7/28/2008

Some of us love our new life in Mexico

"Pick up after your dog" sign in Mazatlán


"Pick up after your dog" sign in Bellingham, WA (with bags provided)

I've heard stories of a number of people who moved to Mexico and decided to move back to the US before their first year was up. Some are firsthand stories of people known to our friends and family. The stories were told to us in a loving but cautionary way by people who were worried the same thing would happen to us. They didn't want to see us disillusioned or hurt, either emotionally or financially.

We've been here almost a year now, and I can truly say that we are both very happy with our decision to move. We love the community, the house, the neighborhood, and the weather. I could go on and on - and I have, actually, as this blog is witness.

Without going into details, I have heard lately of a number of people who have moved back or are planning on moving back to the US. It's made me think about why we were successful and try to figure out what we might have done differently than they did.
  • We had traveled in Mexico extensively
  • My son and his wife live in Mexico and were a great source of information and ideas
  • We made a really solid "must have" list for our new community
  • We worked through our control issues with regard to litter, barking dogs, etc
  • We have taken it slow, not joining every organization just to fill time
  • We really like spending time with each other
  • We are committed to learning the language
  • We had thought about the challenges facing us ahead of time (vegetarian food/the language)
  • We helped each other get through bad patches instead of escalating frustration

That's a few of the things I think we did right. Here are some observations about some things unsatisfied folks maybe could have done better:
  • Think ahead about how you will deal with aggravations like barking dogs, litter and no-show repairmen. Have strategies ready. You need to be honest with yourself to do this.
  • Settle in a home that fits your lifestyle. If you like to walk, make it easy on yourself, don't buy on the top of a hill.
  • Surround yourself with people who bring out the good in you, and who make you feel positive.
  • Think about whether your move is all about one thing (i.e. you can live here for less money)
  • Think about whether you are you open minded? Accepting? Positive? Flexible?
  • Think about whether you want to adapt to the culture. Will you be unhappy if you can't find a store open during siesta or your favorite food item?
  • Do you like to settle disputes with a lawsuit? Probably Mexico isn't a good fit for you.
We're here for the long haul. Are you? Or no? I'd love to hear why.

17 comments:

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Well said! When we got back from vacation, we were going home, not to Merida, but home to Merida. That is where we live and I can't imagine living back in the USA.
I think the people who go back are the ones who expect it to the USA or wherever they come from but cheaper. They don't understand about cultural differences because they never ever encountered them before. We came from a very diverse place but not everyone does, and I think Mexico may be a bit of a shock to those people.
I also think a sense of humour really,really helps.
regards,
Theresa

Nancy said...

That's funny, I was going to add that "We call home HERE, not where we used to live."

So true about the sense of humor, especially if we can laugh at ourselves.
N.

Steve Cotton said...

Nancy -- Thank you once again for a very well-reasoned and thoughtful post. Your page continues to be one of my best sources for information. It will be nice to have you as a blog-neighbor when I move south.

Jackie said...

Nancy,
I have thought often about retiring in Mexico. I think that you two as a couple have each other for support and that helps to make you successful and satisfied with your new life. I on the other hand have to consider that I would be solo and have responsibility for everything by myself. Not that I don’t here in Oregon but it is much easier here. The other thing that I am considering is not living full time but finding a year round rental and spending half the year on Isla Mujeres where I have many friends who live there as well as travel there. I have a couple of more years before I serious think about retiring and I will have my list of needs and wants well identified by that time that if I do retire part of the year on Isla I will know what I want and already know what to expect of a life there. I have been reading so many blogs by expats that I feel like I have a really good insight in to what life would be like in Mexico.

Nancy said...

Steve, Thanks for the compliment, I look forward to hearing what you decide and when you decide to do it!

Jackie, Trust yourself. If it's the right thing to do, you will know it.

Nancy

Billie said...

Nancy, for some reason we have thought that Mexico was a "time period" and that at some time in the future we grew older we would go back to the USA. But I think that now both of us are feeling that we could find better help and care here in Mexico. Besides we love our lives here. Barking dogs, fireworks, roosters and all. After almost 6 years, it still seems like an adventure.

Nancy said...

Billie,

One of the things we have joked about is that when one of us gets feeble we probably would be able to hire assistance here more easily - one of those things it's easy to joke about but when you are third agers it is something to consider.

One thing I should have mentioned is how much help we have had along the way by so many wonderful bloggers, yourself included. The support and feedback was a big help every step of the way. I owe you a big thank you.

Nancy

Beth said...

Another great post, Nancy! I echo Steve's thoughts - I've read tons of blogs, and I always return to yours to see what you have written.

I love the fact that you've approached Mexico with a "no nonsense" feeling and walked in with your eyes open. It's great to see your successes!

(And, for the moment, I'm living vicariously through you!)

Brenda said...

I think it is mostly in the attitude. If you can't adjust, you are doomed to failure here. Definately need a sense of humor and lots of flexibility and patience.
Are we in for the long haul? I guess so.... we have been here almost 3 yrs. now and never talk about returning north. This is home.

jillian said...

we may not stay much longer but the experience has been so liberating and enriching I would recommend a stint SOB to any young couple who wants to extract themselves from post college complacency and test their mettle as partners and grown-ups.

Cynthia Johnson & Mike Nickell said...

We're in for the long haul! Although after Mike's medical issues we don't know if he'll ever be able to teach - and other work here is slim pickens. But if we can survive on just my teaching wages and Mike's health remains stable I think we can make it. Now if we'd just make that commitment to learn Spanish...

Nancy said...

Beth, Thanks. I think we were no-nonsense but it is also a passionate love affair we're having with this place.

Brenda, I like that you are just allowing it to BE. And I love that it is home.

Jillian, I would be so sad to have you leave, but I have a feeling Mexico is in your blood now and you will globe hop back here frequently. I understand the need for roots and nesting though. Oh, and kids, too. I hope you'll write more about what you're feeling.

Cynthia, I'm glad you and Mike are doing so well. It's always tricky when plans change or problems arise to not blame it on the place instead of just working through it. I love that you didn't lose your cool and didn't let your mishaps color your relationship with Mexico.

Viva All of Us!

Calypso said...

Nancy - Excellent points. Of course not all that return to the US are failures per se - some just continue motion.

Mexico isn't for everyone. There are certainly those with a strong love/hate relationship with Mexico.

I am glad you and Paul see yourselves being in Mexico for the long haul - your very methodical process much of which you have shared with all of us certainly is a testament of how to do it.

Viva Mexico

mcm said...

I'm glad that Calypso clarified that returning to the US is not a "failure" -- people's circumstances change, or they find that they're interested in other things.
In my experience, many people change their living situation in Mexico not after a year, but after a few years -- this may be that they decide they would prefer a different type of house (a country house, rather than in center city, for example), or a different city, or, yes, a different country. The first few years are so full of the "new" -- language, settling in, etc., that it's hard to compare to "regular" life. After six or ten or 15 years, you may just want a change.
Also, I would agree with one of the posters that moving to a foreign country by yourself, rather than as a member of a couple, can be a very different experience (with pluses and minuses).
All that said -- your excellent planning, particular circumstances (knowing something of Mexico, having family here), and enthusiasm and flexibility clearly have a lot to do with your satisfaction here.

Nancy said...

I never intended to make it sound like if they went home, they failed.

We probably won't live here in Mazatlan forever - one of the reasons we chose it is that we considered it a good place to live while we learned Spanish. English-speakers friends were something we knew we needed since it will take us a few years to feel competent in Spanish.

And yes, doing it alone is a whole different animal.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

I really liked this post. It is interesting to see perspectives and to explore why things work for some and not for others.

Thanks for sharing your insights

Nancy said...

American Mommy,
I have written endlessly about our planning, decisionmaking, etc. concerning our move to Mexico, and we really made the right decision. We love it here.

The couple of people here in Maz who are moving back North are people who moved without giving it the kind of thought it deserves, I think. I guess they are the only ones who know, though.

Sounds like you are settling in nicely.

N.