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jennifer rose

Nov 10, 2007, 8:12 AM

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Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Recovering lawyer Jim Karger writes a column for Atencion San Miguel, http://atencionsanmiguel.org/index.php?engnewspaper

In a five-part series under SMA Real Estate, Business and Investment, he explores the cost of living in San Miguel de Allende with the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.






Gringal

Nov 10, 2007, 8:40 AM

Post #2 of 84 (8274 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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After offering the following opinion, I expect flames from loyal Texans, but here it is:

Comparing the cost of living in Texas with the cost of living in a delightful place like San Miguel, with its fine climate, is ridiculous. People who live in San Miguel don't head for Texas during some months of the year. Quite the opposite is true. So what's the point of making those comparisons?

It would be more useful to compare the costs of living in one of the more pleasant (and higher priced) places in the U.S., such as Coastal California or Florida, where people might wish to retire on purpose.


Brian

Nov 10, 2007, 10:51 AM

Post #3 of 84 (8248 views)

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Re: [Gringal] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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I think it would be ridiculous to compare SMA to coastal California (earthquake and fire prone) and Florida with it's yearly threat of destruction by hurricane. Those places might be heavily inhabited but hardly considered "desirable". BTW, there are of hundreds of Texans who own homes but only live in SMA during the summer.I would like to see an apples to apples comparison of living costs for different cities in Mexico. For example, someone who has lived and owned property in SMA as well as Lake Chapala might offer an opinion based upon personal experience.


Gringal

Nov 10, 2007, 11:23 AM

Post #4 of 84 (8237 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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"there are of hundreds of Texans who own homes but only live in SMA during the summer."
_____________________________________________________________________________

Logic alert !! My point was that there are few people who would choose to retire YEAR AROUND in Texas, and that Texans come to SMA to escape several months a year. As a result, the comparison in the named article does not follow. So, Brian, why don't you pick a truly desirable spot in the U.S. with a pleasent YEAR AROUND climate, so the comparison would make sense? Nothing against Texans, here. They're nice people, but the state is not on the top ten places for a pleasant retirement.

Right offhand, I can't think of a U.S. city or town with both a pleasant climate AND no weather threats. It's more like: Take your pick: fires, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes or exteme heat or cold.

BTW, I lived in SMA three years and now live in the lake Chapala area. The cost of living in the lake Chapala area is slightly less than in SMA on some levels, but is comparable.


Guavagto

Nov 10, 2007, 12:21 PM

Post #5 of 84 (8222 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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The cost of living in Mexico is much less than in Texas. The first thing is property tax, auto insurance, and food. We do not need heat or a/c most of the year so that is a huge saving. However the electric costs can be hard to deal with since we use so little and somehow ended up in the highest rate. We have been dealing with this for almost a year and the big problem was improper electric wiring installation when our house was built. We have almost solved this issue. However even the past huge bills are less than in the US.

We use gas for heating the house and our water. We conserve by heating our bedroom and bath at night. We use portable evalporative coolers dring the hot months.We also plan our trips to the beach for the cold month (Jan.) and the hot month (May). These trips cost much less than when we had vacation costs in the US since we have learned the places to get good deals. We also use HomeExchange.com for our trips to Texas and have always been able to arrange an exchange since people love to visit San Miguel de Allende. Actually we have had trips to the beach by using this site. I would never have done this while living in the US. Gas for the cars is less and since we live in a small town we do not drive long distances. Medical care is less than our deductables with our Blue Cross/Health Select insurance in the US. Also you can see a doctor the same day and a lab is usually on site which cuts down more severe illness IMO. Same for medicine with some exceptions.

There are articles in the local paper about cost of living. These seem slanted towards people who buy all of their food at the large supermarkets in town. We go the local outdoor market and buy our fruit/vegtables. We rarely spend more than 200 pesos for fruits/vegtables for the week. We buy most things from one vendor who gives us excellent prices plus a gift of flowers. We only eat out once a week at most.

Costs for haircuts, dentist at least half the cost than in Texas.

Some consumer goods are higher here than in the US and not as good quality. We still buy these items in Texas incuding clothes, sheets etc.

I am rambling...........but the final issue is we spend about 50 percent of our income while in Texas we would be hard pressed to live our income. We do not really have to budget our income and know people who live well on much less than we spend.


GueroPaz

Nov 10, 2007, 8:43 PM

Post #6 of 84 (8151 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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I could not find Karger's article on that website, but I'll guess he compared DFW metroplex to San Miguel Allende. Like most people, that's not my comparison anyway. Mine is Chiang Mai versus Puerto Veracruz, and I used to compare southmost Texas with southernmost Chiapas.

Then you'll always have people comparing different lengths of string, different expatriate lifestyles in the same urban area. Somebody has recently published a book or started a website based on an expat living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, for about $500 per month, and it was widely ridiculed by those of us who actually live here. My son lived very cheaply in Guanajuato in a cave!

Few of the posters here live in Puerto Veracruz, but the first website I saw with rental properties had virtually nothing below 10,000 pesos per month. I now pay 2,250 pesos per month for two bedrooms in a suburban estate! So, is it really cheaper to live in Mexico? Depends how long the string is.

Even Texas is far too diverse to make comparisons. My daughter's 950 square foot home in Alamo Heights is appraised at around 1.6 million pesos.


raferguson


Nov 10, 2007, 8:52 PM

Post #7 of 84 (8150 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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The discussion about whether or not SMA is a nicer place to live than Dallas is really besides the point. The article is examining the often repeated claim that Mexico is much cheaper to live in than the USA. His articles show that some things, like food, are cheaper, while other things, like electricity, phone, and internet, are more expensive. He also finds housing prices in Dallas higher than those in SMA.

The entire point of his article is to examine the belief/hypothesis that Mexico is much cheaper than the USA. His data suggests that Mexico is not that much cheaper, and may even be more expensive.

The series of articles is not finished, but I suspect that the overall costs will come out pretty close. If the costs are about the same, that brings the choice of a place to live down to personal preference. I am sure that any of us could come up with a long list of pros and cons associated with living in Mexico. I don't think that the cost differences are large enough to be a big part of the decision, compared to other factors.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


jreboll

Nov 10, 2007, 9:20 PM

Post #8 of 84 (8140 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Does his article compare the "need" as well as the price for a those expenses. Example:
In Mexico electricity may be higher per KWH but do you use as much?
Internet service may be more expensive in Mexico but I usually go to a cybercafe a few times a week so for me it is less expensive than my monthly expense NOB.
My eating habits at home and eating out are also different in Mexico vs NOB.
I can find a many examples of things that are more expensive in Mexico but not needed as much as NOB.


Jerry@Ajijic

Nov 10, 2007, 9:21 PM

Post #9 of 84 (8139 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Just for your information people who live in coastal areas of Florida or most any other area are subject to water problems. In 70 years of living in Florida (inland not on the coast) I never had any problems with floods, hurricanes, Etc.


Anonimo

Nov 11, 2007, 4:52 AM

Post #10 of 84 (8122 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Kind of depends on the area and lifestyle you choose, I think.

"En Boca Cerrada No Entran Moscas."

Saludos,
Anonimo


Brian

Nov 11, 2007, 5:19 AM

Post #11 of 84 (8117 views)

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Re: [Anonimo] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Kind of depends on the area and lifestyle you choose, I think.


De acuerdo. Somehow this discussion about the monetary cost of living got sidetracked to a comparison of climactic conditions. It did start me thinking about other things to take into consideration such as "standard of living" and "quality of life". A country's standard of living involves matters such as relative income equality, access to quality health care, educational standards, observance of social rights, infrastructure and other government services. In my experience of 10 years living in two distinct areas of Mexico, I found that there was a significant trade off in our move to Mexico. Being precluded from engagement in political activity to influence change in those areas where Mexico is clearly lacking was one of the many frustrations one must accept. Like many expats, we thought we would spend the rest of our lives in Mexico. Unfortunately, however, after developing a medical condition which made my "quality of life" suffer we reluctantly made the decision to move back to the USA last year. Now, I no longer have to try to read lips in a non-native language and despite a severe problem with balance, I do not need to negotiate poorly maintained sidewalks and streets.

We are native Californians but maintained an openness in deciding where to relocate to the United States. I don't share the opinion of at least one poster here about the desirability of Texas as a retirement choice. Austin is hot in the summer, otherwise it offers a great deal at less expense than coastal CA where we spent our careers. The irony is how many folks from San Diego and other "choice" areas of CA have recently sold their places, moved to Austin and, like us, have upgraded their "quality of life"


(This post was edited by Brian on Nov 11, 2007, 6:30 AM)


cauny

Nov 11, 2007, 8:16 AM

Post #12 of 84 (8074 views)

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Re: [Brian] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Perhaps the essential question is "Is It Really Cheaper to Line in Mexico...and Does it Really Matter"?

Brian briefly touched on what, for me, is the underlying issue: Quality of life (QOL)

We will permanently relocate from SW Florida to Bucerias next Summer. Motivating us (and I suspect the majority of others similarly situated) is not primarily economics. Rather it's the bouillbaise of issues and trends (social and political) that contribute to QOL NOB vs SOB.

If the cost of living SOB is "lower" that, for us, is icing on the cake.
If it's "higher" that, for us, is the cost paid for a SUBSTANTIAL increase in QOL.

Craig


raferguson


Nov 11, 2007, 7:08 PM

Post #13 of 84 (7988 views)

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Re: [jreboll] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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I think that your comment about "need" vs. "want" is important. The articles do address it in some respects; for example, if you don't need air conditioning you may not use as much electricity.

However, I think that your example of the cybercafe shows the importance of lifestyle. I think that most people on this site would regard an internet connection at home as mandatory, especially in the states. The fact that you now use a cybercafe and no longer have an internet connection in your house points out how you have adjusted your lifestyle to lower your costs, perhaps in response to higher costs for internet service in Mexico.

My position has always been that expenses are predominantly a function of lifestyle rather than what country you live in. Many of us could give up our cars (or cut back to one car) and save many thousands of dollars a year. Some people might use the move to Mexico as an impetus to make that change and many other lifestyle changes.

But the fact that different lifestyles have different costs is largely irrelevant to comparing the cost of living in Mexico and the USA. You could change your lifestyle in the USA and save money also. If I really wanted to save money I would sell my house, and take my trailer to southern Arizona, where I could park it for $150 per month, roughly what I pay in property taxes now. If I move into a trailer park in Arizona, does that mean that Arizona is a cheaper place to live? I don't think so, I think that it says that living in a trailer park saves money. But people who like Arizona could argue that they are better off and happier living in Arizona, and saving money too.

I think that some of the arguments about costs in Mexico are like the person who moved to a trailer park in Arizona. If you like where you have moved, and your total cost is less, you will be happy about the move. But if you have made lifestyle changes, then most of the cost savings are probably related to the lifestyle changes, not the move.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


jennifer rose

Nov 11, 2007, 7:41 PM

Post #14 of 84 (7974 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Jim Karger's lifestyle, experience and expectations aren't mine, and mine aren't the same as yours. But I do have to credit him with making one of the most thorough comparisons of the cost of living.

At http://billiemercer.blogspot.com/ San Miguelense Billier Mercer asked for a cost of living comparison on food items. The appeal of shopping at the tianguis expired a long time ago for me, and I do my shopping at Costco, Mega and Superama. Some things are less costly there, and some are more expensive. But there's the convenience factor.

When foreigners compare certain items in Mexico, like medical care and beauty shops, they frequently forget that there's a huge range of difference. A dentist who has a curtain for a door charges a great deal less than one using state-of-the-art equipment. The beauty salon which sterilizes its equipment, serves customers tea in a china cup, and caters to the town's elite charges a lot more than the one patronized by schoolteachers.

The chasm is cost of living in Mexico is just as broad as that between Arkansas and New York City.


jreboll

Nov 12, 2007, 7:28 AM

Post #15 of 84 (7935 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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I agree with you on the internet issue, however, "need" is an important factor when you consider the hot summer days in Texas and the need for A/C and the need for having a car in just about any city NOB. The need is also there to insure your house NOB. I don't find it essential in Mexico.

We have a lot of winter Texans in this area where I live so I have a rough idea of the costs involved in living in a trailer park and "scaling down" as you suggest.
I can tell you with certainty that when I go to Mexico I am not scaling down.
My house in Michoacan is much bigger than the one in Texas but the upkeep is just a fraction of the cost. I don't think that by going to Mexico I am scaling down on my life style.
On the contrary I have more choices in doing what I want to do with the resources that I have.


scubabride

Nov 12, 2007, 9:11 PM

Post #16 of 84 (7866 views)

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Re: [jreboll] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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OK I am a Newbe Expat here in Cozumel. Granted this is a "tourist"area, but I still am in much better shape financially than i was in NW Fl Pensacola. My house in Fl cost me just under $1000 a month mortgage, Insurance had become almost impossible to find much less afford, my electric bill budget payment was at 176 and climbing, water bill $50+, Cable bill higher every 6 months with less service, my internet not cheap. My auto insurance much higher, and food costs about 30% higher.

Granted The house I rent here for 3,500 MP is 1 bedroom and 1 bath smaller, ( it is a 2 bedroom 1 bath vs my 3 bedroom 2 bath) but the rooms I have are extremely large and I have not lost much sq footage. My electric bill for 2 months using a/c and every fan in the house for my first month, before I learned how to conserve without suffering was high for here...but way lower than Fl. 198 MP I expect the next one will be 1/3 to 1/2 lower as I do not need a/c now, the Island breezes are great at night and early evening, and I no longer run fans if I am not using that room. My wireless internet was an initial 2000 mp for equipment and I now pay 250 mp a month for service that works great, combined with skype and vonage for cheap phone service. Trash pick up is free, water bill is 50 mp a month, auto insurance for the year is less then my 1 month premiums stateside, and my cable with american channels is less than it was NOB.

I shop at the Mercado for fruits and Veggies, some meats and fish, and do the rest at at local supermarkets. Even my Vice of smoking is almost 1/2 the price. Medical care is good here, most expensive visit was $250 mp, a blood type test was 70mp which as an RN I know the cost of lab work NOB is horrible. I had $8,400 worth of high tech dental care done by my Mexican dentist whom I have used even as a tourist for 7 years, and the cost was $2,400 US and on top of that, he let me run a tab....try that NOB...either payup or suffer. Samewith my computer repair...CHEAP, but again he carried part of the bill until my check day.

There is no way I could survive back NOB unless I went to live with my Kids...here I have great friends and neighbors, walk my dog safely at night, recieve greetings from strangers and friends alike as I run errands...people call to check on me if I am missing for a few days, as when I took a quick trip to Cancun for a few days.

Bus service is excellent and inexpensive, clean affordable hotels and B&Bs abound for travel. I could go on and on. Both financially and Life quality here in Mexico is much better for me.

I have $1100 USD SSDI a month and manage very well here. Bills paid, inexpensive meals out a few times a week with maybe a splurge on an upscale night once a month, inexpensive beautiful rustico furniture, shelves etc made to order, and still enough left over to pay for a flight to my kids everey 3-4 months, and send my 2 University attending Son's a bit of spending money.

And if I have to wait 5 days to have my electriction come repair something.well when he gets it fixed my bill is 150 MP and not $150 USD.

As far as Medicaid part B...I opted out because I am a V>A> patient and can return to Atlanta VA for major medical, and ungoing care if needed.

This is just my experience so far...and I am quite pleased with it.


(This post was edited by scubabride on Nov 12, 2007, 9:17 PM)


alex .

Nov 13, 2007, 12:18 PM

Post #17 of 84 (7795 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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When I lived in Tijuana under a different moniker my household budget was $3000 USD per month. I used it all.
Alex


(This post was edited by alex . on Nov 13, 2007, 12:19 PM)


Brian

Nov 13, 2007, 1:10 PM

Post #18 of 84 (7777 views)

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Re: [alex .] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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When I lived in Tijuana under a different moniker my household budget was $3000 USD per month. I used it all.
Alex


Yeah but most of it was spent on gasoline from waiting to cross la linea, no? :-)

Brian


Gringal

Nov 13, 2007, 1:50 PM

Post #19 of 84 (7773 views)

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Re: [alex .] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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....."hey, Big Spender....

Hope you enjoyed it !


alex .

Nov 14, 2007, 7:14 AM

Post #20 of 84 (7704 views)

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Re: [Gringal] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Posted by alex in TJ on Mayo 03, 2000

As our esteemed contributor Stan Gotlieb says: "...to live in Mexico like you live in the US costs like the US." If you want to do as the natives do, thatís a different story. My best estimate would be to budget your housing expense as 25% of your net income, work the numbers backward from there. This is because your choice of housing will reflect your lifestyle choice as well.
"I spent most of my money on beer and women, the rest I wasted." (author unknown)
Alex


(This post was edited by alex . on Nov 14, 2007, 7:15 AM)


Gringal

Nov 14, 2007, 8:49 AM

Post #21 of 84 (7686 views)

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Re: [alex .] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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This subject is so rife with "apple/orange" syndrome that it gets down to personal anecdotes, so here 's one:

I've been living in two of the more "expensive" places in Mexico; San Miguel de Allende and Ajiijic. In both cases, I have lived in larger homes, had part time household help, dined out much more often, took more vacation excursions and in general, enjoyed a lifestyle which would have busted a retirement budget in the states.
Is it cheaper? Has to be.

If someone is living in the Baja area or other resort destination along the coast where they might as well be in San Diego re cost of living, that's another story. Prices and wages there are well known to be much higher than in the interior.

For some hard figures, check out Carol Schmidt's forum <fallinginlovewithsanmiguel.com>, in which she details how she and her partner are living quite decently on their Social Security. In one segment of her site, she gets down to the details.

Live like a native? Not me. I'm a NOB Princess. lol.


jennifer rose

Nov 14, 2007, 9:01 AM

Post #22 of 84 (7681 views)

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Re: [Gringal] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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You can still live like a native and not limit your diet to beans and tortillas. Why, how do you think A-14 lives? Or even Marta Sahagun? Or the nameless denizens of Lomas Chapultepec? The last time I looked, they were natives. Let's not let ourselves get into the rut of thinking that all Mexicans live like peasants. Would you like to think that all folks NOB live like toothless hillbillies in trailer parks in Arkansas?

Two fun reads are C.M. Mayo's collections of short stories in Sky over Nido and Gustavo Sainz' Princess of the Iron Palace. Those are just as much a part of the literature of the Mexican landscape as anything Oscar Lewis wrote.


alex .

Nov 14, 2007, 9:14 AM

Post #23 of 84 (7676 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Agreed. Would it be fair to say that Mexicans living well in Mexico are not doing it on 5 tamales per day ?
Alex


Brian

Nov 14, 2007, 9:21 AM

Post #24 of 84 (7671 views)

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Re: [Gringal] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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In Reply To


For some hard figures, check out Carol Schmidt's forum <fallinginlovewithsanmiguel.com>, in which she details how she and her partner are living quite decently on their Social Security. In one segment of her site, she gets down to the details.


Earlier, I had mentioned the trade off in standard of living involved in moving to Mexico from the US or Canada. Some folks claim that they really prefer shopping in the open-air markets (read flies and poor refrigeration) and eating tacos and fruits off the street. Government regulations, when they exist, are poorly enforced. Even in high-priced San Miguel, there is no control over the safety of food handling in even the "best" restaurants. San Miguel oriented message boards are replete with postings regarding testing and treatment for amoebae. Ironically, your reference to Carol's website produced her latest message in which she states she will have to spend the next three days at a local hospital attending to her partner, Norma, who is suffering from a serious bout of food poisoning. Mexican hospitals rarely have routine services of nurses who take care of the needs of inpatients thus requiring family and friends to fill in to insure their comfort. There are no details but clearly some of the cheaper restaurants she touts on the website might possibly be the culprit. Even Mega and SuperGigante are not always up to high standards of cleanliness.

These are but two examples of getting what one pays for in Mexico. Of course paying more for goods and services does not always guarantee higher quality.


Gringal

Nov 14, 2007, 9:22 AM

Post #25 of 84 (7669 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Is It Really Cheaper to Live in Mexico?

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Alex: "If you want to do as the natives do, thatís a different story." Who did he mean?

"living like a native" was not meant in any way to indicate that the "native" popultation of Mexicans lives like poor peasants in general, and if it came across that way, I misspoke.

Brian: The reference to Norma's illness seems irrelevant to the current issue. It may have nothing to do with their restaurant choices. I have just completed taking a series of drugs to treat my own intestinal infections, and I have never eaten street food or dined in the tiangus. You can get the miseries anywhere. Including NOB, judging from the many food recalls happening there lately. Caution will only do a limited about of good.

As you said about "getting what you pay for" (hopefully). It depends on what it is that you want. Obviously, you want things from life that are not available in Mexico, so you left. That only means that your definition of a good quality of life differs from that of many of the rest of us. Vive la difference, or Mexico would soon be way overcrowded with expats from NOB.


(This post was edited by Gringal on Nov 14, 2007, 9:39 AM)
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