Writing about Retirement in Mexico?

posted Jun 9, 2015, 7:39 PM by David Alan Binder   [ updated Aug 30, 2017, 1:34 PM ]
This particular segment shall be updated regularly and are some of my thoughts plus gathered information on retiring to Mexico (or other points south of the USA):

NOTE:  The oldest segment will be at the bottom and each segment will be dated.
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Aug. 30, 2017
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More information on Mexico for retirement

 

There are lots of reasons why people like the Pacific side of Mexico but there are cons to this discussion as well.  So it is up to you to weigh and balance the pros and cons of Mexico.

Many websites discuss only the pros of Mexico, cheaper, friendly, availability of fresh produce, lots of sunshine, etc.  What’s not to like?

Well apparently there are some cons, see the lists below segregated into the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Mexico.  The inland parts of Mexico are not discussed in this article.

 

Cons about the Pacific side of Mexico:

It's very hot

It can be humid or it can be extremely dry.  (Seems funny to see those in the same sentence, I am not sure how this can be but this is what I was told.)

I've been told by those who live on this side that drugs may a problem.

Petty crime can be a problem.

It is prone to flooding at different times of the year.

It is a tourist area and thus prone to many tourist activities that can pose a negative atmosphere.

Things have a tendency to rust or erode frequently such as door and window hardware inside a home.

 

Cons about the Caribbean side of Mexico:

It has a bad reputation for crime.

There may be flooding at times

It can be prone to damage from tropical storms.

Being tropical in the extreme, fungus and fungal growth is a problem such as on the inside of a car.

 

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Feb. 29, 2016
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What to buy in Mexico?

 Here some information on noise in Mexico that may be helpful.   I thought was spectacular and will pass on to you my Dear Writers and Dear Readers.

 Essentials to live in Mexico without doubt in the land of barking dogs and blaring radios, where your neighbor thinks nothing of cranking up his grinder at 3am to sharpen his lawnmower blades. Where background music is an alien concept, my number one item and without which I would move back to the States is a good pair of Earplugs. They stay in 24/7

I live in a neighborhood where there are few barking dogs and even fewer at night. The worse cases of unwanted noise come from the street vendors of fruit and vegetables where they play the same song over loudspeakers at a volume that would deafen anyone within 100 m. This background music I am in wholehearted agreement. We went into a bar at night where the recorded music was so loud that we had to shout at the waiter who leaned over the table to place our orders. We left after one beer.

I do wish the trash trucks would have a louder bell as sometime I miss them; usually when I have a lot of bags.

You’re lucky if you live in an area without the dog noise. In Coatza the dog chorus cranked up at 10pm and continued until 9am. I guess they slept in the Heat of the day.

I used earplugs, a noise maker and a loud fan.

Mexicans have no concept of what noise is, or that the noise their making maybe bothersome to others, I mean what is someone thinking when they crank up a lawnmower and cut their grass at 3am.

The sound problem is a given especially during festive parts of the year. Until January it was pretty quiet. Then the fireworks began. That stirred up the dogs quite a bit and although they have calmed a bit there are still some nightly barking episodes. There is a device I may pick up next time I am in the states that sends out a signal only dogs can hear I'm thinking that might help.

If I was moving here and barking was a problem, I would add one of those to the luggage.

I won't even go into stores with loud music. There is no point I can't tolerate it, and I have told clerks that I can't shop there because of it. My trash is picked up on specific days so I put it out the night before. They do a lot of yelling back and forth when they pick up, but don't always use the bells.

I'm between two churches, but I am far away enough to not be bothered by them. I too have ear plugs, but rarely use them because constant wear was causing problems.

Mexico is about adjustment and flexibility. It's their country and we are the ones that need to adjust.

A FINAL NOTE:

My pet peeve(s) in my current location are unique to the location and are part of the package.  There are many benefits and advantages, for me, which cancels out the peeves.

What to buy in Mexico?

 Here is a list I found on a web site that I thought was spectacular and will pass on to you my Dear Writers and Dear Readers.

 Electronics that you just can't find in Mexico, for example, a 27" in. computer monitor.

Clothes, men's and women's. - selection and price are much better in the states for a given quality.

Ladies toiletries - Bed Bath and Beyond is an obligatory stop.

Men's and ladies shaving supplies - prices are lower in the states.  Aerosol shaving cream is available only in small cans.

Spices and condiments - your favorite brand of mayonnaise, mine is Hellman’s, yes the brand is available but nothing like the US made.  Sam's sometimes has large jugs imported from the US.  My mustard is Guldens and there in nothing like it where I have lived.  Black tea (regular tea in my mind.)  Bigelow's, Twining's  Mexican stores carry a lot of herbal teas, but not anything close to the range of Celestial Seasonings.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements - Drugstores and even Walmart only carry small packages of these items and the prices can be double to 4 times what you pay in the states.  The largest 81 milligram Aspirin is 50 or 100 tabs and twice the price in the US.  Glucosamine-Chondroitin is available a Farmacias Similares (twice US price and in really inconvenient packaging) and GNC (up to 4 times the price I pay) down here.  I watch Walgreen's website and order 6mos. to a year's worth of low dose Aspirin, vitamins, mineral supplements and Glucosamine Chondroitin.

Bring a basic set of tools for home repairs.  If you don't live near a Home Depot, you may have to search widely to find an item.

It might help to have a "Mailboxes Etc." address where everything is sent and to pick the stuff up next time you’re in the states.  With bus fare, meals and hotel, there would obviously be no savings if you didn't have other business in the states.

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September 12, 2015
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Mexico’s pests or bugs and how to deal with them.
 
Here is good advice on garden and house pests and how to cope with them in Mexico:
 
 
Here is an article on bugs and reptiles in Mexico:
Here is the good and bad news:
Yep, they exist. There are several poisonous spiders, bugs, and snakes in Mexico but, you know what? Almost all of them live in the US as well. So, this was an easy one to dismiss as it’s a wash. Besides, we’re not particularly afraid of them.
 
See the whole article at:

One thing I have done in Southern California is that I spray regularly for pests and bugs at least every two or three months.  I stoppered the overflows of our sinks and tubs with stainless steel wool to keep bugs out (we had a roach crawl out of one of those and scared us to death). Caution:  This practice reduces the overflow capability of the sink and your sink will overflow fast since it reduces flow through that hole. 
The wife did this once but even with that hassle it is still worth it.

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August 30, 2015
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Here is a copy of a web site I found on:

How to clean and disinfect fruits and vegetables in Mexico

https://kathleeniscookinginmexico.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/how-to-clean-and-disinfect-frui ts-and-vegetables-in-mexico/

Read the whole article completely and there are about 4 solutions to this problem; Microdyne, Bacdyn, a solution by The University of Nebraska and one by the Ohio State University both in the US..

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August 17, 2015
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Retire in Mexico
 
I love balanced approaches, valid reasons to do something and valid reasons not to do something.  Lists of Pros and Cons, the goods and the bads (I know this is a made up word but it seems so right here), why and why not. 
 
These are necessary evils to making decisions and if you don’t do this you will do the wrong thing for the right reason, or the right thing for the wrong reason or you may even, do the wrong thing for the wrong reason or finally, do the right thing for the right reason. 
 
It does not mean that you will be able to list all of the reasons but as long as you list all of them that you can think of and then research based upon what you are coming up with and then research some more then you have a good chance of doing the right thing for the right reason and that that decision is right for you.
 
Many people assume that you should make the choice to do something for their right reason which may be wrong for you.  Be careful of those whose assumptions make everything they do the correct thing and it may not be right for you no matter how right it is for them.
 
Remember, one person’s Pro may be another person’s Con and vice versa.  Know yourself and your wants and desires and follow your gut instinct.  I have read many articles on following your gut and instinct has a way of being right more often than not.
If you are looking for a list on moving to Mexico or not; I highly recommend reading this article:
 
 
Who knows their best thing may be your worst thing and your best thing might be their worst thing.  Stranger things have happened in this world, for sure!

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July 6 & 7, 2015
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Things to find out about the place you would like to retire in Mexico:

1. Find out when festivals are held (place and date) in the area you plan to live since that may affect your decision.  Commonly plazas are host to festivals.

2. There is little to no zoning in Mexico that we know of; therefore, even though you find a quiet place it may be subject to a club or something noisy that is build nearby.  There may be livestock next door, chickens, pigs, etc.  

3. Choose whether you will need your own vehicle or will rely on local transportation and plan accordingly.  Mexico has some very good transportation options.  (Keep in mind that taxi drivers and bus drivers may not drive as wisely and safely as you feel they should.  I heard of one individual that had a hair raising ride down a mountain where certain death lay below this narrow highway and according to the individual the driver drove like a maniac and when they asked the driver to slow down, they were laughed at and the driver continued to drive the same way.)

4. Consider micro climates.  Places like San Carlos may be have micro climates in areas that are in valleys or just a ways up the road due to a variety of circumstances in the geography and weather patterns.  One woman bought a place and found out about the micro climates and just happened to get lucky in the place she bought was in a good micro climate.

5. Streets are differently laid out than the United States and the same street can change names but remain the same street as it runs through different neighborhoods.  Americans typically navigate by addresses; whereas, Mexicans navigate by neighborhoods not addresses.

6.  Some places have no heat and some have no AC; investigate thoroughly.

7. Some places have plenty of water; others do not and I read the phrase used in one place that the rule for the toilet was; "if it is yellow let it mellow; if it is brown flush it down".  Just something to keep in mind and find out about.

8.  Of course, the waste water systems are completely different in Mexico with the majority, almost everywhere, being septic tanks.  The filters in the septic tanks clog easily with toilet paper, therefore, toilet paper is NOT flushed.  The thought process is that, why clog the filters any faster than necessary and then the septic tank will require cleaning.  Also, some septic tanks were built under patios and other areas, even home additions, that make them extremely hard and expensive to get to and unclog those filters or be pumped.  It took a long time for me to find out this information.

9.  All contracts whether lease or purchase will be in Spanish Language; however, may be in English as well.  The Spanish one takes precedent over the English.  USE A LAWYER, ALWAYS!

10.  Be safe, don't go into neighborhoods that are not safe.  Keep an eye out.  Treat everyone respectfully, you are the visitor and the foreigner.  They belong there, you do not belong, you are a tourist.  Follow your instincts.  

11.  We understand that as vendors pass by, they each have developed their own special cry or shout.  Water delivery, fruit, etcetera; some may come by early and others later.  That is just the way it is, get used to it.  They use that to allow people to know they are coming, like the ice cream truck in the States.

12.  Start out in moderation on the food and drink.  Drink bottled water and let your system develop a tolerance to the spicy diet and different foods.  The water may or may not make you sick.  Our understanding is that it is getting better but be judicious.   

13. Some of the best deals that you may find on renting and leasing are unadvertised on the internet.  It is passed by word of mouth, so and so's cousin, a waiter may know of a relative, etc.  

14.  Always go for the short term, and then as you begin to like an area go longer term.  We ourselves have determined not to try to purchase or own a home, mostly due to the differences and us being from the States and only passports.  As non-natives we may have little to no rights and that is okay and we are good with it.  

15.  By now you have read the differences in their law system versus the U.S.  U.S. is based upon English law system, basically innocent until proven guilty.  Mexico is based upon the Napoleonic Code, guilty until proven innocent.  This is why in the case of a car accident both parties are taken into "custody" to the police station to work things out and see who has insurance or not.  Once you prove you are innocent or can pay for damages (you may have to pay before they release your car) then you are released.  This advice will all have to be verified since legal advice must be given by others not us.


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June 20, 2015
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Process of elimination:
1.  We did not want a mountainous region since we are from very low lands currently and did not want to feel like we did when we once vacationed in Colorado where I had a headache for the first day or so due to altitude.

2.  We did not want too small of village for there may not be enough to do and did not want to have to make long trips to main stores.

3.  Speaking of stores, we kind of feel we'd like a Sam's, Costco, at the least Walmart (which we detest here in the states due to mostly their practices so shop there as little as possible; however, it has a place and we do shop there just not very often).  We thought we might want one or more of those places or type of places close although we've heard Mega, OXXO, and others that are of Mexican origin that have possibilities.

4. We did not want to be near a lake since some are polluted (like one in Nicaragua but will not name it) and thought we'd like to be fairly close to a beach.

5.  We eliminated the Caribbean due to hurricanes although there can be Pacific storms as well we know.  Go figure.

6. We eliminated far east, Asian, etc. due to the time difference, air fares, cuisine, etc.

7.  We eliminated some places also due to language and culture differences that we felt we could not over come, like but not limited to, the middle east, etc.

8. We eliminated some places due to extreme poverty in some of those areas and felt we would be out of place somehow.  Not sure of why the uncomfortable-ness of that maybe just we did not want to feel like royalty amidst the local populace.
 
9.  We eliminated most of the U.S. due to distance from relatives, cold, humidity, too many people, expensive, etc.  Hawaii would be nice but out of the question due to the expense, etc.

10.  Sure we will have heat, humidity, cold and always have weather to deal with.  One thing most blogs, retirement guides never mention is pests other than mosquitoes.  I realize that most places have cockroaches and Puerto Vallarta has extremely large colorful lizards.  I am sure there are snakes, scorpions (note: scorpions show up really well with a black light I've heard), etc. that one has to deal with and thank someone for inventing bug spray to use, often and keep them out of our place and let them go somewhere else.  It is akin to making the place secure enough that they chose to go else where (sort of like when someone cases your "joint" for a potential break in if you make it stronger than your neighbor they will just break and enter your neighbor not yours')

11. Few blogs, retirement places, expats mention the cons of living in a place only the pros which makes it harder to make decisions on where to live.  So we will be finding out about those cons as well as pros and bring a balanced approach.  Also we realize one person's pro maybe another's con and vice versa so both need to be mentioned.  Also, an entomologist (person who studies insects) may love a place that has lots of them and a person with a phobia may abhor insects and both make decisions for quite different reasons.  

12.  We will rent.  First short term and while there try to find cheaper, longer term arrangements if we feel we like the place enough. I have assured the wife that we both have veto power over anyplace; one or the other can say no and that will be that.  We will not sell our house to relocate until we both are comfortable.  We know financially we can not afford to have two homes so that is out of the question.



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June 19, 2015
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If you would have asked me where I would retire even just 5 years ago it would be somewhere in the United States. Most likely Iowa where I have 2 sons, their families and a daughter and her family or stay here in California where I have one son and his family.

As I am closer to retirement these are what I am considering:

1. We like warm (110 degrees is closer to my natural body temperature than 32 degrees let alone zero degrees and below; hard to conceive that I lived in that kind of weather at one time).

2. We like to be active (another reason to stay where it is warmer).

3. We have always been savers just not very accomplished at it and have a little above social security so money is a factor.

4. We like adventure which means experiencing more than just the ordinary.  (We have and love our routines but also enjoy more unconventional things some of which are hiking, travel, history, etc.)

5. In addition to Mexico (since I've read all the lists about top 10 places to retire in the world) our main criteria was not in middle east, orient or Asian type cultures.  Mainly because I do not enjoy the food, long flight, higher air fares, jet lag, etc. (all that is a whole another topic).
    a. Mexico (has always placed in the top 10 for us due to proximity)
    b. Panama (US dollars, good health care, expat community)
    c. Costa Rica (it is cheap, has coffee plantations, expats) 
    d. Nicaragua (cheap and I have a friend from work that will retire there although I heard of an individual that retired to Yuma where their best friend lived and that friend died within a few weeks so that alone is never enough reason, since friends come and go potentially)
    e. Portugal (yeah I know right, long way away but some things I read made it more a possibility than France-intriguing but not enough, Italy-again intriguing but not enough, Ireland-too chilly plus anything where I have to fight jet lag and a long flight is problematic) 

6. So where in Mexico?
    a. Guaymas, Sonora about 5 hours away from USA
    b. San Carlos-just north of Guaymas has a expat community
    c. Loreto or La Paz, Baja peninsula but pretty far in but drive-able
    d. Puerto Vallarta same latitude as Hawaii (in April 2015 had 15 police killed in an ambush by drug cartel and 6 or so injured-which made me take it off the list for awhile but after a few months it is back on since drug cartel most likely will not attack tourists or visitors-Life is a chance / risk)
   e. Mazatlan

So far those are the areas I've considered and all are on the Pacific side of the country since we wanted to avoid Caribbean hurricanes.

So far the wife is amenable to the whole idea but it will be more of a culture shock that Southern California.  

Word to the wise... Type A, Red, gotta have it now and get it done now types will NOT fare well in Mexico.  It is a laid back Mañana type of culture. So we are going to have to change our mindset by quite a bit.

The number one reason to make this type of move is because of your mind set and your sense of adventure and doing something drastically different than you may be used to.  We are not Hispanics or Latinos or Latinas or Mexicans; however, they call themselves.   (full disclosure our son married a Mexican, but that is not why, since we only know her immediate family and they are close to the border and we will not live close to the border).

Okay so don your sombrero (I'm just kidding) but seriously cast aside your pre-programmed thinking and think outside of the U.S.A. box with us.

Baja area is desert like and we think the opposite side as the Pacific on the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez) where it is calmer and lots of sea life
www.worldwildlife.org states, "The Gulf of California is home to nearly a third of the world's marine mammal species, more than 170 types of seabirds and over 700 different fish species, "  That is a lot of fish but we are not really fish eaters just once in a long while types of people.  Also, this is where whales go to spawn; which sounds totally awesome.  Whether we retire there are not we have to go see it for sure.

On the opposite side of the Gulf of California is Guaymas and San Carlos.  Still very desert like so that is a bit of not too exciting but maybe or maybe not kind of place, we'll see. 

More later...



 

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