Overseas Life Redesign

Episode 32: We Found A Place That's Just Right.

August 31, 2020 Dawn Fleming Season 2 Episode 32
Overseas Life Redesign
Episode 32: We Found A Place That's Just Right.
Show Notes Transcript

Our Guest Barbara Harris and her husband left Canada for Mexico. They stayed for two months and scoped out eight different cities looking for their new home. From Puerto Morelos, they went to Merida, then ended up buying a villa in Progresso. After a few years, they longed for a change of scenery and headed to the mountains on the West Coast. Several moves later they found a place that's just right. Listen to her great story of trying on different cultural experiences, finding out what you like and what you don't - and not giving up until you find the perfect fit.

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Commercial: [00:00:02] Welcome. You are listening to the overseas life redesign podcast where you'll hear fine, relaxed, and inspirational interviews with people who are really living the dream. I'm Dawn Flemming and attorney turned alchemists and your host for the show coming to you from the tropical island paradise of East level net us Mexico. Listen to conversations with courageous souls who step out of their comfort zone and designed a new way of life. They'll share their experiences, wisdom and offer practical steps you can take to redesign your life overseas. Listen, and you'll believe if you can dream it, you can achieve it.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:00:43] All right, I'm here today with Barbara Harris, and she and I met online on Facebook, and she's from Canada and has been living in Mexico for nine years. I believe you said. And thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I really appreciate it.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:01:00] My pleasure. Awesome.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:01:03] Well, Barbara, I would love for you to tell me about your overseas life redesign journey and how that kind of came about if you lived in other places outside of Canada before this was your first time living overseas.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:01:22] No, it's not my first time, actually. When I was in my twenties, I lived in Australia for a couple of years, which was lots and lots and lots of fun, but came back home and lived in British Columbia, Canada for a while and then went back to Toronto, which was my home base. And I stayed there for a few more years. And then I ended up back in B.C. and in B.C. That's where I met my husband. And then we made this trip down here. And so we've been here in Mexico for nine years now.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:01:54] Right. And you told me I think you told me about 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, is that right?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:02:01] Yes. In a town called Boustani. Yes. Yes.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:02:04] Ok,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:02:04] Wonderful little beach town, although we're on the mountainside of the highway where it's a little quieter because Mexico doesn't tend to be quiet if you're looking for a quiet place to retire in Mexico, might not be what everything else is perfect here, but quiet, isn't it?

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:02:25] Right. And so that's not the first place you've lived in Mexico. I know when we talked initially, you actually have lived in quite a few different places in Mexico.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:02:38] Yeah.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:02:39] Can you take us through that journey and kind of tell me what you like, what you didn't like? Because there's a lot of folks that are looking at Mexico, but they're not really quite sure where they want to go. So I think hearing your story might be really helpful.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:02:54] All right. So we started in Puerto Morelos, which is halfway between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, and it's right on the beach and the beach there is spectacular. And the swimming is wonderful because it doesn't have the great big, huge waves. So we loved it there, but it was quite a small town. And then the other towns were very big and touristy. So we were looking for something a little bit more in between, even though we loved it there. One day it rained while we were on our month vacation there to check it out. And we will watch House Hunters International and we learned about Mérida, OK one. So we decided to rent a car for a week and we drove to Mérida and we lined up a realtor and he showed us the beautiful colonial homes in Mérida, which nine years ago were extremely affordable. I haven't really checked that real estate out recently, but you could get a two beautiful two bedroom colonial for like one hundred and ten thousand US dollars fully furnished. And it was gorgeous. Wow. Having said that, when we drove into Mérida, even though I loved it, I was just moved from the Vancouver area in British Columbia and it was like hustle and bustle, buses, busy streets. And that wasn't what I was looking for. So the realtor took us out to Progresso and to the beach area out there and showed us two or three homes out there. And my poor husband, he's always afraid when I get an idea.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:04:35] Yours, too, huh?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:04:38] So as we were driving in the car on the way back to Marada after we'd been out looking at these beach homes, I said to him, you know, that last villa we looked at, we could go home, sell everything up, buy that, retire early and we could afford to live here. I've just figured it all out in my head. And my husband is like, how can you do that in your head? So well, I know what our income is. I just figured out what the expenses are on that. And my analysis has been said to me, oh, OK, then let's do it. And I nearly had a heart attack because actually, I count on him. Unless I get you. I get that. 

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:05:21] I get that. 

 

Barbara Harris: [00:05:23] Making sure we're going to be safe. So anyway, we went to bed in the hotel that night. I woke up in the morning and it's just me, you know, you're right. I said, what do you mean? He said, Well, I got out the computer in our spreadsheet from home and did the expensive systems. But I need to tell you, you're about one hundred, but. One hundred bucks, he says, yeah, to the good, he said, we better next month. So we said, OK, let's do it. So we called our realtor in Canada and fortunately, we just made the move from the big house and the big garage and the big yard to a nice two-bedroom condo. So we had our realtor put that on the market while we were still down there. We put an offer in on the place and in Progresso, which is half an hour from Mérida, right on the ocean in the villa that we were looking that we put the offer in on was one block from the beach and 10 small villas in the little Closed-in area. Anyway, it all went through. Seven months later, we packed up in Canada. We drove down and here we are. And then we were there and Progresso and we bought a beautiful two bedroom, two bathroom villa with its own private swimming pool for one hundred and forty thousand Canadian fully furnished. So we were pretty happy with that.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:06:54] Wow, yeah, sounds all great.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:06:57] Yes, so we did a lot of Renaults over the year. We put a waterfall in our little pool and we extended the palapa upstairs. So we had a living room, dining room, kitchen, and a bathroom up there. We loved it. We loved it. But I'm a gypsy.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:07:13] I was going to say it sounds like Delek. And what happened? You left.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:07:18] Well, after four years, there were a handful of different things. And one of the big things was my husband's from British Columbia and he loves the mountains and the scenery in the ocean and everything. And even though we had the ocean, we were like, it's flat in there, that it's in progress.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:07:37] So it's flat, flat, flat, flat is flat. That is like the prairies. You could shoot a gun and it would drop. Plus that area tends to be a lot hotter. So with having said that, we made the decision to do a little bit of traveling around. So we sold our place, but we had made a commitment to a fundraiser. I was DMC and my husband was doing a little entertainment. That's the one where he was anyway. It doesn't matter. But a comedy type thing, although. 

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:08:16] I was going to I was like dying to know. I'm like, what is the what does he do?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:08:21] I think actually that's one where we tied the towel on his head and put the flowers and he sang with the fruit or something like that. Carmen Miranda. So anyway, we had three months or four months before the fundraiser, so it gave me time to sort of scout around and find someplace else we wanted to go. And we stayed in Tubiana and took Gelu, which is two of the beach towns. Either side of progress, a lot smaller than Progresso on the one. And we enjoyed them. And it sort of tempted me almost to stay there. But we had a lot of friends there. That was the hardest part was we had made so many amazing friends. You never spend the holiday alone or if you were sick, your friend showed up with dinners and whatever. So that was the hardest part was leaving the friends. Sure. I think it was January, February. I think it was February. We headed in the direction to come west and we took four days and we drove through the Yucatan and around Mexico City. We don't like driving through Mexico City and over here through Guadalajara, we spend our last night on the road and one Havre with our two rescue puppies. And we ended up in those areas in a place called Raspberry's Bearnaise, which is a little bit inland from the ocean like it's a ten-minute drive to the beach. So it's not far away. But the lady purchased this acreage and turned it into a botanical garden, basically, and then built all these little houses down there. And it's pet friendly and has a beautiful swimming pool. So and you pay one rent and everything's included. Because one of the things that we found, and I'm sure you have down here, is electricity is one of the great expenses, one air conditioning in that type of thing. So we stayed there for five months and it was quite wonderful. We didn't think we were quite ready for communal living. And I had this vision probably from the movie. It's a living in a cute, quaint little small Mexican town.

 

Barbara Harris:[00:10:44] So we had a little dinner party and one of the gentlemen then sat there, said, oh, I have a house in a little town called Landesa Balcatta, which is about fifteen minutes from the main highway that runs up the coast here. So we went and looked at it and it was. It was a big house and great outdoor space, and the price was six hundred Canadian dollars, which was phenomenal, right? I know, like crazy. So we decided to give it a go. So we moved in there for seven months. But there was. First of all, you have this vision of this really cute little Mexican town. OK, tons and tons of dogs, donkeys, chickens, horses, and mules loose to do their business where they please.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:11:37] Sure, sure.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:11:38] So my husband ended up not even walking the dogs because it was just not nice. So I tried going to some of the little local stores to buy things. And I guess we're really spoiled as Canadians because the things just weren't the quality of what I was happy with, let's say. So even though the price was great and it was a good-sized home and it had a nice outdoor space, we found nearly every day we were getting up and going into town to visit friends somewhere, at least four days a week, if not five. So one day we were in the marina and we had seen this ad for this condo that was for sale. And so we went and we looked at it and it was right on the golf course and two bedrooms, two bathrooms on the third floor overlooking the golf course with the big high vaulted ceilings. We're both tall, so that's important to us,

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:12:39] OK.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:12:42] So we decided to jump in. Buy it and renovate. OK. Our realtor was great. He recommended a fabulous contractor who we thought we were going to do the kitchen and a few little things around. We ended up getting the whole damn.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:13:05] Good story, you know, that story all. Yeah, getting the whole place and I had a built-in cement bathtub, which I always wanted, and the little glass, sparkly tiles all around me in my bathroom. And it was really quite beautiful when we were done. Unfortunately, I ran into some health issues and hip problems, couldn't do the three floors with no elevator. So we sold it back to Los Arroyos. Better days because we knew it was affordable and everything was included. And we took one of the bigger suites and we were there a year and decided we just weren't ready for communal living. Wasn't really a cup of tea, even though I'm sixty-nine and my husband's seventy-five, I don't know what we're going to be living, but we weren't. So I get that. I mean, I totally get that. It's it is a different mindset. It's a different environment. Yeah.

 

Dawn Fleming :[00:14:12] So I was on Facebook one day and I saw this property that we're on now and it was only about a three-minute drive from where we were. And it's a really interesting property, Dawn. The owners used to own this acreage, which was a mango farm, and there was the mom and the dad, about seven kids, and dad died young, leaving mum with seven kids. So they continued to have the mango farm and whatever money she had extra she bought properties in our little town of Syria. She was very smart. And by the time she passed all her kids, but the one daughter that she lived with still on one of the casitas on the property and her other daughter who owned the house that we're in now, we're left. And they had divided the property up and maybe 20 good-sized lots. And Canadians and Americans and some Mexicans and one Italian lot and built wonderful homes. Now, the home we're in was the Mexican daughter. And so we don't have a wall around us. Like most of the homes in our area. We have like a fence and gates and whatever. So we're protected, but not like with a big wall. And it's a fairly big lot. And we have a casita on it and a swimming pool on it. And we have a games area where we can play bocce in horseshoes. So it suited our lifestyle a lot better than being in as a townhouse and in that type of living style. So we've been here 11 months now. Did not why? We absolutely, positively love it. We're a five-minute drive. We go out to the main road from here, which is like a minute, and then we're like six minutes depending on the light because it's a four-minute-long six to ten minutes to get to the beach. And then we can drive right down that road over the main highway and right down to the beach. We can park right there. We can walk the beach, we can walk to two or three restaurants within a couple of minutes. And we're also a ten-minute drive to three major grocery stores that have got anything and everything except really good black licorice. And I can't find black liquor here anywhere. And I love black licorice.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:16:48] It's always something I hear you do.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:16:52] I do have friends bring me down my teabag so I'm OK.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:16:56] That right there light. So we paid twenty-five thousand pesos a month. For our rental now on top of that, we pay all the bills and all remain so it can get. OK, so you didn't buy that place that that OK,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:17:17] we're just renting.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:17:19] Yeah. Gotcha. Ok, and is it a homeowner's association type of situation or they're all in just individually individual lots.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:17:30] Yes.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:17:31] OK, OK.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:17:34] So to be able to divide the lots up the way that the lady wanted, they had to do strato or whatever you want to call it. Homeowners are like a home or a regime.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:17:45] They call them a condo regime, even if they're not condos, I believe.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:17:50] But in actual fact, the neighbors kind of get together every now and then and say, hey, we need that pothole fixed, OK, we'll fix that pothole. And so it's not like here's the rules and the regulations. You have to do this and you have to do that. It's none of that. So in that respect, it's great. Let's I'm a renter, so I'm not involved.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:18:12] Right. Well, yeah, I was going to say and then it's that you have to. Yeah. If you don't like it, you can always leave awesomely. Well, I think this is a good time. Oh, I was going to just take a quick break and come right back to you. So.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:18:26] OK.

 

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Dawn Fleming: [00:20:02] Ok, and I am back with Barbara Harris and just loving this story and all the different places you've been and you've been like Goldilocks, you know. Right. This one's too small. This one's too soft. The sun. And it sounds like you finally found your perfect fit in your story.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:20:21]  So I love that. I think so. And I think a key that people need to know when they read down here, especially if they rent from nationals, is that you're expected to do the maintenance.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:20:36] Yes, good point. Absolutely. Good point. I'll call in the landlord and saying, hey, the screen door broke. You need to come fix it like that's on you.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:20:46] Yeah, right. So that's a really important key, I think, for people looking to come down and to rent and whatever. And so. Yeah, and I don't know if I told you when we chatted last time, but we took two months, the first year we were here and we drove the interior of Mexico and spent a week in all these different cities.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:21:07] So good for you. Oh, I love it. I know. And you weren't afraid?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:21:13] Not at all. OK, why weren't you afraid? It's there's a lot of fear out there. So were you just I mean, did you like research the places that you're going to and you just felt comfortable that it was OK? Or in hindsight, should you have been fearful? I mean, tell me about that, that, oh, we're seniors in a big old gray van. Who cares? Right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:21:41] Mexican. Did you have Mexican license plates?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:21:44] No, not at that point.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:21:46] Oh, OK. Interesting.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:21:50] And we still had our Canadian driver's licenses as well. OK, now we have a timeshare. So I did research and found eight units that were available in the interior that we could drive from one to the next. So we spent a week in each location. So I kind of knew that where we were, the lodging was safe, OK? And we still had to drive from place to place. So that's kind of, you know. But no, in fact, the only trouble we ran into was we've got a flat tire. And when we went to get our car, some Mexican gentleman came and said, you know, you've got a flat tire. And I went back into our suite or I think I just went to the lobby and we went with them and they took them and they helped them. And it ended up costing five Canadian dollars. And he kept both of these guys like 20 pesos, which is like, what, a buck. And they said, oh, no, no, they didn't need anything, but we did. So, no, we didn't run into any trouble. And I guess the one thing is, I don't think that there's anything to worry about, so I don't worry about it. So I don't attract that into my life.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:23:05] I'm so glad you said that, Barbara. I agree. One hundred, ten percent. I really think that's true. And yeah, in fact, in my workshop the third day, is that topic the topic of fear sort of what's what are they fearing the fear of the unknown or is it what's driving that. But yeah for sure. And it's I love your plan where you had your places to stay and you were completely comfortable with that. And that's part of what I teach, too, is if you have a plan, right, you take a lot of the guesswork out of it. And so you don't really have that fear of the unknown because it's known only. 

 

Barbara Harris: [00:23:47] The Acapulco wasn't our favorite place.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:23:51] Now, pretty it's.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:23:56] As long as you stayed on the beachside and minded your own business or you were out in the water, it's quite beautiful and wonderful. But we went into town once to drive around and we just were uncomfortable. So when we're uncomfortable, we know it and we get out and we don't do that.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:24:15] It's the radar, right, that I agree with you 100 percent. And actually, yeah, we sailed there. So we were anchored and it was kind of real sketchy.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:24:25] But yeah, the energy was not good. And we didn't really experience that in many of the other places that we stayed. So that's that to me is one of the best things you got going for you. Right. Is that radar that goes up?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:24:41] When I do my teaching, I always say the one percent person that is always, always, always right in your gut.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:24:48] Absolutely. Absolutely.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:24:51] You always listen to your intuition. What's telling you from inside? It's always right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:24:56] Amen. You're spot on with that.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:25:00] So one thing I wanted to ask you about. So I was trying to keep track because you've been to a different place.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:25:06] So you did purchase in Mexico at least once or twice. How many?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:25:12] Twice.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:25:13] Twice. And I know some people have concerns about that. Can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like? And if you had any reticence about that or you do it again in a heartbeat, it sounds like you did well with rehabbing these places and be able to. 

 

Barbara Harris: [00:25:31] Well with both of the homes. I think the key thing is to talk to quite a few people and get references. So they had actual experiences, not somebody they drink within the pub yet, somebody they have actually gone through the process. And one of the things that we find here in Mexico is that the rules and the regulations can change in a heartbeat, can change by who you're talking to, and can change by what office you're in. So if you go to one immigration officer, you can get a different answer in the next immigration office, same day, you know, so we really felt it was important that we had a really good lawyer and a really good notary. And I'm sure I've got this right. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in Mexico, the notaries. Are the most important and then the judge and then the lawyer, is that correct?

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:26:40] I don't know about the pecking order, but I do know that the notaries are lawyers that our government-appointed for those notarial positions, and they basically control that whole process.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:26:52] So a lawyer has to use a notary. Yes, that's correct. So anyway, so. Yeah. So I think that's the big key is to make sure that you have people that. I have got a really good reputation, four or five people can say, yes, I did this here, see, I bought this, I sold this, I didn't have any problems. That doesn't mean you're not going to run into problems that I know. People that have bought property been through a good lawyer, been through a good notary, done all of the work, done everything they're supposed to, got halfway through and somebody shows up and says, hey, this is my property, right? You can't do this. So there are no real one hundred percent guarantees. But at the same time, would I do it again? Yes, absolutely.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:27:42] Yeah. So, yeah. And I think that's right. I mean, I have a real estate program and one thing I say is you wouldn't fork over one hundred grand to a guy you met in a bar in Canada or the United States. Why on earth would you think it's OK to do that in Mexico, like there is a legal process that you go through and follow to make sure you're not going to get ripped off, otherwise you are just asking for trouble.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:28:11] Exactly. And it's the same thing when we go out and travel. You know, we'd I'd be nervous in Canada if I got into the wrong places or drove in the wrong areas. So we don't really find it a whole lot different, like safety-wise or that. Now, I don't know if you talk about the fly to me so at all.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:28:36] Yes. Yeah. I kind of explain all of that in there. And some people are not comfortable with that. But I was a lawyer for sure, was because any financial planner, at least in the United States, I can't speak for Canada, but any financial planner worth their salt will always have you put your real estate into a trust for estate planning purposes. Right. To avoid probate and all of that. So the fact that Mexico requires foreigners to hold their property in a trust is fine. Like, I would have wanted to do it that way anyway. But it can spook people away about that. But there's nothing nefarious about it at all.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:29:18] Right. And the trust, I think you just have to have within is fifty miles of a border. 

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:29:24] Yeah, it's or the oceanfront property. Tom says one hundred kilometers. So it's about fifty from the coast. OK, so one hundred from the border at fifty. Yeah but that. Yeah, that's fine. So needless to say where ours is but anyway and there's a story I won't go into, but basically, we know some Mexicans who did not have their property in trust and are in the middle of a land dispute that had them own their property in a trust, it probably would not have happened, forgery involved and so forth, because the trust does add an extra layer of protection for somebody that tried to do some funny business on the title. So, yeah, that in.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:30:12] Yeah. And in both cases are buying was painless and both cases are selling was painless. In fact, the condo on the golf course that we renovated, there was somebody looking at it at one of the condos in our building and a friend of mine said, or you looking to buy in here my friend selling. And she brought her up to them, up to my place, and they ended up buying. So we went directly to the lawyer and said, we want you to process this. We don't want to do it. And it was fine, no problem.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:30:42] So I'm really a for sale by owner situation. They're wonderful. Yeah. And then you'd been through it before. So there's one more thing I wanted to ask you about because I know it's a big deal. I've been through multiple I think this is this was my fourth move to a completely new area that I really didn't know anyone. And you talked about the worst part about moving was losing the friends that you had made that the community. So tell us any tips that you might have for meeting new people and how you were able to assemble such a nice network of friends?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:31:20] Well, it's funny because I did it differently in different places. So I guess I just took advantage of what was available. So when we first moved down, we were in Progresso, and I went to the farmer's market and I met Canadians and Americans and other English-speaking people. And I said, oh, I'm doing a barbecue on Sunday night. I'm making the hamburgers and hot dogs bring a sign, a bottle of wine. And I gave them my little card with our address on it. And then I sort of keep track of the people that I connected with and felt like I wanted to be their friend and I'd invite them again. And the people that didn't really meld, I just let them drift away. And that's how I built it up. And we got to the point where we actually had to start saying no. Dinners out because we just couldn't even drink that much.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:32:11] So parties, I love it. You are definitely a woman after my own heart. I love it. Throw parties.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:32:17] That's right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:32:19] Oh, yeah. So, yeah, that's a great way to meet people. In fact, I have to tell, Tom reminded me of some friends of ours that we met at the marina. We were living there and he would have church on Sundays at the marina, which was basically just Bloody Marys at 11 o'clock, but with fellowship, of course. And so we would joke. But he was the pastor and there was no politics allowed to be discussed or religion, I think. I don't know while we were at church. So we had the religion thing going for us. So we didn't really need to talk about that. But, yeah, it just it was growing and growing and growing and growing and word would get out. And so you'd end up with like twenty-five people, four Bloody Marys in church on Sunday and it's a great way to eat well. And of course, sailors like to congregate like that anyway. But that's right. And the farmer's market. Yeah, a great place to meet people.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:33:23] And then when we moved here, of course, we were in a gated community, so we met a lot of the people around the pool and that so that was one way. And then when we moved into the marina area down to Byron away, there was a lady there that had an ex-pat group and she would do dinners and happy hours. And so we met up and met up that way and met a lot of people through that. So, yes, now I've also run Gordis retreats down here. And so I met people through needing spiritual guides to come and do some of the meditations or the ceremonies and that type of thing. So I met people through that way as well as through the retreats. Yeah, yeah. When you're organizing them, you meet lots of people and vendors and service providers and so forth, not to mention the deaths that come. And then didn't you tell me you also were involved with theater? That's right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:34:29] Yes.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:34:31] Ok, so community theater has been my passion for my whole life and I really missed it when I was in Progresso, except that they have a magnificent theater in Mérida and an outstanding symphony. So we used to get season tickets to the symphony and go to the symphony. And that's the other thing I really miss coming over here. But I did discover there was a fair amount of live theater here, so I kept going to this one live theater and I'd say, who's in charge? And I'd say, I'd like to direct. I've got experience. I'd like to direct. Finally, they phoned me and said, we need a director. And I'm like, no, really. So I ended up directing two of their productions, which were sellouts, and I'm very proud of that. And then one young lady that was in my play wanted to direct and I said, well, if you direct the system and mentor you. So, yeah,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:35:31] Wow. And that's another great way to meet people, too, obviously. It is a common interest like that cool. Well, you have just such a fascinating story and I'm just so excited to be able to connect with you. And I don't want to take up too much of your time. But I do have a final question that I would like to ask that I usually do like to ask is, is there anything I haven't asked you that you would like to share?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:36:01]  I guess, really. I guess one of the things was when I came down here, I envisioned being part of the Mexican community and we studied Spanish and. That was important to us. Well, it turns out that their culture is so different than ours, that is seniors. It wasn't something that was easy to work into. For example, they tend to sleep in till 10:00. They have their big meal around 2:00 and then they sleep for two hours and then all of the family, including all the little children, get together for meals quite late in the evening, nine or 10 o'clock. And as seniors at 65, you're like, oh, my God, it's nine o'clock. I want my tea and toast. It's noon. I'm hungry for my salad. You know, it's six o'clock and dinner. And when they're ready to have their dinner and socialize, I'm ready to put my jemmies on and have my game of cards or watch my movie and go to bed. So I did make Mexican friends and they were way more Americanized than sort of the other people. So we do have some Mexican friends and I love that my Spanish is not good enough to carry on a full conversation, but I can get by with understanding what's being talked about and getting help and that type of thing. So there was that and the other thing is lots and lots of people ask about the medical system down here, and I think that's a huge key. We did at the beginning purchase the government insurance, which is extremely affordable. But there's a reason for that. You know, we would go in for an appointment and there would be swabs on the floor with blood on it. They did a mammogram for me and they took the gown off the shelf, looked at everybody else. I had a newborn. There were things that just, you know, weren't really in my comfort zone. Sure. I'm not saying necessarily they're wrong. I'm just saying it wasn't in my comfort zone. Twelve hundred Canadian dollars a year for both my husband and I are seniors, which was extremely affordable. And all your meds were free, like everything was included, dentists and everything. But again, my husband went to the dentist and he said to me, you won't go in there. Right? So I didn't go in. I don't know what it was like, but I didn't. So we have private medical insurance and the private hospitals here, I think are superior to Canada in the United States. Now, that's only my opinion, whether I'm right or wrong or that from others as well. So, I mean, I had a huge internal problem and I phoned a friend and she gave me his name and number of his office. We were still on the road heading home. And we got in on a Saturday. And on Monday, the surgeon saw me while he walked. He the surgeon walked me downstairs to where I needed to get the tests done, set me up to have the tests done, said, and showed me the girl that would give me the reports, and told me to come back up to when I had the report. So I got all the reports that same day.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:40:09] Wow.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:40:09] I went back upstairs and he reviewed everything with me, told me what needed to be done, reviewed his calendar, and said, I can do this either on Friday or Monday. I said I'd like to get it done as soon as possible. So I went in to I went and he said, well if you come into town because we were in progress on murder was like going to the hospital. He said, if you come in on a Thursday night, it will be less expensive if you stay in the hotel across the street and I'll give you the meds to get started, which you did.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:40:43] Wow.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:40:46] He came over himself to the hotel suite, set my husband up with what I needed to do, and the next morning when I arrived at eight o'clock at the hospital, he was there. He met me. He took me through the process. And then when I was going into surgery before I went into the operating room, he brought the staff and introduced them to me. I know.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:41:09] Wow,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:41:09] Everything was spotlessly clean. All the uniforms were spotlessly clean. All of the equipment was modern and up to date and unbelievable. They let once I was ready, they let my husband come in and walk me down to where I went into the sterilization, near the sterilized area. And they left and wave and they took me through three rooms to get me sterilized to get into the operating room. And then when I was done, the surgeon gave us his card and wrote his home phone number and his cell number and said, You need anything, you phone me.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:41:52] Wow, what a story.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:41:55] And that was major surgery that I had. I had half of my large intestines removed. I had a cyst removed and I had my appendix removed. And all of that care, love, attention, whatever it was. Twelve thousand Canadian dollars.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:42:14] Wow.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:42:16] So was that was so that was not including insurance. So so that you didn't have that.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:42:24] I did not. I did that privately in pain. You got to OK. And then we have private insurance and it's very expensive because I'm sixty-nine point seventy-five and we have pre-existing conditions but we're covered and we actually pay cash for private things just because it's more in our personal comfort zone.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:42:48] Sure. So is that a plan that just covers you in Mexico or is that outside? Is it a global plan or what type of global plan minus the United States? I have that, too.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:43:00] Maybe it's not the same, but I have IMG is the company of what's the Lumi me.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:43:09] OK, not familiar with that one am I. Ok, yeah but I. What do you how do you define. Very expensive if you don't mind my asking.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:43:19] Well as Canadians it's nine thousand Canadian dollars a year.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:43:23] Ok, Ok.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:43:27] Which are seniors on pensions?

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:43:29] Yeah. Yeah. For both of you. So yeah.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:43:31] So I have mine is one hundred and ten dollars a month for, me but I'm not 60 yet so it may go up. Yeah. Yeah. And then Tom we just have on Medicare in the US and he has coverage on there. So we figured if something happened he would go back there. But yeah, it's definitely a question that comes up to a lot of people. And depending on what your comfort I mean, four years in the United States, I just felt like the best health care plan is health. Right. And so I just wanted catastrophic coverage. And even back then, we said we could handle a ten thousand dollar hit. We couldn't handle one hundred thousand dollars hit. And so we just don't take any prescription meds. We don't have any health issues. And so it's like you eat well, you sleep well and all of that. And then you have something there in the case of the big stuff. But you're not shelling out all of this money for things.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:44:35] You're really not. Where we are now got what we have, which is great. And like you said like we take care of ourselves. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:44:46] Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate that, because it is something that people care about and are concerned about. And yeah, I go into a lot of that. The care issue. There's a  big fallacy about that. That's one of the myths that I bust, is that, oh, the health care is not as good overseas. Well, that's just flat out not true at all. So you've confirmed that and I've heard that. 

 

Barbara Harris: [00:45:17] A lot with a lot of the private hospitals here are also training hospitals for people, for doctors coming down from Canada, the United States, and England.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:45:28] Absolutely. And vice versa. A lot of the doctors here have trained in the US and Canada and even Europe, other countries as well, and they're bilingual and they're as competent as they come. So it is nice to have. So,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:45:45] Yeah, very good.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:45:47] All right, well, thank you so much for this interview. I'm just delighted to be able to connect with you and share your story. And, gosh, I really want to come to visit. I mean, it sounds like you have a really nice place there and you can come to visit us, and yeah, maybe we'll do a little swap here.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:46:07] Right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:46:10] All right. Well, you enjoy the rest of your day and I will talk to you soon.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:46:17] Ok, thank you very much, Dawn. Have an awesome day. You too.

 

Commercial: [00:46:22] This episode of the Overseas Live Predesigned Podcast was brought to you by our sponsors. Thanks for tuning in. Did you love this episode? the overseas life redesigned podcast. Then please subscribe to our show and leave us a nice review. It's very much appreciated. We invite you to visit www.overseasliferedesigned.com and take the Are you ready for an overseas life relocation readiness quiz? We'd also love for you to become part of our community on Facebook. Thank you for listening.

 

Commercial: [00:00:02] Welcome. You are listening to the overseas life redesign podcast where you'll hear fine, relaxed, and inspirational interviews with people who are really living the dream. I'm Dawn Flemming and attorney turned alchemists and your host for the show coming to you from the tropical island paradise of East level net us Mexico. Listen to conversations with courageous souls who step out of their comfort zone and designed a new way of life. They'll share their experiences, wisdom and offer practical steps you can take to redesign your life overseas. Listen, and you'll believe if you can dream it, you can achieve it.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:00:43] All right, I'm here today with Barbara Harris, and she and I met online on Facebook, and she's from Canada and has been living in Mexico for nine years. I believe you said. And thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I really appreciate it.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:01:00] My pleasure. Awesome.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:01:03] Well, Barbara, I would love for you to tell me about your overseas life redesign journey and how that kind of came about if you lived in other places outside of Canada before this was your first time living overseas.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:01:22] No, it's not my first time, actually. When I was in my twenties, I lived in Australia for a couple of years, which was lots and lots and lots of fun, but came back home and lived in British Columbia, Canada for a while and then went back to Toronto, which was my home base. And I stayed there for a few more years. And then I ended up back in B.C. and in B.C. That's where I met my husband. And then we made this trip down here. And so we've been here in Mexico for nine years now.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:01:54] Right. And you told I think you told me about 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, is that right?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:02:01] Yes. In a town called Boustani. Yes. Yes.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:02:04] Ok,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:02:04] Wonderful little beach town, although we're on the mountainside of the highway where it's a little quieter because Mexico doesn't tend to be quiet if you're looking for a quiet place to retire in Mexico, might not be what everything else is perfect here, but quiet, isn't it?

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:02:25] Right. And so that's not the first place you've lived in Mexico. I know when we talked initially, you actually have lived in quite a few different places in Mexico.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:02:38] Yeah.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:02:39] Can you take us through that journey and kind of tell me what you like, what you didn't like? Because there's a lot of folks that are looking at Mexico, but they're not really quite sure where they want to go. So I think hearing your story might be really helpful.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:02:54] All right. So we started in Puerto Morelos, which is halfway between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, and it's right on the beach and the beach there is spectacular. And the swimming is wonderful because it doesn't have the great big, huge waves. So we loved it there, but it was quite a small town. And then the other towns were very big and touristy. So we were looking for something a little bit more in between, even though we loved it there. One day it rained while we were on our month vacation there to check it out. And we will watch House Hunters International and we learned about Mérida, OK one. So we decided to rent a car for a week and we drove to Mérida and we lined up a realtor and he showed us the beautiful colonial homes in Mérida, which nine years ago were extremely affordable. I haven't really checked that real estate out recently, but you could get a two beautiful two bedroom colonial for like one hundred and ten thousand US dollars fully furnished. And it was gorgeous. Wow. Having said that, when we drove into Mérida, even though I loved it, I was just moved from the Vancouver area in British Columbia and it was like hustle and bustle, buses, busy streets. And that wasn't what I was looking for. So the realtor took us out to Progresso and to the beach area out there and showed us two or three homes out there. And my poor husband, he's always afraid when I get an idea.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:04:35] Yours, too, huh?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:04:38] So as we were driving in the car on the way back to Marada after we'd been out looking at these beach homes, I said to him, you know, that last villa we looked at, we could go home, sell everything up, buy that, retire early and we could afford to live here. I've just figured it all out in my head. And my husband is like, how can you do that in your head? So well, I know what our income is. I just figured out what the expenses are on that. And my analysis has been said to me, oh, OK, then let's do it. And I nearly had a heart attack because actually, I count on him. Unless I get you. I get that. 

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:05:21] I get that. 

 

Barbara Harris: [00:05:23] Making sure we're going to be safe. So anyway, we went to bed in the hotel that night. I woke up in the morning and it's just me, you know, you're right. I said, what do you mean? He said, Well, I got out the computer in our spreadsheet from home and did the expensive systems. But I need to tell you, you're about one hundred, but. One hundred bucks, he says, yeah, to the good, he said, we better next month. So we said, OK, let's do it. So we called our realtor in Canada and fortunately, we just made the move from the big house and the big garage and the big yard to a nice two-bedroom condo. So we had our realtor put that on the market while we were still down there. We put an offer in on the place and in Progresso, which is half an hour from Mérida, right on the ocean in the villa that we were looking that we put the offer in on was one block from the beach and 10 small villas in the little Closed-in area. Anyway, it all went through. Seven months later, we packed up in Canada. We drove down and here we are. And then we were there and Progresso and we bought a beautiful two bedroom, two bathroom villa with its own private swimming pool for one hundred and forty thousand Canadian fully furnished. So we were pretty happy with that.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:06:54] Wow, yeah, sounds all great.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:06:57] Yes, so we did a lot of Renaults over the year. We put a waterfall in our little pool and we extended the palapa upstairs. So we had a living room, dining room, kitchen, and a bathroom up there. We loved it. We loved it. But I'm a gypsy.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:07:13] I was going to say it sounds like Delek. And what happened? You left.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:07:18] Well, after four years, there were a handful of different things. And one of the big things was my husband's from British Columbia and he loves the mountains and the scenery in the ocean and everything. And even though we had the ocean, we were like, it's flat in there, that it's in progress.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:07:37] So it's flat, flat, flat, flat is flat. That is like the prairies. You could shoot a gun and it would drop. Plus that area tends to be a lot hotter. So with having said that, we made the decision to do a little bit of traveling around. So we sold our place, but we had made a commitment to a fundraiser. I was DMC and my husband was doing a little entertainment. That's the one where he was anyway. It doesn't matter. But a comedy type thing, although. 

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:08:16] I was going to I was like dying to know. I'm like, what is the what does he do?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:08:21] I think actually that's one where we tied the towel on his head and put the flowers and he sang with the fruit or something like that. Carmen Miranda. So anyway, we had three months or four months before the fundraiser, so it gave me time to sort of scout around and find someplace else we wanted to go. And we stayed in Tubiana and took Gelu, which is two of the beach towns. Either side of progress, a lot smaller than Progresso on the one. And we enjoyed them. And it sort of tempted me almost to stay there. But we had a lot of friends there. That was the hardest part was we had made so many amazing friends. You never spend the holiday alone or if you were sick, your friend showed up with dinners and whatever. So that was the hardest part was leaving the friends. Sure. I think it was January, February. I think it was February. We headed in the direction to come west and we took four days and we drove through the Yucatan and around Mexico City. We don't like driving through Mexico City and over here through Guadalajara, we spend our last night on the road and one Havre with our two rescue puppies. And we ended up in those areas in a place called Raspberry's Bearnaise, which is a little bit inland from the ocean like it's a ten-minute drive to the beach. So it's not far away. But the lady purchased this acreage and turned it into a botanical garden, basically, and then built all these little houses down there. And it's pet friendly and has a beautiful swimming pool. So and you pay one rent and everything's included. Because one of the things that we found, and I'm sure you have down here, is electricity is one of the great expenses, one air conditioning in that type of thing. So we stayed there for five months and it was quite wonderful. We didn't think we were quite ready for communal living. And I had this vision probably from the movie. It's a living in a cute, quaint little small Mexican town.

 

Barbara Harris:[00:10:44] So we had a little dinner party and one of the gentlemen then sat there, said, oh, I have a house in a little town called Landesa Balcatta, which is about fifteen minutes from the main highway that runs up the coast here. So we went and looked at it and it was. It was a big house and great outdoor space, and the price was six hundred Canadian dollars, which was phenomenal, right? I know, like crazy. So we decided to give it a go. So we moved in there for seven months. But there was. First of all, you have this vision of this really cute little Mexican town. OK, tons and tons of dogs, donkeys, chickens, horses, and mules loose to do their business where they please.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:11:37] Sure, sure.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:11:38] So my husband ended up not even walking the dogs because it was just not nice. So I tried going to some of the little local stores to buy things. And I guess we're really spoiled as Canadians because the things just weren't the quality of what I was happy with, let's say. So even though the price was great and it was a good-sized home and it had a nice outdoor space, we found nearly every day we were getting up and going into town to visit friends somewhere, at least four days a week, if not five. So one day we were in the marina and we had seen this ad for this condo that was for sale. And so we went and we looked at it and it was right on the golf course and two bedrooms, two bathrooms on the third floor overlooking the golf course with the big high vaulted ceilings. We're both tall, so that's important to us,

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:12:39] OK.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:12:42] So we decided to jump in. Buy it and renovate. OK. Our realtor was great. He recommended a fabulous contractor who we thought we were going to do the kitchen and a few little things around. We ended up getting the whole damn.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:13:05] Good story, you know, that story all. Yeah, getting the whole place and I had a built-in cement bathtub, which I always wanted, and the little glass, sparkly tiles all around me in my bathroom. And it was really quite beautiful when we were done. Unfortunately, I ran into some health issues and hip problems, couldn't do the three floors with no elevator. So we sold it back to Los Arroyos. Better days because we knew it was affordable and everything was included. And we took one of the bigger suites and we were there a year and decided we just weren't ready for communal living. Wasn't really a cup of tea, even though I'm sixty-nine and my husband's seventy-five, I don't know what we're going to be living, but we weren't. So I get that. I mean, I totally get that. It's it is a different mindset. It's a different environment. Yeah.

 

Dawn Fleming :[00:14:12] So I was on Facebook one day and I saw this property that we're on now and it was only about a three-minute drive from where we were. And it's a really interesting property, Dawn. The owners used to own this acreage, which was a mango farm, and there was the mom and the dad, about seven kids, and dad died young, leaving mum with seven kids. So they continued to have the mango farm and whatever money she had extra she bought properties in our little town of Syria. She was very smart. And by the time she passed all her kids, but the one daughter that she lived with still on one of the casitas on the property and her other daughter who owned the house that we're in now, we're left. And they had divided the property up and maybe 20 good-sized lots. And Canadians and Americans and some Mexicans and one Italian lot and built wonderful homes. Now, the home we're in was the Mexican daughter. And so we don't have a wall around us. Like most of the homes in our area. We have like a fence and gates and whatever. So we're protected, but not like with a big wall. And it's a fairly big lot. And we have casitas on it and a swimming pool on it. And we have a games area where we can play bocce in horseshoes. So it suited our lifestyle a lot better than being in as a townhouse and in that type of living style. So we've been here 11 months now. Did not why? We absolutely, positively love it. We're a five-minute drive. We go out to the main road from here, which is like a minute, and then we're like six minutes depending on the light because it's a four-minute-long six to ten minutes to get to the beach. And then we can drive right down that road over the main highway and right down to the beach. We can park right there. We can walk the beach, we can walk to two or three restaurants within a couple of minutes. And we're also a ten-minute drive to three major grocery stores that have got anything and everything except really good black licorice. And I can't find black liquor here anywhere. And I love black licorice.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:16:48] It's always something I hear you do.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:16:52] I do have friends bring me down my teabag so I'm OK.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:16:56] That right there light. So we paid twenty-five thousand pesos a month. For our rental now on top of that, we pay all the bills and all remain so it can get. OK, so you didn't buy that place that that OK,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:17:17] we're just renting.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:17:19] Yeah. Gotcha. Ok, and is it a homeowner's association type of situation or they're all in just individually individual lots.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:17:30] Yes.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:17:31] OK, OK.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:17:34] So to be able to divide the lots up the way that the lady wanted, they had to do strato or whatever you want to call it. Homeowners are like a home or a regime.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:17:45] They call them a condo regime, even if they're not condos, I believe.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:17:50] But in actual fact, the neighbors kind of get together every now and then and say, hey, we need that pothole fixed, OK, we'll fix that pothole. And so it's not like here's the rules and the regulations. You have to do this and you have to do that. It's none of that. So in that respect, it's great. Let's I'm a renter, so I'm not involved.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:18:12] Right. Well, yeah, I was going to say and then it's that you have to. Yeah. If you don't like it, you can always leave awesomely. Well, I think this is a good time. Oh, I was going to just take a quick break and come right back to you. So.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:18:26] OK.

 

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Dawn Fleming: [00:20:02] Ok, and I am back with Barbara Harris and just loving this story and all the different places you've been and you've been like Goldilocks, you know. Right. This one's too small. This one's too soft. The sun. And it sounds like you finally found your perfect fit in your story.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:20:21]  So I love that. I think so. And I think a key that people need to know when they read down here, especially if they rent from nationals, is that you're expected to do the maintenance.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:20:36] Yes, good point. Absolutely. Good point. I'll call in the landlord and saying, hey, the screen door broke. You need to come fix it like that's on you.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:20:46] Yeah, right. So that's a really important key, I think, for people looking to come down and to rent and whatever. And so. Yeah, and I don't know if I told you when we chatted last time, but we took two months, the first year we were here and we drove the interior of Mexico and spent a week in all these different cities.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:21:07] So good for you. Oh, I love it. I know. And you weren't afraid?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:21:13] Not at all. OK, why weren't you afraid? It's there's a lot of fear out there. So were you just I mean, did you like research the places that you're going to and you just felt comfortable that it was OK? Or in hindsight, should you have been fearful? I mean, tell me about that, that, oh, we're seniors in a big old gray van. Who cares? Right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:21:41] Mexican. Did you have Mexican license plates?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:21:44] No, not at that point.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:21:46] Oh, OK. Interesting.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:21:50] And we still had our Canadian driver's licenses as well. OK, now we have a timeshare. So I did research and found eight units that were available in the interior that we could drive from one to the next. So we spent a week in each location. So I kind of knew that where we were, the lodging was safe, OK? And we still had to drive from place to place. So that's kind of, you know. But no, in fact, the only trouble we ran into was we've got a flat tire. And when we went to get our car, some Mexican gentleman came and said, you know, you've got a flat tire. And I went back into our suite or I think I just went to the lobby and we went with them and they took them and they helped them. And it ended up costing five Canadian dollars. And he kept both of these guys like 20 pesos, which is like, what, a buck. And they said, oh, no, no, they didn't need anything, but we did. So, no, we didn't run into any trouble. And I guess the one thing is, I don't think that there's anything to worry about, so I don't worry about it. So I don't attract that into my life.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:23:05] I'm so glad you said that, Barbara. I agree. One hundred, ten percent. I really think that's true. And yeah, in fact, in my workshop the third day, is that topic the topic of fear sort of what's what are they fearing the fear of the unknown or is it what's driving that. But yeah for sure. And it's I love your plan where you had your places to stay and you were completely comfortable with that. And that's part of what I teach, too, is if you have a plan, right, you take a lot of the guesswork out of it. And so you don't really have that fear of the unknown because it's known only. 

 

Barbara Harris: [00:23:47] The Acapulco wasn't our favorite place.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:23:51] Now, pretty it's.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:23:56] As long as you stayed on the beachside and minded your own business or you were out in the water, it's quite beautiful and wonderful. But we went into town once to drive around and we just were uncomfortable. So when we're uncomfortable, we know it and we get out and we don't do that.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:24:15] It's the radar, right, that I agree with you 100 percent. And actually, yeah, we sailed there. So we were anchored and it was kind of real sketchy.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:24:25] But yeah, the energy was not good. And we didn't really experience that in many of the other places that we stayed. So that's that to me is one of the best things you got going for you. Right. Is that radar that goes up?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:24:41] When I do my teaching, I always say the one percent person that is always, always, always right in your gut.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:24:48] Absolutely. Absolutely.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:24:51] You always listen to your intuition. What's telling you from inside? It's always right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:24:56] Amen. You're spot on with that.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:25:00] So one thing I wanted to ask you about. So I was trying to keep track because you've been to a different place.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:25:06] So you did purchase in Mexico at least once or twice. How many?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:25:12] Twice.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:25:13] Twice. And I know some people have concerns about that. Can you tell us a little bit about what that experience was like? And if you had any reticence about that or you do it again in a heartbeat, it sounds like you did well with rehabbing these places and be able to. 

 

Barbara Harris: [00:25:31] Well with both of the homes. I think the key thing is to talk to quite a few people and get references. So they had actual experiences, not somebody they drink within the pub yet, somebody they have actually gone through the process. And one of the things that we find here in Mexico is that the rules and the regulations can change in a heartbeat, can change by who you're talking to, and can change by what office you're in. So if you go to one immigration officer, you can get a different answer in the next immigration office, same day, you know, so we really felt it was important that we had a really good lawyer and a really good notary. And I'm sure I've got this right. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in Mexico, the notaries. Are the most important and then the judge and then the lawyer, is that correct?

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:26:40] I don't know about the pecking order, but I do know that the notaries are lawyers that our government-appointed for those notarial positions and they basically control that whole process.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:26:52] So a lawyer has to use a notary. Yes, that's correct. So anyway, so. Yeah. So I think that's the big key is to make sure that you have people that. I have got a really good reputation, four or five people can say, yes, I did this here, see, I bought this, I sold this, I didn't have any problems. That doesn't mean you're not going to run into problems that I know. People that have bought property been through a good lawyer, been through a good notary, done all of the work, done everything they're supposed to, got halfway through and somebody shows up and says, hey, this is my property, right? You can't do this. So there are no real one hundred percent guarantees. But at the same time, would I do it again? Yes, absolutely.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:27:42] Yeah. So, yeah. And I think that's right. I mean, I have a real estate program and one thing I say is you wouldn't fork over one hundred grand to a guy you met in a bar in Canada or the United States. Why on earth would you think it's OK to do that in Mexico, like there is a legal process that you go through and follow to make sure you're not going to get ripped off, otherwise you are just asking for trouble.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:28:11] Exactly. And it's the same thing when we go out and travel. You know, we'd I'd be nervous in Canada if I got into the wrong places or drove in the wrong areas. So we don't really find it a whole lot different, like safety-wise or that. Now, I don't know if you talk about the fly to me so at all.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:28:36] Yes. Yeah. I kind of explain all of that in there. And some people are not comfortable with that. But I was a lawyer for sure, was because any financial planner, at least in the United States, I can't speak for Canada, but any financial planner worth their salt will always have you put your real estate into a trust for estate planning purposes. Right. To avoid probate and all of that. So the fact that Mexico requires foreigners to hold their property in a trust is fine. Like, I would have wanted to do it that way anyway. But it can spook people away about that. But there's nothing nefarious about it at all.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:29:18] Right. And the trust, I think you just have to have within is fifty miles of a border. 

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:29:24] Yeah, it's or the oceanfront property. Tom says one hundred kilometers. So it's about fifty from the coast. OK, so one hundred from the border at fifty. Yeah but that. Yeah, that's fine. So needless to say where ours is but anyway and there's a story I won't go into, but basically, we know some Mexicans who did not have their property in trust and are in the middle of a land dispute that had them own their property in a trust, it probably would not have happened, forgery involved and so forth, because the trust does add an extra layer of protection for somebody that tried to do some funny business on the title. So, yeah, that in.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:30:12] Yeah. And in both cases are buying was painless and both cases are selling was painless. In fact, the condo on the golf course that we renovated, there was somebody looking at it at one of the condos in our building and a friend of mine said, or you looking to buy in here my friend selling. And she brought her up to them, up to my place, and they ended up buying. So we went directly to the lawyer and said, we want you to process this. We don't want to do it. And it was fine, no problem.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:30:42] So I'm really a for sale by owner situation. They're wonderful. Yeah. And then you'd been through it before. So there's one more thing I wanted to ask you about, because I know it's a big deal. I've been through multiple I think this is this was my fourth move to a completely new area that I really didn't know anyone. And you talked about the worst part about moving was losing the friends that you had made that the community. So tell us any tips that you might have for meeting new people and how you were able to assemble such a nice network of friends?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:31:20] Well, it's funny because I did it differently in different places. So I guess I just took advantage of what was available. So when we first moved down, we were in Progresso, and I went to the farmer's market and I met Canadians and Americans and other English-speaking people. And I said, oh, I'm doing a barbecue on Sunday night. I'm making the hamburgers and hot dogs bring a sign, a bottle of wine. And I gave them my little card with our address on it. And then I sort of keep track of the people that I connected with and felt like I wanted to be their friend and I'd invite them again. And the people that didn't really meld, I just let them drift away. And that's how I built it up. And we got to the point where we actually had to start saying no. Dinners out because we just couldn't even drink that much.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:32:11] So parties, I love it. You are definitely a woman after my own heart. I love it. Throw parties.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:32:17] That's right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:32:19] Oh, yeah. So, yeah, that's a great way to meet people. In fact, I have to tell, Tom reminded me of some friends of ours that we met at the marina. We were living there and he would have church on Sundays at the marina, which was basically just Bloody Marys at 11 o'clock, but with fellowship, of course. And so we would joke. But he was the pastor and there was no politics allowed to be discussed or religion, I think. I don't know while we were at church. So we had the religion thing going for us. So we didn't really need to talk about that. But, yeah, it just it was growing and growing and growing and growing and word would get out. And so you'd end up with like twenty-five people, four Bloody Marys in church on Sunday and it's a great way to eat well. And of course, sailors like to congregate like that anyway. But that's right. And the farmer's market. Yeah, a great place to meet people.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:33:23] And then when we moved here, of course, we were in a gated community, so we met a lot of the people around the pool and that so that was one way. And then when we moved into the marina area down to Byron away, there was a lady there that had an ex-pat group and she would do dinners and happy hours. And so we met up and met up that way and met a lot of people through that. So, yes, now I've also run Gordis retreats down here. And so I met people through needing spiritual guides to come and do some of the meditations or the ceremonies and that type of thing. So I met people through that way as well as through the retreats. Yeah, yeah. When you're organizing them, you meet lots of people and vendors and service providers and so forth, not to mention the deaths that come. And then didn't you tell me you also were involved with theater? That's right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:34:29] Yes.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:34:31] Ok, so community theater has been my passion for my whole life and I really missed it when I was in Progresso, except that they have a magnificent theater in Mérida and an outstanding symphony. So we used to get season tickets to the symphony and go to the symphony. And that's the other thing I really miss coming over here. But I did discover there was a fair amount of live theater here, so I kept going to this one live theater and I'd say, who's in charge? And I'd say, I'd like to direct. I've got experience. I'd like to direct. Finally, they phoned me and said, we need a director. And I'm like, no, really. So I ended up directing two of their productions, which were sellouts, and I'm very proud of that. And then one young lady that was in my play wanted to direct and I said, well, if you direct the system and mentor you. So, yeah,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:35:31] Wow. And that's another great way to meet people, too, obviously. It is a common interest like that cool. Well, you have just such a fascinating story and I'm just so excited to be able to connect with you. And I don't want to take up too much of your time. But I do have a final question that I would like to ask that I usually do like to ask is, is there anything I haven't asked you that you would like to share?

 

Barbara Harris: [00:36:01]  I guess, really. I guess one of the things was when I came down here, I envisioned being part of the Mexican community and we studied Spanish and. That was important to us. Well, it turns out that their culture is so different than ours, that is seniors. It wasn't something that was easy to work into. For example, they tend to sleep in till 10:00. They have their big meal around 2:00 and then they sleep for two hours and then all of the family, including all the little children, get together for meals quite late in the evening, nine or 10 o'clock. And as seniors at 65, you're like, oh, my God, it's nine o'clock. I want my tea and toast. It's noon. I'm hungry for my salad. You know, it's six o'clock and dinner. And when they're ready to have their dinner and socialize, I'm ready to put my jemmies on and have my game of cards or watch my movie and go to bed. So I did make Mexican friends and they were way more Americanized than sort of the other people. So we do have some Mexican friends and I love that my Spanish is not good enough to carry on a full conversation, but I can get by with understanding what's being talked about and getting help and that type of thing. So there was that and the other thing is lots and lots of people ask about the medical system down here, and I think that's a huge key. We did at the beginning purchase the government insurance, which is extremely affordable. But there's a reason for that. You know, we would go in for an appointment and there would be swabs on the floor with blood on it. They did a mammogram for me and they took the gown off the shelf, looked at everybody else. I had a newborn. There were things that just, you know, weren't really in my comfort zone. Sure. I'm not saying necessarily they're wrong. I'm just saying it wasn't in my comfort zone. Twelve hundred Canadian dollars a year for both my husband and I are seniors, which was extremely affordable. And all your meds were free, like everything was included, dentists and everything. But again, my husband went to the dentist and he said to me, you won't go in there. Right? So I didn't go in. I don't know what it was like, but I didn't. So we have private medical insurance and the private hospitals here, I think are superior to Canada in the United States. Now, that's only my opinion, whether I'm right or wrong or that from others as well. So, I mean, I had a huge internal problem and I phoned a friend and she gave me his name and number of his office. We were still on the road heading home. And we got in on a Saturday. And on Monday, the surgeon saw me while he walked. He the surgeon walked me downstairs to where I needed to get the tests done, set me up to have the tests done, said, and showed me the girl that would give me the reports, and told me to come back up to when I had the report. So I got all the reports that same day.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:40:09] Wow.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:40:09] I went back upstairs and he reviewed everything with me, told me what needed to be done, reviewed his calendar, and said, I can do this either on Friday or Monday. I said I'd like to get it done as soon as possible. So I went in to I went and he said, well if you come into town because we were in progress on murder was like going to the hospital. He said, if you come in on a Thursday night, it will be less expensive if you stay in the hotel across the street and I'll give you the meds to get started, which you did.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:40:43] Wow.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:40:46] He came over himself to the hotel suite, set my husband up with what I needed to do, and the next morning when I arrived at eight o'clock at the hospital, he was there. He met me. He took me through the process. And then when I was going into surgery before I went into the operating room, he brought the staff and introduced them to me. I know.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:41:09] Wow,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:41:09] Everything was spotlessly clean. All the uniforms were spotlessly clean. All of the equipment was modern and up to date and unbelievable. They let once I was ready, they let my husband come in and walk me down to where I went into the sterilization, near the sterilized area. And they left and wave and they took me through three rooms to get me sterilized to get into the operating room. And then when I was done, the surgeon gave us his card and wrote his home phone number and his cell number and said, You need anything, you phone me.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:41:52] Wow, what a story.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:41:55] And that was major surgery that I had. I had half of my large intestines removed. I had a cyst removed and I had my appendix removed. And all of that care, love, attention, whatever it was. Twelve thousand Canadian dollars.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:42:14] Wow.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:42:16] So was that that was so that was not including insurance. So so that you didn't have that.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:42:24] I did not. I did that privately in pain. You got to OK. And then we have private insurance and it's very expensive because I'm sixty-nine point seventy-five and we have per-existing conditions but we're covered and we actually pay cash for private things just because it's more in our personal comfort zone.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:42:48] Sure. So is that a plan that just covers you in Mexico or is that outside? Is it a global plan or what type of global plan minus the United States? I have that, too.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:43:00] Maybe it's not the same, but I have IMG is the company of what's the Lumi me.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:43:09] OK, not familiar with that one am I. Ok, yeah but I. What do you how do you define. Very expensive if you don't mind my asking.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:43:19] Well as Canadians it's nine thousand Canadian dollars a year.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:43:23] Ok, Ok.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:43:27] Which are seniors on pensions?

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:43:29] Yeah. Yeah. For both of you. So yeah.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:43:31] So I have mine is one hundred and ten dollars a month for, me but I'm not 60 yet so it may go up. Yeah. Yeah. And then Tom we just have on Medicare in the US and he has coverage on there. So we figured if something happened he would go back there. But yeah, it's definitely a question that comes up to a lot of people. And depending on what your comfort I mean, four years in the United States, I just felt like the best health care plan is health. Right. And so I just wanted catastrophic coverage. And even back then, we said we could handle a ten thousand dollar hit. We couldn't handle one hundred thousand dollars hit. And so we just don't take any prescription meds. We don't have any health issues. And so it's like you eat well, you sleep well and all of that. And then you have something there in the case of the big stuff. But you're not shelling out all of this money for things.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:44:35] You're really not. Where we are now got what we have, which is great. And like you said like we take care of ourselves. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:44:46] Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate that, because it is something that people care about and are concerned about. And yeah, I go into a lot of that. The care issue. There's a  big fallacy about that. That's one of the myths that I bust, is that, oh, the health care is not as good overseas. Well, that's just flat out not true at all. So you've confirmed that and I've heard that. 

 

Barbara Harris: [00:45:17] A lot with a lot of the private hospitals here are also training hospitals for people, for doctors coming down from Canada, the United States, and England.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:45:28] Absolutely. And vice versa. A lot of the doctors here have trained in the US and Canada and even Europe, other countries as well, and they're bilingual and they're as competent as they come. So it is nice to have. So,

 

Barbara Harris: [00:45:45] Yeah, very good.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:45:47] All right, well, thank you so much for this interview. I'm just delighted to be able to connect with you and share your story. And, gosh, I really want to come to visit. I mean, it sounds like you have a really nice place there and you can come to visit us, and yeah, maybe we'll do a little swap here.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:46:07] Right.

 

Dawn Fleming: [00:46:10] All right. Well, you enjoy the rest of your day and I will talk to you soon.

 

Barbara Harris: [00:46:17] Ok, thank you very much, Dawn. Have an awesome day. You too.

 

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