Thursday, July 2, 2015

Our Presentation at the 10th International Living Retire OverseasConference

We were extremely honored to be invited to speak again this year at the International Living Conference held in Cancun, Mexico June 3-6. Last year was our first invitation to speak when it was held in PV at the Sheraton.

Our topic was again as the Roving Expats "Country Shopping: The Process for Having No Regrets". We were allowed 20 minutes to convey our journey that began with events that started in 2008 to our decision in December, 2011 to sell everything back in Northeast Washington, become debt free, salvage what savings we had left, and moving to a foreign country. 

Our Story:

We hit the road on July 29, 2012 and haven't looked back since. After a 3 month cross country road trip where we visited every family member and many friends in the US & Canada, we landed in Panama on November 11, 2012. We lived in 5 different Latin American countries and 11 different towns/villages along the way before choosing to call Puerto Vallarta home. 

Since the beginning, I have written entries into this blog. I also began publishing our monthly expenditures once we began our true "country shopping". This feature has truly become the "signature" of the blog. To date, there have been 4.5 million and counting views of the blog. It's also a big reason that we were approached by IL to speak. 

Mike and I flew from PV to Cancun on June 2. At the Cancun Airport, we met up with two other speakers we had met last year and were whisked away by van to be deposited at our hotel and conference location at the J.W. Marriott located on the Carribean. 

I was truly excited for Mike because he'd never been to this part of Mexico. The last time I had been there was in 1998 for an award trip I had earned as a Realtor. Being there continued to expand our travels within Mexico this past year. 

Once checking in, we had to quickly change and meet in the lobby.  We had been invited to a party being held at our friends, Don & Diane Murray, who actually live on the Cancun strip. We had first met them when we lived in Bahia de Caraquez, Ecuador. They were living there then but decided to move to Cancun in the Soring of 2014. We are delighted that our good friends are now a bit more accessible. 

A great evening in their home.  We were able to witness a beautiful sunset, as well, while enjoying the company of expats from around the world along with many IL staff that have become friends. Yup, retirement does NOT suck, as my good friend, Don Murray, always says!










Our room was quite comfortable and had a beautiful view of the ocean from our balcony. We enjoyed our coffee and juice every morning outside while catching up with the world. 


After meeting up with Don & Diane for lunch on Wednesday, it was time to get ready for our presentation. The Conference started at 4pm with Dan Prescher, the IL mc, doing the opening honors. At 4:25pm it was our turn to be center stage as the first expat speakers.  

With 250+ people attending the conference, we certainly had to have our wits about us. Our power point presentation had 19 slides that we used as our visual props. Our timing was perfect and with ease, we finished at 19 minutes. 

After a few more presentations, the opening day came to an end followed by a cocktail party. It seemed once again that we did well based on all of the feedback we received from attendees. It was non stop questions from attendees until the party was over. It's certainly nice to be able to give value!




The evening ended with a dinner at the Japanese restaurant, The Merkado, with friends who are expats in Costa Rica. The life of a Roving Expat means having friends who live all over the world. We are truly fortunate.





It was a great feeling to have our presentation behind us! We could now sit back and enjoy the conference and be available for questions without the anxiety. Mike and I had practiced twice to three times a day for several weeks before the conference because other than the slides, which were more pictures than writing, we were not allowed to have any notes. So we needed to know this by heart. 

On Thursday, Mike and I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time at the beach and pool. A truly beautiful spot even though the ocean waves were pretty fierce.








After another successful day of presentations, our evening ended with a large group of us at dinner at Gustino's for a most delicious Italian dinner. Love being able to spend such quality time with these fine people!





Since we are guest speakers, our attendance at the conference was limited. So on Friday the 5th, we strolled out of our hotel and back into our world of taking local busses. We had planned to spend a week in Playa del Carmen because Mike had never been to the Yucatan and we wanted to do some comparing and site seeing. 

A bus ride into the center of Cancun, a walk over the overpass walkway, and into the Centro bus station to catch the next bus to Playa del Carmen. Showing our INAPAM cards (senior discount) our tickets cost us a whole $6US for our 1.5 hour ride. Gotta love it!






So our time in Cancun came and went with a successful presentation once again. Time to move on down the road and enjoy a week in Playa del Carmen. Here's hoping that we get an invitation to speak again next year wherever it is.  We love being good Ambassadors for not only Puerto Vallarta but all of Mexico. 

I've been having computer issues, which is why these posts are so delayed. Hope to have them fixed in the next day or so. We're in WA now on our last leg of our US trip. Sitting in a coffee shop because my computer will for some reason connect to this internet but not at our daughter's home.

Hope everyone is having a great summer! Talk soon.....

BUDGET UPDATE - June, 2015

In 2014, we showed that you could live a very good life style for $25,000/year, if you weren't lavish and chose where you eat and drink out.  We took 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. (See Year End Budget posted in mid December, 2014 located in Archives) 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, 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 www.healthcareresourcespv.com. 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 accept 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 are now until mid July. 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.

I'm continually asked how can we do all we do on what we actually show in our posted budget. I must admit, that those we meet with as a result of my blog, have been very gracious in treating us as their guests for meals and drinks in appreciation for our time and sharing of our experiences. We do this gladly without expectation of this!!

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
Rent w/util  $    1,000  $      1,000  $      1,000  $          800  $          800  $          800
Electric  $          24  $               -  $            23  $               -  $            45
Cell Phone  $          42  $            40  $            39  $               -  $            14
Groceries  $       227  $          219  $          249  $          143  $          231
Meals Out  $       448  $          292  $          240  $          183  $          420
Drinks Only  $       161  $          154  $            95  $          238  $          144
Entertainment  $          60  $            57  $          105  $            33  $               -
Massages  $       101  $            20  $            40  $            33  $            33
Bus/Taxi  $          64  $            55  $            15  $            25  $            50
Dental Cleaning  $          33  $            80
 $               -  $            33
Incidentals  $          25  $            18  $            82  $            25  $            78
TOTAL  $    2,185  $      1,935  $      1,888  $      1,480  $      1,848  $          800







TOTAL W/O RENT  $    1,185  $          935  $          888  $          680  $      1,048  $               -







Discr Spending:





Visas/Legal  $             -  $               -



Clothes/Shoes/Gifts  $          13  $            32  $            27  $          162  $            63
Medical/Life Ins.  $       211  $          211  $          211  $          211  $          211  $          211
Tours  $          87  $            60



Home Improve  $       420  $          171  $            57  $            75  $            65
Medical  $       237


 $          221
Dental  $       742




Air Travel





Trips/Vacations  $       180  $      2,459  $          684

 $      3,132
Car Rental/Gas





Spanish Lessons





TOTAL Discr.  $    1,890  $      2,933  $          979  $          448  $          560  $      3,343







TOTAL ALL  $    4,075  $      4,868  $      2,867  $      1,928  $      2,408  $      4,143


*Drinks Only (in PV only): January 11x; February 9x; March 7x; April 15x; May 11x
*Meals Out (in PV only): January 12x; February 10x; March 9x; April 8x; May 18x
*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 was our choice to have it.

Monday, June 1, 2015

BUDGET UPDATE - May, 2015 Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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

I'm continually asked how can we do all we do on what we actually show in our posted budget. I must admit, that those we meet with as a result of my blog, have been very gracious in treating us as their guests for meals and drinks in appreciation for our time and sharing of our experiences. We do this gladly without expectation of this!!

 
Living Expenses:    January    February      March       April         May
Rent w/util  $    1,000  $      1,000  $      1,000  $          800  $          800
Electric  $          24  $               -  $            23  $               -  $            45
Cell Phone  $          42  $            40  $            39  $               -  $            14
Groceries  $       227  $          219  $          249  $          143  $          231
Meals Out  $       448  $          292  $          240  $          183  $          420
Drinks Only  $       161  $          154  $            95  $          238  $          144
Entertainment  $          60  $            57  $          105  $            33  $               -
Massages  $       101  $            20  $            40  $            33  $            33
Bus/Taxi  $          64  $            55  $            15  $            25  $            50
Dental Cleaning  $          33  $            80
 $               -  $            33
Incidentals  $          25  $            18  $            82  $            25  $            78
TOTAL  $    2,185  $      1,935  $      1,888  $      1,480  $      1,848






TOTAL W/O RENT  $    1,185  $          935  $          888  $          680  $      1,048






Discr Spending:




Visas/Legal  $             -  $               -


Clothes/Shoes/Gifts  $          13  $            32  $            27  $          162  $            63
Medical/Life Ins.  $       211  $          211  $          211  $          211  $          211
Tours  $          87  $            60


Home Improve  $       420  $          171  $            57  $            75  $            65
Medical  $       237


 $          221
Dental  $       742



Air Travel




Trips/Vacations  $       180  $      2,459  $          684

Car Rental/Gas




Spanish Lessons




TOTAL Discr.  $    1,890  $      2,933  $          979  $          448  $          560






TOTAL ALL  $    4,075  $      4,868  $      2,867  $      1,928  $      2,408


*Drinks Only (in PV only): January 11x; February 9x; March 7x; April 15x; May 11x
*Meals Out (in PV only): January 12x; February 10x; March 9x; April 8x; May 18x
*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 was our choice to have it.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Preparation, Work & Play = Never Bored in Puerto Vallarta !

I found myself agreeing to be the Media Coordinator for a local organization. How'd that happen???!!!  Well, it did!

As the first actual Media Coordinator for this organization, I had to start almost from scratch to figure things out and try to get systems in place. I'm a systems person and love to get things up and running smoothly. It certainly helps once you gather all the data that you need but that's not always easy. It's especially not easy when you don't know what to ask for and then find out by bits and pieces along the way.

So for this month, I've gotten all the systems in place; updated email lists, Facebook Groups, Yahoo Groups; and, contacted all the media in the area. Plus, created and sent out everything needed for a Social Event to happen later this month.  And, written the Annual Media Plan. All in all, mission accomplished!

The days are also filled with reworking our talking points and Power Point presentation for our speaking engagement at the 10th Annual International Living Ultimate Conference to be held in Cancun, Mexico in early June. Mike and I pull the presentation up on the TV and practice, practice, practice coordinating our text with the slides. Even though it's about the same topic as last year, we have refreshed allot of it now that we've been in Puerto Vallarta a year and a half.

We still have a week to iron out the kinks and make it flow seamlessly. It'll happen. And, by our talk time as the first expats to speak at the event, we will be more than ready. I hope!

In between all of these "To Do" items, we continue to meet up with new people who are exploring the area. What a great group of people we have met on this journey! Mike and I are starting to really wonder how many folks we've actually had the pleasure of meeting with, so I'll be going back through my posts and counting to find out.

Vicki Kahler do come back!

Jim, Me, Tessa & Rip Rupinski
May is a time to start getting together at people's homes now that we can focus more on each other rather than visitors from afar. So much fun having a more intimate setting for chatting and playing card games. And, a little eating and drinking while we're at it. Gracias amigos Robina Oliver & Carlos Valezques for inviting to your beautiful home!!






The BIG highlight of this past couple of weeks was our opportunity to meet with a group of wonderful expats who are continuing the charity legacy of a wonderful lady who has left to watch over us from above, Cheryl Schrean. Cheryl vacationed here for many years, like many of us. In 2010, she made a permanent move here and began to share her outpouring of love.

Her generosity and compassion for those in need, especially providing shoes, blossomed into Cheryl's Shoebox in 2011 http://www.cherylsshoebox.org/about-us/ . In 2013, she and her volunteers distributed over 4,000 shoes. WOW! 

Today this wonderful program is continuing, as Cheryl passed in 2014, with the help of Vicki Steuteville Vicki@cherylsshoebox.org , Drew Baldridge, Michael Hammond and many more. So for those coming down, if you have any good  used shoes or want to buy some shoes to bring, please do so, knowing that there's a good place for them!! And, if you'd like to volunteer, please contact Vicki Steuteville.

So with a mission of scouting needs in an extremely small fishing village on the far south end of the Bay of Banderas, we all boated over to Chimo. Unfortunately, our fearless leader and boat host, Drew Baldridge got a very bad case of seasickness on the way over. Poor man turned green and spent much of the trip hanging over the back side. We wanted to make sure he was well down wind from the rest of us. Such a good sport he is!

The Sunset Tequila

Me & Robina just chillin'

That's where we went way out to the point!

Some chilled at the bar.

We had a wonderful lunch feast provided by Los Socios Restaurant and its manager, Arturo Jolla, filling our ravished tummies. Well, for everyone EXCEPT Drew, who was provided a Dramamine and quickly stretched out in the hammock and slept the whole time trying to recoup.

Chimo












Michael Hammond made the trek up to the small school to meet with them so he could get a head count of the number of children and ages in the school. The goal is raise enough money to buy new school shoes for them all. So, again, if you'd like to contribute to this worthy cause, bring down new shoes when you come or contact Vicki to make a contribution.

A wonderful day had by all of us! Even Drew seemed to enjoy his ride back to the marina after his meds kicked in and he rested.  

Restaurant Week officially kicked off on May 15. This is a fabulous event held every year whereby many of the restaurants in and around PV offer special 3 course meals at a special price and a great value. We have participated so far by going to Coco's Tropical and Archie's Wok. Yym, yum, yum!!






Another wonderful charity annual event is The International Altruism Festival. This year it was held at Casa Magna Marriott Hotel in the marina.  There were dozens of restaurants that donated food and drink to this worthy cause. It was a beautiful evening on the beach lawn that ended with fireworks.






Captain Jack Sparrow entertaining the younguns.








My turn!

 This week is also Pride Week and Puerto Vallarta outdoes itself! Last year was the first ever Drag Races with 8 contestants. This year there were 18! So what are Drag Races??!! Fun, fun, fun!

Picture this....18 dressed to the hilt guys and gals dressed to the 9's with MINIMUM 4" heels. They must "run" a race up and down the street from one place to the other drinking down liquor of different sorts, beating up a pinata, and back to the start.  It's timed and may the best win!!  Bets are placed and lots of cheering from a huge crowd hanging off the rafters at Swede's or milling about the streets.

And, before the actual race some nicely done man underwear fashion show with booty being shook going on! This year was MC'd by Amy Armstrong, one of our favorite entertainers who has a mouth of a sailor and the voice of a saint. Yea, really!!














Last night was the Pride Parade. Again, what a spectacle! These guys and gals sure know how to throw a party. It's especially fun because we have so many friends that participate and throw themselves totally into these events. Thank you for such a great show!











So this coming week will see us continue to practice, practice, practice!! We plan to meet up with as many friends as possible to enjoy one last time together before we're off and running for the next 6 weeks.

Stay tuned for the results of our presentation and our much anticipated fun in the Yucatan! And, as always, thanks for coming along on this journey with us.