By Suzanne A. Marshall from the February 2016 Edition
In last months’ issue, I detailed our past journeys to Mexico and how we decided upon buying and living in Manzanillo. I have also previously written about the spalike qualities of the humid sea air and heat. Many of us ‘oldies’ simply feel better and note the reduction of aches and pains in our joints and so on. One woman told me that she has lived with fibromyalgia for thirty years and comes to Mexico where she feels relief and enjoys daily life more. Now that we’ve been coming to Manzanillo for eight winters and joined the ranks of other expats who have successfully acquired permanent visas, there is even more good news to share.
While some of the local Mexican residents may view us as ‘wealthy’, many of us know that we aren’t. There is no denying we come from places with higher standards of living but of course it also costs a heck of a lot more to live there. Once you’re retired and the income shrinks, one appreciates a less onerous standard of living. And of course that leads me back to Manzanillo. Not only is it gorgeous but the cost of living is so much more reasonable. Even compared to other tourist destinations the property values here are a true bargain. However, that’s not all.
Like many Canadians at this particular time, I‘m suffering from vertigo just following the stock markets and the drop in value of the Cdn dollar versus the U.S. dollar. These are world-wide tumultuous economic times. Those of you from the USA, congratulations, there is a very big discount waiting for all of you up in Canada so you might want to vacation there next summer. But, thankfully the Canadian dollar is faring quite well against the Mexican peso. Exchange rates or not there are still numerous cost benefits to life in Manzanillo. Lately we’re more grateful than ever.
Let’s begin with food. We estimate the cost of groceries to stock our kitchen to be at least fifty percent less. We tend to shop more at the local fresh markets for vegetables, fish, poultry and fruit than we do the chain stores. The prices at the chain stores are somewhat higher but still a bargain by comparison to where we come from. Of course you need these stores for miscellaneous condiments, household cleaning supplies, baking and paper supplies etc. On a recent fresh food shopping run, we purchased a two week supply of vegetables, fruits, fish and poultry for a total price of about 40.00 Cdn dollars. No I have not dropped a zero. This is really true and even more wonderful because the food can’t be any fresher unless you buy it from the farmers directly. They are so healthy and delicious. I might add here that we find ourselves eating out a lot more with these savings and many of the restaurants are a terrific bargain too.
Cinco de Mayo market amazing carrots! www.manzanillosun.com We also find that electrical costs are more reasonable. Admittedly, during hot weather one uses the air conditioning more. By applying some common sense such as using it mostly at night in the bedrooms and shutting it down when you’re out, the costs for us remain less than our winter fuel bills when heating a home in Canada during the winter. (I will add here, that the heating bill in Canada is for an empty house with reduced thermostat settings but fuel costs are still a bigger expense than our energy consumption in Mexico). On another note, the invoicing in Manzanillo for electricity (not sure about other areas of Mexico) shows a consumption color graph. The graph indicates your energy use from green to red. Staying in the green zones gives you a state subsidization on energy costs and encourages us to be efficient with our usage. I view this as a good way to encourage the public to be more conscientious about energy use and also save money. If your usage takes you into the red zones the costs can be significantly higher.
Let’s talk local travel. If you have a car, the price of gas in Mexico has risen given its recent entry into the global oil and gas markets as a producer; so no big savings there anymore. There certainly were big savings in the past when the Mexican government owned and produced domestically. But on the bright side you can hop a local bus for 7 pesos. Or, you can jump on a first class Bus line to Guadalajara complete with lunch, drink, Wi-Fi, television and elevated leg rests that allow you a comfortable siesta if needed. As seniors, our 50 % discount rate for a return trip to Guadalajara from Manzanillo was roughly (depending on exchange rates) $40.00 Cdn. return.
So this leads me to the Mexican seniors programs. In Mexico if you’re over 60 years of age you can receive numerous services and discounts. The bus fare is an example as well as the half price discounts at the movie theatres. It is unbelievable, right?
In order to receive all discount programs available to residents with permanent visas, there is a program called INAPAM (Instituto Nacional de Las Personas Adultas Majores). For this one must take a trip to Colima the capital of the state and visit their offices. We travelled with two friends who were also on a mission for the senior status card which is provided when you register there. This made the journey a lot of fun and nice day away.
Colima is a lovely city only an hour drive from Manzanillo and a beautiful one at that. Otherwise, you can just hop onto the first class bus and grab a taxi when you arrive. Once there, some lovely staff will assist you but I suggest you work on your Spanish or bring a good translator or a conversion ‘app’ in your cell phone. They’ll want to know of course where you live, see identification, any medical conditions and medications you are using; and require you to fill out the usual forms that come with such services.
More information can be found on the internet at: www.inapam.gob.mx. We are still exploring the various amenities offered with INAPAM but further examples of note are: discount domestic airfares, museum and gallery fees, medications purchased at the pharmacies and so on. In future, I plan to advise of more amenities as our experiences continue to unfold.
Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.
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