Around the World

A Foot in Two Countries – Part 2

Nov 2022 | By Catherine Daley

A Mexican Winter Retreat

When Brian Care retired in 2000, he considered moving to Naples, Florida. “I quickly became disillusioned with it as a long-term retirement location,” says Care. “It was a nice place to visit, but I didn’t want to live there.”

San Miguel de Allende is in the geographic centre of Mexico – equidistant from the US and Guatemalan borders, and from the Pacific to the Caribbean. In 2008, it was designated as an UNESCO Heritage Site and continues to be voted as one of Conde Nast’s Best Cities in the World.

His Living Situation

In 2001, Care went for a month-long visit to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Even before he left for Mexico, he’d already listed his property in Naples. One of the first places that he stayed was Toller Cranston’s “over-planted and over-decorated” property. Following that, he rented a series of seven different types of rental properties – all of which he decorated and upgraded.

Currently, Care rents a two-storey, two-bedroom, two-bath casita (small house). His house is part of an estate property, once owned by the textile factory that’s located across the street. The abandoned factory is now a centre for art and design, and a major tourist destination in the area. At one time, Care had a studio there, but it became too busy. With the permission of the landlords, he renovated an unused gatehouse and turned it into his private studio. “It looks out onto a beautiful rose garden,” says Care.

There’s an enclosed patio surrounding his casita, full of tropical greenery, with room for his dog, Bailey, to roam. The property is maintained by a team of gardeners, and Care enjoys the benefits.

Weather, Lifestyle and Health

San Miguel de AllendeAt 6,200 feet above sea level, San Miguel has a year-round, spring-like climate. “We’re never subjected to extremes,” says Care. “And rarely experience the kind of heat and humidity that Mexican beachgoers do.”

Because San Miguel caters to a significant foreign population for extended periods of time, they have a wide choice of entertainment and cultural activities, as well as international cuisine and “excellent” Mexican fare, according to Care. “I spend much less and I eat better.”

Now in the second half of his 70s, Care works out six days per week with a professional fitness instructor, and leads regular classes, as well.

Mexican medical schools have a good reputation, and the public health system gets good reviews from extranjeros (foreigners) for service, care and cost. Care goes on to say that he generally just pays for his medical needs and doesn’t bother to claim against his Canadian coverage. “San Miguel also has an amazing Red Cross organization, who are the first responders to any 911 calls.”

Back and Forth

If he could, Care would live in Mexico full time, but our Canadian guidelines require him to come back for five months each year. He holds a Permanent Residents’ Visa in Mexico, which allows him to work, and to come and go as he pleases. In a previous blog, Care shared the space that he renovated in Toronto. It’s compact, but very practical and user-friendly.

Care suggests that if you’re looking at retiring in a certain country, then you should visit more than once, and stay for an extended period of time in each place. Figure out the value of your currency in relationship to your new location. Learn about the history a culture of the country of your choice, and learn the language. “I am very conscious of the discrepancy between my personal economic situation and those of the people who serve and support me to be happy and healthy while living here,” says Care. “Moving to a different country has to mean that you want something different. So, embrace the differences.”