Swapping Cold Winters For a Caribbean Island

Sipping wine sitting on the deck of his 36-foot cabin cruiser, Fish Trap, John Pasnau takes a slow deep breath of clean, salt air and reflects on his new life. He and his wife, Valerie, are getting ready to cast off for a short cruise to watch another Caribbean sunset along the Riviera Maya.

“Retiring to Mexico almost a year ago was probably the best decision I’ve ever made…except for asking Valerie to marry me,” he says.

At ages 58 and 56, John and Valerie had had enough of the pressures associated with their lifestyle in the States.

“Living in Connecticut had become very expensive. I had a good business but my career was facing new and strong challenges from competition. If that wasn’t enough, the ongoing tax burden was becoming unbearable. At my age, I decided to look for other options,” says John.

Connecticut’s winters were also taking their toll on the couple. “We were sick of the snow and the cold weather,” says Valerie. “And like most families, we had lived our lives for our children. Now, they were all grown and it was time to live our lives for ourselves.”

“After 11 months of subscribing to International Living, and doing research, we made the decision to leave the U.S. and move to Mexico,” John says. “We read about what others had done and we realized we could do the same thing. We just needed to take action! For us, that meant buying airline tickets.

“We had been to Mexico before, but when we vacationed on Isla Mujeres in 2010 it appealed to us like no other place had. We knew we had found our place and moved here in September of 2014.”

It’s easy to understand why John and Valerie love Isla Mujeres. Isla (as the locals call it) is a small island just eight miles off the coast of Cancun, on Mexico’s famed Riviera Maya. The warm turquoise waters are teeming with fish, dolphins, and sea turtles and are ideal for water enthusiasts. The island, while small at just five miles long and a half-mile wide, has all the essentials John and Valerie need, and what isn’t available on the island can be found in Cancun only a short ferry ride away.

Life on this paradise island costs John and Valerie about $2,200 per month including $900 rent for a fully furnished one-bedroom condo just across the street from the beach. They own two motor scooters that provide the perfect transportation around the island and share the roadway with golf carts and a few taxis.

“If there was one thing or one moment that clicked for me, John said, “it was realizing that I was happy with just having ‘enough.’ Some guys work themselves to death wanting more and more. I finally realized that tomorrow was not guaranteed and so we did something for today. If we have any regrets, it’s that we didn’t do this sooner.”

©iStock.com/Flander

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