Almost a full decade ago, December 19th 2007 to be precise, Steve Cotton wrote ‘starting the journey’. It was the opening post of his blog, detailing his long search for a home on the Pacific coast of Mexico. And other tales. Many, many other -excellent – tales. He finally planted roots at the House With No Name, six or seven years later. It was an epic hunt, with enough twists and turns along the way to bear comparison with the search for Lord Lucan.
Has there ever been a blogged house hunting saga longer than Steve’s? Not to my knowledge. He’s the record holder, unless someone has done the research and can tell me differently. But records are meant to be broken. So let’s give it a go. I’m due to retire in 2039, but if things go well, perhaps I could aim for somewhere between 2035 and 2037. And circumstance and good fortune might see Mrs P and I invest in a Mexican property much earlier still. If I start my great house hunt now, I could smash Steve’s record by more than a decade.
My property requirements will be very different to Steve’s. I don’t wish to live by the sea – I’d much prefer to spend out my retirement in a more elevated region so that I might enjoy the year round warm spring-like days on offer along Mexico’s mountainous spine. I don’t particularly want a swimming pool, but a small pond big enough for a few turtles would be very nice indeed. And I don’t want a pad so spacious that in the UK it would be known as The Palace With No Name.
I would prefer a house, not an apartment. I would love to make an old colonial building my home. Perhaps even as a renovation project if the price is right, our budget big enough and my health still holding up. I could equally find my Mexican nirvana in a brand new/recent construction with all the latest mod cons. But I’d rather not have anything in between. Two beds might suffice, but a third bedroom would be a big selling point. Right in town or in the suburbs? Both are potentially fine by me.
Feature wise, I do have some essential requirements that must be met. An internal courtyard is an absolute must. A place of solitude and tranquility where I can read the Guardian on my iPad with my morning coffee and come evening, I may engage my turtles in light conversation with my Arran Gold nightcap.
I’d also like either a spacious first floor balcony or a roof terrace with a view. Somewhere I can retreat to write new posts of the Mexile without the constant interruptions from the turtles. The view can be of distant mountains or a hustling street below, I’m not fussy. I’ll probably be too old by then to find a view through a neighbour’s bedroom window terribly exciting.
But you know how these things go. You draw up a huge checklist of must-haves and absolutely-nots, then find yourself looking at something that ticks all the wrong boxes and is just perfect nonetheless. So let’s not get too hung up on checklists. Except that courtyard. Must have a courtyard. Definitely. Maybe.
What about location? Mexico is such a huge country. So many fine towns and cities to choose from. The most obvious place for Mrs P and I to lay our respective hats would be in Mexico City. And yet, whilst I rule nothing out, I’m not sure CDMX is my preferred retirement spot. Won’t I be too old for all that hustle and bustle? Do I want to face all that crime and pollution again? Will my aged ticker be sturdy enough to stand up to the constant earthquakes? I’m sure I can answer these questions now. No, yes and I hope so.
Guesthouse Aldama, Coyoacan.
Unfortunately, Mexico City will not give me the biggest bang for my property-allocated-buck. Far from it. I’d need to retire with a bank balance significantly larger than is currently anticipated. But you never know what the future holds. A nice little pad in Coyoacan would be delightful. I could even entertain the idea of purchasing a slightly larger property and opening a guest house. Mrs P and I were both enchanted by the Aldama Guest House we stayed in during our visit last September.
A far more likely location for us to see out our days is Merida. A lovely little city that has its pros and its con. Con, singular. A forty plus degree centigrade con. Ugh. But there are family reasons that make Merida worthy of consideration. Add to that the relative tranquility, the safety, the up to date medical facilities, the wonderful mix of modern, colonial and pre Colombian cultures and the value for money properties that are available. But Merida could yet have a drawback that puts me off. I really don’t want to live by the sea. By the middle of the century, if Trump* gets his way**, Merida might be in it***…
Playa del Merida
There is a third candidate city. My preferred option. Its sits on an elevated spot along the country’s mountainous spine. It’s a decent sized city without being too big. Like Merida, it has a fabulous mix of modern and colonial architecture with plenty of pre-Hispanic sites nearby. It’s a fairly easy coach ride to Mexico City. It’s not too expensive. A city I have been to just the once. But obviously, it left an impression. It was a place that, even back in 2007, had me thinking I that I could happily live there. Queretaro City.
Lazy days in Queretaro
Let the house hunting commence. I can’t promise that subsequent parts of this story will be provided as frequently as Steve managed. Indeed, I can pretty safely promise they won’t. Because I can’t even promise that part two will be published this decade. But it’s never too soon to start looking.
* What? Publish a post without having a dig at Trump? Absolutely not.
** He probably won’t though. Will the guy even get to finish his first term? Quite possibly not…
*** If sea levels rise about ten times more than current worst case scenarios…