Living on a pauper’s budget in paradise

Today is my 26th day of being in Puerto Vallarta. The first day I stood in my condo and asked myself, “What am I doing here?”The second day I ran around doing errands, getting my grocery shopping done at Costco, and buying a few things for my condo to make it feel more like home.

The third day I decided to play retired and be on vacation by grabbing my new novel and stretching out in front of the Bay of Banderas while sitting adjacent to the bay front pool. As the 82-degree day went on and after taking a walk in the soft white sand along the water’s edge, I looked around at all the beauty and I said to God, “Thank you.”

By the fourth day I was dreading coming back home. There is something about living life day in and day out and accepting it for what it is. Just doing the daily grind to pay the bills and put food on the table.

You have that gnawing feeling that you have to break free and go enjoy life but then that little voice keeps saying, “No, you have to work. You have to pay those bills. You have to keep the lifestyle intact.”

The next thing you know you haven’t taken a real vacation in five years or more. You’ve almost forgotten what it is like. So to imagine being able to semi-retire and buy a condo in paradise somewhere is a dream that you know will remain unfulfilled. Something like that is only for the rich.

I’m living testament that you don’t have to be rich to find someplace nice to live either full time or part time. I sat down last night and tallied up my receipts for the last 26 days. I’ve spent just short of $200 for food.

My gas, because premium is only $2.75 a gallon here, has come to $35 so far. I’m sure I’ll fill up once more before leaving for about $25. I drive every day in my used A-190 Elegance Mercedes, which I bought for $6,500 that gets about 40 miles to the gallon (and is not sold in the U.S). My driving includes the 40km ride up the coast to Punta Mita three times a week where my Mexican office is.

I’ve bought a bunch of stuff for my condo totaling about $150 and then the petty cash incidentals have come to about $100 for the yummy street tacos or the occasional margaritas at a beachside café or a good Cuban cigar or a BBQ rib special at Toritos. Oh yes, and the almost daily Starbucks fix which I need to break.

I’ve been to Calvary Church a few times tithing $140. I know, I shouldn’t have admitted this but I’m making a point. Oh, and I paid my annual property taxes of $75. Yes, $75.

My condo fee, which includes electricity, cable television, water and security, comes to $440 per month. I don’t need to add this to my monthly expenses because I average $450 per month in rentals during the year. I basically live here in paradise for free.

So, if I add everything up and prorate a bit for the next five days, my total out of pocket for a month in paradise is around $700. My airfare was $300 round-trip from Tijuana, which included my Coaster, trolley and shuttle rides to and from TJ. Add it all up and it comes to $1,000, including travel.

So, with my $1,406 monthly Social Security I have lived in paradise for a month with about $400 left over. That I can put away for golf in San Diego and medical expenses as needed. So, it can be done. I’m a testament to living a rich lifestyle on a pauper’s income.

Also, look for my ad here in the paper over the next few issues. Our second contest winners are Debbie and Ervin Ducommun from Missouri. The Ducommuns entered our one-week vacation giveaway while visiting their son in January who was completing Cobra Pilot training at Camp Pendleton.

They read my column, entered the contest and are thrilled to be coming in on the April 23 to spend not one week, but two weeks at my place. I threw in the extra week because it was going to be vacant anyway.

We had more than 100 entrants on this go around and our next contest winners will be announced at the end of the summer for a fall getaway. I’ll be home to write my next column as I’m leaving here on April 23. The adventure continues but now in Encinitas. Ah, what a life.



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