Archive for the ‘Living In Mexico’ Category

Moving Your Stuff To Mexico

Friday, June 13th, 2008

David Simmonds

One of the first things I counsel people about when they contact me about their desire to move to Mexico is that they need to make damn sure they know what they are getting in to. They usually know about the many benefits of living in a paradise for up to one-half the cost and the the interesting culture where people mostly practice the live-and-let-live philosophy. What many don’t consider sufficiently is how they will adjust to being a minority, or how much they will miss home, or what it’s like to change shirts three times a day when the humidity hits.

I always advise people to rent a place for several months before moving their stuff down. Many find that six months is a good experience, but the American life of the 21st century is where they are most comfortable. The corner convenience store open 24/7, local TV news blandly covering the latest house fire…the security of the familiar. But once they decision has been made, and they decide to go for it, the more minute decisions are considered. And one of the most important is what do you take and how do you get it there? The best advice is to move the stuff that you abolutely need but not everything you think you want. If you have a large house to fill you might want to move some beds and some furniture, but keep in mind that Mexico makes beautiful furniture that is going to be more practical than the Early American set that you purchased three decades ago. In very humid areas of Mexico you will want wood pieces that do well in that environment, and you don’t want things that rust easily if you are near the coast. You will want to take your computer equiptment and some other electronics, but you never know for sure what mood the custom inspector will be in…they have been known to supplement their incomes while haggling these issues. And you, the harried traveler, are not in a good negotiating position, as you just want to be on your way.

Which brings us to what I believe is a good solution: hire someone who knows what they are doing to move your goods for you. One such company, based in San Miguel de Allende, is SanMiguelMoving.com http://www.sanmiguelmoving.com/. They use a 26 foot trailer and will move you anywhere in Mexico. Prices generally run in the $4,000 – $12,000 range, depending on where and how much. They have a quote form on their web site and you can email them direct at SanMiguelMoving@gmail.com . The also offer auto delivery if you just want to fly in but have your car when you arrive.

Moving to another country is a big deal, and will stress you considerably at the beginning. You can lessen the physically hard part of it by contracting out to people who are experienced.

Your Can Work In Mexico…Sometimes

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

David Simmonds 

Working in Mexico is not easy for foreigners. Unless you are sponsored by a company based in Mexico you are prohibited from being employed as long as a Mexican can do the same job. Of course, there are exceptions. You can always find gringos selling condo timeshares in Cabo, PV and Cancun, and others find ways to work under the radar, hoping they don’t get caught. If/when they do get caught they are often expelled from the country and may have a hard time gaining entry again for some time. Generally, if you own a business you can work that business, but may even be limited there in what duties you can perform.

Now that you know you probably can’t work in Mexico, I’m going to tell you that you can. This web site http://www.esljobs.com/mexico/tesltefl-in-mexico-2/ contains a constant stream of jobs teaching English in Mexico. I counted 20 job opportunities that have been posted in just the last 2 months. Some only pay $600 – 700 a month or so, including room and board, but a Mexico City job pays $1400 plus housing and a food allowance. Speaking Spanish is generally not required, and is seen as a negative in some cases.

This is a great way to spend a year. You won’t get wealthy, but you will be enriched. Guaranteed.

A Nation In Economic Decline

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

David Simmonds

It has been well-documented that the 20th century was America’s century. Or at least it has been since the end of WWII, about the time the first wave of boomers were born. We began the year 2000 as the lone super power with an economy that was the envy of the world. But there were cracks in the foundation and the past eight years have seen these cracks morph into rapidly expanding sinkholes. And there aren’t enough life-jackets to save everyone.

With a disasterous, unlawful war that is eating up $3 billion per week, our unfunded goverment obligations now total some $57.3 trillion, or about $500,000 per household. Now consider, the average household net worth is about $70,000. I’m no math genius, but how do you get the money to pay the bills? The typical American household is broke and in debt. Eventually, these numbers come home to roost and when it does America will not be the same place as it was when we grew up. Indeed, it is not now. Our country is in decline at the time that many of us are about to retire. Much of the world is catching up and there’s only so much to go around.

The oil producing countries, with the tacit approval of some in our government, have been orchestrating the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world, from oil-users to oil-owners. At the start of the war a barrel of oil was $24.00, now it is heading towards $200.00. A gallon of gas will soon be $5.00. George Bush has just returned from Saudi Arabia, where he reportedly asked his old business friends for a price break. They told him to pound sand. Do you feel a shift in power here? Yeah, me too.

Let’s face it, most Americans are going to have to change their lifestyles and priorities in the next few years, if not right away. You better start making long term plans now. You can hunker down and hope for the best, or you can lift your head and look farther down the road, the road heading south, and find an area of Mexico that you think you might enjoy. Whatever money you have will go 30-100% farther in Mexico, depending on where you live and what your requirements are. Start your search now, or prepare for a life you had not imagined.

Yes, I believe that America will someday rebound from the pendulum swing. But it will take time, maybe a few decades, and some of us don’t have that much time left.

Boomers Are Tanking

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

David Simmonds

There was a recent Wall Street Journal story describing the number of boomers who are now borrowing money to live day-to-day. The content of the story isn’t as suprising as that it was in the WSJ, a once-reliable publication now owned by far right-wing idiot, Rupert Murdoch. They usually don’t report bad news under GOP leadership.

The AARP study reveals that one in 10 middle-aged and older Americans are borrowing money to pay their bills and to help out family members who need financial help. With spiraling gas and food prices this is a trend that is sure to worsen. Virtually everyone around my age that I personally know is worse off than they have been for years, and I’m talking about mostly professionals with higher educations. And do you know what they are asking me? “Tell me more about moving to Mexico. We need to find a way to live well on the money we have left.” I live in San Diego, a pretty conservative town, and many of my friends vote Republican. But most of them are voting for Obama in November because they are seeing the results of three decades of policies that have benefitted corporate America instead of its citizens. But just as is took many years to get to where we are, it will take many more to fix the problems that got us here. And that’s why they ask about Mexico: they want to live well for less money…now.

So, I tell them what I know to be true. I tell them that they have bought all the toys, eaten at all the restaurants, taken the cruises and the Vegas runs, and look where they are. Those things were fun, but think back about your life. When were you truly the happiest? Usually they will admit to a time in life when they didn’t have the money to buy all the toys, take all the cruises. A time when contentment was a walk on the beach or the woods, a good conversation, changing diapers and quiet evenings with the family. And I tell them that that life can be recaptured, and I tell them about Mexico.

Enjoy Mexico Life, Don’t Try to Change It

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

David Simmonds

Everyone who thinks about, or actually does, move to Mexico has their own personal reasons. The list is long and varied, but a factor on everyone’s list is the appeal of the lifestyle that Mexico offers. By that I mean the slow, uncomplicated pace of every day living where you know your neighbors, the local shopkeepers, cops and community honchos. Where there are not strip malls on every corner that look the same in Los Angeles as they do in Atlanta. Where houses are built to live in, not to impress, with 2,000 more square feet than you need. Where you can walk to buy most everything you require, often without driving your car (if you even own one) for several days. It’s just a different life than we have in the U.S., and once you experience it, you’ll never want to return to the mind-numbing, ulcer-causing treadmill in el norte.

Maybe.

Because here’s what I see way too often: some people are so wired and conditioned into Americana burnout that they can’t slow down and adapt to the Mexico tempo – and so they try to change the place they have escaped to. You see it in the expat havens that have become so popular, especially around Lake Chapala and the once idyllic beach towns like Sayulita in Nayarit and Playa del Carmen on the Mexican Riviera. They come, settle in, and then the complaints start. “We need to control the dogs in this neighborhood!”, “I’m goint to to buy a few lots, tear down some jungle, and build spec homes”, “Doesn’t anyone speak English around here?”, “Whaddya mean the maid wants more than $5.00 to clean the house?”…it goes on and on. These people, and their numbers are not small, try to turn their new home into the crappy place that they left. They act like they friggin’ own the place, and it creates a resentment amongst the locals that poisons the relationshp for everyone else. They think that because they have lighter skin they are superior.

So I’m asking you, think very hard about whether you have the right personality to live in Mexico. Before you make a permanent move, rent a place for at least 6 months and try it on. Check your temper and anxiety when you try to get something done and it’s not like it was back home in HeartAttack, CA. Can you handle it? Can you mellow-out and just appreciate a different culture without trying to change it? If not, please…stay home. You’ll only frustrate yourself and piss off everyone else.

Why Mexico? Why Now?

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

David Simmonds

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the United States has changed a lot in the past 30 years, and I’m not talking about the ubiquitous presence of everyman computers and super-sized cheeseburgers. I make no apologies for my feelings…I’m a boomer who grew up in a better time, and I don’t like what has happened. Quite simply, there has been a  covert war waged by the mega-corporate-class against We The People, and big business has won.

Maybe we can reverse course and return to being the country we were for 200 years, but it will take some time, decades, and people my age may not be around to see it happen. So we boomers need to figure out how to live our next 20 – 30 years in a way that we had envisioned, in an environment where a sense of community prevails, where a catastophic illness won’t bankrupt us, where our neighbors don’t live their lives in irrational fear of…whatever the government tells us is fearful. Yeah, we got hit by a criminal group of box-cutter weilding fanatics, but the way we have reacted as individuals, so unlike Pearl Harbor, has produced a society where we are now one or two more attacks away from martial law. Indeed, most Americans will demand it if that happens. They will agree to anything, including relinquishing their previously non-negotiable civil liberties, for the right to mindlessly stare at their TV’s every night, behind bolted doors, secure  and accepting of the new America. But it can’t happen here? Ha…don’t bet on it.

Back to what to do…where do you find a place to live the life you thought you would have before the disappearing pensions and unaffordable health care? I will be spending the next few months writing in this blog, explaining to anyone who will listen  what has happened in the United States and why moving to Mexico is your best option. There are probably other countries that would be as good, but Mexico is the place I know best. I have been traveling and sometimes living in Mexico for 40 years (I’m 58). I have seen pretty much the entire country, north to south, east to west. I know the challenges and the benefits of trying life south of the border. Keep checking in at this web site and pass it on to others who might benefit. And for those who will email me with accusations of being unpatriotic and a quitter, save the energy. I still vote, write to my representatives, and donate money to causes I support. And you should, too. I want my country, the U.S., to be  a better country than it has become. Choosing to live in Mexico does not mean relinquishing your duties as a citizen. It is an option to live a better life…it will take my kids’ generation (they are 13 and 9) to turn things around.

Health Care In Mexico

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Mexican Doctors and Dentists

Many Americans who live near the border get their medical and dental needs by crossing into Mexico. If it wasn’t a good idea they would try it once and never go back. But go back they do, and not just because the prices are right…they also receive excellent care. The same is true throughout most of Mexico, especially in those areas where expats are living. Many American doctors have gone to Mexico med-school for their training since the U.S. medical cabal has intentionally limited enrollments at schools in the U.S. (supply and demand considerations, you know). And many Mexican doctors have done their residency in the U.S. and Europe.

Many of the Mexican doctors and dentists speak some English, even in small towns. And they still do house calls, which I have heard about but never actually remember where I live in San Diego. I feel fortunate when I get a phone call returned from my doctor. The cost of Mexico medical care is generally far less than one-half of U.S. prices. You can get a tooth filled for about $25.00, and a root canal will run about $300 -$400. A doctors visit runs about $20….about the cost of two movie passes at your local mall theater to see a film made for teenage girls.

There may be good reasons not to try living in Mexico for some people, but fear of not having access to good doctors and dentists is not one of them.

There Is No Medicare In Mexico…Yet

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

One of the most misunderstood considerations that puzzle many gringos as they ponder a life south-of-the-border is the health-care options. What happens if I break my ankle on one of those damn charming cobblestones? Or a coconut drops on my head (you’re probably dead) while swinging in my hammock, or my gastrointestinal tract slips its track? Do I have to evacuate to Phoenix or, if I don’t, does the local medic have any semblance of a license to practice medicine…on humans? And will he speak English, ‘cause I sure as hell don’t speak Mexican?

The fact is that if you are one of the 40 million Americans who have no health insurance at home, you will be much better off in Mexico, and if you do have insurance at home, you still might be better off in Mexico. (I can’t speak to the Canadian situation, eh?).

So, can’t I just use my Medicare benefits that I’ve paid into for 40 years? No, not in Mexico…not yet. There are studies now being conducted to figure out a viable way to integrate Medicare into Mexico, and as the number of Americans moving to Mexico increases, it should happen in the future. To do so would not only benefit the recipients, but would also decrease the costs to the U.S. government, as services are a fraction of the U.S. amount in Mexico. (see this web site for more info: http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~healthp/index.html.

With the number of North Americans (I know, Mexico is in North America, but here I refer to Americans and Canadians) moving to Mexico expected to skyrocket in the coming boomer-retirement years, there is a clear need for a consistent, easy-to-accomplish portability program for medical insurance. I expect this to happen in the near-future, but the feds are going to need to get involved to make it happen on a wide-scale. Already, there are U.S. companies that operate near the border on the north side who are covering their employees to have their medical care on the Mexican side…because it saves them a lot of money. It’s a great idea, and clearly illustrates the absurdity of the escalating costs on the north side, where a family of four, those who can afford it, can easily expect to spend over $1,000 a month for medical and dental coverage. Mexico, for the most part, provides care as good, and some people I know will say better, than the U.S. Many of Mexican doctors have been trained in North America and Europe and the system is designed to provide personal care, and not perpetuate the for-obscene-profit health-care corporatocracy that we have become. Health care costs have far out-paced inflation in our country as care has rapidly declined. There are many reasons why a person would not consider moving to Mexico, but fear of inadequate health services should not be one of them.

Real Estate Blowback

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

The 3rd annual Mexico Resort Development Conference has just concluded in La Costa, near San Diego, with some new, but not surprising, revelations. For many years these type of affairs have been very upbeat cheerleading sessions designed to synergize the attendees into prolific deal-making. Many of the industry’s heavy-hitters were in attendance, including Jack Nicklaus, the number one golf course builder in Mexico.

But this year there was a different tone, as the inevitable U.S. real estate meltdown has drifted across the border, with reports that sales are sugnificantly down and at least 30 on-the-drawing-board housing and resort projects will probably not be built. The predictions as to when things will turnaround range from 1 – 5 years, which is a long time for people who like to see hammers swinging.

I do believe that the number of gringos retiring and investing in Mexico will continue unabated, as the benefits afforded them will remain very enticing. The coming-of-age-in-the-sixties baby boomers are searching for a life more similar to what they remember from thirty years ago at a price that they can afford. Mexico meets many of these requirements, offering small-town, live-and-let-live life-styles without the convoluted, litigious day-to-day b.s. that has tragically become the norm in the U.S.

The real estate downturn in Mexico is not surprising to some of us. I have predicted this for a couple of years. But this is the first time I have seen it acknowledged by the developer class. And my guess is that things are worse than they are admitting to. With housing equity drying up in the U.S., there just isn’t as much available cash to drive the prices in Mexico. And with a surplus of inventory that has accumulated over the past decade from Northern Baja to Riviera Maya, there will be a significant correction. Bottom line: the next few years should be a very good time to buy in Mexico. Just take your time, do your research, and bargain hard.

Mexico Taxes

Friday, November 9th, 2007

For years, many of us have wondered why Mexico, with so many natural resources and hard working people, remains largely in poverty. Since volumes of analysis by people smarter than I have attempted to answer this, I’ll just add a couple of opinions based on my observations over a lifetime of Mexico study and travels.Many expats are drawn to purchase and live in Mexico because of the low cost of living, day-to- day. Whereas property taxes in the U.S. are used to fund multiple social services (schools, etc), in Mexico the taxes are so low that they fund very little. Property taxes on a $200,000 house are only about $200 per year. In fact, tax collection (corporate, income, etc) on a whole is very low in Mexico, totally about 14% of the country’s GDP, compared to about 28% in the U.S. So, you end up with a situation where people love moving to Mexico for the low taxes, but then bitch about not having paved roads, a well-paid police force, and crooked politicians…well, I guess those are everywhere you go.

Mexico has some very wealthy families, with Carlos Slim now the richest person in the world. At least ten others in Mexico are billionaires. They have the highest GDP in Latin America, including Brazil. This in a country that has an average daily wage of about $11.00. Mexico has a majority of its wealth concentrated in a very small upper-class, with a small and shrinking middle-class. The majority are poor and sinking lower every year . Why, you ask? Well, it’s the same old story. The rich don’t want to invest, to pay taxes, to fund the programs that help to build a middle-class….good schools, health care, transportation corridors, a living minimum wage…the list is long. The wealthy control the politicians who write the laws and they don’t want to tax themselves. That’s the simple story.

There is much to like about Mexico. It’s my favorite place in the world. But they, as a country, need to enact reforms that will benefit the majority. In the long run, everyone would gain.