Sunday, December 7, 2008

Things to consider if you are thinking about moving to mexico.... The good The bad and The ugly - Part 1

2300 words on things to think about when Moving to Mexico - from one persons perspective

I met another lady, via the Internet, who loves a Mexican Man.

And now, her love cannot be in the US and she must move to Mexico

This is dedicated to S – and anyone else thinking about moving to Mexico that comes across this.

Such a common story now days. It saddens me how many people have to uproot their lives and move to another country or even worse, they must be separated from the one they love because they just can't survive in their loved one's country.

This article is about Mexico and things to consider when deciding to move to Mexico. Written in a random conversational way.

Why did I move to Mexico? My husband wasn't deported. However, he was in the country illegally. We were not able to adjust his status - we were waiting for some laws to change, and we decided why the heck not move to Mexico now - that was back in 2006, we moved 4/2007.

Before we moved to Mexico I knew a little bit about it. I drove through Mexico and came to see my husband in his little town down in Central Mexico, back in January 2001. I knew, "How on earth am I going to survive in his town?"

Something about being in that small town, which many people refer to this type of village or a small town as "El Rancho", is like a 60 year step back in time from what I was used to, and it made me lose my person. Suddenly, within a few days, I was a needy, clingy person, I didn't even feel like me.

Part of it could have been because of the fact that back then my Spanish was Bad. I mean, I thought it was good. I thought I spoke like 50% Spanish. But in truth I didn't understand what people were talking about. I heard words, but I would always notice them out of context. I always thought they were talking about something else. And I always thought they were talking about me. And I am sure now they were. But they don't tell you so at the time.

I've found that there are ALL TYPES of American Stereo Types. And let's be real here, there are many prejudice people. Especially in small towns, I think that is true anywhere you go on the globe.

For example let's see if anyone relates to this. Say you don't really speak Spanish, or whatever language your significant other speaks and you find yourself at a family gathering. And everyone is laughing and throwing around your name or a common name that you know could possibly be referred to as you. And they are laughing and joking with your guy/girl and you want to know, immediately, "What are they talking about? Are they talking about me?" With Mexicans I can pretty confidently say they will tell you no, when they actually ARE talking about you.

So if you needed anything else to make you more paranoid I'm glad I could help.

Anyway, being in that atmosphere, that is so foreign, can really freak you out! Even if you are a confident, independent, educated, kind, caring person. I'm here to say, you will find yourself feeling feelings you NEVER expected that you would have experienced.

El Rancho can be a nice house, in a smaller town, outside a larger city, where they have pigs and cows right next to the house. Or it can be somewhere out in the middle of bum fuk egypt where you have a dirt floor, you pee in a toilet that is not even hooked up to anything - except a hole in the ground, and the door is a curtain.

There are many factors that can determine what type of house your significant other's family has. Their financial status or the climate. If it is a warm climate their house may not have windows or a real roof and... I'm serious. They might just have what is referred to as protecciones, which are bars on the windows and roofing that would be used in the US to cover a shed or patio.

Mexican homes don't have heaters: Now I've never been to where it snows and maybe there are homes with heaters at high altitudes. But, in most of the research I've done, and I've done quite a bit, there are no heaters in homes.

Flooring: Evidently, flooring is not a required thing. Well number 1 thing, I've never seen a house with carpet. Or a hotel. I've never seen any building with wall-to-wall carpet. We have a carpet by the couch in our house, we bought it at Home Depot, but that is a very rare thing. If you have a concrete floor, that is considered that you have flooring. That's all there is to it. My husband and I have had this argument many times. Because in the US, if there is no tile, wood or wood laminate flooring, or carpet, there is no flooring. There is the I wrong? Here, if you have concrete, that's cool, that’s your floor. Maybe when you have more money you can put tile. But it's not a necessity. It's sort of a luxury.. in a way.

TOILET SEAT.. .... OH YEAH. OK. you probably already know that Mexicans always put the toilet paper in a garbage pail. The sewer systems are not equipped to handle paper and all that. But did you know, a toilet seat, a full toilet seat that loops all the way around your toilet is rare. They are more available now days, with Home Depot abounding around the Country but it is rare. And what IS very common is no toilet seat at all. Not even the cheapy kind.

Very common in "El Rancho", is that the toilets are broken, and no one ever fixes them, and you must go for a bucket of water to flush the toilet.

I'm thinking that bathrooms are not a high priority in Mexico. It's sort of like they are thinking....."you go #2 in there so, why do you want to spend money on that?" ...Again, it all depends where you are talking about. In the big cities, it is probably not so bass ackwards.

Kitchens... yeah, ... you know how Americans and I think probably Canadians... like kitchen cupboards. ... ummm no. not so common here. The kitchens and bathrooms usually have a brick/concrete type of built-in cabinet type thing with no doors.

Did you know everyone cooks with gas appliances? And that natural gas, everywhere I've gone, is not piped in. It is sold in cylinders and guys drive up and down the roads with their loud speaker running a pre-recorded message. Gas... beep beep. Or Soni gas... soni gas.

Cable and Sky(satellite TV) and regular TV and English programs: Well good news.. Most popular American programs are in Mexico, probably a few seasons behind. If you don't have Cable or Sky you can still see them. Bad news... dubbed in Spanish. If you have Cable, you can still get most of your favorite channels, and some in pure english.
Cable is available in most areas, except really far out "El rancho". For instance, my husband’s town, Cable goes to about 2 miles away from his little town. Good news you can get Sky satellite TV, and you can even get it pre-paid.

Internet: good news, they have Internet cafe's everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Almost everywhere seriously. For anywhere from 5 pesos or 50 cents an hour to 25 pesos per hour, or around 2 dollars. Even this G3 technology, seems to be more widespread in Mexico than in the US. You can get this little device attached to your laptop and have Internet wherever there is cell phone service. Cable broadband Internet is available in the bigger cities. Satellite Internet is available but you're going to have to cough up a lot of money. G3 is way more economical. ummmm dial up. If you have a landline phone service then that is available. But in "El Rancho" many times land line phone service is not available.

There are alot of options for Internet. In fact my friend in Puebla told me she saw an offer for Cable type TV, Internet, and phone for around $40 dollars a month. That's pretty good. Here in PV, things are a little bit more expensive.

That brings me to another point.

Touristy area, vs. Non touristy area.

Do you want employment? If you want employment are you fluent in Spanish? Written and spoken? How old are you? How much do you weigh? Are you attractive? Is it a job a Mexican can't do?

Did you know that job discrimination is an everyday common thing? Here is an example of an ad. Single girl between the ages of 18-25, no kids, thin, and attractive.
Or many jobs are 18-30, or even 45 and up. They may say to send a photo. The job application may ask how many bills do you have? What are your parents like? What does your wife do? How many children do you have? They can ask you anything they want to, and if you don't provide the information, well, I guess you don't get the job.

They do have a tax system in Mexico; they do have a social health plan here. But not everyone qualifies for it. To work as a Mexican citizen you must have a few different numbers your CURP and your RFC.

There are different types of land you can purchase. There is Ejido land, that means like native lands. And there are normal lands/lots, and normal houses. If you are buying property stay away from ejido, that is a mess. For an American to own property it all depends if it is 25 miles within the ocean. Also I think there are restrictions if it is close to the border of Mexico. Also there are no building codes that say you cannot build all the way up to the property line. Everyone does, and that is why many areas seem like pure concrete everywhere.

Here is one you probably have heard of... Corruption in the police. We have not had any problems with the police in Puerto Vallarta. But my husband has constantly been pulled over and had to pay a "mordida" or bite aka bribe, to the police so they do not confiscate his drivers license or what ever they want to confiscate. Fortunately, he has never had to pay more than 200 pesos or around $20 dollars. However, my friend had to pay 1500 pesos or around $150 dollars because she was moving and had a small trailer with furniture in it. She was told that if they didn’t have a moving permit that was the price and if they didn’t pay the police would confiscate her stuff and make her wait 2 days to get it back.

The Mexican government is actively trying to combat this corruption. However, it is still prevalent. You occasionally will see billboards, TV commercials, or radio ads about combating corruption and who to contact.

There is a division of the Governement that helps with Buyer protections it is called Profeco. When you make a purchase in Mexico you are protected by profecco. Now the problem is they only arbitrate the negotiations but they do have the power to shut down businesses. And of course the farther "El Rancho" you go, the less access you actually have to one of these offices.

Back to the idea of where to live. There are areas where I’ve heard it is more American than certain areas in the US. San Miguel Allende has been referred to as being more American than certain areas in California. Lake Chapala or Ajicjic. Prounounced A HEEE HEE is a large American retirement community, in Jalisco by a large lake. Cabo San Lucas. And any large and/or touristy city probably has its American Neighborhoods.

These American or touristy areas are more expensive. That is true. Of course. It is very true. Property in American Neighborhoods are more expensive. Yes.

But when you are considering where you want to live you need to think about certain things you can or cannot live without. On MexConnect there is a constant thread that continues on and on and it is about what people miss since they have moved to Mexico. The 2 things I see the most are certain grocery products, and chit chat with strangers in English.

The difference between living in a small town in “El Rancho” Michoacan and living in Puerto Vallarta is so great I cannot even explain it.

Puerto Vallarta is about modernization and luxury. Tourism is the main supporter of the economy here and it has got to be up to standards. The city caters to Americans and Canadians. You see many businesses that you are accustomed to see in the US.

But in El Rancho, you might find somewhere that makes a hamburger on certain days of the week, or someone that sells espresso. But you are going to have to travel to the city for Burger King or McDonalds, and even if you travel you may or may not find a Starbucks, unless you are in a touristy area.

In a touristy area, you can find things such as American literature. In El Rancho, No, it will be very rare to find a book or magazine in English.

In a touristy area everywhere you go people will speak English. It is required for most hotel and tourism jobs. In El Rancho, you may never know who speaks English, if anyone does.

In a touristy area, you can find your favorite grocery items. Here is an example of some of mine, such as rice a roni, black olives, canned green beans, curry, butter, cheddar cheese, and albacor tuna.

In El Rancho, your selection of food is only what the local vendors bring in, and in Enrique’s town, I found none of those items.

Healthcare/School/Food: You can see a corner doctor for about 3 dollars and in most cities I am sure you can get a full meal with drink and tortillas included for around $4 dollars, and public schools actually do cost money but it varies.

Here is the thing to keep in mind, when you plan to move to Mexico, if you run out of money in Mexico and you are not working, you cannot get healthcare (you have to pay up front, no billing here), you cannot send your children to school (unless there are programs I’m not aware of), and you cannot get food (unless you connect with some charities) That is one good thing about the US – If you end up broke in the US for what ever crazy reason you can still get all 3 of those things.

Ok, well. That is all for now. But that should get you thinking. If you have any questions make a comment, and I'll see if I can answer it, or forward you somwhere that can.