Heads Up

John and Judy Snyder's Retirement in Mexico


Where to Begin

The Exploration Trip

Finding THE Place

Steps Toward Making it Happen

Tying Things Up NOB in Kansas

The Actual Move

Building the House

A Photo Tour of the Building Project

Heads Up

Here in Mexico We Enjoy...



The the following topics (and hundreds more) have been treated at one time or another on Mexico Connect, http://www.mexconnected.com/ so what you read here are our personal experiences in these areas.  It could vary in different parts of the country.  There is no intention here to criticize the Mexican culture or the Mexican government. The coveted reaction to things we find unusual or unfair in Mexico has been very well expressed by two contributors to Mexico Connect:



Jonna says:

"I understand some folks' dislike of unfairness, but in all honesty, Mexico is not the country to live in if this makes your blood boil.  It would just not be worth the personal aggavation.  In any country, shoot - in life in general, fair is rarely relevant to how things work.  In Mexico, it is usually not even part of the equation.  There are a lots of pluses to living in Mexico, but it also requires an ability to ignore things that you cannot change whether you find them reprehensible or just irritating.  If you are the kind of person that dwells on wrongs done to you or others or that wants to change things you find unfair, you will be unhappy in Mexico.  I think the first thing an immigrant to Mexico should learn in Spanish is 'ni modo' (no way!) and they should really learn the concept behind it, embrace it and practice using it.  Otherwise, your head gets sore from beating it against the wall and you make everyone around you nuts with the constant litany of unfair things done to you.  I think it is important for anyone planning to pack up their life and move it to another country to be honest with themselves and really think about whether they can be happy in the new place AS IT IS."


Marlene says:

"...and I don't think most people who happily settle in Mexico had the idea of making things better or more acceptable to themselves when they made the move.  Most people that are living happily in Mexico moved here because of the way things are, rather than in spite of the way things are.  As Rolly said, you really have to be able to accept things the way they are or you will be very cranky living here.  Doing the 'gringo dance' in an insurance office, a bank, Aduana (customs office) or Immigration will get you nothing except a lot of strange looks and some outright stares."





When we bought our property we took the land title to a "licensidado" (lawyer) to register the purchase.  About 5 years after we bought the land, had lived in Mexico three years, and our house was almost completed, we found out that we were obligated to obtain permission from the El Departamento del Exterior (the Exterior Department) to buy the land!  Once we found out, we proceeded to request that permission and about $800 later, we were in compliance.



Social Security, known as Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social (IMSS)  is also full of surprises to those not accustomed to their regulations.  After making payments each month for the workers building the house, there is a required "finiquito" or settlement with IMSS once the house is finished. The builder may be hit with a substantial lump sum to pay.  We paid about $1700 USD after the $6500 USD we had paid over the years. See http://rollybrook.com/employee-pay.htm for details on this subject.


MORDIDAS (Bites/Bribes)

If you've heard of Mexico, you probably heard of the bribe system.  There's been so much debate as to what one does when confronted with request for a bribe.  The question is, is it best to stand one's ground, or cave in and pay?  We were stopped in Palacio Gomez, in the state of Durango.  We had just left a gas station where we had asked for recommendations for a motel.  John pulled back onto the street and some guy in a brown uniform came running across the street waving his arms.  He crossed in front of the van and came over to the passenger side.  When John asked him what the problem was he said John had committed an infraction of the traffic laws.  He said John had his turn signal on and failed to turn.  We all know that when one uses the turn signal, that once one turns, the signal goes off.  The officer started raving about he was going to give John a ticket.  It was obvious he just wanted money.  He wouldn't be specific about the ticket, so John asked him flat out if he wanted money.  He admitted he did and finally settled for 50 pesos (about $5).  As to to caving in and paying, there was little question.  John had driven all day long and was dead tired.  We were in a strange town and had no desire to be dragged off to the police station.  Later we asked the clerk at the motel what the police were like in that town.  He called them "rateros," the meaning obvious.


The bribe or extortion problem is not only prevalent in traffic.  (Of course the word bribe is not used, but rather "tip", or "cooperation.")  We live in a new addition and there were no telephone poles or lines.  We had made several requests for phone service over a two-year period, providing all the information they requested.  Finally one day we saw a Telmex employee at the pharmacy.  We told him our problem.  He followed us home, took the information and asked for 4,000  pesos (about $400).  We gave it to him.  He "couldn't" give us a receipt, so we had to trust him.  Sure enough, on Monday a crew was out here installing the poles.  Later he came back for another 1,000 pesos for the cable (to pay the people in the warehouse?!). We know he collected at least 3,000 pesos from the other 3 people who got phones.  Okay, once again, the choices weren't great.  Our friends have lived  in a community near here without a phone line for 8 years.  We had to go into the city every time we needed to use the internet, which is our lifeline to the U.S.  It's done and we're very happy to have phone service and even happier to have DSL internet service.



Visits to the Instituto Nacional de Migracion (the immigration office) have been quite simple after the initial registration of residence here and our first visa renewal.  On both those occasions we had to make several return trips to the INM office to accomplish what should have been a simple process. Since then a change of personal and equipment at the INM office have made things much easier for us.

The type visa we have is an "FM3 Rentista" visa.  It has to be renewed annually, proving each year that we are receiving the required amount of money each month.  No additional paper work is required to keep our vehicles legal.  We keep a copy of our current FM3, plus a copy of the applicable law in each vehicle and show it when are stopped as proof that our status is legal.







All the lots in our addition are 10,000 square meters ( 2 1/2 acres), and are designated in our contracts as farm land with a residence allowed.  There are 6 of us who have buildings on our lots.  Two of them have a business on their property and a third one was going to, but amazingly when John pointed out the restriction in the contract, he backed off.


Things like required licenses, car insurances, and many other "rules" are not taken seriously.  This view of life makes us crazy at times, but we realize it is also this attitude that gives Mexico its laid back atmosphere.  When we got to the border with our motorcycle we were told it couldn't be imported because the engine size had to be at least 1000 cc's.  The engine on ours is only 250 cc's but it looks bigger because it's a V twin.  When the next agent came in and looked at it (and couldn't find any where on it what size it was), he wrote down 1000 cc's and we imported it.  What drives us play-by-the-rules people crazy also works in our favor sometimes. 




It's always a good idea when ordering  food at a retaurant to ask how "hot" it is.  "¿Está picosa?"  I love "ceviche" which is a seafood tostada and I had eaten it at a restaurant as an appetizer, but it was such a small portion I wanted more.  When John took me out to a seafood restaurant for my birthday I ordered it as my main entree.  I forgot to ask about how "picoso" it was.  Oh, my, I coughed and choked with tears running down my face because it was so hot!  There's always plenty of hot sauce available which can be added if more is desired, but it's impossible to remove it from food.



To us who are accustomed to the Caution signs in traffic situations, the "Precaution" signs here kind of make us chuckle.  However, driving here is not really something to be taken lightly.


The first surprise to the newly-arrived expat is that stop signs are taken to mean, "Kind of look to see if anything is coming and then proceed", or they are ignored completely.


To most native drivers, a red signal is taken quite literally, except if it's in the process of turning red, many sneak through OR if it's about to turn green, to many that means GO.


The scariest practice in my estimation is that of turning from the wrong lane.  The other day John and I witnessed the record of all those incidences we had seen.  A car turned right from the FIFTH lane to the left (in front of four lanes of traffic!)



Perhaps it would be better to give even greater attention to walking than has been given to driving.  The sidewalks of most cities in Mexico look like a lot of law suits waiting to happen.  (Fortunately Mexico is not a litigious country like the USA.)  However, beware because unless one watches his feet as much as where he is going, it is so easy to trip or fall over one of the many obstacles protruding  out of the sidwalks or buildings or by the irregularities in the level of the sidewalk, or holes therein.



Supermarkets are off-limit for John and me on weekends.  The circus atomosphere drives us nuts.  Apparently it's more like a  weekend outing for many  Mexicans.  The whole family participates as mom, grandma, dad, kids, and aunts all  group together and stroll down the aisles, visiting and discussing each product as they go.  All the while  the  various  processed meat  and bread  vendors  set  up  their  tented  kiosks in the aisles, with their loud, obnoxious music volume turned to high while their employees beckon to customers to buy their wares.  Oh, yes, weekdays are the time to shop at the supermarkets!

Best wishes to all in your Mexico adventures!