Friday, February 17, 2017

moving to mexico -- feet in two worlds

"[H]e doth bestride the narrow world/like a Colossus."

Shakespeare probably overstates my situation. But he is close.

When I retired in 2009, I knew I was going to make Mexico my primary home. What I had not done was to consider how much of my life would remain above the Rio Bravo.

I knew that my relationships would change. During my sixty-some years, I had built up a network of friends and acquaintances. Moving go Mexico would change how the network operated, but I would still have contact with them.

The bigger issue was the detritus of finances and property ownership. The simplest thing would have been to cut all financial relationships with The States and move everything to Mexico. Simplest, but not necessarily the best. For me.

Banking is a perfect example. My checking and savings accounts are at one bank; my credit cards are with another bank. I could have easily switched all of them to a Mexican bank, and have the convenience of dealing with a local branch branch when problems arise.

I currently draw all of my Mexican pesos from an ATM. It usually works fine. That is, until the debit card expires or I lose it. Both have happened. Then I need to rely on the kindness of friends coming south to bring me my new card.

To mitigate that problem, I recently cleverly set up a new American checking account as a backup for the expired card scenario. It turns out I was too clever. When I tried to use my backup card, the PIN would not operate. I called customer service in The States, and was told to take my card to the nearest branch. The nearest branch was 2000 miles north.

That was one of the tasks I resolved yesterday. And the customer service representative was correct. All I needed to do was to use the branch ATM, and my problem was fixed. But that did not diminish the 2000 mile barrier.

When the Obama White House approved legislation (FATCA) three or so years ago, transferring money to Mexican banks became quite a hurdle. I considered getting around my ATM problems by closing all of my American bank accounts. I didn't for one reason -- I rely on my credit cards to earn air miles for my frequent travels. That advantage is worth the trouble of keeping my money in American banks.

I have another reason to keep my banking accounts up north. I am the trustee of a family trust domiciled in Nevada. Even though I have managed to arrange all financial transactions to be completed electronically, the trust requires an American home.

And that is why I am in Nevada this week. One of the attributes of my Nevada citizenship is my driver's license. It expired on my birthday in January.

The federal government has forced the states to revise their driver's licences to meet new issuance requirements for the license to be used for certain purposes -- such as, boarding an airplane. The new licences are called REAL ID.

Nevada is currently complying -- after holding out for several years. (This is a state that does not take kindly to federal bullying.)

So, Roy and I drove over to the local DMV. I dreaded what we would face. When I was issued my original license several years ago, the process was almost glacial.

Not so this time. Even though the triage line was long,we were in and out within 45 minutes. All I needed to do was prove my citizenship (I used a passport; others use birth certificates) and my Nevada residency (with statements from my American banks), and I was on my way. The new license should be at the house when I return from Australia.

If you are wondering why I simply do not get a Mexican license, I can. And I should. When I return to Mexico. But the Nevada license assists in my voting process.

Ideally, I could dump all of this and live my life solely within the confines of Mexico. My pension checks could easily be deposited in a Mexican bank.

Some fellow bloggers periodically chide those of us who have kept one foot planted up north -- even though "planted" may be nothing more than the equivalent keeping my left little toe on the edge of red in Twister. But there is not just one way to live in Mexico. I have found mine.

For now. Circumstances change. Just think of the hassle FATCA caused a lot of expatriates.

A Colossus I may not be, but I will most likely stand astride the border for the near future.

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