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Reviewed by Christina Hamlett for Readers' Favorite
Travis Scott Luther’s book, The Fun Side of the Wall, reflects a conscientious and compelling study of why the Baby Boomer generation is so enamored with making their retirement dollars stretch by retiring south of the border. Not only do ex-pats find housing and healthcare more affordable but their value as seasoned citizens garners much more respect than in the U.S. where youth and beauty are touted as perfection. Luther cites that expectations of retirement have radically changed from the time of our grandparents and even our parents. His chapters consistently emphasize that 50 is the new 30 and serves up a well-researched overview of what the various ex-pat enclaves throughout the country have to offer in terms of a leisure lifestyle, creative/artistic enrichment, a fatter portfolio, and even opportunities to find new romance.
Historical/political retrospectives, a diversity of interviewee stories, and Travis Scott Luther’s own initial challenges of seeing Mexico and its people through a different lens than those who just visit on vacations are matched only by the precision of his methodologies to acquire useful data. As a Baby Boomer myself, I can relate to his observations that our longer life expectancy doesn’t necessarily translate to long-term security in the workforce. As lower wage-earners to begin with, female retirees don’t just have less income to put toward a nest egg but are also more likely to become divorced and/or become responsible for the care of elderly relatives and offspring who are forced to return home. Little surprise, then, that single and divorced women are twice as likely as men to emigrate to Mexico in a quest to begin their lives anew.
Likewise, Chapter 8 of The Fun Side of the Wall packs a potent punch in the discussion of ageism as a strong factor for relocation. If despite having years of expertise (and years more to be a vibrant contributor to society), an older person feels marginalized, it only makes sense to gravitate to new communities of kindred spirits. Those communities, Luther asserts, already exist in Mexico and are well worth taking a look. I do appreciate, however, his candid caveat that Mexico isn’t for everyone. If you’re accustomed to a stressful lifestyle and have a difficult time unwinding, the glacially slow pace can be as unsettling as what is called “island time” in Hawaii.