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OkieTrader

Nov 6, 2003, 1:19 PM

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Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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My SS check is only $1,000 per month. How well can I live on that amount in Mexico? Where in Mexico would be a good place for a single guy with this low income to live?



alex .

Nov 6, 2003, 2:52 PM

Post #2 of 48 (5728 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] depends

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are you cool with chickens in the house or no?
Alex


Esteban

Nov 6, 2003, 4:31 PM

Post #3 of 48 (5711 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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You can live on any amount of money in Mexico. It all depends on your lifestyle. The more Spanish you speak will help your cost of living go down. The less alcohol you drink will also help. Your health will be a determining factor also. If you are under 65 years old, you can get a health insurance policy that should cover major medical for a cheaper cost than the US. Get used to living without a car and either eating at gourmet street establishments or cooking at home. It can be done and you can be comfortable but your relatives will have to visit you not the other way around. Buena Suerte!


Carol Schmidt


Nov 6, 2003, 4:46 PM

Post #4 of 48 (5707 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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I think you need a minimum amount of independent income (SS qualifies) to qualify for an FM3, which is the status for living in Mexico, and that amount is around $1100 a month now, at least in San Miguel de Allende. The amount is based on the Mexican minimum wage times a certain figure, so it varies a bit. Maybe $1000 would be enough, maybe you would have to do some juggling so that you've got somebody paying you a loan or rent or something that qualifies as steady income. The income has to be analyzed and vouched for by the U.S. consulate, at least here in San Miguel, so you hve to submit three months' bank statements and other proof of income.



Can you live on $1000 a month? I think so, especially if you live outside Centro of the town you choose, in a non-gringo neighborhood, and live like many Mexicans do. Certainly there are plenty of delicious foods you can cook or even some restaurants you can eat at that will fit in your income, and there are many free or low-cost entertainment possibilities. Buses are 3 pesos, around 28 cents US, here, and taxis are 15 pesos, around $1.30 U.S. Some Mexican sit-down restaurants have a set menu of the day for as low as 25 pesos, more often 35 pesos. Shop where the locals do, not in imported U.S. delis. Having a car will up your expenses, but some people I know live on around that amount with older cars in good repair. Health is a big factor in figuring out how much you will need. Most Mexicans certainly live here on less than $1000 a month!

Carol Schmidt


Guapo Gabacho


Nov 6, 2003, 5:02 PM

Post #5 of 48 (5704 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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You could stay comfortably in the tropical paradise of Catemaco, Veracruz on that amount, but I don't think you could get a visa to live in Mexico. You couldn't afford to keep a car, but you could have some great opportunities for companionship.

Much cheaper yet would be in San Pedro la Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala, but the locals aren’t as aggressive with single men as in Veracruz.


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raferguson


Nov 6, 2003, 9:32 PM

Post #6 of 48 (5675 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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One question is whether you can live in the USA for $1000 US a month? Sounds challenging to me, but obviously people do it. My grandmother lived for many years in a small trailer in Arizona on her social security.

I would say that the cheaper places in Mexico are far from the beach and have few gringos around. For example, Zacatecas has houses for sale starting at $30,000 US or less. However, you might not like a place without gringos, especially if you did not speak good Spanish.

For those planning to live in Mexico, one of the best sources for
information, especially on the cost of living, is the AIM
(Adventures in Mexico) newsletter. It has a practical focus,
with each issue covering a different town or area. $19 per year,
Apartado Postal 31-70, Guadalajara, Jalisco, 45050, Mexico. (My
2002 renewal included an envelope addressed to 1761 Hotel Circle
S, Suite 100, San Diego, CA, 92108, USA). Ask for the back issue
list. Some issues include houshold budgets by readers and
residents, to give one a better view of actual living costs.
They do not have a website.


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


OkieTrader

Nov 7, 2003, 3:43 AM

Post #7 of 48 (5667 views)

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Re: [alex .] depends

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This old gringo is a pretty good cook. Any chicken trotting through my casa will end up in the frying pan!


gpk

Nov 7, 2003, 2:19 PM

Post #8 of 48 (5606 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] depends

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Almost any town you've never heard of will allow you to meet your budget requirements, but you might want to be within reach of the border so you can live here with a tourist visa, renewed every six months. The problem in many 100% Mexican towns is that real estate for rent is virtually non-existent--or at least invisible, so be prepared to do some serious hunting. I have friends who have stayed here illegally for several years, but I would never recommend that.

Basically, it sounds like you might as well come on down and give it a try--you can go home again.


Carol Schmidt


Nov 7, 2003, 10:00 PM

Post #9 of 48 (5562 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] depends

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Don't say that! We suddenly have a Banty rooster, hen, and nine tiny chicks in our courtyard, and we are hoping the feral cats don't get any. But then what will we do with 11 adult chickens running around, and then how many will there be next year? Hmm, I think there will be plenty of people with the same inclinations you have to take care of the problem

Carol Schmidt


Bill_N

Nov 8, 2003, 5:58 AM

Post #10 of 48 (5544 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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I found this site where people can order the Adventures in Mexico Newsletter. Is it the same as you are referring to? Might be easier to reference this site for people, than the postal address.



http://www.rr-mexico.com/books.htm

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tonyburton / Moderator


Nov 8, 2003, 9:20 AM

Post #11 of 48 (5517 views)

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Site appears to be out-of-date

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I didn't see any date on that site, but it looks at first glance like it is very out-of-date. The contact phone number, for example, is several years old and does not have the correct number of digits in it. To the best of my knowledge, it is still only possible to order AIM by mail.

Tony


Bill_N

Nov 8, 2003, 9:43 AM

Post #12 of 48 (5512 views)

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Re: [tonyburton] Site appears to be out-of-date

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Maybe so, but I did place an order for the AIM Newsletter this morning though that site and it "took my order". Now whether I get anything or not is the question. I'll let everyone know.

Bill

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elcomputo

Nov 8, 2003, 7:00 PM

Post #13 of 48 (5459 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] depends

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I can't figure out what happened here. With your post, it looks like a whole different string with a whole different topic has popped into the discussion of Mexican affordability. What goes?


elcomputo

Nov 8, 2003, 7:03 PM

Post #14 of 48 (5458 views)

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Re: [Esteban] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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I'm curious about that "under 65" insurance. Does the government put an age limit on its medical insurance?


elcomputo

Nov 8, 2003, 7:06 PM

Post #15 of 48 (5456 views)

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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Unless they have changed the requirement in the past six months, the cut-off for income is $1,000 if you apply at the consulates in Austin or McAllen (or...?). They also told me in Austin that it is a much faster process if you apply there instead of in Mexico.


elcomputo

Nov 8, 2003, 7:09 PM

Post #16 of 48 (5454 views)

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Re: [Guapo Gabacho] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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I don't know that Guatamala is the place to be right now. They are on the brink of some real civil problems there due to a former military dictator who is expected to win the next (fixed) election.


elcomputo

Nov 8, 2003, 7:44 PM

Post #17 of 48 (5452 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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I have been living in San Miguel de Allende, one of the more expensive towns in Mexico, on my Social Security of $1,200 a month. However, I have also had some unexpected disasters (most related to my health and the health of my junker car) that have eaten away at a small amount of savings I also brought. Plus, as people on another forum can tell you, I have had terrible problems with cholos because I happened to find a casita renting cheaply without realizing it was in one of the worst parts of town. (In Mexico, it is frequently difficult to tell a bad area from a good one because Mexicans do most of their home improvements inside the house, not outside.) Luckily, I have also picked up some work that has extended my miserable income a bit.

I like the town, and I have made friends here, mostly among the English-speakers. But I really think I have got to get out of here and find something safer and cheaper.

In short, yes, you can live on that amount. But it can be very dicey. And, like others on this string say, you are probably better off heading for a place like Catemaco where you can get a nice apartment for a little over $100 US a month. And, like they say, you're still going to have to be on a tortillas, beans, and chicken budget and drinking water instead of beer to stay safely within your limit. Then there are the medical questions. While drugs are cheaper here than in the US, if there are special ones prescribed for you, they can still be pretty darned expensive. I, for instance, am dependent upon the Veterans Affairs to provide my medications and examinations, and I have to return to the States every three months to get that. It gets pretty expensive, but, again, what alternative do I have? And I have not even addressed the question of what happens if you have an emergency situation.

I have met a couple of women here who are living on Social Security income of only $650 a month. They own their own homes and do not, therefore, have to pay rent. But even so, I don't know how they do it.

Of course, the two questions really are: (1) what alternatives do you have?, and (2) can you tolerate the stresses of living in a country with a very different outlook on life, different ways of doing things, a different language, different foods, different everything?... almost. As to the first, I came down here because I saw no way of surviving on that horrible SS pittance in the USA unless I moved to a tarpaper shack far from a highway in deepest Mississippi. As to the second, I have been here for six months. The things about Mexico I love, I really love. The things that are hurting me, I really hate. And the rest is a mass of confusion. Will I stay? If my money holds out, I will probably stay here a couple of years. But then I think I will start looking at other alternatives, such as teaching English as a foreign language, maybe in Mexico City or Monterrey, maybe someplace else in the world.

If you're feeling the way I was last winter, you are feeling a lot of pressure to make a decision you wish you didn't have to make. It is unfortunate that a backward-looking government and economic circumstances force us into making that decision. But you are doing the right thing. Try to get all the information you can about alternatives. Find out the cost of living in East Jesus, Tennessee, and compare them with living in El Aliento de Sapo, Mexico. Then figure out which you could better tolerate.

One other thing you can try: Do you know of anyone in the same boat? Is is someone you could share living quarters with? Two can live more cheaply than one, assuming they can get along with each other.


OkieTrader

Nov 9, 2003, 4:25 AM

Post #18 of 48 (5429 views)

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Re: [elcomputo] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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ElComputo ... thank you for taking so much time to explain these things to me. I am looking at Mexico as a place to live for the same reasons that you did. At age 65, and on SS it is getting to be a real challenge to get by here in the USA. I can't help but wonder what it is going to be like here in a few more years.

You spoke of your car. Did you / can you buy a Mexican car? If this is true, can you tell me about the cost? Also ... how much does the Mexican (gringo?) mechanics charge (per hour?) to work on your car? Here in rural Oklahoma USA I pay $45 per hour for the labor. In the last ten years I have spent thousand$ fixing cars! Insurance, tags, gas, and repairs keep me broke! Maybe a burro would be better.

Tell me more about these Cholos. I am not sure that I know what you are talking about.

Again, thanks for trying to help me.

Sincerely

OkieTrader


Esteban

Nov 9, 2003, 12:36 PM

Post #19 of 48 (5393 views)

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Re: [elcomputo] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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I was referring to private insurance sold by Grupo Inbursa. They only accept people under 65. However, after you have the insurance, you can stay insured for life. It costs more money than the IMSS government insurance program but is SUPERIOR to say the least.


elcomputo

Nov 9, 2003, 12:47 PM

Post #20 of 48 (5393 views)

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Re: [OkieTrader] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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I bought my car, a 1984 GMC van in which the engine had supposedly been overhauled, for $1,300. I then discovered I had to put another $1,300 into it to get it to pass Texas inspection (tune-up, new muffler, new parking brake, etc.). I wanted a van so that I could take some stuff, and my three animals, with me. If you have checked out the costs of having your stuff moved to Mexico, you'll find that it's pretty expensive.

Anything that a commercial mover takes has to be unloaded at the border and put onto a Mexican truck. Even if you have a small load, the Mexican move is going to be expensive because they cannot, by Mexican law, consolidate their loads with others going in the general direction. There is also the cost of a bonding agent and, if you do not have an FM3 visa (which costs $200US), you will be assessed and will have to pay duties on everything you ship.

I managed to stuff quite a bit of crap into and on top of my van. I did get stopped four times by cops who must have suspected I was hauling contraband, but the stops were just routine and involved no hassles. (I also got the feeling they were stopping me to tell me, "Hey, look, I work for Vicente Fox now, and I am going to surprise you by not demanding a mordita! Have a good day!")

But I sailed through the Frontera with not a question, no duties to pay. (This was at the crossing at Reynosa.) I did that once again in September. On the other hand, a friend recently tried to bring a third of her stored goods across piled on a pickup. She waved her manaje de casa (check out the posts on this baby at Mexico Connect if you don't know what it is) at the border guard, and he told her to go back to McAllen and get a bonding agent to validate it; they didn't want to bother reading her list of goods.

As for buying cars down here, I expect the junker I did buy would have cost me more down here. Inexpensive used cars are getting harder to find here and are bringing better prices than in the States. Currenly, the government makes it nearly impossible to sell your car once you're here (you have to register it at the border), but I understand that regulation is going to be changed. Assuming I don't haul all of my crap back to the US, I plan on getting rid of my junker down here. If I end up having to return to the US permanently or semi-permanently, I will have to figure out another way of getting myself, my goods, and my animals (the ones the cholos have not murdered) back.

I will soon be finding out how much a Mexican mechanic charges. I know it is a LOT less than in the states for labor. Parts is another story. But I know that if, for instance, your carburetor or fuel injectors is/are acting up, rather than simply replacing them, as an American mechanic would, they will dismantle the parts and clean them up. It's time-consuming, but it still ends up being cheaper for you than buying new parts.

The general rule of thumb in Mexico is that labor is cheap, products are expensive. Oil changes, for example, are expensive because oil is nearly $4 US a quart (or whatever the metric equivalent is) in Mexico. Pemex and the government make sure the cost of petroleum products stay high.

The truth is, though, that I seldom use my van. It would be handy to be able to go over to Costco in Queretaro or Celaya once a month and stock up on stuff. You can't haul a load of bulk items back on a bus. And a car might be nice for touring the country's many sights. But I'm doing okay using the local bus system. And the interstate buses go everywhere you want to go and do it cheaper than if you were driving yourself. So, if you can find a friend with a vehicle who will take you to Costco and back, you don't really need a vehicle. Then again, if you buy a cheap car and bring it down here and find a cheap place to park it, you will have few expenses if you dont use it often. Liability insurance is much cheaper in Mexico. Aside from that, you would have only your running expenses.

As for cholos, if you have ever seen a Hollywood movie or TV show which is set in Los Angeles and features young Mexican-American gang members, you have seen depictions of cholos. They are ugly, nasty creeps who deface everything in L.A. with their spray-painted "tags." They are responsible for a great deal of property crime and for terrorizing neighborhoods. And this disease has also infected Mexican youth.

I have seen the word "Cholo" in the graffiti here in SMA and also in Celaya. I doubt that there is any town of sufficient size in Mexico that does not have its gangsters or gangster wannabes. Here, the creeps look more like inept idiots, wearing their baseball caps sideways as if in deranged imitation of someone out of an "Our Gang" comedy. But I have reason to believe they are a lot more nasty than that and have an enormous potential to become more and more vicious.

(Well, they already are pretty vicious in Mexico City, but I think that infection is creeping outward, too.)

The police in Mexico, as anyone can tell you, are pretty darned worthless at best. If the cholos want to own the streets anywhere in Mexico, they can. But I'm sure they would stop short before the Army is called out against them -- an action I would not view with alarm. In SMA, their anti-social behavior has not extended much beyond the slum where I live, a couple of blocks above the open sewer.

I have recently started pen-palling with a woman in North Texas. She is living there on SSI, drawing much less than $1,000 a month. She says she can rent a house in Olney for even less than what I am paying down here ($250 US/month). It is about two hours from Fort Worth, so I would have a much easier time getting medical attention from the VA, cutting a lot of medical expense there. On the other hand, I don't have to cover heating or cooling expenses here, and I am living in one of the prettier spots in the world, a far cry from "The Last Picture Show" ambiance of North Texas. But there is also a better chance of my making some added income up there than down here. I'm thinking about it.

I don't know what your educational background is, but if you have a Bachelor's degree in anything, you could get a job teaching English in another country. In some countries, they will even pay your way over and back, furnish you with an apartment, some income (not enough to put you in a big tax bracket, even while drawing your SS), and medical coverage. I can send you a link for that, if you would like. Mexico City has some jobs like this, but they pay a flat $10 US hourly with no benefits and no housing and no moving expenses. Plus, there are no recruiters I know of, so I don't recommend it.


elcomputo

Nov 9, 2003, 1:03 PM

Post #21 of 48 (5389 views)

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Re: [Esteban] Can I live on $1,000 USA per month?

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Thanks. I'll contact them. I have two months to get in under the wire.


Carianna

Nov 13, 2003, 12:07 PM

Post #22 of 48 (5285 views)

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Not in a resort area

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Like Cozumel island where I live, for example. Our electric bill on an 1100 sq ft house where we seldom use the AC -- just fans a few lamps and nonstop computers and monitors -- runs $250 US/month. Which just eats up 1/4 of your $1000. Rents here for a not particularly great place but adequate and in a convenient, interesting in town location will run you $400 US/month. So you'd have $350 US or so to cover food, transportation, medical, books and entertainment. I guess it could be done if you didn't eat out but you'd be better off here with $1500/month. That's doable.


Guapo Gabacho


Nov 13, 2003, 4:25 PM

Post #23 of 48 (5256 views)

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Re: [Carianna] Not in a resort area

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Why not compare your $1,000 USD ($11,000 MN) monthly income with the locals? Puts you in the middle class and you don't have everyone in the family to comprise the household.



A Upper Class

This group is about 3% of the population, a small sector but with income and consumer habits easily comparable to upper strata in more developed countries. The key definition by income here is generally $200,000 MN per month and up in household earnings, making it technically difficult for anyone in public employment to be included. There may be a handful of exception.



B Upper Middle Class

The Upper Middle Class is a bit more than twice as big, about 7% of the population. It is the most publicly “visible” group of “well off” families with perhaps somewhat less income but much more in the comforts of service and lifestyle than their counterparts in other countries. With monthly household family income in the $55,000 MN to $200,000 range, this group includes high executives in both the public and private sectors.

C Middle Class

The broad middle class constitutes about a fifth of the population, but is a volatile group with the ambiguities of desire for upward mobility and fear at the prospects of downward mobility. Monthly household family income ranges from $7,000 MN to $55,000. This group includes the bulk of middle managers, small business operators, some university professors and other privileged unionized workers.

D Working Class

Constituting half the population, these various sectors of workers, farmers and small business operators are better described in the current context as the working poor. Many are in the informal economy, or move back and forth between formal and informal economic roles. Monthly household income ranges from $1,500 MN to $7,000. E Marginal Sectors

The bottom 20% of the population is in extreme poverty, at the margins of or outside of the institutions of the society, along with the formal cash and credit economy. They are found throughout the country in urban and rural areas, and include most of the indigenous population. Monthly household income is less than $1,500 MN.



NOTE: The text editor on this site SUX!


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(This post was edited by Guapo Gabacho on Nov 13, 2003, 4:30 PM)


jeffsitka

Nov 13, 2003, 5:30 PM

Post #24 of 48 (5238 views)

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Re: [Guapo Gabacho] Not in a resort area

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I don't dispute you information, but would you mind sharing your source? Also, it seems to me that people not familiar with the country have difficulty understanding the meaning of "middle class" or "working class" in the context of the Mexican economy. I gather from some of your other posts that you have lived in Mexico. In your view how does the middle class lifestyle in Mexico compare to the middle class lifestyle in the US or Canada?


(This post was edited by jeffsitka on Nov 13, 2003, 5:32 PM)


Marlene


Nov 13, 2003, 7:05 PM

Post #25 of 48 (5221 views)

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Re: [jeffsitka] Not in a resort area

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You bring up a VERY valid point about the "middle class". That will be a huge matter of opinion deciding what would be middle class to a Mexican family. You either have lots of money here or you don't - deal with it - seems to be the attitude. These wonderful people have such different values and priorities than we foreigners do. After living here 3 years and being married to a Mexican for a great deal of that time, I have had my eyes opened many many times. How do you define happiness by class? Hard to do, if not impossible. One of the first observations I made is that if someone in the family is in need, everyone helps, NO MATTER what! Money comes out from under mattresses, out of the company cash register, bills not paid this month, whatever. Funerals and medical emergencies can't wait. The money must come from somewhere and it always does. Not the bank, not credit cards but from family and friends.

My Mexican family is very much working class and definitely far from rich, and with that in mind I would like to share something that touched me deeply in my first year here. I was on my way home (in broad daylight near my home in a popular, safe, mixed neighborhood) when I was mugged and my purse was violently snatched. (Not without a fight but that is a whole other chapter) I put the word out to the expat community via the local internet, plus word of mouth to remind everyone of being careful about carrying purses over shoulders, relearn kick-boxing etc etc. LOL. I mentioned how I had lost my bank cards, credit card, cash, cell phone etc. All those typical things you keep in a purse that you shouldn't pack around, but that we all do! Anyway to get to the point of the story, the only help offered was from my Mexican family and friends. (This was before my wedding incidentally so no family obligation really existed, but that didn't stop them) Expats, whom I knew well, were more concerned with where I got mugged and what time of the day it happened, to the point of commenting openly that they had only heard of 1 other mugging in 14 years in this area. (How "north of the border" is that attitude?) Those with so little to give were offering it to me until my cards could be replaced in Canada and sent, a process that took about two weeks. I ate alot of refritos those two weeks, but boy did I learn a cultural lesson. I would say the the folks with "class" were those with the frijoles and tortillas on their stoves 24/7, with an open invitation. I have never looked at life in Mexico quite the same since then. You can't put a label on class when values are so different. You will never be alone in this country with these wonderful people as friends. It is impossible to "class-ify" them.
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