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wyhaines

Feb 1, 2005, 10:58 AM

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Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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Buenos dias!

My family and I are seriously considering moving to Mexico for a year or three. I make my living doing web hosting, development, and custom software for businesses, and can live most anywhere (we live in very rural Wyoming right now).

I have been doing a lot of reading and research on Mexico, but am curious to hear some firsthand opinions.

A little background: My thought is to move to Mexico; someplace where I can get some form of broadband internet access (living in rural Wyoming, I currently use Starband bi-directional satellite access, but I don't know if it'll work from Mexican latitudes; it may); someplace that does not have a huge gringo population (i.e. I'm not so interested in SMA or Chapala); maybe someplace that is not in the middle of a huge city (where huge is very relative; I'm from Wyoming. ;) , though that's not necessarily a strict requirement. I'm flexible regarding climate. My wife is a certified Natural Family Planning instructor, and while the Catholic Church, though they paid for her certification, has not done much with her up here, we have thought that she might be able to volunteer to teach classes through the Church down there. Our other basic goals are simply to experience and enjoy the change of culture. We homeschool our kids (ages 8, 4, 1) and while I have taught them some Spanish, I'd like them to learn the language in a way that only immersion in it really provides, and since I have the freedom to live wherever I want, I want to use that to give them some exposure to a different place and people.

So, the question is -- if you were me, is there any place or area that you would consider more strongly? Why?


Muchas gracias para la ayuda,

Kirk Haines



Bubba

Feb 1, 2005, 11:30 AM

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My God, Kirk:

You left yourself so wide open with your inquiry that I nearly turned into Mr. Hyde. At the last minute, I became rational again and now I will tell you where you should live down here.

Sayula, Jalisco. Good climate. Very attractive colonial housing. God-fearing farming community. Reasonable housing costs. Virtually no foreigners not on assignment. Less than two hours from the beach and a little over an hour to the Cathedral de WalMart in the southwest of Guadalajara. No irritating and sanctimonious bluehairs taking up collections for stray puppies. Your kids will learn Spanish for sure. Sitting on the plaza drinking beer while the wife does her natural family planning thing. Well, that last skill may be superfluous. Natural family planning is well understood here. Your wife may need some flexibilty training to live in Sayula but, hey, everybody benefits.

Reverend Bubba


wyhaines

Feb 1, 2005, 11:42 AM

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LOL. I intended to leave it wide open for inquiry. One gets responses which are more free and honest that way.

My wife is in the middle of an EMT course that she needs to finish, and we'd want to take a month or so to come down on a tourist visa to any places we were considering, first, to check them out, and I want to stabilize some things in the business, first. So, any way one slices it, it will be at least the middle of summer before we would move.

Thanks much for your input, Bubba.


Kirk Haines


johanson


Feb 1, 2005, 12:32 PM

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If you can live with two way satellite broadband then you can go pretty well anywhere. I have several acquaintances who use DirecWay down here.

Don't block Chapala out of your list of places to go. If you don't like the Gringo experience, drive to the next village. Oh and one of the advantages of the greater Chapala area is that you can choose your cultures. And with a lot of gringos around, there are more services offered of the type we might expect.

And if you understand terms like wireless router and fixed or dynamic IP number and can configure networks, you can also make money from the many here who are just learning what a LAN is but have no concept of configuration or setup

Also at my house in Ajijic, right now, not counting two way satellite, I can choose from 3 broadband providers and I'm told a fourth, the local cable company will be offering high speed service in May.



wyhaines

Feb 1, 2005, 1:05 PM

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In a lot of rural Wyoming, broadband options are very limited, so I have been using bidirectional satellite service exclusively for 2.5 years, now. The only service problems arise in _very_ heavy rainfall or when snow piles up on the dish or cakes onto the transmitter.

> And if you understand terms like wireless router and fixed or dynamic IP number and can configure networks,
> you can also make money from the many here who are just learning what a LAN is but have no concept of configuration or setup

Yep. I can do all of that sort of thing. I'm really a programmer at my core, but have worn many hats over the years.

> Also at my house in Ajijic, right now, not counting two way satellite, I can choose from 3 broadband providers
> and I'm told a fourth, the local cable company will be offering high speed service in May.


One concern that I have about the Ajijic area is that, understandably, the influx of lots of $$$ from the US have driven prices up considerably.

My business has been our primary source of income for the last 30 months, and it seems to have finally reached a critical mass where our body of work and past successes on projects are snowballing into what could become a very lucrative year.
It has not, however, been lucrative for the past 30 months. It has merely been sufficient, so I don't want to be looking at places that are going to drive our cost of living higher than it is now for us. My desire is to be conservative in this regard, and the information that I have seen suggests that rents in the Ajijic and SMA areas have grown enough that it might be difficult to maintain that minimum cost of living discipline.


Muchas gracias,

Kirk Haines


jennifer rose

Feb 1, 2005, 1:11 PM

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Re: [wyhaines] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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It's a big country with lots of options.

If I didn't live in Morelia, top of my list would be Valle de Bravo. It's not far from Toluca when you need to make a run to Costco.

Other choices you might explore would be: Tlaxcala, Jalapa, Veracruz, Taxco, Cuernavaca and Leon.

San Luis Potosi would rank fairly well on the liveability scale -- sort of like Dayton, a nice place to live but I wouldn't want to vacation there.


Rolly


Feb 1, 2005, 1:45 PM

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"a nice place to live but I wouldn't want to vacation there." Smile

That's exactly how I feel about Lerdo where I live. Zip for vacationers, great for living.

Rolly Pirate


Bubba

Feb 1, 2005, 2:20 PM

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Re: [jennifer rose] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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Jennifer:

You are being a bit unfair about San Luis Potosi. This town has some striking colonial architecture and is in the midst of one of the most beautiful deserts anywhere. Valle de Bravo, in comparison, is crowded, claustrophobic and cold, Tlaxcala is nice but the tope capital of the universe and a small town overrun with arrogant DF'ers on the weekend, Jalapa can be cloudy and subject to incessant drizzle and Veracruz, which is a wonderful city, is both hot and cold and humid. I suggest the beautiful and charming historic village of Tlacotalpan on the Papaloapan river about 80 kilometers south of Veracruz. That would be a nice winter haven and the very attractive Veracruz suburb of Boca del Rio is less than an hour away for shopping and good times.

Cuernavaca and the area around that city also has great potential but may be a bit pricy because of its proximity to DF.

Why doesn't anybody ever recommend Puebla?


jennifer rose

Feb 1, 2005, 3:22 PM

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Re: [Bubba] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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Now you just wait a pea-picking minute, Bubba. Part of Tlaxcala's appeal is that it's 20 minutes from Puebla, the city with the best architecture in the entire country. Good shopping, and moreover, people who know how to comport themselves properly. Infinitely better than San Luis Potosi, any day of the week.


Bubba

Feb 2, 2005, 6:53 AM

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Re: [jennifer rose] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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I highly recommend that you send your children to the local school as well as home schooling them while you are in Mexico. It will be the best gift you can give them and yourself. They will learn how to make friends with the local kids and you will meet lots of people and learn a lot from other parents and from your experience. It is the best way to be part of a community.


Bubba

Feb 2, 2005, 7:17 AM

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Re: [jennifer rose] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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OK, Jennifer. Bubbette is going to Puebla soon.. We have only driven by there in the past. We have heard it was very nice there but a bit stuffy. I was going as well until you indicated that proper comportment was prized thereabouts. No wonder I prefer rowdy SLP.

Last year we drove from Jalapa to Puebla and that was one beautiful and spectacular drive. Suburban Jalapa might be very nice. The city itself is a bit crowded and noisy.


julian3345

Feb 2, 2005, 10:33 AM

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Re: [wyhaines] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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I strongly advise that you check out Zacatecas...terrain is similar to Wyoming without the extreme winters, but with recognizable seasons. Cost of living is modest and there is another American family living here in Jerez with 3 daughters 6-12 years who are homeschooling, but have a lot of Mexican playmates and friends. This town has a colonial history and therefore a very pretty central area, but there is the hacienda overlay, so you will see charros on horseback in the streets and serious boot and saddle shops---cattle ranches in the outskirts. Very few gringos and no ex-pat blue hair culture. This is a very light-hearted town and has a well deserved reputation for friendliness and beautiful women. Big stores as mentioned in other posts are 30+ miles away in the beautiful capitol city of Zacatecas. Internet access is good...I have a DSL line... you would need to ask someone more knowledgeable about your special requirements. If you are using Mac equipment for website development...bring everything with you...very few Mac users in this area or maybe even in Mexico. Good luck! It is a very good idea to live abroad with your children at some point in their young lives. JEM


wyhaines

Feb 2, 2005, 9:06 PM

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Thanks. I did some research on Zacatecas and Jerez. 500mm of rain. That's about 120mm more than we average right here, but of course, it's warmer, so it does end up looking similar. The pictures of the town that I have been able to find do show some gorgeous architecture, and the size of Jerez isn't bad. I will have to try to get some more in-depth information about the place, but it does look interesting.

The one negative that I see, really, is just that the countryside DOES look a lot like Wyoming, but without the wind. I love Wyoming, but part of the potential experience in packing up and moving that far away is in living someplace that doesn't look like where we are now.


Thanks for the information, though. That is the _exact_ sort of recommendation that I am hoping for,

Kirk Haines


wyhaines

Feb 2, 2005, 9:17 PM

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Re: [Bubba] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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Bubba,

Thanks for the mention of Sayula. It looks like a very nice place indeed. Being relatively close to be beach could be a very nice thing. My wife and children have never been to a beach. I also found the time today to research your other suggestion, the name of which is escaping me right now. The little place south of Veracruz where the two rivers meet. Interesting reading about it. I imagine that, for a white boy used to thin, dry air up here, the gulf coast summer down there could be quite the experience, though!

I haven't had much of a change dig into research on the other mentions, yet, but my list of notes and bookmarks is growing!


Thanks again,

Kirk Haines


Carol Schmidt


Feb 2, 2005, 10:37 PM

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You don't have to rule out the area around San Miguel de Allende, even if you don't want to be in a city with a large ex-pat population itself. I'm mentioning SMA because of your wife's interests--San Miguel has what I remember is the only midwifery training program in Mexico, part of CASA, a major medical-education program that helps women in surrounding rural areas with all aspects of their lives. Helping teenaged girls who need sex education is one aspect of their umbrella organization, another is helping battered women. They have their own new medical complex and education center.

I've mentioned in other posts that I joned the American Legion Women's Auxiliary here, which has helped the CASA midwifery program in such areas as providing baby layettes for the midwifes to take out into the rural areas. They deliver about a dozen babies a month, if I recall the figure, and many of the mothers have absolutely nothing for their newborns, only newspapers to wrap them in.

There is another organization in SMA, Mujeres en Cambio, which also works with women who are attempting to improve their lives. If your wife wanted to plug into an existing organization which has already done the ground-breaking and cleared the hurdles, there are several opportunities to do good with her training in the area around San Miguel.

Maybe you could consider Comonfort, maybe 15 miles from SMA, very few gringos, or even Guanajuato, a university town with only a handful of gringos. And even if you chose SMA itself, if you're a mile out of Centro you'll hardly see any gringos except if you're in a few select luxury housing developments. And there is an excellent bilingual Waldorf school just outside of SMA if you wanted to ensure your kids got an excellent education the years they are in Mexico.

Carol Schmidt


mrchuck


Feb 3, 2005, 5:00 AM

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Now you just wait a pea-picking minute, Bubba.


What a great subject this has become! Some of the best quotes I have ever heard.
And, I also like the "Cathedral of Walmart" too.

A great read this topic has become!!!

Saludos, mc


wyhaines

Feb 3, 2005, 2:52 PM

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Re: [Carol Schmidt] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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Do you know if CASA has any sort of online presence? That is a difficult sequence of letters to get good Google hits off of.
Barring that, do you have a regular mail address for them? It'd be nice to make contact with them.


Thanks,

Kirk Haines


Cynthia7

Feb 3, 2005, 4:34 PM

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I agree with Carol- don't rule out SMA. We have natural hot springs and lots of agricultural oppurtunities with good soil and good climate. My friend that raises hay gets many crops a year - he says 10 but that may be bragging. The children here have so many things to do - artistic, music, athletic and educational. The expats are involved in many things that benefit the community and make it one of the best places on the planet to live. It started as an art center but it is much more.


Carol Schmidt


Feb 3, 2005, 5:38 PM

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Info on San Miguel's CASA program

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Here are the links I could find for more info on CASA. I didn't know it was started with a $3,000 grant from Planned Parenthood! It's not just a midwifery training program, it addresses all needs of adolescents and young mothers. No specific CASA website, but here's what I found.

Carol Schmidt
http://www.goodnewsnet.org/...a_mexico_news_02.htm Health journal article by a Wall Street Journal reporter in 2000 on CASA's midwifery program, starting with its history and the problems the founder faced. http://portalsanmiguel.com/...newslettermay03.html -- feature in May, 2003 issue of Portal San Miguel on CASA, with an e-mail address for the director. http://www.portalsanmiguel.com/...y-organizations.html -- List of community organizations in SMA, with a phone number for CASA. http://www.internetsanmiguel.com/...nts/august-2003.html --List of SMA activities in August, 2003 which included graduation for a midwifery group for CASA on the 16th, with a different phone number given.


roni_smith


Feb 3, 2005, 7:50 PM

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About Bubba's suggestion on schooling. I absolutely agree. When I was 8 my family moved to Brasil. I spent 4 years in Brasilian elementary school, followed by two years of English school in the morning and Brasilian school in the afternoon. Wonderful experience. I highly recommend it.

Ron
------
Planning for Mexico Move Blog



jerezano

Feb 5, 2005, 7:40 AM

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Hello,

I too live in Jerez so can double on Julian's suggestion. It is however in a semi desert area. However, you want a change from the Wyoming ambient. You are very interested in a modest cost of living. Since you are going to use satellite you can settle anywhere in Mexico where there is electricity, but you probaly want telepone as well--and telephone can be a problem in the far out districts. You could probably handle that with cell phone.

San Luis Potosí has the surroundings and climate of Wyoming more or less. So doesn't seem to be your goal. It is also fairly expensive. If you should choose that area since you are going to use satellite, try many of the delightful small towns surrounding SLP, instead of the city itself. Less expensive rents.

SMA, Lake Chapala, Morelia (Jennifer Rose, bless her for her good counsel, is a bit up scale for us folk of modest income, so take her suggestions with a bit of care), Puebla, Guanajuato, the cities around the population centers of Mexico City and that Mexico-Veracruz corridor all tend to be expensive. Stay away from the beach areas of Vallarta, Matzatlán, Cancún for the reasons of expense and also because of the intolerable heat during the summer.

So, here are my recommendations:

On the west coast.

Tropical climate a bit on the hot side. Colima and environs, about 2000 feet. University city with its attendant culture. Little air contamination. Volcano nearby. Beach an hour or so away. Walmart etc. Good medical. Vibrant Mexican life. Not many americans. Not expensive. For me just a bit too hot but you can regulate the climate by climbing the mountain.

Tropical climate like Hawaii. Tepic and environs. About 3000 feet. University city and culture. More commercial ambient than Colima. Light contamination in winter. Beach an hour and a half away. Walmart etc. Good medical, better than Colima. University not so renowned. Vibrant Mexican life. Not many Americans. Better choice for me than Colima. Less expensive.

The previous recommendation on Sayutla, inexpensive, is a third choice for me.

On the Gulf coast.

Jalapa in Veracruz state. University city. University famous. Very tropical. About 3000 feet. Lots of rain. Houses tend to be musty. Many Americans. No contamination. Beach about 2 to 3 hours away. Excellent restaurants. Walmart etc. Good medical. Harder I think to break into the Mexican life and definitely harder with the Americans. My first choice on the Gulf Coast. Weather in the winter on the Gulf coast is more unstable than on the Pacific side. Northers sweep down from Texas and can experience a miserable week or so as far south as Veracruz itself.

If you must be close to the border for emergency runs into the USA, you might possibly consider Cd. Victoria in Tamaulipas. State capital. At foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental so you can regulate your climate by climbing the mountain.
Good medical. Citrus country. Inexpensive.

Practically all cities and regions close to the US border are semi desert. Even the fishing villages along the Cortez Sea.

When you decide on an area to explore, search these bulletin boards for people from that area and set up private correspondence with them and pump them dry about that area. You will get more information than you can process. But then you are a programmer.

On rents themselves most houses and apartments come bare bones. No appliances. No chandeliers (most have bare light bulbs). Some come without kitchen sink. Only in larger cities with transient populations can you find fully furnished houses or apartments. And of course the rents increase. Lake Chapala for example you can rent fully furnished including maid, gardener, chauffeur, and handy man. I wonder if the Black Widow is still living!

Good luck. Jerezano.


titmas


Feb 7, 2005, 4:36 PM

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Re: [wyhaines] Let Me Hear Your Opinion

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Don't overlook Uruapan, 1 hour or so south of Morelia.
We live in Morelia, in a small colonia on the south side of the city. Very nice place. We are moving to Uruapan at the end of this month. (Not because we don't like Morelia. Uruapan is smaller, we have friends there. We were used to living at the Jersey Shore and then in Stone Mountain, Ga. So the change to a smaller place seems inviting. We have visited the city many times and all the features you mention can be found there.
The weather is warmer than Morelia. But some may consider Morelia a little too cool. Especially mornings in the winter.
Before we moved, we visited many places on many different occasions. Probably the best idea is to do the same.
And I agree, put the kids in local schools. When we lived in Guatemala, our 8 year old son was conversational in less than 2 months. It has stayed with him for the last 20 years.
Hope it works out the best for you.


wyhaines

Mar 1, 2005, 9:29 AM

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Took me a while to get back to this thread. Tepic. It looks beautiful. Definitely a change of pace from Wyoming! It's time to do more targetted research. Uruapan looks fascinating, as well.

Here's a general question. Let's say a person wanted to spend a month or two travelling through some of these areas of Mexico, to get a feel for these areas (i.e. not staying in tourist areas, but in areas closer to where people actually live), and a person also wanted to be able to get online for 3-4 hours a day via a laptop computer, what would you recommend? Are there enough internet cafe type places where one could get wireless internet access for a laptop as one travelled about the country?


Thanks much,

Kirk Haines


Bubba

Mar 1, 2005, 10:12 AM

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A couple of minor points:

There is no place in Mexico with a climate remotely resembling Wyoming.

Jalapa is not two or three hours from the beach. It is less than an hour's drive form the beaches at Veracruz - a great and fascinatiing city if a bit tropical for Bubba's taste.

I happen to like Uruapan and Tepic as places to visit. Living in these modest towns all the time is an acquired taste.


wyhaines

Mar 1, 2005, 10:35 AM

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There is no place in Mexico with a climate remotely resembling Wyoming.
Jalapa is not two or three hours from the beach. It is less than an hour's drive form the beaches at Veracruz - a great and fascinatiing city if a bit tropical for Bubba's taste.

I happen to like Uruapan and Tepic as places to visit. Living in these modest towns all the time is an acquired taste.


Regarding climate, I bet a lot of the semi-arid areas in the north-central region have similar landscapes, with grass and/or harsher areas with yucca/cactus, and few trees, with hot, dry summer weather. Pictures that I have seen of, say, the area around Jerez definitely don't look substantially different than a lot of Wyoming.

Other parts of Mexico look dramatically different.

Define "modest town". I have seen the phrase "modest town" in many places in these forums, but it's hard to tell from the context just what a person means by that.


Thanks,

Kirk Haines
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