We recently received a comment stating "I have a curiosity about how all you boaters fund the extended lifestyle of traveling. Could you enlighten me on how your family survives and buys things?" The comment was posted under the blog entry titled "A New Level of Luxury" about our week in a condo unit here at Marina El Cid. I could certainly see how that posting might mislead people and I have to confess that we got a SCREAMING deal through a friend of a friend - the entire week in the condo cost us $50 US! It was truly a gift from the universe and we took it and reveled in it. Honestly it was a real treat and we have done nothing like it in the two years down here.
So with that misconception aside, the question remains. How do we fund this? Well, we are extremely fortunate. But we got that way with a lot of hard work. My husband worked a very good job for 18 years, during which time we always lived under our means, investing and saving the excess. Our only debt was a mortgage, and that was at much less than the value of the house. Then we were extremely fortunate to sell our house right before the market nose-dived in 2008. Ever since then we have been living off the proceeds from the sale, the money we had saved in the bank, and investments. We did not win the lotto. As we tell our son, "We are spending your inheritance now."
Obviously, the families out cruising tend to have a much tighter budget than the retired people. For one thing, most families don't have money coming in every month, since they don't tend to have pensions and no Social Security. Also, we have not had as long a time working to amass money. For another, we are feeding more hungry mouths, and we have the costs of education materials and clothing for growing kids. The good news is that since we have kids and no real babysitters around, we rarely spend money out at night on a date. I can think of several families that are making ends meet because the father is still working while the family is cruising.
But basically everyone is trying to make their money last as long as they can. During the summer months up in the Sea of Cortez, we spend about $700 US for the entire month (and over half of the 700$ is the money that goes out every month for boat insurance and major medical insurance). During the winter, we come to Marina El Cid in Mazatlan as a "break" and spend about $3,000 US for the month. That is only because we spoil ourselves here. Our time in El Cid is limited - we can't afford to live like this for longer than a month or two. We spend a lot less in the other months.
Mexico is pretty cheap in a few ways, and that definitely helps the money last. Great food can be had for very little money, both in the markets, and in little taco stands. Marinas do not charge as much as those in the States - especially catamarans which get charged double at home for being so wide. There are tons of great anchorages that you can spend months of time at. If you own your boat outright and stay out of marinas, your housing expenses are basically nil. You can have a very good life here, for very little money compared to what it would cost in the States to feed, clothe, and house a family, and get medical help when needed.
The budgets of boaters range greatly, but the bottom line for the families stays the same. We all took a huge gamble to bring ourselves out here. We took a "time out" in our careers at the height of our earning potential. Patrick and I joke about it, but it's true - we "retired young" so we could work when we are old. We know we will never be as wealthy as we could have been if we had just kept on working. We know our money will be running out and we will have to go back and work. However, the gamble was an easy decision for us. Right now, we are spending all of our time (and money) with our son - when it matters. In just a few years he will be off on his own adventures, but we will always have a lifetime of great memories to keep us warm while we work in old age.
4 days ago