This is not your daddy's Mexico.
Good opening line. It certainly caught my Mexico-roving eye.
In 2007 I had started my research into the possibility of retiring in Mexico. At that point, I was the equivalent of a virtual window shopper. Just looking, thank you.
There were plenty of web sites. Some helpful. Some filled with questionable advice. Some with both.
Somewhere along the line, I discovered blogs. Blogs have become such a central point of my life, it is hard to remember a time when I was oblivious to them.
One of the first blogs I encountered was written by Felipe Zapata -- the blogger with more names than Prince or Elizabeth Taylor. Back then, he used his NOB name.
He told great tales of Mexico -- and still does. Some good things. Some bad. Always with a jeweler's eye for both the sublime and the ridiculous. And consistently a fun read.
The quotation at the top of this post came from his "How to move to Mexico" -- a piece he originally wrote to be a newspaper article.
In that article, I found answers to questions on crime, medical care, credit cards, mail service, internet access, tax returns, speaking Spanish, cost of living, housing, areas to live, visas, cars, furniture. And additional web resources.
In eight pages, I learned more accurate information than I had found in several retire-to-Mexico books.
The one piece of advice I did not follow was his advice about money.
He suggested opening an Amistad checking account at Citibank (Banamex USA) in Los Angeles, and then opening a parallel account with Banamex after arriving in Mexico. Deposits from investment or retirement accounts could then be made to the Citibank account and easily transferred to the Banamex account.
I didn't do that -- to my cost.
Instead, I opened an account at a nation-wide bank in the United States and relied on the debit card the bank provided for all of my cash in Mexico. One card. One life line.
A little reminder here might help. My part of Mexico is a cash only economy. Credit cards and checks simply are not accepted. You pay with pesos - or you go home empty-handed. It is as simple as that.
Everything would have worked out fine with my American bank and its debit card. But for one bothersome fact. I have a tendency to lose things. Including my debit card.
In one year, I lost it twice. Both times leaving me stranded without any personal cash source.
The first time I was extremely fortunate. My friends Roy and Nancy were visiting from The States when I lost my wallet. They lent me enough to get me through the four weeks it took to receive a replacement debit card. (My bank would not mail it to my address in Mexico. Security. You know.)
The second time the calendar helped me. I lost the card a month before I headed to Oregon. Fortunately, I had enough cash on hand to last through the month.
If I had followed Felipe's advice, I could have walked into my local Banamex office to receive a replacement card -- or withdraw pesos from my account.
I have learned my lesson. The application for a Citibank account is under way.
Last week I talked with a bank representative. He took all of my personal information and told me that my application should be in the mail to me this week.
All went well -- with one exception. He said the bank requires a copy of a utility bill in my name to prove I have an address in Mexico. (More Homeland security, I suppose.) None of the utilities for my house are in my name. My land lady pays them all.
As an alternative, I will submit copies of my constancia de domicilio -- issued by the local council in Villa Obregon, stating that I reside at a specific address -- and the address page from my FM3 booklet. They are all I have to prove I have a Mexico address.
I will keep you posted on how this turns out.
As bureaucratic as the process seems, it is far easier than the financial transactions I had to go through in the early 1970s.
Felipe is absolutely correct. This is not my daddy's Mexico.