Mexico…It’s Not for Everyone

I was making comida for myself today and thinking about some of the e-mails I’d read and a conversation I had the other day with a woman newly moved to Mexico and I realized that no matter how much I love it down here (as do some of my friends), it’s not for everyone.

The woman I met the other day was complaining about how noisy it is down here.  She said it was so loud that she couldn’t sleep.  Now this is a woman from a large city in Canada, who worked and lived therein.  So I have to believe that the “noises” she’s hearing down here are not necessarily louder, just different.  But she’s only been here a few weeks and her heart is set on moving to Arizona, so I doubt that she will become a permanent resident.

Heck, she’s housesitting for a friend of mine and she was complaining because my friend’s very small dog snored too loud.  Not a good sign for an ex-pat!

It’s not unusual for folks to retire down here, buy a house right off the bat, and then hate the place.  Most of the time it’s because they purchased too quickly without spending any extended amount of time down here.  They might have loved another neighborhood or pueblo, but they’ve already locked themselves into a place.  If they had asked any of us who have lived down here for any length of time, we would have all said “rent, rent, rent for a minimum of a year!”

You need to go through all the seasons (dry, rainy, cold, spring) before you can decide if Lake Chapala is the place for you, and preferably live in several different areas.  And that’s probably true for any place you might want to live anywhere in the world.  But folks too often just don’t do it.

You also need to keep in mind that, as an expat, your native language is likely not the same and that you’re frequently gonna have a heck of a time communicating with people.  Oh, sure, it’s easier down here in the communities around Lake Chapala because we have an inordinate number of expats, but the more kilometers you get away from Ajijic, Riberas, or San Antonio, the less likely it is that you’ll find somebody who speaks English when you really need it.  And by that I mean in a doctor’s office, or at a mechanic’s, or at a repair shop.

Same thing in the U.S.   If you’re a native Spanish speaker and find yourself in a hospital in Phoenix or East L.A., I’d say you’re a lot more likely to find a translator than you are in, say, Minot, North Dakota (and I just randomly chose Minot, by the way).  So if you’re thinking of moving down to Mexico, it would behoove you to learn as much Spanish as you can before you come.  I didn’t do it and it’s come back to bite me numerous times.

Something else you need to be aware of if you’re thinking of moving to Mexico are the laws pertaining to visas and vehicles.  If you move to Baja and/or somewhere close to the border, the laws may be more lenient, but if you’re coming further south than that, you need to know what’s required.  While the laws may change, they’re pretty clear….unlike those in the U.S. for immigrants, which seem to vary by state.  I’d recommend that you check out Rolly Brook’s website for more information:

Personally, I love living in Mexico and in Jocotepec in particular.  I think that’s pretty obvious from all my previous postings.  Infrequently, I want to knock my head against the wall because of some bureaucratic stupidity, but I wanted to do that much more frequently in the U.S.

The longer I live here, the more I love it.  In the meantime, why don’t you come down for a visit and see if it’s for you?



About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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7 Responses to Mexico…It’s Not for Everyone

  1. vsvevg says:

    great post Barbara, I certainly agree, it’s not for everyone
    but for some of us…que mas quieras? 😉

  2. Well done my friends and so very true. I hope many see this and follow your advice.

  3. Karen says:

    We were just earlier in the day playing the game “If we won the lottery,” would we move to …. Key West; Sequim, WA; etc. etc., and realized we’d miss all the glory of Montana in the summer, and so would rent in some locale for winters, just so see what it’d be like. I think your advice about going through all seasons in a year – by renting – is great.

  4. Joe Haussmann says:

    Barb, I think you would have managed to make a good go of it no matter where you ended up.

  5. Kathi says:

    Have met folks who have decided to move here ….but they want to demand that it be like their dream of ‘hometown USA’…….they are never ever happy and seem never to stop complaining about the garbage, the noise, the Mexicans, Mexico! They are examples of familiarity breeds contempt.
    They sadden me and I wonder why they stay.
    Need I say that I avoid them.

    • Joe Haussmann says:

      Kathi, those people are everywhere and they are the same wherever they go. Probably more noticeable there because of the greater difference between cultures. I guess some people have only a single idea about how things should be and the greater the difference the more traumatized they are by it.

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