Monday, March 28, 2016

AriMex: Our Next Chapter

View of Tucson from the front porch of our mobile home

This July will mark two years since our return to the U.S. from Mexico. We've appreciated the easy pace and access to wilderness in our current small town of Cañon City, Colorado, but have also found ourselves spending more and more time away.

A good friend advised me to seriously check out Albuquerque and Santa Fe before we moved here since they have so much more going on in areas like Buddhist study and practise, the arts, local food and other areas of interest but what kept coming up for us instead were things in and near Tucson, Arizona. Arizona, given its politics alone, was never on our radar screen as a place to live, but a couple of Dharma teachers we love live in and around the city, and we've also found ourselves captivated by the subtle beauty and silence of hikes in the desert.

Daytime view from the covered patio

Environment aside, what's really sold us on Tucson is the vibrant, feisty and very welcoming progressive community, from local food and microbrew fanatics to a very diverse and socially-engaged subset of the Buddhist and Christian contemplative communities. Both Erin and I see many opportunities to serve and to make a difference, and after spending years in small towns the chance to be part of thriving, age-diverse communities in the real world (rather than relying mostly on the internet!) is very exciting.

I've written at some length about the financial aspects of what we're doing, in part in hopes of helping others avoid mistakes we've made and in part to give a bit of hope to other folks faced with semi- or full retirement on very modest incomes - knowing that such situations are all-too-common. While Tucson certainly isn't as cheap as Cañon City it's still very affordable by U.S. standards and a good 20% cheaper than Albuquerque (and probably more like 50% cheaper than Santa Fe, given the crazy housing costs there).

The key for us was finding a comfortable, well-maintained 2 bedroom, 2 bath older mobile home in a spectacularly-situated 55-and-over community on the West side of the city. We have miles of great hiking right from our door, yet are an easy (and lightly-trafficked) 8 minute drive (or pleasant 20 minute bike ride) to the heart of downtown. With $15,000 tied up in the home and the monthly lot rent of $455 including access to a year-round salt water pool, gym and clubhouse we'll be able to continue to live a decent lifestyle during the 8 months each year (October-May) we plan on being in town. Given the summer temperatures in Tucson we wouldn't have considered moving there without a viable way to escape, and we're fortunate both in having family in the Pacific Northwest and, decisively, in loving our "second home" of Lake Chapala, Mexico, where we plan on spending at least 3 months enjoying the very best time of year there, the rainy season.

Lake Chapala sunset

Given the crazy political situation in the U.S. and the fact that our ability to be here at all is entirely dependent on the continued existence of always-under-attack Obamacare we know we need to keep our footprint light and our options open. For now and for the foreseeable future spending two-thirds of each year in Arizona and a third in Mexico sounds just right.

Linda Vista trail living up to its name


Jordan said...

I wish you and Erin the very best in your Tucson home. It sounds like a wonderful match for your needs, providing spiritual and cultural enrichment and the opportunity to learn and teach, not to mention the natural beauty of the area.

The Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare, warts and all, has helped several of my friends get reasonably priced health care when they could not prior to its inception. Nice to hear it's helping you too.

Kind Regards,

Linda said...

I wish you all the best; your photos are beautiful. Warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. :)