There are pluses and minuses to moving anywhere far away from what you are used to; things you will gain and things you will give up. In this article, I’ll describe what you would have to give up if you moved to Mexico. I separated my list into two groups: things you will objectively have to give up, and things you will give up only if you want to.
Things You Will Objectively Have to Give Up
Some Material Things
There is no doubt that some things are more difficult and /or more expensive to get in Mexico than in the US. For example, as I learned from moving more than 400 families to Mexico through my business, Best Mexico Movers, most people who have lived North of the Border will not find furniture in Mexico that you would sit in or lie down on to be comfortable. Think sofas, chairs, beds and especially those recliners lots of people know as the La-Z-Boy type.
My proof of this, in addition to what I’m told and the results of my own extensive “sit tests” is the inventory and prices in the secondhand shops here in Mexico with used furniture. In those shops, you will almost never see a recliner. Why? Because some frantic and sore North of the Border type bought it the moment it came in… for about twice the price it would sell for used in the US.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get beautiful, handmade, wood-carved cabinets in Mexico for a fraction of what you would pay in the US, because you can. It’s just the other items I mentioned that most people who know how uncomfortable furniture can be in Mexico will hold onto with both hands because they are how difficult they are to get here and they don’t want to give them up. And by “most people” I’m including Mexicans who were born in Mexico, lived in the US for a while, and who we moved to Mexico. Just try to talk them out of taking their American bed, sofa and double recliner with them. (It won’t happen.)
My wife tells me that lots of kitchen and baking items are not available in Mexico at all, and other expats tell me they can’t get high quality linens, towels, etc. Mexicans and expats will go to the US to buy clothing and shoes because they can’t find what they want here in Mexico. Other clients bring with them all sorts of things from the US because they either can’t get the same in Mexico at all, or they can’t get same quality as what they are accustomed to in the US.
Things are changing, however, albeit a bit slowly. We have Walmart, Costco, Home Depot, and of course, Amazon.com.mx, which, even though they have further to go and a lot of the more desirable items are labeled “importado” with the attendant very high price and shipping costs, is getting better all the time.
High cost of living
Even with what I wrote above, it costs a lot less to live the same lifestyle in Mexico as you would in the US. Either that, or you can have a greatly elevated lifestyle for the same price. Either way, you will give up your high cost of living. This isn’t even a close call.
In trying to quantify the difference for you, I considered my own situation and came to the conclusion that I would just have to make a guess, because we had no experience living the lifestyle we’re leading here in Mexico when we were in the US. The reason for this lack of experience is pretty simple: when I lived in the US, I couldn’t afford the lifestyle we’re living here in Mexico now. When we lived in the
US, I didn’t even consider my current lifestyle here as a goal. But now, in Mexico, as I am writing this and feeling very grateful, it’s a reality.
My very rough guess is that our cost of living here is about 25% of what it would be in the US. If a higher percentage of our income went to food and rent, the cost of living here would be a higher percentage of what it would cost to live the same way as in the US, but I suspect that most people would save at least half. That’s a guess, but you get the picture.
I’ve written before about the lower cost / higher quality healthcare in Mexico, which is a big component of cost of living (at least in the US) but I haven’t talked that much about property taxes, so here goes. In the US, my final bill seven years ago was over $6,500. Here in Mexico, I paid around $600… on my 3,000+ square foot beach house. (Full disclosure: I didn’t have – or even dream of having – a beach house in the US.)
Things You Can Give Up If You Want To
Perhaps you will label me as a terrible person because I like it better not to be as obsessed with race, class, sexual identity, etc., as I see is the case with lots of people in the US. And of course, there are people (almost exclusively expats) who are equally obsessed with these subjects while living in Mexico as are the people in the US. However, by and large the Mexican people and the rest of us are not. And, if you choose to (see my comments on “the rut” below), you can leave behind a good amount of these concerns as well, and as an alternative, just enjoy your life here. Or, if you like it so much, you can bring all that divisiveness with you. It’s your choice. But if you would like a bit less divisiveness in your life, it is easier here in Mexico than in the US, so that’s another thing you can give up, if you want to.
(By the way, about a third or more of the people we move to Mexico are gay men, so if this is you, don’t worry at all; if you move to Mexico, you would definitely not be a trailblazer here in that regard.)
Everything that comes from the need to make a lot of money
What comes with the need to make a lot of money just to keep up? I imagine that you have your own, well-honed and well-reviewed list. My list includes stress, unhappiness, an unbalanced life, less time with the ones you love and less time perusing things that do not have to do with needing to make a lot of money. You can probably add several items to the list that I forgot to or that apply more to you. Please go ahead. (Doing so on some level may be cathartic.). Then, look at your list. You can give up a lot of those things, too.
If you have any, your existing not so great relationships and worldview (the “rut”)
One of the great things about moving to a really new place with new experiences, ways to live and new people, is that, if you choose to, with that newness and perhaps even a little perspective, it’s easier to break the bonds of the pattern of relationships that aren’t so great. That is, establishing new and better patters are easier than if you stayed in the same place, with the same people, doing the same things in the same way and repeating the same patterns ad nauseum. Or, if you really like all your relationships and your worldview works well for you as it is now, you can just repeat what you did before with no changes and keep what you have. However, if you feel as if you would benefit from a deeper perspective and worldview, with a revised way to relate with others, at least it’s easier to do when you arrive here, because you will have moved to a new place and fresh starts are easier to do in a fresh location.
Your misconceptions about what it is like to live in Mexico
If you’re open to it, not only will you discover that a lot of what you thought it would be like to live in Mexico is wrong, but going through the experience of coming to the realization that you were wrong will (if you want it to) open your eyes to other things you may have gotten wrong, with the result that you will form a deeper understanding of life and of yourself. This seems like a pretty good thing to have.
As Samuel Clemens (AKA, Mark Twain) wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”
So, there they are as Samuel Clements distilled them for us— the three final things you may have to give up if you move to Mexico. (Which may not be so bad to give up, after all.)
By Chuck Bolotin