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…continued from ‘About Us’

Cold weather motivated our 1st ‘international’ move to Florida! Due to strict rules for Canadian residency in the United States (maximum 180 days per year) we applied for an extended visa. The application process was quite complicated, thorough, lengthy, costly…and well worth the effort!

While residing in Florida, a month long visit to Yucatan, Mexico beckoned relocation. Downsizing again, shipping belongings and our aging Subaru Outback across the Gulf of Mexico, we flew to our next home.

As self-employed property investors for past several years—renovating, renting, flipping, or residing in them—we purchased a ‘fixer-upper’ in a Mexican town and renovated it into 3 apartments (while living in 1 of them). The project completed by furnishing the apartments for vacation rentals, then selling the property as a turnkey business. Went full circle again!

Much needed rest from that major renovation project did not happen as serious family matters obligated returning  to Canada. Warm climate living halted, although a 3 month visit to Baja Sur, Mexico was squeezed in, furthering our relocation research.

Baja is either vastly remote or bustling in Los Cabos; either Pacific ocean or Sea of Cortez; either lavish shopping or tiny tiendas; either luxury yachts or derelict rowboats. X-Pats have long settled there so English is commonly used—a novelty for us after living in Spanish/Mayan speaking Yucatan.

Canadian affairs took priority. When finalized, and with Miami as our hub, we returned to Yucatan, Mexico for dental care and minor surgery (which are too costly or too long wait-listed in Canada). Afterwards our search resumed for that elusive home in a warm, safe place.

More experienced now at choosing locations, itineraries, airlines, packing less, and deciding which vaccinations were really needed, search resumed for a home in a warm climate…with proximity to an ocean.

To relocate to a foreign country our criteria includes political stability, low crime rate (if possible) ability to obtain residence visa, and our ability to (basically) speak/read the language which eliminates many locales! Its fine to relocate without being able to read a road sign or a menu, and associate totally with other English speakers but we prefer to integrate.

Dominican Republic. Many expatriates call it home—had to check it out! Gorgeous scenery could rival Hawaii in some locales. Reasonable cost of living though gasoline was same as in US. Information abounds on websites so I’ll skip details, simply saying I couldn’t live there due to the hazardous drivers and necessary amount of personal and property security required.

Dominican climate, scenery, and business opportunities are attractive. Stayed a month trying to rationalize the advantages of residence, but couldn’t. We departed with intent to return in a few months, determined to take a fresh approach by bringing a detailed business plan, in horticulture, based on a past venture of ours.

Costa Rica. Friends had resided there 9 years—that says loads about a place! Travel sites detail the diversity of the country and the good life found there. We toured a couple of months taking it all in, then returned to the Dominican Republic with our business plan. Apparently the turquoise Caribbean and Island atmosphere drew us away from Central America!

Dominican Republic. Our 2nd visit attempted to mold it into our dream home base! Although our business plan was rejected by the intended recipient, alternative research continued. Staying an extra month confirmed our initial analysis—we did not feel safe there, and I would not drive there! Saddened that this beautiful Island was not going to become our home, we departed.

Ecuador, South America. Maps I’d looked at since childhood, imagining exotic locales—this was 1 of them! Could scarcely believe I was there! Landing in Guayaquil we headed to the Pacific ocean.

Toured Santa Elena area and coastline including Salinas. X-pats are migrating there due in part to International Living magazine offering 3-day tours with experienced locals to explore real estate opportunities and impart general information on relocating.

Exploring Pacific coast northward past equator—towns, businesses, rural inland areas and returning to Salinas/La Libertad area for another month to absorb local atmosphere. Ecuador’s diverse agriculture offers everything for this vegan! Best organic dark chocolate (and I’ve tasted much) organic coffee, natural peanut butter, fresh markets incredibly low priced—even long-stem roses at US$2/dozen! Ecuador is the least expensive place we’ve been in western hemisphere. Currency is US dollars; no fussing with foreign exchange.

It was dry season, temperatures comfortable in 70’s F. however most days the sky was overcast. Each morning opening the curtains we’d declare “it’s gloomy”! We had arrived in June—it was now August. Locals said it would get sunny by November. We couldn’t wait.  Empathizing with ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ we needed sunshine! Biggest factor in deciding to depart Ecuador was the lengthy duration of overcast sky (on the Pacific coast). Perhaps attributable to climate change or simply an unusually cloudy season, the lack of sunshine was not agreeable with our sense of well being…BUT…we had only experienced a fraction of the many interesting and breathtakingly beautiful locales in Ecuador, so it remains an option for relocation.

Cancun, Mexico. After Ecuador we hesitated choosing another exotic locale. Mexico felt like a comfortable old shoe, a place we could unwind and rethink strategy for relocation. South of Cancun based a while in Playa del Carmen looking in earnest for permanent lodging. Perfect city for ocean-side living yet finding access came with concessions of either overcrowded noisy neighborhoods, inflated tourist accommodation, or lacking basic facilities. Our reasonably priced secure unit with pool, near shopping was 7 km from the beach! Stayed a month but not a good fit for us. Headed farther south along the Costa Maya.

Majahaul was anticipated to be the best locale for us. Indeed beautiful but practicality not a feature. The town is 50 km from main highway, then another hour drive to Chetumal—the closest large town for groceries, medical, and/or life’s necessities. For us, that meant too much driving!

Chetumal is Mexico’s southernmost city on the Caribbean coast before reaching the border to Belize. Rather than enter Belize we returned to Cancun, leased an apartment in the Hotel Zone, albeit on the Lagoon side! Exhausted from lengthy travel and disappointed not finding a home, our pace slowed to internet program projects and befriending stray cats! (see Cancun Cats and More Cancun Cats)

A year-and-a-half traveling had flown by and return to Canada was due. Our reliable old Subaru was shipped across Gulf of Mexico again and driven north thru’ the States to Prince Edward Island—a peaceful speck of land off the eastern shore. Rented an apartment, retrieved remaining belongings from storage, enjoyed summer, and ‘settled in’ for the winter—let it snow!

OK, enough snow! As next winter approached, household items were stored and we drove to Toronto (no international flights from Canada’s smallest province). Stored the Subaru and booked flights to Porto, Portugal where our road trip begain driving north to the border with Spain, then headed south along Portugal’s Atlantic coast, into Spain and on to Gibraltar. see post ‘Gone Fishing…’