Question #1: Why do you want to move to a new country? Be honest with yourself and check all motives you may have, so that you know for sure you're not "running away" from someone or something, or escaping some relationship or other disagreeable situation. What are your motives? What are your reasons? This is a self-check so that you will be able to enjoy your new life in your new country to the fullest and not have regrets because you left simply as an escape mechanism. Much better to have it be as a desire for new adventures and new experiences that are not available in your current setting. Longing to experience a new culture and people and to see new beautiful sights are great motivations too.
Question #2: What kind of life do you intend to live in your new chosen home? Are you going to be 100% expat and basically have your friendships and activities be with others like yourself who have relocated to the new country? Or are you going to go native? -- or a combination of both? Have you got an open mind to at least learning enough of the language so you can communicate at the grocery store or street markets? Would you like to be able to actually form friendships with the nationals? How integrated do you plan to be?
Question #3: How much stuff do you own and intend to keep? Many people choose to pack nearly everything they own to take to their new place! But how much will it cost to ship? How do you know where you will put it? Will your home be large enough for all the collected "stuff" you've acquired over the years? Most of the homes in third-world, or even the more modern foreign countries, are not nearly as large and spacious as they are in the United States or Canada, for example (the two countries I'm most familiar with.)
Question #4: How long do you plan to live in your new chosen place? Is this a definitive move? Have you already visited for an extended period of time, so you have enough information to make a sensible and wise decision about your future? Have you thought about the considerable cultural adjustments that will undoubtedly be necessary even if the place you're moving to seems to be similar to your home country?
Question #5: Do you plan to keep your current residence, or will you sell it and find a different place if your "abroad" experience comes to an end sooner than you thought it would? This is a decision that everyone of us who have traveled and who have relocated to a new place have to make. Some people want to have a place they can go back to if they have family and friends they wish to see. Some like to spend 3 - 6 months in one country and then head back to their familiar home. If you decide to keep your home, you will also have to decide if you're going to close it up and leave it unoccupied, or if you're going to rent it out and store your personal items. If you make that decision before you move, it will save you money in the long run regarding extra travel costs and/or storage fees.
How many of these would you need? What could you easily replace? How long are you planning to stay abroad? Will those belongings still be important to you? Do you have particular emotional ties to the things in storage? Will your belongings be outdated? Where did they come from? Were they all made in the USA or wherever your home country is? If you plan to stay abroad for 5 to 10 years and then return, how much will you have paid in storage fees?
Question #6: Do you have support from those closest to you for the decision to move abroad? If not, how will you handle their objections? Not everyone I'm related to thought it was a great idea to move abroad. In fact, a couple siblings expressed the thought that they felt like I was turning my back on my family to pursue selfish wishes. Silly me! At the age of 42 I thought I probably could make those kinds of decisions on my own. But all kidding aside, it's important to have support from those who know and love you. They may not agree with your "dumb" decision, so it would be great if you could explain to them your desires for adventure, or a new life, a less expensive way of life, and whatever other things figure in your decision. They may not end up agreeing 100%, but at least they will know you listened to them and tried to understand and explain your desire for the move.
Question #7: How do you plan to sustain yourself in the economy of your chosen country? If you are retiring and moving abroad, then you will need to do your homework and know how you're going to get your money to your pocket from your bank account! It's not always as easy as you thought it would be. Where we live now, there are basically 4 places where, if you don't have a bank account in this country, you can withdraw money in the local currency. You cannot get US dollars anywhere -- only the local currency.
At each of these 4 locations, you have to pay exchange fees that are deducted from your bank in the USA for example. The local bank or ATM also charges you a fee. You need to know these things. In some countries, you will have to pay taxes on your income no matter where it comes from, but in other countries only on what you earn in that country not your home country. Do you work online? Then you have to be sure the speeds are sufficient to sustain what you do. This is a huge issue in many places! People may tell you the Internet is great because all they do is email. But if you work online it may not be enough. Find out before you are too sorry and your method of income disappears!
Question #8: What is your plan B if the situation in your chosen country changes? Do you have a place to relocate to? Did you keep your house and you can go back to it? Do you have an alternate place you could head to if your first choice doesn't work out? If you work out these things before you move, it will save you lots of heartache and headaches if such a situation occurs. You won't feel so lost and you won't feel like you made the biggest mistake in the world by moving abroad.
These are 8 of the most important questions you must ask AND get answers to before moving abroad! If you don't ask them, and you don't know what the answers are, your experience will be significantly compromised. Make the most of your new life! BE INFORMED! Living Abroad and Loving It is based on being informed so you can enjoy and truly love your living abroad experience.
What I never would have expected, or wished for, has happened to me!
There is an Internet provider that is installing fiber optic cable in the region. We were so excited because the casita where we were living was on the list of prepaid subscribers to receive it. Of course, not all regions are going to benefit, because they are a business after all! So the installing has been done in the areas where the most people have the most money to afford --- and demand --- the service. However, installation has been very slow.
As they began to install this new service, the rest of us had a significant drop in the effectiveness and power of the company we were with. No one understands what that's all about so no point in trying to figure it out. Download times went from being a good solid 10 megas, to 4 or 5 megas, but the upload times, which affected my ability to manage this website plus my new Relationships Alive! course website, went from 2 megas (which was slow enough as it is) to
Yes, you read that correctly --- somewhere between .4 and .5 (that's point four and point five) megas. As anyone who understands the Internet knows, that is not enough to upload much of anything --- sometimes not even just the words, but definitely not photos or videos.
I apologize for not posting for the last month. It just hasn't been possible --- plus it got me really depressed!!
THE GOOD NEWS!
After being told several times that the service was going to be either inadequate or not available in our new place (oh yes, we moved to a new location during this time as well --- another story for another blog post!), we have finally found a service that will give us 10 megas upload and 10 megas download.
They came yesterday, unannounced, to install the service (which we had not even purchased yet). However, the installer did not have a high powered enough antennae to install our service so they will be back next week. But at least there exists something for us!
As it happens, it works like this --- there are several centers with towers around the region. You have to have a clear view to one of them to receive the service. Guess what? We are in direct alignment with one of them. We're excited to know that shortly --- we hope soon --- we'll be up and running with at list minimally adequate Internet! Yahooooo!
And I'm planning some really good stuff on living abroad, adjustments, fear factors, crime, surviving your relationship, good books to read and much more when we are back up online with full mega-power. Three cheers for Spiderweb.com!
You all know how that goes? This time it was my computer! I only have this one, and this entire past 2 weeks it decided to freeze whenever it wanted to. We finally found the problem, ordered the part, and the wonderful and patient computer guy came over to the house and installed the new 8 GB of RAM.
Yes, I was doing too much for the processing to take place and when the computer had had enough, it simply froze in place and I was done doing whatever I'd been doing.
This past Sunday was really cool though so in the next day or so I'm going to put something up here that will be fun for you all. We went to a gathering here they call Open Circle. They had invited a family of mariachis to come and present a concert. This family is working with the kids from our town, San Juan Cosala, to become future mariachis, but they are already pretty good. Unfortunately my phone ran out of memory after two videos, so I didn't get them doing their part. But I did get the adults playing. I'm going to attempt to upload the videos and photos.
Here's hoping it all works! Happy Wednesday!
The water is geneally around 86 degrees or a bit more. This last Saturday the pool was full of people for class. Sometimes there are lots of people, and sometimes only this many. Whatever the day, I love it.
I realize that it's been a long stretch in between posts. There is just so darn much going on, and we're having so much fun, it's overwhelming to decide what to share with you all.
At one time I thought I was going to be lonely because I didn't know anyone. Now...I have to choose how I spend my time because there is so much to do --- and it's all great fun and/or very meaningful.
Recent list for the last week includes:
Life is sometimes stranger than fiction! Sometimes we get into situations where if we were anywhere else, we might just be scared. But we were not!
There is a house next door to ours. We look over our wall and see the upper half of the house. A few months ago we met the owner and a friend of his. They are 40-ish. Juan's family owns the house and he generally takes care of it. But due to a variety of circumstances, he was unable to do much for about 3 or 4 years. That ended a few months ago. We met he and his friend when they came to work on the house. They were here for a few days and then went back to Guadalajara.
Once in a while we would hear from Juan that he would be coming soon. But he never materialized until day before yesterday. Then that evening, he sent a text message that he was outside our gate and could we come and talk to him.
It turns out that by accident (obviously) he locked one of the doors of his house, and then the other door he was going to use to go in and get his keys and money and stuff, shut on it's own accord, locking him out. He said he was on his way to pick up a pizza because it had been a long time since he'd had anything to eat.
It was 10 p.m. We did everything we could think of --- asking down at the security gate if anyone had a saw we could borrow. We went over to a construction site where a worker was staying but he was totally out of it. We called who we could think of, but everyone here goes to bed fairly early.
So we did the only decent thing --- we invited him to spend the night at our house. Lucky for us he is truly a great guy. He came in the house and immediately said he wanted to call his sister and let her know he was alright and that he was staying with us.
He hadn't had any dinner, so we rustled up some bacon and scrambled eggs with toast. All in all it was totally odd, but a whole lot of fun. He speaks English and, of course Spanish. So when he couldn't think of the word he'd speak Spanish, and when we couldn't think of the word in Spanish, we'd speak English. We laughed and had a good time. We talked about places and family, travels and friends. Turns out he's a professional illustrator, his mother is an artist and paints, and so we discussed that too!
Finally, around midnight, we called it a day and went to bed. Our neighbor in the apartment above us came home the next day (she was one we had called, thinking she was upstairs) and she said "so.....did we have a sleepover last night?" and chuckled. Well, yes we did, of sorts. Nice to have 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms! ha ha ha
That's definitely one way to get to know your neighbor!
What do you think about living abroad? Do you have any desire to live in another country long enough to learn a little of the language, to understand the culture some, to enjoy the sights and sounds?
If so, where would that be?
If not, why not?
If you already have done it, what were your take-away feelings?
We have been asked many times by family and friends what our status is. So I think this blog is one of the best places to clarify what our status is and what my intentions are as a traveler in this big, beautiful world!
When I arrived in Uruguay from the United States I immediately did all the paperwork to become a legal permanent resident with hopes to gain citizenship one day. But we didn't do that. We changed our minds for various reasons.
Instead we moved to Mexico. We are technically tourists by definition. When you come to Mexico you can enter the country and stay for 180 days. This is referred to as a tourist visa and there is no application process for US Citizens or Uruguayan residents (which we were).
We are just now completing 180 days, so we are going to leave Mexico and stay out of the country for a couple of days and return for another 180 days for me, and hopefully, my partner will get her temporary resident visa good for a year and renewable. Later on, for reasons I'm not going to go into right now, I will apply for my temporary resident visa. We plan to live here as long as possible. I do not plan to become a Mexican citizen at this time.
However, both the United States and Mexico allow a person to have dual citizenship. I have no plans to renounce my American citizenship. Renunciation is an entirely other subject. It is very serious and irreversible. I, personally, and like so many others here in Mexico and in the United States, am not happy with my home country right now. But I do not have any plans to renounce my citizenship.
There is no perfect place on the face of the earth. There is no 100% safe place on the face of the earth. So you have to pick carefully where you think it is most appropriate for you to live for all the reasons that mean something to you. We are here in Mexico not running from anywhere or anyone, but because the cost of living, the climate, the people, and the closeness to the United States were all contributing factors for us. You have to make the decision based on your own set of "factors".
That is exactly what we've done! At this time we are very happy with that decision and hope we can enjoy this beautiful country with it's wonderful people and awesome culture, it's fabulous weather and terrific food, for a long time to come.
There! That about does it! If you have any further questions about stuff like this, please feel free to post it here and I will do my best to answer it.
Hmmmm. Now that you ask, the answer is: not as dangerous as the United States in some areas!
There's a lot of hype these days about how dangerous Mexico is. Is the drug business doing well --- yes, probably not as well as it does in the United States because the stats don't include pharmaceutical abuse (which is quite high in the States)!
As citizens of the United States we are privy to all the various takes on crime in Mexico. Lots and lots of people do not like Mexico or Mexicans. The news we always hear about crime and the cartels in Mexico paints a picture that is very severe. I'm going to include some links that you can look at to assess for yourself what the situation is really like.
Do we feel like we are in danger most of the time? No. But we live street smart just as we would in Miami, New Orleans, or any other large city or town. See: www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Mexico/United-States/Crime
Sometimes we read so much of the bad and disturbing news about a place --- and Mexico is always in the news --- that we begin to believe that it must be terrible because there is so much published.
When we lived in Uruguay, the students who were in my classes at the International school where I taught, studied what life was like in the United States and decided to study at a university located somewhere else. What the United States looks like is that there is a lot of random crime, terrible drug use and abuse, and corrupt government just as there is everywhere else.
Sometimes we become easily convinced because we don't take the time to look up actual facts. It seems that using the facts these days is very out of style in the USA. Therefore, when you are looking at any country, don't just look at the stats that you read about in news articles or that you see on the television. Go do a deep research on the Internet and look at the comparisons between them all. You will find that in most cases, Mexico has less crime in the very areas where the USA excells. It's important to use something other than Homeland Security figures, as I wonder how skewed they may be considering the activities promoted by them such as ICE.
We receive the alerts from the United States regularly, as do most Americans living abroad. But what strikes us as strange is that the alerts are generally for certain states in Mexico, not simply a town or city in that state. For instance, Jalisco is on that list of places not recommended for American tourists. However, the majority of the crime takes place in Guadalajara, a city of over 4 million people, 50 miles north of where we currently live yet in the same state of Jalisco.
In answer to the second question in the title: No, I am not afraid. Period. I live here and I have no desire to move back to the United States at this time. For one thing, Mexicans are not argumentative and always trying to force their view on me --- political, religious, or otherwise. In general when you walk anywhere, they look you in the eye and acknowledge your presence on "earth", in the grocery store, on the boardwalk --- anywhere. You are there and they acknowledge your presence with a nod and a smile, or a simple "good morning" or "good afternoon", and it just feels different (and way better) than it felt in the States.
Here are some links to get you started on your own research. Some are directly from people who have lived here a very long time or have done the research to be able to speak with a good authority as to how safe it is here. I'm going to include a couple of fun articles but that have good information. We've enjoyed watching and following Lori and Jerry Brown's Travel videos for over 2 years. They've been here a long time and their specific mission is to share accurate information with people considering Mexico either for retirement, investment, or vacations. You can check them out on YouTube.
Here is another link to a post on another blog that gives several other links that take you to more information about the crime situation in Mexico. This is really the only time I'm going to post about crime here because the rest of life is so fabulous that I prefer to share it with you. But here is the link to an informative post! assetbuilder.com/knowledge-center/articles/is-it-too-dangerous-to-retire-in-mexico
And finally, this is a place I love to visit because there are so many options for comparisons. Some have not had too many people reporting, but the fact is that all reporting is by people who are willing to research and send details to this website.
Long blog today, but necessary due to the number of people who ask us this question or who doubt our sanity for living here!
Question for you: After you have done your research, let me know if you would consider a visit to Mexico!
Last night was so much fun --- well actually it all started in the morning for me! I decided to take advantage of the water aerobics classes that are included with our club membership (included in our rent). The pool area is so tranquil and the views are magnificent. I decided not to take the photo with all of us in the pool, because I wasn't willing to get permission from the 30+ people who were in class! The lake you see is Lake Chapala. The mountains are part of the San Juan Cosala Sierra Madre mountains.
When the rainy season comes, all those hills are completely green and look like broccoli! Just wait. You'll see!
After I came home from exercises, Kris reminded me that today was the day we were going to an afternoon Bach & Mozart concert featuring pianist David Fung. Along with him were an outstanding violinist, a violist, a cellist playing a Mozart Quartet, followed by a small string orchestra for the harpsichord concerto No. 4 in A Major (played on the piano). It was uplifting and very moving. Perhaps my favorite was the encore which was another Bach composition. It was a standing ovation event! This group is just one of many that are performing in a 2-week-long Festival of music here in the Lakeside region.
Then we drove back out to our little town of San Juan Cosala to a very famous restaurant called Viva Mexico! owned and operated by the same man who is on the website here in the Operation Feed video --- Agustin.
There were plenty of people there, but we found a nice table.
If you're a vegetarian or vegan, don't look at my dinner! Look at Kris's dinner! Mine was beef tenderloin with baked potato & sour cream, and a veggie medley of fresh cooked vegetables! Delish! Kris choose a Mexican meal called the "Juanita" that came with lots of veggies, tortillas with cheese, some enchiladas with chicken, guacamole, salsa and rice. And we each had an ice-cold Corona beer! They taste really good here. I will share the price with you below our dinner photo!