Saturday, October 12, 2013

Moving to Mexico and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, perhaps!

It has been an astonishing two days.  Whereas in the past the amount of readership averaged about 500 people a day, yesterday it was 1,499 and today it is almost to that number again!  Holy moly, there are a lot of you out there that are interested in either moving to Mexico or possibly moving to San Miguel or are curious to see what I'm going to write.

Thanks to ALL that have contributed information and/or corrected my mistaken information.  It takes a village to do a whole lot of things in this world.  One of those things is keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff.  Mil gracias.

In the last post I said I would talk about "Why people leave" along with "What can't you find here that you HAVE to have"and a "Few ways to save money".  Here we go.

Some of the reasons people leave:

Health issues
Altitude - 6400 ft.
Cobblestone streets
Cold weather for two months a year
Hot weather for two months a year
Difficult to make a living as an expat
It wasn't what they expected
No single men interested in marrying
No single women interested in marrying
(Hey, I just report what I'm told)
Language Barrier
Thought it would be more like the USA
(thankfully it is what the USA was 50 years ago)
Can't meet the new income requirements of $2400 a month
Can meet the income requirements, don't want to sell US plated car
Don't like the people
Been here, done this, time to move on
Marriage broke up
Want to move to someplace else in Mexico

What can't you find HERE that you HAVE to have:

I realize that each time I return to the USA that it is definitely the Land of Plenty.  Recently in the grocery store in Houston, I marveled at the entire row of cereals followed by an entire row of cookies and crackers.  We learn to compromise here if we can't find "it" whatever that might be at the local grocery stores or specialty stores or Costco or Sam's, 45 miles away.

Here are some of the things:

Asiago cheese
Okra and yellow neck squash
Canned vegetables
Pre-prepared frozen foods - like Bertolli's skillet dinners, etc
High thread count sheets
Excellent cookware
Good fabric, especially printed cottons
Sewing supplies
Having things mailed to you without it costing an arm and a leg
Shipping things to others without it costing an arm and a leg
Flower bulbs
Beautiful lamp shades at a reasonable price
Thick towels
Well made bedding
Appliances that are reasonably priced
Clothing at reasonable prices
Large size men's shoes
Large size women's shoes
Makeup for lighter skinned women
Area rugs
Specialty foods - without paying a premium

And, the list goes on and on but not nearly as much as it used to be.

Now many people move here and are astounded at what they can't find.  We who have
been here for a long time are astounded at what we can find.

Electronics are almost double the price of the USA as well as toys!
Toys are outrageously expensive. 

Now when I drive to the USA, I bring less and less back with me. 

Usually it includes toys, sewing items,  fabric, some food items and that's about it.  I realize that men would probably have an entirely different list.

A few ways to save money:

Once you have your immigrante and/or permanent visa, you can apply for an INAPAM card (if you are over 60) to give you discounts on amusement fees, medicines, water bill and a host of other items.

Shopping at the tianguis (the traveling Tuesday market) for clothes, food, tools, and what have you is a great way to save money.

I was horrified when I moved here at the thought of buying used clothing to wear.  I quickly got over that when I saw that everything that was sold was required to be clean and the brands were glorious.

Brands such as Chico's, Lord and Taylor, Coldwater Creek, Tommy Bahama, OshKosh, to name a few.  Now we all take pride in being complimented and then sharing the fact that our entire outfit (which would have cost over $100USD in the USA) cost about $10 or less here. 

Many of us shop at the organic market, go to organic farms and save mucho on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Mega, our local grocery store owned by the Costco franchise I've been told, has the most amazing deals on fresh fruits and vegetables on Wednesday.  It turns into a free-for-all shopping frenzy that day.  Much fun!  I've written about this in the past.

All of us were raised with the phrase, "You get what you pay for!" meaning that if you don't pay much it can't be of good quality or worth much.  Set that aside.  It's not what the presentation looks like of the tienda or the mechanic's yard or the seamstresses house, it's about the finished product.

There are people still who if it doesn't look like a place in the USA, don't shop there and they pay for it.  Another example, having your ink cartridges for your printer refilled.  There is a little, tiny place in a colonia where I take them to be refilled for almost nothing.  Others prefer to go to Office Depot and pay close to $50USD for a new cartridge.  I don't get it.

Instead of ordering the latest books from Amazon or wherever, most of us share and pass on books or have a library card!  Novel idea.

Many people shop at garage sales and the Alma sale once a month.  Alma is the home for the elderly where the people live without having to pay.  The money paid by their once-a-month sale helps to maintain the facility.

ALL of it is an adventure!  It's learning to live a different way. 

'Whether you want to or not, you will have to compromise and adapt.  If you're not willing to do that, being an expat might not be for you!

I find it invigorating.  I also find that it keeps me on my toes along with keeping my brain and body active.

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jennifer rose said...

Nearly everything on Babs’ list can be found in Mexico, but you’ll have to look. You won’t find everything at the same time even at the same shopping center, but between Costco, Liverpool and Sears, you should be able to cover the list.

Large-sized clothing and shoes tend to fly off the shelves as soon as they’re stocked, so you learn that you’d better buy it now instead of counting on those items to be in stock next week. Illustratively, Costco’s shipment of bedroom slippers included large sizes, but a week later, only small and medium ones were left. Large sized women’s jeans seem to last only a few days on Costco’s tables. You learn to shop frequently, or cultivate friends who do and who’re armed with cell phones to let you know what’s just arrived.

Sometimes you get lucky, because buyers for stores like Costco will order merchandise that just doesn’t appeal to most customers. Tulip and hyacinth bulbs cost a fortune last winter at Costco, but within a few weeks, they were drastically marked down. The same will happen with canned cranberry sauce after Christmas.

Flexi shoe stores will order large sizes that may not be in stock at a particular store, but again, the best approach is to buy when you see your size instead of putting it off. Sears and Liverpool both have heavy discounts at the end of the season on clothing, and both can be generous with electronic cash (gift cards for later purchases).

You will likely have to leave the San Miguel city limits if you want to do any serious buying; otherwise, you’re limited to what you might find in a 2000-person town in the middle of rural America. Superama has an incredible selection of food items, but the nearest, IIRC, is in Queretaro. Superama constantly has special purchases featuring food and drink from Germany, France, Italy, Argentina, and even the Far East. If your residence back in the Old Country meant having to drive 70 miles to find a store that didn’t stock Cheez Whiz on the gourmet aisle, you’ll understand. If you’re accustomed to a 5-minute hop to HEB Central Market, you’ll have to make some adjustments when you move to San Miguel.

Even in San Miguel, you’re bound to find some surprises when you least expect it. The man who sells produce outside of Luna de Queso in the mornings will show up with fruits and vegetables that you won’t find anyplace else. Via Organica and the Saturday organic market are filled with surprises, too.

In cities larger than San Miguel de Allende are small fabric stores selling fine fabrics imported from Europe as well as sewing supplies that you won’t find at the chain polyester-filled stores like Parisina that cater to a broader market.

As a gringo, you are not critical mass even in a place like San Miguel de Allende. You are in the minority. Stores aren’t going to carry the merchandise you may be accustomed to. It’s up to you to go to where many more people who look like you shop. The key is to be flexible, shop pro-actively and often, and plan on stocking up on what you consider essential.

Babs said...

Thanks Jennifer, as always, a fabulous post! I say in Mexico, it is the Russian rule of shopping, if you see it and like it, buy it, you'll never see it again. Men's size 12 shoes are an example. It's like shopping for hen's teeth - although I have NEVER really shopped for hen's teeth.......tee hee.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Barbara.

I'll chime in with a thought or two for your readers. First, is this. Mexico is REALLY different than the USA. Much more different than say, the UK, Germany, France, or any other first-world European country. So don't expect things to be like they are in the USA. Aside from the odd Costco and WalMart, almost everything is totally different, and your working assumptions for the old country aren't going to work in Mexico.

Second, with regard to convenience foods, consider this. A Mexican is either too poor to afford these foods and cooks from scratch by necessity, or he's rich enough that he has a live-in who does it for him. Or he survives on street food, which is pretty cheap and requires no preparation.

Besides, why would you want to prepare frozen dinners when the available ingredients are so incredible and the restaurants are so cheap? Comida corrida can be had for nearly the price of the ingredients.


Kim G
Boston, Ma
Where we'd kill to be able to buy such amazing produce year-round.

Babs said...

Kim - Great comments as always. I DO have to say, after cooking for a family for more years then I want to count for 3 meals a day, I like the convenience of pulling something out of the freezer every now and then that was made by someone else. It's a convenience that is not available in Mexico - the same with drive-thru or delis. My kingdom for a great Jewish deli...........oy vey

jennifer rose said...

Kim, after you’ve lived here for a while, the glow falls off the cheap comida corrida and abundance of produce. A hankering for Stouffer’s and Red Baron sets in. Fortunately, Superama and Walmart carry both. Frozen peas take on a whole new appeal when you haven’t had them for a few years. The amount of convenience foods has grown incredibly in the past two decades in this country, just as has the middle class who hungers for these items. That said, $89 for a box of Lean Cuisine can make many buyers think twice.

It’s sort of funny. To listen to some gringo whines, you’d think their diets back in their Old Country were comprised of little more than gluten-free tortillas, organic Amish-raised chicken, white balsamic vinegar, white Worcestershire sauce, some kind of imported bleu cheese fabricated by blind dwarf monks, and some kind of oat that’s been hand-cut by leprechauns. And then on the flipside, there are those who disdain anyone who is thrilled over finding fresh cranberries, cornmeal, and even remembers the days back when chocolate chips were rare in these parts, because for some reason we’re all supposed to be thriving on beans and tortillas. Yeah, I get real excited over finding Nestea unsweetened, unflavored instant tea at Superama. Sure, I could make iced tea from black tea bags, but it’s just not the same.

Costco and Walmart may be multi-nationals, but their incarnation in Mexico is purely Mexican. I just got back from a Costco run a few minutes ago (never mind I’d only been there on Thurs.), the place was packed since it’s a popular Saturday night activity, I did not see a single gringo, but Mexicans were sure buying up frozen and convenience foods. And none of them looked like they were cut from the same cloth as Los Nobles. (And yep, nice 400 thread count bedding, plush towels, and even down comforters were available.)

Babs said...

Woo hoo, Jennifer keep it coming.
I DO remember the first time I found chocolate chips at Soriana for baking. AND recently, they had chocolate chip dough at Mega. Even though I usually bake from scratch, I thought it would be fun to bake those with the grandchildren. Yes, I paid a premium price for the dough, but I probably would only do it once or twice a year! My kingdom for a Superama here. The city of SMA nixed their request for a permit!

George Puckett said...

I will take credit for your recent upsurge in readership! Just kidding. However, I have been posting your blog posts to my Facebook page, We Promote Mexico, for over a month now. Your most recent ones on Moving to Mexico/SMA have received a large number of viewers. The post on the Realities of Moving to Mexico received 585 views on We Promote.
This is also the best time of year for these types of articles because people are preparing to travel to Mexico. The same series of articles would not be so popular in July.

I have written and edited a number of books on Mexico travel and retirement. September sales were good and so far, October has been Great. Keep up the good work. You might consider visiting to respond to comments that people make about your blog.
George Puckett

Babs said...

Thanks George for sharing your information. I will of course go to your Facebook page!

lauriec said...

thanks again Babs for useful columns- great reading.

wonder if you might discuss how to get to SMA- e.g., if you are coming in for 3 months, a year to or moving permanently, what are ways to to comes, challenges if driving from north of the border for the first time, things to avoid, look for,beware of etc



Anonymous said...

I'd second Laurie's request for a post about driving south. My own sense was to avoid Reynosa, Matamoros, and Nuevo Laredo and perhaps cross early in the morning at Eagle Pass, TX with a full tank of gas, and then try to put as much distance between me and the border as possible that first day.


Kim G
Boston, MA

Babs said...

Laurie and Kim - I aim to please and will write the next post on driving to Mexico............then back to my former rambling about daily life. Like putting my contacts in this morning and seeing a scorpion coming up out of the sink drain! YUK, what a way to start the day.......he has now gone to the happy scorpion hunting ground.

Jyoti Singh said...
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