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Around the World

A Foot in Two Countries Part 1 – Home Base

Oct 2021 | By Catherine Daley

A Snowbird’s Story

Titles are assigned to different generations. We have Gen X, who were born between 1965 and 1979/80. Gen Y, or Millennials, were born between 1981 and 1994/96, and then we have the Baby Boomers, who are currently between the ages of 57 and 75.

Those BBs who like to migrate to warmer climes during the winter months are often referred to as Snowbirds. We no longer need categories and labels – it’s time to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. Now that the world is opening back up, it really is your oyster. “The world is your oyster” is a quote from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, and implies that in any given oyster, there is a chance, but no guarantee, that a pearl lays within – so it is with life.

Leading a double lifestyle

Brian Care spends seven months in Mexico and five months in Canada, and he has done so since he retired in 2000. Rules change for health care eligibility, so check with your provincial plan for accurate details.

In Mexico, Brian rents a two-storey, two-bedroom, two-bath casita (small home) in San Miguel de Allende. “It’s a magical place that tends to make you fall in love with it the moment you arrive,” says Brian. “And it doesn’t want to let you leave.”

In Canada, Brian recently renovated an even smaller space to call home. Due to his transient lifestyle, Brian has shared a home with good friends for years. When they scaled down, they made sure that they had a dedicated space for him, and offered him 274 square feet on the lower level of their new townhome. It meant getting rid of all his antique pine furniture and everything that he no longer required. “It was actually very liberating,” says Brian.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Leonardo da Vinci

Compact and practical

Working closely with Micheline Young, design consultant for Organized Interiors, Micheline says that it was her job was to interpret Brian’s thoughts and turn them into reality.

Brian chose to keep a pine bench, a chaise, an easy chair and some mirrors. He got rid of his blender and food processor, and bought a magic bullet. Micheline came up with unexpected solutions that provided more space in the food prep area. For items that weren’t required on a daily basis, overhead, garage door-style cabinets were a great option. “The advantage of custom cabinetry,” says Brian. “You can customize each piece for what you want it to contain.”

Remote-controlled downlights were added above the bed, as well as on the cabinets in order to light the workspace at night. And because Brian chose to limit his wardrobe to a black palette when in Canada, he needed excellent lighting in his closet. And, as Brian says, “Nothing looks good under poor lighting.”

You’re always a guest

If you want to live part-time in another country, Brian suggests that you experience living there to see if it meets your needs – personally and economically. Talk to people. Ask lots of questions – do your homework. “Moving to a different country, to a different culture, to a different language has to mean that you want something different,” says Brian. “So, embrace the differences. Whatever time you spend in a foreign country, you are a guest, and you have certain obligations.”

Brian has found the pearl in his oyster. “I feel so privileged to be allowed to be a guest in a country like Mexico. The people are among the warmest and most welcoming of any country in the world.” Says Brian. “San Miguel has an energy that promotes positive health and encourages creativity.”

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