New book (January 2019), Lake Chapala – Beneath The Surface – Considerations For Retiring in Mexico by local Redmond Author Bill Dahl hits #1 on Amazon – New Releases – Senior Travel.
What motivated you to write this book?
“Where should I retire?” It‘s a common question in North America as Baby Boomers contemplate how and where they might spend the remainder of this life. For tens of thousands, this question includes destinations outside the U.S. or Canada. Oftentimes, this process involves mulling over Mexico. Every January, the publication International Living, provides retirees with suggestions using their Annual Global Retirement Index. In 2018, Mexico was ranked as the Second Best Place to retire by IL. Estimates vary, but it’s safe to conclude that more than a few million Americans and Canadians now reside primarily in Mexico. From the present through 2030, an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers will achieve retirement age each day.[i] I refer to this phenomenon in the book as The MEXODUS.
My wife and I began pondering this question during the last two years. We adore other cultures. We spent hours upon hours searching the internet, watching a few hundred YouTube videos, and talking to others about this possibility. This included extensive conversations with our Hispanic friends in the U.S. — most of whom have family and friends currently residing in Mexico. During our marriage, we have traveled to Mexico on numerous occasions. Typically, Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Cozumel, Mexico City, a cruise to Ensenada and a walk around Tijuana (for a few hours) – like most American and Canadian tourists do. So, we made a decision.
In August 2018, we set out for a region in Mexico we had never explored before: central Mexico — the state of Jalisco — Guadalajara and Lake Chapala. This region was recommended to us by our Hispanic friends and confirmed by our research. What motivated us, along with millions of others? We had four: A reduced cost of living, access to more affordable healthcare, a better climate (no cold and snow) and new cultural adventures. We spent two weeks in the area in August 2018 and I returned by myself for another two weeks in October-November 2018. There are an estimated 10-20,000 expats, primarily from the U.S. and Canada who currently reside in Ajijic (and the surrounding area) — on the north shore of Lake Chapala. Some live their part time, others full-time.
I did not travel to Mexico with this book in mind. The inspirations for this book found me — my heart and my mind. The motivation for this book was both unexpected and unintentional. Yet, when confronted with these realities, I knew I had to write about them.
So, what caused you to dig deeper after your visits?
During our investigation of the area, there were a few things that inspired me to dig deeper – beneath the surface of Lake Chapala. I never saw anyone swimming in the Lake. I never saw pets in the water. I witnessed Mexican resident fishermen spraying pesticides on the water lilies that inhabit the lake. I never saw anyone recreating on the lake (with the exception of rides in tourist boats departing from the shore of the municipality of Chapala). There were notices in our hotel room declaring “Don’t drink the water!” I also noticed that the prices for housing and restaurants had noticeably increased between August and November 2018. I asked myself, “What’s up with this?” Thus, I had to dig deeper.
So, how did the content of the book develop?
I interviewed dozens and dozens of seniors either currently residing in the area — or contemplating the same — primarily from Canada and the U.S. during these visits. After returning to the U.S., I began developing and reaching out to Mexican contacts who are in the environmental regulatory sector, public health, corruption scholars, authors, media resources, researchers and advocacy groups. I also studied the scientific research that has been completed in the Lake Chapala basin.
What did you find?
Mexico is not unlike any other country on the planet; it possesses extraordinary positives it is proud to share with the world — and — it has current issues that it would rather not speak about. We encountered both in the Lake Chapala and Guadalajara areas.
The cost of living for expats considering retiring in Mexico is increasing — primarily due to the sheer numbers of American and Canadian retirees headed south — to Mexico (I refer to this phenomenon as The MEXODUS in the book). The Lake Chapala basin is inhabited by some very serious environmental, public health, safety, infrastructure, financial, and corruption in governance issues. These are well documented in the book.
It’s also interesting to note that the internet and YouTube are populated with a heavy dose of positive spin — encouraging boomer retirees to head to Mexico. Boomers are BIG business. Retirement is BIG Business. Tourism in Mexico is a significant sector of their GDP and as a source of foreign exchange. Yet, very few authors dig “beneath the surface” of this positive spin narrative, as I did in this book, with American and Canadian retirees in mind, as an audience to more fully inform.
What is the most satisfying feedback you are receiving from readers?
Readers are very grateful for the “full disclosure” that inhabits the book. SEE separate email “Feedback From Readers.” People who were considering this area for retirement, read the book, and are now reconsidering other areas for retirement in Mexico, as they have health and environmental sensitivity issues that they must take into account — that they were unaware of — until they read the book. The expressions of gratitude from folks like these have been very fulfilling. The book has been received well by others who are contemplating retirement in Mexico — not necessarily the Lake Chapala area.
What about criticism?
Any decent literary work inspires dialog. The criticism of Lake Chapala — Beneath the Surface is coming primarily from those who have a vested financial interest in maintaining the positive spin narrative; those involved in selling real estate and those who own real estate in the Lake Chapala area.
Are there any unanticipated benefits publishing the book have created?
Sure. I published certain chapters of the book on my website to obtain pre-pub reader feedback (https://www.BillDahl.net). The response went viral. The visits to my website soared to over 1,000 unique visitors per day. The emails from grateful readers are the most surprising and satisfying. I was asked to be a columnist for Mexico News Daily – a widely read, subscription based, English language, on-line media outlet in Guadalajara. That’s been fun. My interview with corruption in Mexico scholar Dr. Jose Ivan Rodriguez — Sanchez of Rice University’s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy — Mexico Center (a chapter in the book) has been published, in part, by several anti-corruption organizations — and is being translated into Spanish and Portuguese for forthcoming publications. I have been asked to attend several conferences and present my working paper on the subject of environmental and public health hazards as outcomes of corruption (a lengthy chapter in the book). I’ve also been asked to participate in forthcoming research endeavors on corruption in Mexico with established corruption scholars, and co-author some future papers.
Are you writing any other books?
I am in the final year of a three year project writing a non-fiction behavioral economics manuscript focused on the Great Recession. I hope to finish by 12-31-2019. I also have a second manuscript I am completing entitled Regarding Reggie — Lessons About Life and Love in the Lap of A Lab. It’s a non-fiction work about what my 11 year old Black Lab Reggie has taught me over the last decade as we explored, fished, photographed, and hiked the western U.S. — some 50,000 miles of journeys together.
What would you share with people in Central Oregon who have a book in their heart, yet can’t seem to find the time to write it?
You can’t “find time” to write, you’ll never get anything written. You have to “make time” to write. The mental/attitudinal approach to writing is imperative. Don’t view it as a task to be accomplished. Enjoy it! Follow the inspiration for your passion. It’s good for the soul. Humans have been referred to not only as homo-sapiens, but as homo fictus — as the storytelling species. Tell your story.
What did you learn from writing Lake Chapala – Beneath the Surface – Considerations for Retiring in Mexico?
Go with the flow. Follow your gut. When considering retirement, you simply have to invest the time and resources to fully explore the possibilities — particularly when you are contemplating relocation to another country/culture. People sincerely appreciate the effort to disclose realities that lie “beneath the surface” — that they are not currently aware of — and would be unlikely to discover on their own by simply skimming the surface of the mainstream (internet) resources.