Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Moving to Mexico - Choosing Where to Live

I have met many people who started out in little villages in various states such as Hidalgo, which is between here and Mexico City, or Chiapas, which is down near Guatemala, among many other places.

Many lived in villages where nary another ex-pat lived.  For a while, they say, it was fine.  But then, the need for social interaction came to the forefront along with loneliness. 

Those people that I have heard that from have ended up moving to places such as Guadalajara or San Christobal, Merida, Veracruz and sometimes San Miguel de Allende.

The need for interacting with people that have some understanding of our backgrounds seems to be an innate need.  In addition, activities such as sports, musical concerts, jazz, blues, and movies are things people want to continue to experience.  Just to name a few.

Volunteering seems to be important if one was not able to participate in that in their previous life or there is just a need to give back in some form or fashion.

I don't mean by any means that you can't do these things in villages with no other ex-pats, but, it is facilitated more when such activities have already been established.

There are many opportunities in San Miguel, for example, to take classes or go to lectures on a myriad of subjects.  All things to keep the brain active and the spirit socially alive.

In fact, at times, looking at the Atencion newspaper here in San Miguel, it is overwhelming how much there is going on if one were to want to participate in everything.  I sincerely doubt it would be possible!

I highly suggest, if you haven't already done so, to plan trips to check places out.  Also, check them out at different times of the year.  This year I visited a city that I had heard so much about and often wondered if I would want to transplant there.

Once I visited I realized not in a million years for me because of the amount of traffic and the heat.

Glad I didn't pick it, sight unseen as some do!

Traveling  in Mexico by bus or inter country airlines is very easy.  The bus service is highly scheduled - especially the executive bus lines such as Primera Plus, ETN, Uno and many, many more.
Don't think Greyhound - think flying first class.

Reclining seats, TVs, a snack and leg rests.  Yup that and sometimes sleeping masks, a lightweight blanket and bottled water.  All on the buses!  The costs are extremely reasonable.

Once you have your immigrante or permanent visa along with an Inapam card, which can be applied for  by those over 60, the bus fares are at a 50% discount.  With discount, a bus from San Miguel to Mexico City is about $17USD - a 3 1/2 hour ride on an executive bus!

There have been a plethora of new airlines that have started up in the last six years or so.  Interjet is magnificent and extremely reasonable.  They now have routes into the USA as well. Think jet service in the USA 40 years ago.  Brand new equipment.  Spotless aircraft and well groomed and pleasant flight attendants.  Service on time and so far no hassles on luggage check in.

Some of those airlines besides Interjet are Volaris and Aviacsa. Use your computer to find out more by just putting "Mexican air service" in your Search Engine and then checking out their routes.  The airfares on these airlines is far less then the international carriers in most instances.

Another way to travel in country is with local tour groups who plan tours that the people in their area wish to go on.  In San Miguel there are a few.  One that stands out is Los Vagabundos, both because of their itineraries and the leader of the company.  I have traveled with them at least 8 or 9 times and always been pleasantly entertained.

Hopefully this information helps you to realize that where you choose does have an impact.  I also hope it helps you to realize that you won't stagnate if you choose the place that fits your desires and requirements.

After all, this is the next season of your life - the golden time for all those things you never had time to do because of your previous life of working and/or raising a family.
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Billie Mercer said...

This is a great series of posts. I agree with everything you have written.

Aren't we fortunate to be here?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Babs. Great info on intercountry travel. We'll be in the Cancun area in late November. Do you have any info on a good driver(s) for private day trips in that area? I don't plan to hang out on the beach, but travel inland somewhat and all around during the days. I know it's a little far afield from SMA, but I thought I'd ask.

Babs said...

Billie, indeed. This morning Josefina came to clean the guest house and brought yellow daisies she picked on her way here. She said they were for Jennifer and her little vase that Josefina and I make sure always have flowers......it so touched my heart......

Babs said...

Angelinem - I don't have any info on drivers in any other part of Mexico.
BUT, here is what I do. I walk into any travel agency in any town and there is always someone there or someone they know who will drive you or take you where you want to go. I always negotiate the day rate beforehand. Very easy........
OR, in the olden days, I would walk up to a taxi stand and find someone who spoke English and hire for the day, again negotiating the day rate beforehand.
Both ways work.

sparks_mex said...

And here I sit in my little community, one of two gringos most of the year. Even visits to Melaque don't get very international in flavor. We do have a few Chinese restaurants ;)

Babs said...

Sparks, I enjoy that for a couple of months in the winter, but then, I do like to have a little more to do.

When I do drive into Melaque, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of traffic and Canadians. Far more ex-pat visitors then we see in San Miguel.

Good restaurants there though. I like Scooby's where you sit on the street and eat great ribs!

About the author said...

Just a couple of corrections to your information - UNO bus line is now known as ADO Platino.

And Aviacsa stopped flying several years ago...

In addition to Interjet (which you rightly noted is an excellent airline, by far the best we have in Mexico), and Volaris, other companies operating domestic flights are AeroMexico, VivaAerobus, Magnicharters, and Aeromar.

Babs said...

Thanks About the Author - Aviacsa used to fly to Austin. I see now they stopped in 2011!
The additional information is greatly appreciated.
Volaris is aggressive about adding many new destinations to the USA!
I recently checked flights from Leon to Chicago/Midway - about $350 or less. Great news........

Anonymous said...

Great post, Barbara!

I'll add my two cents here. If you do want to be the only Gringo in a small town, you ABSOLUTELY MUST be able to speak Spanish well. Otherwise you have no chance of not being isolated.

I'll also second the comment on intercity bus service. It's very comfortable, the buses are nice, the prices are reasonable, and there's usually no problem getting a seat. Also (and this amazed me) you can order tickets on line and download the boarding pass to your phone and they'll let you board using that only. And some of them give you a 10-15% discount for ordering on line. F and I did that on our "Charming Mexican Mountain Town Tour" this spring and had wonderful experiences all around, the best of course, having brunch with the lovely author of this blog.


Kim G
Boston, MA
Where the roads suck, and the traffic is thick and annoying.

Babs said...

Kim, I don't know where you're referring to intercity bus service. I'm assuming DF. We have nothing like that here nor do most of us have phones that we could get tickets. Very, very few people in my town have those new phones.....

Tourists do however. It's good info for DF travelers.

Walter Ehresman said...

Hello, from Austin. Very much enjoying reading these practical blog posts in this series (although have always enjoyed the other ones, too).

I would love to hear your opinions about recommended neighborhoods within SMA itself for those of us moving down in the coming year who don't have the opportunity to do a lot of on-the-ground research before hand. I've walked some of the neighborhoods once, but that only gets you so far. I'd love the insider perspective.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Babs! Good ideas for finding a driver for day trips!! We were in PV a couple of years ago and now to Riviera Maya area as a second foray into possibilities of where we want to live in Mexico.

Babs said...

Walter, its hard to answer that question. I think it has more to do with the residence itself and what you enjoy doing. If you're asking me if there is some place NOT to live because its not safe, I don't think that is the case.
Lots of people like Col San Antonio.
I don't particularly only because it is dense, with narrow streets and I like to look out and not see other people's houses. Others love that which is what you get in the centro area, obviously. If I were going to move, I might like to be near San Juan de Dios church on the street with the esplanade.
However, I have the most enjoyable for me. 10 minutes to jardin, looking out on the canyon and wildlife and quiet, which is important for me.
So, I guess I haven't answered your question. I think it would be beneficial to live here for at least 6 months and "case the joint"
Then make the transition.

Babs said...

Angelinem - Enjoy your adventures.
Be sure to check out Chiapas.....too.
Unless you specifically want a beach area, then look at Puerto Esconcido near Hualtuco.

Walter Ehresman said...

Thanks, Babs. I know that it's unavoidably going to be a bit of a crapshoot for me, since I don't have the option of extended scouting trips or of moving down without all my stuff and doing a short lease. I have to come on down with the truck full of stuff and move it all into some place. I'll be coming down over Thanksgiving of next year to find a place and sign a lease, and then it's the big move, Golden Bear truck, etc. I'm just going to have to do the best I can to make a good decision when I come down to sign a lease.

Babs said...

Walter, do you mean a moving truck that you own or a rental truck or what? THAT makes a difference. We need to email. I can be reached at babsofsanmiguel@yahoo.com

In addition, may I suggest you come earlier then November? The snowbirds FLOCK in here from Nov-April and rentals are minimum during that time. AND rents are higher.

You mentioned Golden Bear which is an extremely reliable moving company based here in San Miguel. Mario moved a few things for my son about 4 years ago.

In addition, my son moved many things on a flatbed trailer through the Columbia Bridge on New Years Day, if I remember correctly.
He did not have a menaje or anything else and he sailed right through. You DO have to have your immigrante or permanent visa to bring furnishings in.

Good luck with your endeavors if I don't hear from you by email.

Hacienda4Reals said...

Hola Babs,

My husband and I are coming on our first visit to SMA soon. It is a very short trip of 4 days over day of the dead weekend. We are very much looking forward to it.

We are starting to scout locations for our move south. We have cruised Mexico and the rest of Central America, and lived in Roatan, Honduras for several years. Excited about relocating after raising our family.

I would also appreciate a post regarding some feedback and your views on the different neighborhoods and the pros and cons, etc...

Love to meet you if you have time!

Nancy & Joe Real

Babs said...

Hi Nancy and Joe - I think I answered your question to the best of my ability in the comments to Walter just above your post. It is such a personal choice. Do you want flat walking? Do you want views? Do you want to be centrally located and no views? What is your budget? Etc Etc Etc. All those factors would need to be asked before I could suggest the colonia for you.
I would enjoy meeting you when you're here. It will be a hectic time filled with tourists. Let's try to connect! I've always wanted to go to Roatan - for about 30 years. I'd love to hear about your time there. My house # is 152-8375

Hacienda4Reals said...

Thank you Babs, I will send you an e-mail regarding our trip. It will be short and we know not typical but we are looking forward to being in SMA during this special time as well. Bringing the good camera!

Hacienda4Reals said...

I was also just seconding the post idea on what the differences were in the colonias.