Thursday, November 28, 2013

moving to mexico -- the questions

"I have convinced my husband we should retire in Mexico.  Where do you suggest we live?"
Every month I receive several email asking the same question.  Or a variation on it.

And I understand where that desire for certainty comes from.  When I was looking for a place to live in Mexico to start my retirement, I bought (and read) a shelf of books.  Some helpful.  Some not-so-helpful.  Others just plain wrong.  (lamps unto my feet)

When I was in San Miguel de Allende in September, two message boards lit up with requests for an article that had been posted earlier by an expatriate.  The reason for the high interest?  Because the author purported to answer the question: "Where should I retire in Mexico?" by asking the reader to answer 21 questions.

And, yes, I am going to let you see all of them.  Otherwise, this little sermon will not have a scripture on which to build.

  • Are you or do you intend to become somewhat fluent in Spanish?
  • Do you intend to integrate yourself into a Mexican community or mostly hang out with other expats or others who speak English?
  • Do you intend to travel much by car or bus in Mexico?
  • Do you intend to travel by car or plane outside of Mexico frequently?
  • Do you expect friends and relatives from the US/Canada to visit?
  • Do you have medical needs and can those needs (current and future) be met locally?
  • How long do you intend to stay in Mexico?  Short term, long term, forever?
  • Do you already have friends or acquaintances in a Mexican town or area?
  • Can your body adjust to higher elevations or to tropical heat and humidity?
  • Do you prefer living near a large body of water or the ocean?
  • Are you (and maybe your partner) mostly a stay at home body, or someone who prefers an active social life?
  • Do you like to participate regularly in the arts, live music, and other forms of entertainment?
  • Do you have other interests and hobbies that are supported in a community?
  • Have you visited or lived for a while in several places in Mexico already to experience the diversity?
  • Do you want to walk places in your community, or depend on a car or bus?
  • How important is it to have "big box" stores and other shopping convenient to your new home?
  • To what degree is a safe, secure neighborhood important to you?
  • Are dependable electrical, computer, postal service, water, and sewer facilities important to you?
  • Do you intend to be employed while living in Mexico?
  • Do you understand what type of home and lifestyle you can afford in various places in Mexico?
  • How well can you adapt to another culture?
Your reaction is probably the same as mine.  The author could have benefited from the services of a ruthless editor.  But, to be fair, his commentary provided more guidance.  It would not be the list I would use.  In fact, it doesn't even resemble the list I did use.

My approach was a bit different.  After reading the books listed above and making a couple of trips to Mexico, I came up with what I called the 13 suggestions.

  • university nearby
  • archaeological sites within driving distance
  • central location for other archaeological sites
  • warm, sunny days; cool nights
  • new acquaintances -- some with a love of food
  • the challenge of a new language
  • time to read; time to learn; time to rest
  • daily learning to survive
  • facing mountains of difficulties -- and being repeatedly crushed
  • long walks with Professor Jiggs before breakfast and after sunset
  • living outside of a car
  • offering help to others
  • graciously accepting help from others
There is an obvious difference between the two lists.  And that difference is how I respond to the email I receive.

Deciding where to live in Mexico is about as personal as who you decide to marry.  No one can tell you what you like.  (I occasionally give away my single status.)

So, my answer?  Decide what you like and what you would like to do.  And then visit the places you think you would like to live.

Personally, I am still auditioning places.

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