How I Retired at 50 in the Caribbean

I realized years ago that, by and large, happiness is a choice. I’ll admit that there have been times when maintaining that choice has required significant, conscious effort. But, the choice is easier now that I’m retired and living on Mexico‘s Riviera Maya. Here it would take considerable, deliberate effort to be anything but happy.

I’ve had the pleasure of living in some pretty amazing places in my life—on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of Florida; amid the vast, natural beauty of Alaska; and even a couple of years on the tranquil Pacific coast of Ecuador—but here on the shores of the incomparable Caribbean Sea, I feel as though I’ve finally found my own personal paradise.

That’s exactly what life as an expat is all about—finding and embracing that one place on the surface of the globe that fulfills all your fondest wishes and needs.

These days, I awake each morning in our little, rented condo in Cancun’s storied Hotel Zone—the very place so many save up to visit for a week or two’s dream vacation. As I sip my coffee, I also drink in the view of the jewel-like waters lapping up against a white-sand beach. That view is always there to greet me, yet every time I catch a glimpse, the spectacular, brilliant colors still take my breath away. I can’t imagine a better way to start my day.

Without the dictates of my former busy work schedule to maintain, I can choose whether to spend the morning romping in the surf, relaxing in a lounge chair in the sand, swimming laps in the pool, or playing a few games in the tennis court right here in our complex.

If I’m feeling more adventurous, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy. There are countless cenotes and Maya ruin sites nearby to explore, along with a seemingly endless array of boating and snorkeling excursions to experience.

If I’m in more of a mood to just kick back, an extended nap under a hand-crafted palapa is always an option. There are more restaurant and shopping choices than even the most comprehensive guidebooks could point you to.

One of the most attractive aspects of living in Cancun is that all of these options are also available for our family and friends from the States to enjoy when they visit. It’s just a quick two-hour flight from Miami so it isn’t too tough to convince loved ones to come and visit.

In fact, Cancun is the number one tourist destination in Latin America…and yet I’ve found a way to retire here on a budget that would barely cover rent and utilities where I was born in New York.

With a little bit of research and an openness to consider possibilities outside the box of the “typical” U.S. retirement lifestyle, I’ve found a place where “happy” isn’t a tough choice—it’s almost an inevitability.

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