One of the great benefits of a much lower cost of living in Mexico is the opportunity to retire early. International globe trotters Wayne and Roxane Jared are still in their active fifties and loving early retirement in Puerto Vallarta.
“We could have stayed in the U.S., but we would have worked longer just because of the cost of living,” Roxane told us, “but Mexico made it happen a lot sooner.”
The couple, both information technology professionals, first considered retirement in Colorado and New Mexico, but after spending time in Mexico on both its east and west coasts, decided to head south of the border to a new life of adventure made possible by a cost of living that is more than half of what early retirement in the U.S. would have been for them.
Wayne Jared, 58, was born and raised in Montreal and earned a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Brunswick. His software development career led him to work in Montreal, Toronto and then to the U.S. where he worked in Buffalo, New York for 12 years. There, he started Inspired Design, a customer relationship management (CRM) firm that was named one of the fastest growing private companies in 2000. Jared sold it three years later to a company in Indianapolis. He moved there to manage the transition for three years before joining a security company.
A confirmed entrepreneur, Jared, exited the security firm to start an access control company, which he sold in 2012, but continued working for them for a few years. His last hurrah as a full-time employee was just last year. He said goodbye to his job as vice president of engineering for Qumulex, an Indiana-based video and access control company.
His wife Roxane, who just turned 55, grew up in Rennes, France, about 60 miles from the sea in Brittany. Attracted by the information technology opportunities in France and the U.S., she graduated from France’s National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Rennes with a master’s degree.
“I decided to go to INSA because it is a famous engineering school in France,” she said, “and I opted for computer science because I wanted to move to the U.S. and it was a good way to get a visa to work there.”
After school, she worked for Alcatel Business Systems and Thomson Electronics in France before landing a job in the Indianapolis northern suburb of Carmel in 1998. After resigning from her first job in the U.S., she signed on with Liberty Mutual as a computer system engineer. That led to a new job at her old company Thomson Electronic, which by then had changed its name to Technicolor. The end of the corporate road for her was back at Liberty Mutual last year until the lure of Mexico early retirement became too strong to ignore.
The couple, both previously married with children, met online in 2016 and tied the knot three years later. By that time, they were thinking very seriously about early retirement.
“I had the choice to take a new role in my company,” Roxane said, “but more money and more responsibility meant having to work longer to afford the retirement lifestyle we wanted. It was an easy decision.”
After spending time in Mérida, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, the couple fell in love with Puerto Vallarta.
“For me, I love the ocean,” Roxanne said. “I grew up near the Atlantic and loved it. In Puerto Vallarta we also have the mountains and the beaches of the Bay of Banderas. We had contacted a few Facebook groups on both coasts of Mexico, and it sounded to us like people on the west coast were more active, which really appealed to us.”
Wayne added that Vallarta is a growing city of over 300,000 people, but is still not a big city. Traffic is still manageable, it is low stress and has a very attractive and active lifestyle for early retirees. And as dedicated world travelers, the convenience of a very well-connected international airport was a major plus, he said.
Careful planners, the couple rented a small apartment for several months for deciding to sink their roots in Vallarta by purchasing a house.
They looked at places in the Marina, Conchas Chinas and other areas of the city, but they were not right for this active couple who love to run, hike and bike.
“We wanted a house, not a condo,” Wayne said, “and we didn’t want a car, so that led us to our three-bedroom, three-bathroom house we bought just a 10-minute walk to the beach.”
Their home is about 2,000 sq. ft. and has an enclosed and private backyard with a pool, all for just over US$300,000.
“We love our neighborhood because it is a mix of Mexican families and expats,” Wayne said. “And the expats on our street are from Russia, Germany, Canada, Argentina, and of course, the U.S. Also, many of us in the neighborhood communicate through WhatsApp, so we take care of each other and let everyone know what’s going on.”
Their home was unfurnished so they moved some of their furniture from Indiana to Mexico and have been adding new furniture and accessories purchased locally.
“When we sold our house in Indiana, we sold most of our things, including furniture, the cars, motorcycles and other items we had accumulated over the years,” Roxane said. “But we had about a hundred cubic feet of household goods we wanted to bring with us. We hired a small husband and wife company based in Mexico to handle our move. We loaded the trailer, which was then picked up and moved to the border and then transferred through customs and on to Vallarta. They handled the unloading here.”
As young, active early retirees, Wayne and Roxane have an inexpensive gym membership that they use often to stay in shape, in addition to their running, bicycling and water sports. Always on the move, they also hop on their motorcycles to explore the surrounding area, from Sayulita on the Nayarit coast to the mountain town of Mascota to El Tuito south of Vallarta off the road to Manzanillo.
Food is also a big part of their lives. Roxane is the baker in the family and Wayne the cook. They live a short walk away from one of Vallarta’s best open-air markets for fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood.
“We also go out, but most often to small, local places and avoid the higher priced tourist restaurants,” Roxane said. “Pepe’s Tacos is our favorite place, but we have tried the neighborhood Greek, Thai and sushi restaurants, also. Prices are about half of what it would cost to dine out in the U.S.”
Roxane is the financier in the household and keeps a firm grip on their monthly spending. She told us that they budget about US$2,500 a month (they have no home mortgage) for everything, including utilities and insurance. An additional US$2,000 a month is set aside for travel within Mexico and other countries.
The couple is still too young for Medicare, so they purchased a health insurance policy through an American company that covers them in Mexico and most other countries, except the U.S. When they travel there, they purchase short-term insurance.
“Our health insurance strategy is to pay mostly out-of-pocket because the cost of healthcare in Mexico is so inexpensive,” said Wayne. “Our health insurance policy is mainly a catastrophe plan.”
Wayne and Roxane also take learning the local language very seriously. He spends about three hours a week in Spanish school and Roxane, who had around six years of Spanish lessons before moving to Mexico, is advanced enough to communicate well in Spanish. Both feel strongly that it is important to learn Spanish to truly live life in Puerto Vallarta.
As for what they love about living in Vallarta, the reasons vary somewhat, but all add up to satisfaction with their new life.
“The first thing I love about living here is that we were able to afford to retire at our ages,” Roxane said. “I also had tons of hobbies that I had to put on hold for work and kids that I now get to do, like learning how to draw, to paint, to play the drums. I also like this new culture we live in. I think it is closer to my native French culture than the U.S. And, of course, being near the beach makes me very happy.”
For Wayne, it is the warmth of the people, the weather and finally being retired.
“I would not have guessed that we would have ended up in Vallarta and Mexico,” Wayne said. “I thought we were going to end up in Colorado somewhere, but we looked at each other and said, ‘You know what? Let’s make an offer on the house in Puerto Vallarta.’ We have no regrets.