The Expats

The Expats

You often hear that there are a million expats from the US and Canada now living in Mexico a good part of the year. That’s the same number they were reporting 20 years ago, so I suspect the real figure is quite a bit higher.

About 20% of them live near the northern border in Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada, Mexicali, Juarez. Many of these work in the US and cross the border daily. Many others like the proximity to family and easy access to medical needs. The rest are spread all over Mexico with many more in the popular tourist areas of Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Riviera Maya, Guadalajara/Lake Chapala, Mazatlan, Yucatan, etc.

Why do they go? Most of them will tell you they are drawn to the culture/lifestyle, the weather, the people, the beaches, and the cheaper cost-of-living, which is THE dominant factor for most, in my opinion. Whenever I talk to one of the transplants they usually tell me that they couldn’t live comfortably in the US or Canada on their incomes – so they head south where they can maintain some semblance of dignity. That is a great motivator.

It used to be almost all were retirees or scofflaws on the “lam” from the law or the ex. Today there are more and more younger people who work online, or with a multinational company, or illegally if they can get away with it. More Americans are going south than there are Mexicans going north the past few years. And why not? It’s a great, interesting country with the best food in the world and 6,000 miles of beaches.

There are many social media web sites for expats to communicate and commiserate. Ask a question there and you’ll get scores of opinions, because one thing expats seem to have in common, no matter how short their tenure, is that they’re ALL experts and they absolutely HAVE to share their unique knowledge before the daily fog of 5:00 happy hour gratefully arrives.

Most of the questions asked make one think that the person should not leave home at all. “Where’s the best place in town for a good cheeseburger?” “How can I get my neighbor’s damn roosters to quit crowing in the morning?” “Why are there so many bugs in the summer?” Why walk around and discover things on your own, I guess?

But what I have found consistently for years is that so many people want to turn their new home into the hellhole they left behind. The grand adventure stopped being fun the first time the electricity stopped for an hour, or the local cop pulled them over for…who knows for sure?

Listen, you need to fit into your new culture. You’re not going to change it, nor should you try. Dust off that sense of humor you had in your earlier life and embrace where you have landed. Either that or maybe you really should return “home” where you better understand the rules and culture. Quit embarrassing yourself – and the rest of us.

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