Thursday, January 04, 2018

moving to mexico -- caesar's cut

Happy Schadenfreude Month.

January is the time of the year when I mine my wallet for pesos and feel smug that I am not making the same governmental payments in The States.

I started this morning by stopping by the local government office to pay my water, sewer, and garbage bill for the full year. That is how we do it here. All the services in one lump sum paid at one time.

This is government, so, there was a cost increase. 6%. Just about the same as last year. But the cost is worth it. Our garbage service arrives almost daily. Without it, we would be awash in the detritus of modern life.

Our area has massive problems with the sewer infrastructure. But, other than the occasional flow in the streets, those problems do not manifest themselves in ways that would cause people to be upset enough to fix them. For me, I flush the toilet and something keeps everything from backing up into my library.

As for the water, even though I pay for it, I know nothing about the service. My house is not connected to the system. I rely on a well.

Even with the 6% increase, I get all of that for $1,655 (Mx). For those of you who need a comparison, that is about $86 (US). That was about my monthly bill for water in Salem.

But the deals kept rolling in. I drove over to the county seat to pay renew my car registration and to pay my property tax.

Most of my driving career was in Oregon -- a state that had the enviable reputation of being one of the least expensive places to register a vehicle. Those days are long gone. A series of governors and single-party legislatures have hiked the fee. But it is still less than most other states.

In Mexico, eve
n with a 6% increase over last year, I paid $510 (Mx) for 2018. That is about $26 (US). Less than Oregon. And I will bet that for most of you that would be a bargain -- especially for those of you who pay your governments extra fees related to cars.

With my new decal attached, I drove over to city hall to pay my property taxes. And I am willing to bet donuts to dollars (which may be an even bet in The States these days) that my property taxes here are lower than yours.

I live in a 4,000 square foot house with four bedrooms, six bathrooms, and a pool. I have no idea what the house would be assessed in value in your neighborhood.

But, for me, my total property taxes for 2018 are $1,958 (Mx). There are no additional assessments. That is about $101 (US). Not per month. That's for the full year.

Now, all of you who have been waiting to serve me up your small slice of schadenfreude, start dishing it up on this cold plate.

Because I am a foreigner living in the coastal forbidden zone (Yes. Yes. I know it is officially called the restricted zone, but I have a certain preference for the Trekkie-esque appellation.), I cannot hold free title to my property. A bank holds it in trust for me. Bancomer, to be exact.

Every year, the bank sends me an email (usually, ten months prior to the payment date) reminding me that my annual payment is due. The tone is distant and formal. But it does not contain the usual "we know where you live" subtext so infamous in the communications from northern banks.

For the privilege of the legal fiction that a foreigner does not own the house, I pay the bank $522 (US) each year. And what the bank does for that amount of money, I do not know. I do know the banks had enough clout a couple of years ago to spike legislation that would have repealed the restriction on foreign ownership of real property.

Since I had the money in a non-interest dollar account, I decided to pay the fee early while I was in Cihuatlán. It is now paid through September 2019.

All in all, it was a good day. I owe nothing more in 2018 for my water, sewer, garbage, car registration, and property taxes. All for the cost of dining out for one week.

Several of my blogger pals have commented the primary reason they moved to Mexico was its relatively reasonable cost of living. That was not why I moved here. And I am not certain it would rank very high on my list.

But I am certainly pleased to be a recipient of the bounty. Even with that bank trust fee.

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