Back in the very first part of April, we at Best Mexico Movers had the pleasure of moving two gentle, kind, interesting and talented people to the Lake Chapala area: David Hudnall and Roy Haynes. (That’s Roy on our left and David on our right.)
We also enjoyed the honor of being invited to what was essentially their housewarming party last Friday, along with what seemed like 100 or so of their new, local friends.
If you enjoy what I’ll call “Palm Springs mid-century modern” (sorry, Roy and David, if I got it wrong), with masterful accents of everything from African masks, very artfully displayed bottles, fearless use of color that works great, and overall inspired and talented decorating, see if you can wrangle yourself an invitation to their home. What they’ve done in the just three months since their home was full of boxes is nothing short of amazing. You’ll love it.
Here are Roy’s answers to our questionnaire introducing him to the community he provided on behalf of himself and his husband, David.
Your name: Roy Haynes
Your husband’s name: David Hudnall
Where did you move from? Greenville, South Carolina, US
Where did you move to? We brought a house in Riberas del Pilar
What work did you do in South Carolina?
I held many roles during my 25+ years tenure working for Belk Department Stores Inc, such as visual manager, regional visual manager, model store visual coordinator, etc. During my retail career, I was used to moving things and opening stores. But moving to Mexico was an experience a little different than I was used to. My background helped with the packing process.
What was it about the Lake Chapala area that caused you to want to move here?
My husband, a retired dentist, wanted to retire to a foreign country with a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life than the US. We felt like everything in the US was centered around working harder to make more money. In many foreign countries, the priorities of the native people are on the family and we liked that idea. We were both retiring early; me at age 55 and him at age 58. We had to lower our cost of living to allow us to live many more years in retirement. We started our search in Ecuador in the fall 2017. However, there was no place in Ecuador really spoke to us as a place to live. Visit yes, live no.
Mexico was next on our list of countries and after some brief exploration, we discovered the Lake Chapala area and were sold. We knew we didn’t want to live in the humid, coastal areas of the country. The Colonial Highlands of Central Mexico were our target. We started with 3 criteria in our search:
1) lower cost of living;
2) close to an international airport; and,
3) a cultural and theatrical community.
The Chapala/Ajijic area had all three and just felt like home; especially after meeting so many nice and helpful people along the way. We were brave and lucky. We bought our dream house, while it was still under construction, after visiting the area for 1 week. We managed the construction from the US and visited twice before the house was finished 5 months after buying it.
What are your plans here over the next few years?
Much travel, meeting people, making good friends, enjoying everyday life, learning about the Mexican culture, and learning the Spanish language.
What are you most looking forward to doing at your new home here in Riberas de Pilar?
Relaxation. Not needing to get up early every morning to go to a job that I no longer want to be associated with.
What do you wish you knew “then” that you know “now”?
There are certain things (mainly foods, cosmetic, and decor items) that you can’t get here that are readily available in the US. But you learn to adapt. All the paperwork…so much paperwork to do anything in Mexico such as opening a bank account, buying a car, getting medical insurance, etc.
What advice do you have for anyone moving here?
Do your homework. Research the area. Make a lot of friends. Ask everyone you meet plenty of questions and adapt their response to fit your own unique situation. There is usually something in the response that you will use at some point. There are NO DUMB questions.
We have had many traveling nomads tell us to sell everything in the US and buy what we need when we get here. That may work for some people but not us. The best thing we did was to come to the area while our house was still under construction and really shop and explore what is locally available. Think of what you will need in your new space. If you can’t find the specific things you want to set up a comfortable home for yourself locally, bring it from the US. Even WalMart and Home Depot here don’t have the merchandise that we were accustomed to at their US stores. You will regret not bringing the things that make your life easier.
What was your biggest misconception about Mexico?
That is unsafe to live here. This was a common comment when we told people we were moving to Mexico. In reality, there are unsafe areas in every country, state, city across the globe. Mexico is no different. Use common sense. Avoid going into areas that are clearly a bad neighbor and you will be ok.
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you?
We somehow became the test couple for moving abroad within our circle of friends and acquaintances. So many people had negative things to say about why we were moving out of the country to retire early. It was mostly fear-based comments to the unknown.
Most people don’t take charge of their own lives and consider other alternatives that can actually change the course of their own destiny. Why settle for how the company you have worked for for 20 years treats you just to get the health insurance? As our moving process went on and became a reality, some of those same people have realized they can never afford to retire in the US and have checked into moving abroad themselves.
What hobbies and other activities do you plan to do here?
I plan on doing some work with the local theatre, maybe some home staging and interior design projects, volunteering, traveling around the beautiful country of Mexico, and just relaxing and taking in the natural beauty.
If you had to do your move all over again, what would you change?
I would have spent more time learning Spanish prior to moving. I feel like I must play catch-up with Spanish classes here which is difficult to do while you are setting up a home and doing all of the things it takes to immigrate, buy a car, get other official documents that make you a resident of the community, etc. Spanish knowledge would have made the process easier.
What’s the first thing you did after you put away your household goods?
Started decorating and getting settled. Restocked the kitchen for cooking meals. We are spoiled in the US. You can go to one grocery store and find everything you need to cook a meal. In Mexico, you have to go to multiple markets to find basic staple ingredients. If you see something you need in one store, buy it. A similar item usually cannot be found in another store. Also, the way items are organized is very counter-intuitive to the US brain. Items that should be grouped together in our way of thinking are not located near one another in a Mexican Supermercado.
What was the most stressful part about moving to the Lake Chapala area?
Getting all the projects completed in the US like an estate sale, selling your current home, paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork before moving. Packing and deciding what to take, what to sell, hoping you are taking enough stuff and if you are taking the right stuff. I personally brought way too many clothes that I will never wear.
What were you most happily surprised by about moving to the Lake Chapala area?
That the moving process went so smoothly, thanks to Chuck and team. We shipped a large collection of glass decor and it all arrived unbroken. We arrived on a Monday and our belongings arrived 3 days later.
What should we know about you we forgot to ask?
Being two men married to one another, we haven’t had a bit of problem being accepted into the community here, both with Mexicans and immigrants.