Retire to Where and Do What?
The term “Golden Years” seems to have all kinds of connotations;
to some it may mean the beginning of the end, to others more fortunate
it means the years of freedom with gold! Yes, to many of the latest generation
of baby boomers about to retire or recently retired, the “Golden
Years” have become the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, i.e.,
the free time and the financial ability to enjoy their favorite activities
and perhaps even serve a purpose to their community. Retirement often
coincides with important life changes; over time, a retiree will virtually
eliminate the frequent social contacts with previous work-related associates,
will have a completely different spending pattern, will have the time
for new or inactive hobbies, sports, or other activities, might sell a
long term residence, and yes, may even move to a new location. Upon retiring
13 years ago, we moved to a secluded gated community in Clearwater, Florida.
It was very nice, however it seemed that all the neighbors were still
working and seldom around during the days and therefore nobody knew anybody
in the neighborhood. We met some nice folks at the local country club;
however most of them could only play one day per week or on Saturday because
they too had jobs that occupied their time. When you did run into a group
of retirees, like over at the local shuffleboard courts, they seemed to
be geezers on their way out! We were still young, at least at heart, and
wanted to play every day and every night. We finally had the financial
ability and free time to do whatever we wanted to do, only needing friends
and good weather to do it.
We had been vacationing at our condo in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, known
as PV or Vallarta, since 1984 and we knew that the climate in PV was absolutely
perfect from November through May, its seven month “high season”.
We had no idea what there was to do in Vallarta other than lay on the
beach and drink cervezas or sip on margaritas nor did we know whether
or not there were any other retired Americans or Canadians living there.
In 1997, we sold the condo and purchased a luxurious new villa on the
mountainside overlooking Banderas Bay and El Centro, the downtown area
of PV. Our plan was to spend six months in Clearwater and six months in
Vallarta per year. The first six months of November through April were
spent in PV and the second six months of May through October in Clearwater.
Perhaps that wasn’t fair because the extreme heat in Florida made
that summer miserable, especially after having so much fun during the
previous six months in Vallarta. The average daily temperature in PV had
been 73°F with virtually no rain the entire period. While in PV that
first year, we must have met over fifty nice couples and absolutely none
of them had to go to work tomorrow!
than a couple of golf courses, one that was playable, the other a cow
pasture, a couple of tennis courts, great deep sea fishing, and a couple
of small charity related clubs, there really wasn't a whole lot to do
in Vallarta during the gorgeous daytime. The nightlife was somewhat better
with parties at someone's house, condo, or restaurant almost every night.
The North American community was relatively small and very open to newcomers.
After the first year of splitting time between Florida and Vallarta, we
decided to sell the house in Clearwater and travel or cruise during the
summer months of June through October and spend the “high season”
During the ten years that we've lived in PV, things have changed dramatically.
Today, the size of the American/Canadian community is difficult to estimate
with thousands of new houses and tens of thousands of new condos having
been built. The population of our sleepy little Mexican fishing village
is now roughly 350,000 inhabitants and we can only guess that there are
50,000 Americans and Canadians here at any given time during the “high
season”. You can be assured that none of them have to go to work
tomorrow and that they're all in search for the same things; they are
here to enjoy life and reap the benefits of years of hard work. With perfect
weather, the remaining challenge is to find the things to do that are
most enjoyable. With good people, time, and money, those things came to
There are now seven magnificent golf courses in PV with three more either
in the planning or construction phase. There are too many tennis courts
to begin to count them and of course, deep sea fishing will always be
here. There are art classes, dancing classes, computer classes, language
classes, and classes for just about anything you ever wanted to learn
but never had the time. There are card clubs, fitness clubs, acting clubs,
car clubs, writing clubs, and clubs for anything of interest to retirees.
Another huge group of organizations in Vallarta has to do with charitable
activities; this includes the International
Friendship Club, Becas Foundation, Toys for Tots, Feed the Children, Make
a Wish Foundation, etc., which most of us are involved with to some extent.
There are so many daytime activities now in PV that one can be as busy
or as relaxed as he wants to be. The nightlife borders on being ridiculous
during the “high season” with the Malecon, or walkway along
the beach, being more active at midnight than it is at noon! There are
hundreds of fine restaurants and numerous parties every night. With so
much fun available, we’ve learned that in order to survive, sometimes
you just have to say no! To pass away the time at home, we all have satellite
TV with 350 channels and high speed internet service.
Today in PV we have clean water, clean food, safe living conditions, and
modern health care. Most importantly, we have many good friends that are
all here to enjoy life doing whatever pleases them under absolutely ideal
weather conditions. All of our friends are successful retirees, have good
health, and appreciate the perfect climate with an average temperature
of 73°F and clear skies. One of the main differences between Clearwater
and Vallarta is that in Vallarta, every single American or Canadian that
you see is here to enjoy the good life, is open to new friendships, and
has the day off tomorrow! Anyone retired or about to retire is really
missing the boat if they don't at least consider Vallarta as their retirement