In the first installment of my series on retiring abroad, I spoke to Loren Chudy, who is happily spending his retirement years with his wife Jan in the small French village of Daglan, where he writes an entertaining blog called Radio Free Daglan. In this installment, I talk to a retiree who chose a more tropical site for the years after work.
Allan Prout spent a long career working for SaskPower, the electrical utility in his native province of Saskatchewan (here he is with his beloved Saskatchewan Roughriders banner). When his working life came to an end, he decided he’d had enough of frigid prairie winters and headed south. Now he spends his winter months in the sunny tourist town of Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s Pacific coast. Here are his thoughts about retiring abroad and becoming a Canadian “snowbird.”
Travelling Boomer: How did you decide to move to your home away from home?
Allan: I first came to Puerto Vallarta in 1990 with a friend because it was a cheap holiday: $835 for two weeks at a little Mexican hotel, which included breakfast. I enjoyed it and came back the next year. I came for five years, usually for six weeks at a time, and when I retired I started coming for six months a year. I had worked 35 years for SaskPower on the line crews and had enough winter to last me a lifetime.
TB: What do you like best about living in Mexico?
Allan: I have a bit of a problem stating what I like best, but it would be the weather and the people that attract me the most. Of course, my novia (girlfriend) Andrea and I have been together for 14 years, so that is a big factor in my decision to live here. I like the fact that there are so many things to do here: theatres, art galleries, antique shops, beaches, great little places to eat, friendly people, good weather, the malecon, so many things.
I love the basic lifestyle here. Although you can choose to live in luxury in gated communities, I love living in the “old town.” I love going to the little store down the street (there are many little family-owned stores, one on every corner), buying eggs by the kilo — or only one if you choose. I love the fruit and vegetable market and the food stands where I eat many of my meals. I like the respectful children and enjoy them screaming and yelling, playing soccer in the streets. I like the fact that everything is within walking distance, and also the good transportation system. It is just a nice, easy lifestyle.
TB: What’s your day like in Puerto Vallarta?
Allan: On an average day (if there is one) I head out in the morning, run into friends along the way, stop and visit, make my way to the beach, socialize, enjoy the sun and listen to the waves rolling in, see the occasional whale breaching out in the bay. I make my way home, shower, shave, maybe go for a cold Corona and off to one of my many favourite little restaurants or food stands to eat. I go for a walk along the malecon, watch and listen to the constantly changing entertainment, usually run into more friends and eventually head home to watch the news and go to bed.
Weekends I usually walk to the Pitillal district, which takes about two hours, tour around and take a bus home. I also go to a lot of movies in the ultra-modern theatres here. Most days I just leave home and let the day unfold as it will. People often ask me what I do here and “don’t I get bored?” Some days there are not enough hours to do all I want to do.
TB: What were the biggest adjustments you had to make?
Allan: I think the biggest adjustments are the language and living a minimal lifestyle, but I would not trade my life here for anything. I have also had some problems with renters at my house in Saskatchewan. Since I am 73 now, I think it may be time to sell the house, buy a condo or go to live with my daughter and her family in Winnipeg.
TB: Is there anything you miss about your old home?
Allan: One thing I miss about home is all the art on my wall. I love walls full of art, and strangely enough, that is what I miss. I also miss getting on my mountain bike and doing the bike trails.
TB: Would you move back home permanently?
Allan: I would be devastated if I had to go back to Canada, never to return here. I love the weather, the people, the culture, the food, the music, the general everyday life. I have been asked what I will do when, and if, I am ever too old to travel. My response is, “if I cannot travel I will just live my days out here and my family will have to visit me in Vallarta.”
Like the Chudys, Allan has found retiring abroad a great experience, and enjoys the culture of his adopted home. Like them, he also tried out his winter home for a few years before deciding to make it a permanent arrangement — always a wise move, and one the experts recommend. Living in a place is very different from vacationing there for a week or two.
His roots in Saskatchewan are deep, so spending his summers with family and friends in Canada works fine for him, especially since Puerto Vallarta summers can be very hot. It’s not a perfect arrangement, though: living in two places means maintaining your northern home by long distance, which can be tricky. But judging by the number of snowbirds who flock into Puerto Vallarta each winter, it’s a solution that works for a lot of Canadians and Americans.
In my next post on retiring abroad, I’ll feature a couple who left rainy England to make a new home in sunny Spain.