Jump to content
Chapala.com Webboard
CHILLIN

Some are returning, for good

Recommended Posts

Sorry about that. Any articles with coronavirus heading, which this one does, are supposed to be free public access. Surprising takeaway (for me) was that the cash wealthy are the most likely to return for medical reasons.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People moving back north for medical or family reasons is a fixture of life in this community.  I'd like to read it but also do not subscribe or wish to.  Maybe you could excerpt it?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is the article from:

The Washington Post

By Sindya N. Bhanoo 

May 26, 2020

Retiring to a sunny foreign vacation spot was the American dream. Now the coronavirus is forcing some expats to come back.

Lured by warm weather and the prospect that their Social Security benefits would go further, a growing number of Americans had been looking to retire abroad.

When the borders between the United States and Mexico closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Hernán Drobny and Ann Barden, a retired couple from Michigan, swung into action.

Drobny, a former physician, called trusted, local doctors in their retirement enclave of San Miguel and asked if they would provide care, should the couple come down with covid-19. He looked into home delivery of oxygen tanks, purchased hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, unproven medications that have been used against the novel coronavirus, and made inquiries about in-home nursing.

More than two months later, Drobny is convinced it was the right call. “We have some sadness in feeling constrained, not seeing family and friends, and feel a bit stranded,” he said. But had they returned to their second home in Michigan the situation would have been the same, just colder, he said. “If we were not interested in intensive care, which would clearly be better in the U.S., we felt we could stay here,” Drobny said.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many American expat retirees to reevaluate their decision to live abroad, weighing their financial situations, access to health care and the prospect that cross-border movement could be limited to essential travel — cutting them off from loved ones. It is forcing some to put expat life on hold, or return years earlier than they had initially planned.

About 1.4 million American retirees receive Social Security payments abroad, though that figure may not include those who split their time between another country and the United States.

Until the pandemic brought vacation life to a grinding halt, the number of Americans choosing to retire to other countries had been climbing over the last few years, said David Kuenzi, a partner at Thun Financial Advisors in Madison, Wis., which has more than 500 Americans abroad as clients.

Kuenzi now expects a slowdown, and possibly a reversal in the movement of retirees outside the United States.

“If you’re elderly and high risk and think ‘If I get this I might need ventilation,’ then maybe the United States is the better place to be,” Kuenzi said. “As of right now, a lot of people who were planning a retirement abroad are putting those plans on hold.”

Olivia Mitchell, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania who studies pension, Social Security and retirement security, said that retirees tend to stay abroad until their health begins to deteriorate. Then, the United States becomes attractive again, because of the availability of health care and the proximity to family.

“There is a reverse flow to be closer to kids,” Mitchell said. “This epidemic may hasten that return flow for people on the edge of that, who are starting to struggle with taking care of themselves.”

For retirees already abroad, many of whom are considered high risk for severe illness with covid-19, the decision to stay or go home is personal, based on health, savings and the potential for social and economic upheaval in their adopted countries.

Retirees whose wealth and income is largely derived from U.S. investments need to factor in a potential drop in income from their investments or retirement plans and make sure they have a financial buffer.

“Cash is king, so ideally you’ve got a lot of savings,” said William Jordan, the incoming president of the Association of American Residents Overseas and a retired American diplomat living in Paris. “Having that cushion is key for any retiree, but especially for retirees abroad in times like this.”

It also makes sense to review health care in their retirement destination, Jordan said. “The coronavirus is acting as a test of health systems all around the world, and how they cope could affect whether people choose to retire overseas,” he said.

And then there are security considerations. “Billions of people are out of work in many countries,” Mitchell said. “Food security is declining and corruption, bankruptcy and thievery are clearly going to become more of a concern.”

Drobny and Barden are already beginning to factor those concerns into their plans. The couple expects to remain financially secure even as U.S. and global markets experience a significant downturn.

But Drobny does worry that economic instability might trigger social unrest in Mexico, where many locals who are dependent on the informal economy, working as housekeepers, gardeners and in other service industry jobs, are now out of work.

“People, when they’re desperate, do desperate things,” he said. If safety becomes a concern, he said he and his wife will return to the United States.

Deborah Bickel, an American who runs Be Well San Miguel, a health-care consulting service in San Miguel de Allende that helps expatriates navigate the Mexican health-care system, has advised dozens of retirees on whether to stay or return to the United States.

She advised some, including David and Barbara Ziff, who have lived in San Miguel for 10 years, to return to the United States because of preexisting medical conditions.

David Ziff, 75, had an aortic valve replacement 2½ years ago and has a pacemaker. Although the Ziffs were not worried about contracting the coronavirus in Mexico, they were worried about travel becoming difficult and dangerous. They wanted to be able to visit David’s cardiologist at Duke University, if the need arose. They drove from Mexico to North Carolina last month.

“When we crossed the border into Texas, I felt an enormous feeling of relief that we were back somewhere where we could get good medical care, converse with doctors in English and use Medicare,” Barbara Ziff, 73, said.

Their drive back was tense, as they armed themselves with cleaning products to wipe down hotel rooms. They will not return to Mexico until they feel safe traveling by air again.

“We’re thinking we’re here anywhere for six months to a couple years,” Barbara Ziff said. “It’s not so much financial for us, everything is health-based.”

They are still paying $1,250 a month in rent for their three-bedroom home in San Miguel, which they can manage through savings — David is a retired clinical psychologist and Barbara is a retired teacher — and because they have cash from the sale in February of their Chapel Hill house.

“We got all that cash, and the market is way down,” David Ziff said. "So we feel very lucky.”

For others, money is more of a concern. Ava Wilson, 72, and her husband moved from the Denver area to Lake Chapala, Mexico in 2008, after losing most of their savings in the stock-market crash. They sold their home in a short sale and bought a modest home in Lake Chapala that they have fixed up over the years.

The year they moved to Mexico, Wilson fell off a ladder. The couple did not have health insurance, and the accident cost them $30,000. They still have money in the stock market, but Wilson says they cover most of their living expenses through Social Security.

While they love Lake Chapala for its climate and easy living, they have talked about leaving Mexico. Wilson misses her grandchildren, the Internet is often spotty and simple tasks, like paying a phone bill, can be frustrating.

“For a short time we talked about having an escape plan,” she said. “We don’t know where to go where you can afford this lifestyle with fresh, clean air. Where do you go where you can live on your Social Security?”

For Janice Wenning, who has a home in Berkeley, Calif., getting home has been the challenge. Wenning, 63, and her husband have traveled between the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize and their home in Berkeley for the last 15 years. This year, they planned to be in Ambergris Caye for two months but extended their stay after the owner offered them the place at a discounted monthly rate.

“To have left in March would have thrown us into the fire,” she said. “Everything we were seeing going on in the States looked so bad.”

But then their flight in April was canceled, and Wenning and her husband began to worry, even as they continued swimming in the Caribbean and getting massages by the beach. They were finally able to get seats on a U.S. Embassy-arranged repatriation flight on May 6.

As they settle back into life in Berkeley, they are reconciling with the fact that they may not travel internationally for a long time, and that their vacations may be limited to places within driving distance.

“We’re in our 60s, even though we’re both very healthy we can’t just be ‘let’s go here’ like we did when we were in our 20s,” she said. “We are more conscious about the health aspects, the exposure aspects, and where health care might be limited, particularly for visitors or travelers.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story included the incorrect age for David Ziff. This has now been updated.


 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
54 minutes ago, CHILLIN said:

Sorry about that. Any articles with coronavirus heading, which this one does, are supposed to be free public access. Surprising takeaway (for me) was that the cash wealthy are the most likely to return for medical reasons.

That is something I did not know. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, Lily H said:

Olivia Mitchell, a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania who studies pension, Social Security and retirement security, said that retirees tend to stay abroad until their health begins to deteriorate. Then, the United States becomes attractive again, because of the availability of health care and the proximity to family.

Yep, and that is nothing new here.

Thank you very much for posting this Lily. 

There may be a silver lining in this cloud for lakeside, a slowdown or more people going back might slow down runaway development and cool overheated real estate sales and rental markets.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Me? 23 years ago, I lived in Seattle and came down to Mex for a few weeks every winter for a visit. As time has gone by I have been staying in Mexico more and more months each year. And I go up to the states three times per year for a visit. The last trip lasted only 23 days around Christmas. Well this trip which will probably start in early June will be for about 45 days because the sun will be out up there.  And I will admit that part of the reason I am staying so long has to do with the Corona virus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, CHILLIN said:

The first sentence is a bit of a problem. The US Mexican border never closed. It did and still is closed to non essential traffic but I don’t believe that affected heath care here.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, CHILLIN said:

Sorry about that. Any articles with coronavirus heading, which this one does, are supposed to be free public access. Surprising takeaway (for me) was that the cash wealthy are the most likely to return for medical reasons.

My subscription just lapsed so I may have this wrong but I believe anything in the corona virus recap is available to anybody at no cost. I can still see it but that may be because I am a recent former subscriber. I let my subscription lapse because there is just too darned much bad news.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/coronavirus/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It will be interesting to see if the coronavirus has any effect on the thousands of snowbirds who escape cold country of Canada and the US to enjoy warm weather along Mexico's Pacific coast. There was an early mass exodus in early March this year.

The first snowbirds normally arrive late October into early November and stay until Easter. Potentially they'll face a tradeoff - fear of travel or certain misery remaining in a dark, cold and snowy winter for 6 months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, tsktsktsk said:

Slowing down the real estate market is surely the last thing the owners of this Board, Coldwell Banker, would want to suggest.

No one is suggesting it, it is just happening.  Check the MLS.

Won't be the first time.  And it won't be the last.  RE markets are cyclical.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

“We got all that cash, and the market is way down,” David Ziff said

Maybe a couple of months ago, not now ( unbelievably )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Lily H said:

simple tasks, like paying a phone bill, can be frustrating.

Those who find simple tasks, like paying a phone bill, frustrating, might consider learning enough of the language of the country they are relocating to that those tasks are not frustrating, or perhaps consider that they are ill-suited for life outside their own country.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please quote the Washington Post writer Sindya N. Bhanoo to be accurate.

Not my words.

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Expats return home all the time for a variety of reasons, health being one. On the reverse side many people become expats to get better and lower cost medical and dental service.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Mainecoons said:

No one is suggesting it, it is just happening.  Check the MLS.

Won't be the first time.  And it won't be the last.  RE markets are cyclical.

You called it a "silver lining". Same thing.

  • Sad 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, mudgirl said:

Those who find simple tasks, like paying a phone bill, frustrating, might consider learning enough of the language of the country they are relocating to that those tasks are not frustrating, or perhaps consider that they are ill-suited for life outside their own country.

Not the way it works. Advertising blares out that practically everyone speaks English, to "make it easy on yourself".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, tsktsktsk said:

You called it a "silver lining". Same thing.

The local Mexican realtors let it be known, truth or fantasy, that the local expats are selling up at panic prices. There you go, problem solved. Always a new ship of fools in that game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, mudgirl said:

Those who find simple tasks, like paying a phone bill, frustrating, might consider learning enough of the language of the country they are relocating to that those tasks are not frustrating, or perhaps consider that they are ill-suited for life outside their own country.

With respect many  "trivial things" can turn in to "big issues" as we age regardless if we are in our home country or in a foreign one..and as many continue to report the issue of health care etc is the # 1 reason for folks going back. Frankly even when we have 100% of our facilities Mexico  is not I repeat not the easiest place for a tranquil living style..maybe for you but not the majority of folks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, CHILLIN said:

The local Mexican realtors let it be known, truth or fantasy, that the local expats are selling up at panic prices. There you go, problem solved. Always a new ship of fools in that game.

...There you go again. Where do you get your facts?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, lakeside7 said:

Mexico  is not I repeat not the easiest place for a tranquil living style..maybe for you but not the majority of folks.

Could you expound on your reasoning for saying that?  Lakeside specifically.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, tsktsktsk said:

You called it a "silver lining". Same thing.

For renters and buyers it is. For sellers and landlords not so much.  Realtors make money on turnover.  The worse market for them is when there is no inventory.  That doesn't seem to be the case at this time.  There is opportunity for the best agents in every market.

The silver lining I referred to is the slow down in new construction and speculation piling on far faster than the local infrastructure can accommodate.  CB is not a big player in the new development here.  Their primary game is resale and rental.  The inventory crunch up until the last couple months was not good for them.

The really good realtors know markets are cyclical and they are prepared financially and tactically for down markets.  During those markets a lot of the competition disappears and when things turn up, the survivors clean up.  CB has been around here a long time, they are definitely one of the survivors.

The fundamentals of a very big bulge of retirements as the baby boom ages is still in place.  I'd rather own here than some big house in some declining northern city.  There no demographic trend that favors that market.

We sold up north and bought down here when markets were hot, so it balanced out.  Then the recession came along and there was a glut of houses being sold and many when they could not sell, rented.  So there was a glut of that too.  Then when the U.S. economy took off, so did the local market.

CV interrupted a major boom here.  Too early to tell if it will return.

You needn't worry about CB.  They are definitely skilled, experienced and quite good at survival.  I'm sure they appreciate your concern though.  :D 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, johanson said:

Me? 23 years ago, I lived in Seattle and came down to Mex for a few weeks every winter for a visit. As time has gone by I have been staying in Mexico more and more months each year. And I go up to the states three times per year for a visit. The last trip lasted only 23 days around Christmas. Well this trip which will probably start in early June will be for about 45 days because the sun will be out up there.  And I will admit that part of the reason I am staying so long has to do with the Corona virus

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and plans ...Pete you are one of the 1% who are able to have the flexibility you have....and also have freely shared  your time and talents with those others at Lakeside....but as age creeps up upon us we begin to have different priorities...what ever you decide Stay Well my friend

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...