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Bernie S.

Mar 30, 2004, 8:25 AM

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Expats Making Money in Mexico

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After spending quite a bit of time sifting through (and being thoroughly entertained by) the posts on the Chapala.com and Mexico Connect web sites, I thought Iíd make a tentative observation and pose a question about the subject of expats making money in Mexico. First, the observation: While many expats in the Chapala area are retired, there seems to be a small but still noticeable segment that is still trying to make some sort of a living. From reviewing cost figures and Mexican salary information, it appears that there are only a couple of ways that most working expats have a reasonable chance of success of legally making enough money to live decently: First, they can continue to make money in the United States while operating from Mexico (by some sort of Internet, telephone or computer-based business). Alternatively, they can own some sort of local business, with the most likely target markets being either the tourist industry or the expanding base of gringos checking out the area for relocation. The most visible businesses seem to be real estate related, such as sales/brokerage (a pretty crowded field, just on the face of it) or owning a hotel/B&B. Writing (especially travel-related writing) and publishing also are fairly noticeable.

My question is, what does it take for an expat to own and manage a successful business in Mexico, particularly in the Chapala area? I am very interested to hear any success and failure stories. I am aware up front that this could be a sensitive inquiry, inasmuch as people often donít want to talk about their successes (lest someone copy them) OR their failures (for reasons of tender egos). However, I havenít seen any hesitation in these forums about people talking about OTHER peopleís business :-), so Iíd really like to get a discussion thread going on this.

Also, Iíd be very interested to hear your thoughts on what you might be missing in the Chapala area, like "I sure wish that I had XYZ here", or "I wish there was a PQR closer than Guadalajara." The only request I make is that you be reasonable; yeah, I know that it would nice to have a Home Depot next door, but probably that isnít going to happen anytime soon...

I of course am not a disinterested party. My family and I are seriously checking out the area for relocation, but I am not yet at retirement age (Iím 50) and want/need a way to make some money above the subsistence level. I have a good business background, including serving as a commercial banker, real estate and finance lawyer, and international business consultant. I have started and run new businesses before (including in a developing country environment), but not in Mexico. I have other language facility but do not yet speak Spanish.

Any ideas?

 
 
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