Part-Time Retirement In Guanajuato

Living Between Tucson And The Most Romantic City In The Americas

Americans Rex Scofield and Rita Weatherholt have been living in Tucson, Arizona, for the past 15 years. Today, though, Tucson is only their part-time home.

In 2009, as Rita’s 50th birthday approached, the couple was looking around for options for how to mark the event. They knew they wanted to celebrate outside the United States. Initially, the pair planned a cycling trip in Italy, but, as the date approached, they just weren’t ready to do that.

Rex and Rita had read Tony Cohen’s book “On Mexican Time.” Rex remembered a passage about Guanajuato, which prompted him to do a little Internet research.

The cobbled streets, the history and culture, and the city’s walkability made the place very interesting to Rex and Rita. Guanajuato, they decided, would be where they’d celebrate Rita’s big birthday. They spent the first week of October 2009 in the city and fell in love.

Too young to retire, Rex and Rita began devising a plan to be able to spend as much time as possible in this city they couldn’t resist. Back in Tucson, Rita continues work as Executive Director for a statewide non-profit serving blind and deaf children, and Rex is an automotive professional.

“What really drew us to Guanajuato,” the couple explains, “was the impression that this beautiful, thriving city is worlds away from the commerciality of the United States. We loved that we had to struggle with the language and that people were so gracious. We found great food (not a single bad meal) and kind, welcoming people.”

Rex and Rita considered other places in Mexico, including San Miguel de Allende and Ajijic.

“San Miguel de Allende didn’t appeal,” they explain, “because, to us, it seemed, simply, a ‘Little America.’ If we wanted that, we would’ve stayed in the United States.

“Guanajuato isn’t as polished as San Miguel de Allende. It feels like a real, working Mexican city. We like that.”

Three years after discovering Guanajuato, Rex and Rita still live primarily in Tucson, but Guanajuato has become their second home. They’ve bought a “vacation place” that could serve as a primary residence, if and when they decide to make the move full-time.

“It’s undoubtedly less expensive living here,” they explain. “The house we’ve bought cost half to one-third what a comparable place would have cost back home. Utilities, too, are probably half to one-third the cost, with the exception of telecommunications, which are expensive. We eat out a lot. Still, our food cost is probably 75% what it was in the States, and the produce is generally better quality.”

What advice would Rex and Rita offer somebody interested in doing what they’ve done?

“Keep your expectations in check,” they say, “and be committed to becoming part of the culture, rather than trying to import your home culture with you.

“Our life here is relaxed. We sleep in occasionally, then go out to our favorite restaurant for breakfast. Usually, though, Rita gets up early to run and finds all the hills to be a wonderful, often excruciating, challenge. We wander around, maybe come back for a nap, which is something that we can never, ever do back in the U.S. Usually we’re out in the evenings, something that we don’t typically do back in Tucson either. Lots of walking and looking at the town. That’s our life here…”

Rex is a hobby photographer, and Rita likes to write. Guanajuato is an ideal backdrop for these activities.

“Probably our favorite pastime, though,” the couple explains, “is sitting on the bridge at Santo Café watching all the kids coming from their schools, holding hands, and the older siblings helping the younger ones. Or, in the evenings, watching the dancers…

“We’ve discovered a sweet, simple life in a beautiful, historic city, the kind of life we didn’t know still existed anywhere…”

Kathleen Peddicord

Editor’s Note: Our complete interview with Guanajuato expats Rex Scofield and Rita Weatherholt is featured in the current issue of the Overseas Retirement Letter.

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