Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Moving to Mexico - Banking, Cars, Insurance

The more I write, the more  topics I think of.  This is growing totally out of control, ha.

I thought that you might want to find books on Amazon if you are doing research on plans to move to Mexico..  My friend, Carol Schmidt along with Rolly Brook published a book called "Falling in Love with San Miguel" which, although I never read it, I was told it covered many topics about moving to Mexico.  I'm sure there are zillions of books.

First topic, banking.

In order to get an immigrante visa, one must prove with bank statements that you have an account in a Mexican bank.  I do.  In that account I keep only enough to have the maid and gardener paid along with being able to deposit money in order to pay the rent.

Most people I know have all their funds in investment firms and banks in the USA because the banks are insured by FDIC.  That is NOT the case in Mexico.

All other monies, like Social Security check along with other funds are in a US bank.  There are ATM machines everywhere and twice a month, I retrieve money to live on.  I probably only write ten checks a year, if that many to pay something, such as US magazine subscriptions.

This is a cash society and utility bills etc are paid in cash.  Many restaurants also do not accept credit cards.  By using the ATM machines, one gets a good exchange rate on the American dollars and a small transaction fee is charged.

The credit card I do use has no foreign transaction fee.  So, if I go to Costco or to a restaurant that does accept credit cards, I use that card.  I pay that bill online. 

Keeping it simple is my motto.

I like having a car in Mexico.  It is not expensive at all since one doesn't use it that often.  My Mexican car insurance is less then $300 for a 1998 Nissan Pathfinder and I only fill up with gas about once every six weeks!  The car mechanic I use seldom charges more the 400 pesos (about $32USD) for any work he does - and that is a day's worth of work!  Parts are more. 

Before I go on any trip, which is a few times a year, I have him check the car out from top to bottom.
If there is a part that he thinks should be changed out in the future, he gives me the part # and name and I purchase it in the USA.  There is 100% duty on car parts coming into Mexico.  My mechanic went to a school in Celaya for 1 1/2 years to become a licensed mechanic.  Having him to work on and check my car gives me peace of mind.

My car insurance is with a local agency.  I was told when I moved here twelve years ago by someone who had been here for nearly 50 years that it was very advantageous to have a local agent.  This proved to be true when I had an accident about 11 years ago.  The local agent had an attorney at the police station, just in case, within an hour.  It wasn't needed but I felt good having someone nearby to help.

Speaking of police.  I have had nothing but positive experiences with local police and Federales.
I have, on occasion, needed to call the police when I saw someone lurking outside or a group going down into the canyon on a regular basis.  In all instances, they have been at my house within 5 minutes!  When I had the car accident, they provided a policeman who spoke English who told me what the procedure would be! 

One time I had a knock on the door and my doorbell rang at around 1AM.  I went upstairs and stood in the garden and saw the gate to the street was open.  The police who patrol at night had seen it also.
They wanted to make sure I was all right and wanted to alert me to the open gate.  I thanked them profusely, closed the gate and marveled at their attention to detail.  I often, at night, hear them going by on their horses on night patrol.  I love the clop, clop of the hooves.  It makes me feel safe.

I've never had any problems at the road blocks or even when I've been stopped for speeding.....Yes, twice I've been stopped for going over the speed limit on the highway.  I ALWAYS speak English.
I have never been harassed.  I've never been asked for mordida.  I've always been treated with respect and politeness.  I've had many laughs with the Federales, actually.  I never feel threatened.  But, on the other hand, I never adopt an "attitude".

I mentioned car insurance above.  It is seldom that anyone here has homeowner's insurance as the houses are made from stone and brick.  Not going to fall down or burn.  Along with the fact that Mexico is not a litigious country, which I find wonderful, one does not have to worry about being sued for someone tripping over a rock or something.

It seems that these posts have been something people have been looking for to help in their decision making.  I'm happy to provide this information from my perspective.  I have received many emails and comments.  Yesterday nearly 1000 people read the posts.  I am astounded.

The topics left to write about are medical care and why people leave along with ways to live economically.  If there are other topics that you would like for me to write about, please comment and I'll try to do so.

I must admit though, I'm looking forward to returning to writing about daily life or whatever strikes my fancy.
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Anonymous said...

You have been a busy bee! No sooner did I leave a comment on the last post, and then this one came up.

This is a great series. Thanks for writing. By the way, have you kept in touch with Carol Schmidt? I used to read her blog regularly, and once they moved back to Phoenix, there hasn't been another post.

I'm glad to hear your experiences with the police. That's one thing that makes me nervous. As I may have hinted, I'm planning to drive south to DF from here in the next few weeks, and I'm a bit nervous about policemen and mordidas.

So thanks for the info.

By the way, who would have guessed you were a "leadfoot?" LOL...


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we have the citations to prove that we are a leadfoot.

Babs said...

Yes, Kim, I have stayed in touch with Carol but now she's no longer on Facebook.

I will email you about traveling near the border and north of Monterrey. That is a very dicey least it has been in the past......

Glad you're heading this way soon!

Cheryl said...

I am enjoying these posts. We are planning to move to SMA in a couple of years, so this is very helpful. Carol Schmidt's book is also very helpful, although some of the immigration info is out of date now with the changes.

George Puckett said...

You quote $300 for your auto insurance but is this an annual amount or is it for 6 months?

Babs said...

George, that is an annual cost. In additon, I don't keep US insurance. I just buy it from an agency in Laredo when I'm driving up for the amount of time that I'm going to be up there.

Babs said...

Thanks Cheryl. The immigration and auto changes caught all of us by surprise. We're still in a quandry about some of it........

lauriec said...

Hi, Babs, love your blog and thanks for these topics. We are frequent vacationers to Mexico and to SMA and will be down again in late october - and we are now almost at the point where we can think of spending several months there - go great timing.

We have two dogs and so are interested in the ways in which people get their pets down for a 3-6 month stay, say and whether one can rent with a pet.

thanks again!

Laurie C
Chapel Hill, NC

Dan in NC said...

Carol and Norma, along with Rolly, also wrote "the Best How-To Book on Moving to Mexico" and published it in 2009. I believe Rolly tries to keep the "latest and greatest" amendments (due to the most recent round of immigration law changes) in the text on his site. The book is a great basic "primer" for Q&A's for a neophyte looking to relocate S.O.B. Their "Falling in Love with San Miguel" gives a pretty good picture of the travails and triumphs they experienced on a rather limited income, and could be inherent in any expat experience... The book certainly engendered a lot of interest in the town when it came out.... Cheers!

Babs said...

Hi Laurie - Where you live now is a BEAUTIFUL place. I was there a few years ago.
The only requirement to bring your dogs down (if you're driving) is to have their vet fill out a form (which they should know about) within 10 days of crossing the border. You might want to check on that on the internet in case there has been a recent change. I had that form done for my dog - no one, not once ever asked for it.
Flying in with dogs is a whole other avenue that I cannot address.
Some airports require a broker, others not. I would google for more info if that is the case.
It is much more difficult to rent with two dogs. If I were you, I would go to VRBO where the houses specify, I believe whether they are pet friendly or not.
Hope this helps. Have a great visit later this month!

Babs said...

Dan, thanks for the info on Carol and Rolly's new book. I knew they did one but I never knew the name of it. On Rolly's site he has not put the latest info on the immigration and permits. I'm surprised. He is DEFINITELY the "go to" guy on most information.
Thanks for writing.
San Miguel has had writeups in the last 20 years in so many publications and on so many lists, its amazing to me that we're not overrun. However it still remains that 85% of our tourism is Mexican nationals and 15% international.

calypso said...

Babs - One real advantage of my Mexican auto insurance is that it covers ALL of North America - so a visit to the States does not require hunting down some short term insurance.

I should also mention this is ONLY when insuring a Mexican plated vehicle - but a definite savings and a good thing - also my insurance is around $200.US per year (liability ONLY) for a 2008 Jetta.

Babs said...

Thanks for that info Calypso. That is very reasonable. I'll remember to check with you if and when I buy a Mexican plated car.
The company I get my US insurance with is called Bravo Insurance in Laredo. The whole process is done on the internet! And within a few hours, I have a copy of the policy and liability cards. I'm good to go.
The cost for the first month is a little over $40 for the required coverage and then its less for months after that.

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Anonymous said...

Hi Babs love your blog. It is very informative. I am in the process of trying to buy a small home in San Miguel de Allende from a private seller. I am to understand you need to prove income. How much do I have to deposit in a Mexican bank to prove income? I do have an account in the US, from which I can transfer from. Is it adequate enough to maintain that required balance in the Mexican account as adequate proof of income? It will be just myself and my dog Maggie.

Babs said...

Hi Blondell - I don't know the answer to your question. I, however, will be meeting with the facilitator that I use to renew my visa and will ask her that question. The rules have changed so much in the last year that I don't want to give you false information.

I'll reply in the next few days after I have an answer.

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