Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Budget Update!! ONLY Puerto Vallarta, Mexico!

I felt it was time to leave behind the chart of all the other countries that were not our location of choice.  Anyone still wanting to take a look (and, they should), you can find it in my Archives in March, 2014. 

I will now concentrate on a full year's monthly budget to show absolutely everything we spend money on. We do like to live as big as possible on the budget GOAL of $1,800/month we have set for ourselves.

The main point is that even though this month was our declared "Vacation Month" because we had so many family and friends visiting that we were out and about far more than normal.  And still, we didn't overspend our income!  We are now back on the "normal" mode for month 5.

We chose to keep our rental amount at what we were paying during high season because we found a great apartment exactly where we wanted to be and didn't really compromise on much. A very good value! And, because we are living here year round, we chose to purchase some items that make our life more comfortable and pleasing for us.  This was total Discretionary spending and not necessary at all to live here. 

I have also now included the cost of our Medical Insurance.  We have decided for the near future we will continue to keep our Traveler's Insurance for both of us at a cost of $772 for 6 months or $129/month.  The coverage we get in this policy is as good, if not better, than what we would get through private insurance and it includes coverage to fly us back to the states in the event of a disaster or illness.

Living Expenses:
Rent w/util $1,050.00 $1,000.00 $1,000.00 $1,000.00
Electric $4.00 $4.00
Cell Phone $16.00 $16.00 $16.00 $15.00
Groceries $247.00 $308.00 $230.00 $331.00
Meals Out $274.00 $283.00 $167.00 $382.00
Drinks Only $211.00 $193.00 $164.00 $130.00
Entertainment $70.00 $74.00 $102.00 $238.00
Massages $40.00 $40.00 $40.00 $30.00
Bus/Taxi $72.00 $28.00 $5.00 $21.00
Dental Cleaning $8.00 $8.00 $8.00 $0.00
Incidentals $22.00 $4.00 $23.00 $20.00
Medical Ins. $129.00 $129.00 $129.00 $129.00
TOTAL $2,139.00 $2,087.00 $1,888.00 $2,296.00
TOTAL W/O RENT $1,089.00 $1,087.00 $888.00 $1,296.00
Discr Spending:
Tours $203.00
Home Improve $793.00
Medical $60.00
Air Travel
Hotels $38.00
Car Rental
Spanish Lessons $117.00 $124.00 $36.00
TOTAL Discr. $320.00 $124.00 $96.00 $831.00
TOTAL ALL $2,459.00 $2,211.00 $1,984.00 $3,127.00

* We had to restock our refrigerator after moving because we had let the supplies run down.
* We ate out 17 times this last month vs. 10 times the month before and at places that we wouldn't normally go to on a regular basis, as they were more exotic & expensive. But certainly enjoyed every moment!!
* We did several tours because of guests being here. Lots of fun to do but will do only once a year when guests come again.
* We spent a bit on "discretionary" kitchen & home items that just make our life more enjoyable here. The apartment is well furnished and these were totally not necessary to live here but they sure are nice to have!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Week of "Hi's" and "Bye's".... Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Here in Mexico, daylight savings time began last Sunday.  Weird for sunset to be so late at about 8:30pm but at least we can have dinner first then go watch it.  And, this week there have been some beauties!!  Enjoy!!

Because of the jack hammering that's been going on for the new construction project on our street, we've been rudely woken up almost every morning at 8 am.  I know, I know, that's not really early and most times we are in the early throes of being awake.  BUT, it's another to have the jack hammer in the brain that early.

Our daughter, Ara, sent us a request to help out our 6 year old grandson, Arlo,  with a Flat Stanley project for school.  If you don't know what Flat Stanley is, it's where you draw a body and place your face (our grandson Arlo's) on the body.  Then people you know get the picture printed and they take it to places Arlo has never been to.  So off we went with the picture on my flash drive down to Mailboxes Etc. for color printing and laminating.  From there Mike and I walked up and down the Malecón taking pictures of "Arlo" at different sites along the way.  Arlo will be printing out our pictures back in Spokane and presenting them as part of his project.  I actually think we had the most fun!

Monday evening there was the annual meeting of Democrats Abroad at Los Muertos Brewing.  Mike had done some volunteer work for them so we decided to attend.  Always good pizza, beer, and wine.  And while there, we were invited to come to a couple's home, David & Judy, on Saturday to get to know them better.  Slowly we are meeting people and making new friends with those who live here most of the year.

On our walk home, we ran into Mel Enge at Nacho Daddy's.  He was there to watch the men's NCAA Championships.  So, of course, we sat ourselves down and watched the game with him.  A delightful evening all around especially since UCONN won!

Sean Moore, owner of Nachos, Mel Enge, & Mike

Tuesday we went out to find a Mexican salad bowl and spoon rest.  We love the Mexican pottery and want to have some accent pieces that are useable and not just decoration.  Our "go to" place on the other side of the river where we bought our water container wasn't open so we went down stairs.  Lucky us that we found exactly what we were looking for and they are a beautiful addition to our kitchen and home. 

The newly painted water stand

Yes, we are accumulating "things".  Things that make our life and living it more enjoyable.  They are not "needs", they are "wants".  And none of them are necessary for day to day living.  We are fortunate that we do have some discretionary money every month over our "needs" budget.  These are also items that we could sell or could easily walk away from should the time ever come but they certainly make it more beautiful NOW!

We had made plans to meet up with friends, Andrea and Richard Doggett and Todd Wheeler for Happy Hour at the Signature Lounge at The Pinnacle.  It was nice to see Harris joins us, as well. This was Andrea and Richard's last few days before they headed home to Iowa on Thursday.  Certainly had a blast while they were here and we will miss them!!  Somehow I have a feeling that we will see them again somewhere.

Mike had continued to try and reach our previous landlord to determine when we would be getting our money back.  "No" was not an option with us and we felt we were definitely now getting the run around.  So by Tuesday afternoon we were both very frustrated and decided to contact our legal facilitator, Felipe.  He was happy to go with Mike Tuesday evening to meet with David and converse in legal and technical terms.

Turns out this was absolutely the right thing to have done.  David was very upset with us and started being belligerent to Mike.  That's when Felipe started to say "Fine, be that way.  I will call my uncle the lawyer and we will file papers against you tomorrow."  David threw up his hands and said he didn't want any trouble.  "Supposedly" we will have our money within 2 weeks.  Something about it having to be transferred back to Mexico from the states.  He now knows that if we don't get our money back, papers will be filed against him.  He picked on the wrong gringos.  We aren't leaving town and saying "oh well".  We shall see how this all shakes out....

I, on the other hand, was enjoying a lovely evening of beautiful blues and soul music listening to Chris Kenney at Nacho Daddy's while Mike and Felipe were out doing their work.

Thursday morning, Mike and I walked up the street to say farewell to our new good friends, Andrea and Richard.  The nice part about us being the ones that stay behind is that we are now the recipient of left overs from various friends we've made who go home for the summer.  Andrea and Richard's contribution was a gold mine though!!  Tequila, Gran Marnier, Contro, Baileys, Pina Colada mix, Margarita mix, full loaf of bread and a box of granola.  Score!!!  Thanks, guys!

The final fund raiser for the Babies at Risk cause was being held Thursday at Nacho Daddy's.  This cause is where the money raised is used to buy good formula for babies whose mothers have HIV and can't nurse their babies.  Karyl Littlechild, a Spanish lessons classmate and friend, has been organizing and running all of these events.  She is to be commended!!!  Every community is enriched because of selfless people like her.

Mike and I showed up at 1pm to help with the setup.  All went smoothly and we met some really nice people.  Unfortunately, the time came and went for people to start showing up...only they didn't. Bummer!! The advertising didn't go well and the date had been changed too many times and it's late in the season here with many already gone home to the states or Canada.  So all of us volunteers hung out having drinks and listening to the very very good rock band - Tres Quartos (3/4) band.

While listening to the music, we met a woman, Karen and her finance, Lindy.  We had a wonderful conversation getting to know each other. So now we have plans to get together this week at our place for drinks then go around the corner and out for dinner at Fusion Gourmet, where everything is half off on Wednesday nights.  Meeting more great people!!

Friday morning early, we were taken up to a beautiful condo project in Conchas Chinas, Miramar.  It's at the highest point in PV.  We enjoyed a lovely breakfast at their restaurant and shown some of their condos.  A stunning vantage point to view the Bay from but way too far and up for us to consider without a car.

Saturday we made another run to Mega where we found nothing on our list so we ended up deciding to hop another bus and go up to WalMart and the Galeria Mall.  Found nothing we were looking for in the mall either but did find a new toaster and a very large lid for our very large frying pan. 

We have also been wanting to put up some window treatments in the living area.  The sun is getting quite intense in the late afternoon but it's more for if someone comes and needs to sleep in the living area.  They would need some privacy and darkness to sleep.  We didn't buy anything but we did make a decision as to what we are going to do.  Take a bus to Home Depot for the first time this coming week and see what they have available before making any further decisions!!  It will also let us look at their washers and dryers before we make a decision on that also.

And, then we took a cab to go to our friend's home up in Gringo Gulch.  They have a stunning condo that has a 180 view of the Bay off their terrace!  What a lovely evening getting to know new friends, sharing stories, and talking about what a great life it is here.  Judy and David are from Portland but live here 8-9 months of the year.  Next time at our place!



I awoke this morning to the news that my article was published by International Living and it was and it was today's Email Postcard that gets emailed to thousands around the world.  Many that I know and some that I don't emailed me directly with wonderful compliments.  I feel honored that all of my efforts to share our journey through this blog are truly helping so many others.  And, now my efforts are being recognized.  That feels really good!!

Mike and I decided not to cook breakfast this morning and instead went around the corner for a delicious and inexpensive meal at Fusion Gourmet.  French toast to die for and Eggs Benedict. Then a walk on the beach, where it's clear that Semana Santa has definitely started!!  We're being invaded by the rest of Mexico!! Laundry is done and I'm finishing up the blog.  A really good day!

Video of this flying person:

So I'll end this week on that high note and hope that everyone else had a great week and that they will continue to do so in the coming one!!  Thanks for following along....on our journey.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Week of New Beginnings...Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

We finally got to move into our "permanent" apartment late last Sunday afternoon.  Going up and down the flight of stairs many many times was quite the exercise.  But after a couple of hours, we had everything pretty much in place and the kitchen rearranged to fit our needs.  It immediately felt like "home"!

We continued to tweak things by moving some furniture, leveling some of the pictures, and rearranging the decorative furnishings to our taste.  Our current landlord, David, is a gem and was here to help us get the kitchen ware squared away and to bring us a flat screen TV so we could utilize the HDMI and plug in my computer for watching Netflix on the TV.

Our Entry

Living Room & Terrace

Living Room






Back Patio

We were then off to Mega to purchase some items that would make life more user friendly.  This is totally discretionary spending for our own creature comforts - wants not needs. A whole different perspective when you're staying put for awhile rather than being on the move.

While at Mega Monday afternoon, we got high jacked by a "fractional ownership" salesman.  With absolutely NO intention of buying anything close to a "timeshare", we still agreed because they were going to pay US $6,000 pesos ($460) for going to the presentation. Because, you see, we want to buy a washer and dryer, again for our creature comfort rather than paying $12 every week to have someone else do our laundry and the hassle of taking and picking it up.  This amount covers the cost of a washer! Are we insane??!!!!

Tuesday afternoon, Mike went looking for our previous landlord, David.  We were supposed to be getting our security deposit of one full month's rent returned and we wanted to remind him and coordinate the timing.  David was rarely ever at his home because he's ill and goes to the doctor continuously.  So it was no surprise when he wasn't there.  Mike left a written note in hopes that he would get it and call us.

One of the errands Mike was running on this excursion was to try and find us a stand for our new beautiful water dispenser.  He first went to the Mexican glass shop but didn't like what they had. But across the street and up a ways was an antique shop that we had been to a few months ago and that's where he found our new stand!  And, right here at the apartment he found a granite piece from a sink cutout. So voila!!!  A perfect setup!

That evening we had JB and Andrea & Richard Doggett over for drinks at our new place and then we all went off to Langostino's for Expat Happy Hour.  It was their first and probably last time going. Not quite their venue.  But we have met and made good friends by going to several of these get togethers and will probably continue going for awhile to see how it shakes out in low season.

From there, the Doggett's and us went down the Malecón to the restaurant, Amore.  Mike and I had purchased coupons through Cupocity and needed to use them.  A small venue but decent food, nothing special.  So glad that we had only paid $88 pesos rather than $220 pesos normal for our food.  Not a high recommendation on our list.

Up early and picked up at the end of our street at 8:30am by Mark Anthony, our "fractional ownership" sales person, and off we went to the Grand Mayan complex just north of the airport.  No matter what, we had the most outrageously awesome FREE breakfast (normally $20US) and a tour of a beautiful resort.  But, needless to say, it was a very long day but we did walk away with 6,000 pesos in our pocket and payment for our return taxi ride.

We met up with JB Good at 5pm at NU for his going away party and drinks on him.  Hard to believe that he was leaving already to go back home.  I do think he's seriously thinking of coming back and I know he had a fabulous time!!

But, the evening wasn't over.  After a drink there, we suggested we all go up to the Signature Lounge at Pinnacle.  We had been wanting to go up for Happy Hour but just hadn't made it.  As JB doesn't do well with lots of steps, and it's 100 steps to the top, we pressed the buzzer from down below and sure enough, as represented, they sent down the golf cart to take us all up.  How cool was that?  JB was sure impressed. And, another lovely sunset evening spent with a good friend in a fabulous venue.  We knew it was going to now become a favorite place of ours!

David, our current landlord, had agreed to take us to Costco so that we could buy a stainless table that we are now using as a kitchen island.  Of course, while there, we purchased whatever else we needed.  So much easier to transport in his pickup rather than getting a large taxi to transport.

He was gracious enough with his time to actually give us a short tour of the area where we found out there was another WalMart and mall even closer and to see the town of Pitillal.  It's actually a "real" Mexican quaint town right here within minutes of Costco.  You certainly feel like you've stepped into the old world.  Love it!  Now we have another place close by that we can take the bus to and explore.

Also this week, I received an invitation to write a short piece for International Living's email postcards.  I had written it earlier in the week but had to do some editing, which I completed Friday morning, before sending it off for their proofing.  A little nervous to hear their feedback.  We'll see....

Still having some items on our list, we set out to explore the new mall.  Not only is there WalMart but many stores including several that carry appliances.  We did some comparison shopping for washers and dryers and intend to purchase a pair this coming week.  Delivery charge of only 90 pesos or $7.  Think we can do this!

On Saturday, the Doggett's and us took a taxi to the small village of Boca.  We had made reservations for the 1pm sitting at the Ocean Grill which can only be accessed by boat or by a 40 minute hike in.  We caught the boat for the restaurant and were in for a huge pleasant experience!!

Richard, Andrea, & Mike at the pier in Boca.

Our boat making its way to shore to pick us up.

How can you not like being on a private Palapa with an attentive staff and owner.  Served divine food and drinks and the resident Great Dane, Wilson, sleeps at your feet during the whole lunch? Top that off with a gorgeous view of the Bay and the beautiful sand beach.  Fabulous and we will certainly be back!!

Ocean Grill as you approach & Wilson's Island.  Wilson is the beautiful Great Dane!

Close up of Wilson's Island. You can swim out to it and take a nap of the bed.

The view of the beach from our table before anyone else got there.

A good day with friends Richard & Andrea Doggett!!

Andrea's octopus that everyone loved & tasted except me.

The beautiful shrimp that Richard & Mike had.

My BBQ ribs & French fries.  I'm the carnivore.

The beach path.

Richard & Andrea enjoying the beauty on the path.

A wonderful beach!

We're happy!


Big boy!

But our day didn't end there.  Took time to have wonderful fresh home made margaritas in Boca on the beach then a bus back to PV where we decided to stop for Happy Hour and sunset at the Pinnacle.  A fun filled day with good friends!!

As last night was Daylight Savings Time here in Mexico, it appeared that we slept late.  But alas, it was only us sleeping our normal amount, which felt great after all the fresh air from yesterday.  Sheets changed and laundry is done. A quick visit from our ex neighbors and friends, Barb and Jeff, who depart for home tomorrow. And Mike sanding and painting our new water stand.  A wonderful lazy day at home in PV!!

Thanks for following along as each week unfolds on this journey of ours.