are looking for your help. Marc is forming a release team of readers who will get access to pre-release chapters of the book to provide feedback. You can be part of this team by going to CareerPivot.com/RYCTeam where you can sign up.
[29:58] When you sign up, you’ll receive the pre-release version of chapters when they become available. What Marc asks in return is for you to provide feedback and be prepared to write a review on Amazon when the book is released.
[30:17] Marc and Susan are adding around eight new chapters to the book and re-writing several others. Marc’s goal is to have a chapter on the podcast and to the team every four to six weeks in the coming months. Marc may start a private Facebook group for the team to discuss their thoughts. A PDF of Chapter 1 will be released soon.
[31:03] Please go to CareerPivot.com/podcast-survey and take the 2018 Repurpose Your Career podcast survey on SurveyMonkey.com. Marc thanks the listeners who have already participated and taken the survey.
[31:21] The CareerPivot.com/Community website has become a valuable resource for around 50 members who are participating in the Beta phase of this project. Marc will start recruiting in mid-December for the next cohort to begin in early January.
[31:38] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves. Those in the initial cohorts will get to set the direction for this endeavor. This is a paid membership community with special content.
[41:51] Marc will do a session, probably in early January, where he will be interviewing some of the members of the community about what they’re getting out of it. This is an evolving community ranging in age from the mid-fifties to the mid-sixties.
[32:14] Check back next week, when Marc interviews Dr. Lynn Marie Morski, author of Quitting by Design.
[32:48] If you would like to connect with Marc on LinkedIn, please go to LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller and just say you were listening to this podcast and you would like to connect.