Sunday, February 7, 2016

Budget Update - January, 2016

It's again a New Year!! Wow, time is flying by here in beautiful PV where we once again proved that you can live well for a very reasonable budget.

So, off we go again into this new year trying to continue to live within our income but still keeping our goal of no more than $2,000/month for our true Living Expenses. And, if we keep our total expenses to no more than $2,500/month, it leaves a good bit for our love of traveling.

January was an extremely busy month for us! Many show openings that we love to attend. Free tickets in lieu of doing some advertising work for local entertainment venues. Thank You!!

I also took a part time job doing media coordinating for a local organization. My time is most certainly not idle!!

Living Expenses:    January
Rent w/util  $       800
Electric  $         18
Cell Phone  $         16
Groceries  $       192
Meals Out  $       363
Drinks Only  $       197
Entertainment  $         37
Massages  $         19
Bus/Taxi  $         15
Dental Cleaning
Incidentals  $       100
TOTAL  $    1,757

TOTAL W/O RENT  $       957

Discr Spending:
Visas/Legal  $       220
Clothes/Shoes/Gifts  $         48
Medical/Life Ins.  $       322
Home Improve  $       203
Air Travel
Car Rental/Gas
Spanish Lessons
TOTAL Discr.  $       793

TOTAL ALL  $    2,550

*Meals Out: Jan. 15x
*Drinks Only: Jan. 14x
*Legal: Jan. Passport Renewal

Friday, January 1, 2016


HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016!! Or as I'm choosing to call it the Sweet 16.

It's been 2 full years now that we have lived full time in PV. Wow! Where did the time go? We've been busy assimilating into our new town and with it has come so many wonderful new friends and rewards for being actively involved!!

In 2014, we showed that you could live a very good life style for approximately $25,000/year, if you weren't lavish and chose wisely where you eat and drink out.  (See Year End Budget posted in mid December, 2014.)

In 2015, we proved that our high quality of living on as little as $25,000/year was no fluke. We've established wonderful friends and enjoy their company through many different activities. This year I was offered an opportunity to earn a few dollars by doing media coordinating for a local organization.

We continued to take advantage of Cupocity discounts on meals, tours, massages, etc. We also determined where we get the best bang for our buck, which allows us to eat and drink out with our friends. We are social people and gathering with friends is very important to us.

Living Expenses are broken out separately from Discretionary Spending. We are fortunate that we have some discretionary income and make no apology for spending it.

As we also knew would happen, in 2015, our family and friends would start visiting us and the winter months would see us eating out and going on excursions more with them. My daughter and her family were here for 16 days in January, and several friends came to town to spend time with us. It definitely shows in our expenditures for these 2 month!

We also had the opportunity to meet up with friends from Nicaragua in Mexico City for a week in February and while we were already up in the "highlands" of Mexico, we decided to come back by bus and visit San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, and Leon. A beautiful part of this wonderful country!

The month of January also brought us the expenditures of washing machine repair ($232), camera repairs ($10), more of Mike's dental woes (a new crown, reconstruction of previous crown preparation performed in Costa Rica,  & a tooth pulled = $742), and Mike needing to visit a chiropractor twice for adjustments that couldn't be dealt with in a massage ($73). We also took a 3 day side excursion to Yelapa with family and incurred hotel expenses and a more expensive water taxi ride plus all meals out.

But, we are extremely happy that everyone wants to come see us!!  This was part of our decision to live here. We knew it was easier and more alluring for them to come here to PV than any other location we considered. So it is what it is and we make no apologies for enjoying our family and friends.

In March, our expenditures went back to normal. EXCEPT we had decided back in December, 2014 to purchase excellent seat tickets ($300) to the Santana/Journey concert in Guadalajara for March 26. The total of the expenditures including the tickets, tours of Guadalajara, meals out, our stay in a B&B, gas, taxes, busses, etc. are all accounted for.

April shows we have come out of high season and back to well below our goal budget for Living Expenses. This was also due to our renegotiating our lease here in our apartment. Because we have been an asset to our landlord, which allows him to spend more time with his family in the states, he agreed to allow us to sign a 15 month lease with 3 months of free rent during the low season so we could travel a bit more without moving. We all agreed to a steady cash flow over the 15 months of $800/month.

Restaurant Week(s) are held in May. This is where many restaurants have a special set 3 course meal for well below the cost of a normal meal at their establishment. We took advantage of eating at several restaurants that would normally be well out of our budget. We also attended a charity function called The International Altruism Festival, which had 35 restaurants represented there. Also as a result of several friends coming to town, we ate out way above normal for a whopping 18 times!

In May, we also took advantage of the low cost medical clinics that are provided by Pam Thompson-Webb of So Mike and I both had our ears checked for a cost of $46US for both of us. Mike had an ear infection, so we had medication to purchase for $3US. I also took advantage of getting a Shingles Vaccine at a local hospital for the low cost of $157US (it's about $400-$500 in the US).

In June, we traveled the whole month, which is why there aren't any expenses except our rent in the Living Expenses category. Our journey took us to Cancun, where we spoke at the 10th Annual International Living Retire Overseas Conference; then on to Playa del Carmen for a week; then to MA & CT to visit family and friends; and down to Raleigh, NC to visit with family. On June 30, we flew to WA, which is where we were until July 17. This is our annual US visit from coast to coast. An expensive trip but with family spread out all over the US, it's very necessary.

Our Trip Expenses include air fare, hotel, car rental, meals & drinks out, clothes, electronics, entertainment, cell phone, etc. In February, we flew to Mexico City for a week, took a bus back via San Miguel, Guanajuato, & Leon for a total of 12 days. In June, we went to Cancun/Playa for a week. Then flew to CT, USA, drove to Raleigh, NC, flew to Spokane, WA for a total of 6 weeks. In September, we flew to Europe and traveled throughout via train for 6 weeks.

The month of August saw us back into a "regular" routine. No having to stock up because we'd been gone, no visiting friends or family, just a normal month of living at home in PV.  So you see, you CAN live reasonably here and still enjoy life.

The one change we did make in August, was our insurance situation. After more research, we chose to switch to a company (WEA) where both of us could be covered globally (except US). We chose a $3mil, $2,500 deductible plan for each of us. Our combined premium equates to the $322/month (we paid one full year in advance to avoid extra servicing charges).

The Living Expenses are our true living expenses and we could easily have a good life on just this amount. However, we are fortunate and do have some discretionary income, which we gladly use to have an even better life. So just because you might not have this additional income, doesn't mean you can't enjoy life here in PV.

Living Expenses:  January  February      March      April        May        June         July    August   September   October November  December

Rent w/util  $    1,000  $    1,000  $    1,000  $       800  $       800  $       800  $       800  $       800  $       800  $       800  $       800  $       800

Electric  $          24  $             -  $          23  $             -  $          45
 $          33
 $          20
 $          44

Cell Phone  $          42  $          40  $          39  $             -  $          14
 $          65

 $            6  $          12  $          36

Groceries  $       227  $       219  $       249  $       143  $       231
 $       378  $       151  $            4  $       306  $       246  $       297

Meals Out  $       448  $       292  $       240  $       183  $       420
 $       112  $       258  $          99  $       113  $       376  $       228

Drinks Only  $       161  $       154  $          95  $       238  $       144
 $       116  $       169
 $       199  $       173  $       191

Entertainment  $          60  $          57  $       105  $          33  $             -
 $          65  $          87  $          40
 $          88  $          67

Massages  $       101  $          20  $          40  $          33  $          33
 $          43  $          31  $          47  $          66  $          30  $          46

Bus/Taxi  $          64  $          55  $          15  $          25  $          50
 $          10  $          16
 $          12  $          25  $          13

Dental Cleaning  $          33  $          80
 $             -  $          33

 $          48

Incidentals  $          25  $          18  $          82  $          25  $          78
 $          20  $          51
 $          98  $          50  $          70

TOTAL  $    2,185  $    1,935  $    1,888  $    1,480  $    1,848  $       800  $    1,642  $    1,563  $    1,010  $    1,600  $    1,892  $    1,748
 $ 19,591

TOTAL W/O RENT  $    1,185  $       935  $       888  $       680  $    1,048  $             -  $       842  $       763  $       210  $       800  $    1,092  $       948
 $    9,391

Discr Spending:

Visas/Legal  $             -  $             -

 $       146

Clothes/Shoes/Gifts  $          13  $          32  $          27  $       162  $          63

Medical/Life Ins.  $       211  $       211  $       211  $       211  $       211  $       211  $       211  $       322  $       322  $       322  $       322  $       322

Tours  $          87  $          60

 $       111

Home Improve  $       420  $       171  $          57  $          75  $          65
 $          53  $       131

 $       163  $       267

Medical  $       237

 $       221
 $          48

 $          24  $       100  $          14

Dental  $       742

Air Travel

Trips/Vacations  $       180  $    2,459  $       684

 $    2,685  $    2,655
 $    5,723  $    5,723

 $ 20,109
Car Rental/Gas

Spanish Lessons

TOTAL Discr.  $    1,890  $    2,933  $       979  $       448  $       560  $    2,896  $    2,967  $       599  $    6,045  $    6,069  $       585  $       714
 $ 26,685

TOTAL ALL  $    4,075  $    4,868  $    2,867  $    1,928  $    2,408  $    3,696  $    4,609  $    2,162  $    7,055  $    7,669  $    2,477  $    2,462
 $ 46,276

*Drinks Only (in PV only): January 11x; February 9x; March 7x; April 15x; May 11x; July 9x; August 15x; September 0x; October 12x; November 13x; December 14x
*Meals Out (in PV only): January 12x; February 10x; March 9x; April 8x; May 18x; July 6x; August 9x; September 4x; October 6x; November 14x; December 10x
*Our Rent includes 1br/1ba; dipping pool; view of Bay; fully furnished with everything you need; cable TV, internet, water; excludes electric.
*I do not include health insurance as a Living Expense because many expats choose not to have insurance. It is our choice to have it.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Madrid, Spain: 5 nights, October 10-15, 2015

Our train from Valencia to Madrid left from a different train station in Valencia. So off we went by foot to get there. Again, so very thankful we only had our small carry on and a backpack. At this station, we actually had to go through security with everything being xrayed. A first for that.

A lovely 1.5 hour ride inland and we arrived in this wonderful lively city. Again, our hotel/apartment location was excellent and we were able to drop our bags off and go out exploring a bit before coming back to check in.

Once checked in, off we went to find the Hop On, Hop Off bus. No worries, it was right around the corner at the bus stop. Still being early in the day, we were able to ride each route and get a lay of the city.

We decided to get off at Plaza Sol in the heart of the shopping and restaurant area of the city. It was packed with people everywhere especially since it was a holiday weekend here to celebrate Columbus Day on the 12th. We wandered the area and made our way back to our own neighborhood where we stopped in at the bar Stop Madrid. What a terrific beer and wine bar with quite a bit of history.  we found a delicious Rioja red wine, Lan 12, for only 3 euros. Fun, fun!

As we were not happy with the condition of our apartment, we filed a complaint the morning of our second day. Our landlord told us that he did have a better apartment but it wouldn't be available until the next day (Day 3 of our 5 nights).

So off we went to discover Madrid. I had been to Madrid in 1999 with a couple of girlfriends but we only stayed a few days, so I was just as eager to see the city up close and personal. As the weather was once again a little on the "iffy" side, Mike and I took the metro to the museum of Spanish art - The Prado. To say that it was magnificent, would be putting it mildly. It's huge with over a hundred salons. What fabulous art! However, after several hours, my head couldn't absorb any more. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed but as usual, I managed to take a few when the guards were otherwise occupied.

Just behind the Prado is a beautiful church called San Jeronimo el Real. It sits up above many many steps to get to the entrance. Just had to go take a peak!

From there we made our way back to the metro stop and along the way shot a few photos. Getting off the metro at Plaza Sol again, we headed in the direction of Plaza Mayor. We found a sweet little sidewalk cafe for dinner then headed further up the pedestrian street to the actual Plaza.

As it was Sunday evening, we actually found an American Pub with football onwhere we were able to talk them into putting on the last few minutes of the Seahawks game against Cincinnati. Unfortunately, despite a large lead, they managed to blow it right at the end. While at the pub, we ended meeting and having a fun conversation with a wonderful young man from Norway, who was a huge Seahawks fan. The joys of traveling!

Monday the 12th was the Columbus Day holiday and, of course, they were going to have a huge parade and lots of celebrations all over town. After a quick bite to eat at our local little breakfast bistro, we made our way down the hill toward Independence Circle. Along the way, the synchornized jets, planes and helicopters flew over us. Quite the spectacle!

Not being able to get anywhere near close enough to see the parade, we turned around and headed back to our apartment to meet with our landlord to look at another unit that we might be able to move into that was supposed to be in better condition. It turned out that it was in much better condition but didn't have a closet and was very small. So we ended up staying put where we were for the duration.

We then headed through town and made our way to the Palace thinking we were going to the tour. As it turned out because of the holiday, it was closed due to the King entertaining in the Palace. So after watching the King leave, we made our way to the Cathedral ( to take a tour there before proceeding on to a neighborhood outdoor cafe overlooking the canyon and having an afternoon drink.

One of the other attractions that we had wanted to do was the cable car over the canyon. So hoping that it was still running by the time we walked up there on the other side of town, we took off on foot. It was about a 3 mile walk and we were rewarded with the attraction still being open. So off we went to see the city from above. Enjoy some of our photos that we also took on the stroll to get there.

Our 4th day in Madrid was actually spent in Toledo, only a 35 minutes train ride away. But, boy is it a whole different world! Since that's a story in and of itself, I will be posting a blog entry on it individually.

Our last day dawned brilliant! So off we went to go for our tour of the Palace and armory! They don't allow photos in there either so we could only take photos up until the actual entry into the rooms. Such a shame! A beautiful palace so don't miss it if you go. Mike and I thought it rivaled Versailles. However, they did have a video show going in the lobby and I was able to capture a few photos of its beauty to share.

After having a wonderful lunch at a cafe on the square, we once again caught the metro to go to the Botanical Gardens. It was so beautiful out that we only wanted to be outside and enjoying Madrid at a leisurely pace for our final day.

The day couldn't have been more gorgeous, so we continued on up the hill and entered a huge park called Parque del Retiro Jeronimo. With a small map, we found our way to the Crystal Palace, which sat next to a beautiful large pond with waterfall. The Palace was empty except for a small art exhibit. However, it was originally built to house plants from the Philippines.

 Continuing on in the park, we passed some beautiful buildings, saw Mickey Mouse, and came upon a most beautiful small lake with paddle boats, kayaks, cafes, and monuments. Of course, since the sun was beginning to set, we set ourselves down at one of the cafes for a beer and a wine while enjoying the whole holiday family atmosphere. Totally content and relaxed!!

Making our way back to the center of town, we decided it was our last chance to go into the largest and most exclusive department store all over Europe, El Corte Ingles. We had been seeing advertisements for the Gourmet Experience, so we hopped the elevator to the 9th floor. Well, OMG!! What an epicurean experience! Gourmet foods everywhere and then food and drink stations set up all over. Tables were arranged in a cafe setting with walls of windows where we were lucky to find one with a view of the city and could watch the stunning sunset while sipping beer and wine and eating gourmet delectables. A terrific way to end our fabulous stay in Madrid!

So Madrid came to an end after 5 glorious days. Love this city! It most certainly shouldn't be overlooked or missed during a trip through Spain.

But, it was time to move on to Portugal. However, since I didn't include our day in Toledo in this blog entry, I will be posting that day's experience before moving on to our last city.