Living In Mexico Is Not Right For Everyone
(Excerpt From Live Better South of the Border in Mexico, 4th Edition)
Some of you readers (of Live Better South of the Border in Mexico) should not live or retire in Mexico, and some of you should not live or retire anywhere else but Mexico. As good as I (and the tens of thousands of you who bought the first, second, and third editions) think this book is, it is only a book. Live Better South of the Border in Mexico will guide and educate you, but by itself it cannot predict how well you will like Mexico. If you want to retire to Mexico, or are too young for retirement, but want to live and work in Mexico, try living there for several months first.
We are, by nature, self-deceiving. Although you might have all the character traits of my father (he was an Ugly American), you probably won’t admit it (though your wife or partner will). Some of you won’t know how you and Mexico will fit together until you actually go and try living there. Mexico affects people differently. During the past decade, I have consulted with thousands of people seeking advice about traveling, living, retiring and working in Mexico.
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I remember one fellow from Boston who had an expensive motor home and was the most uptight man I ever met. He had his wife, children, and grandmother with him. He was so filled with apprehension and worry about his expensive motorhome that I told him he should just on a driving trip to Mexico, much less consider living in Mexico. .
He was taken aback. “I thought your job was to encourage people to drive to Mexico and consider retiring or living in Mexico.”
“No,” I replied, “My job is to help people to have a good time and find a better way of life, and you are so worried about your motorhome that you will not have a good time. Do us both a favor and stay home.”
He thought about it and said, “What if I leave the motor home here and just take the car?”
He did, and his two-week driving trip became a month-long journey of self-discovery. I saw him when he returned and he was completely relaxed and smiling. In fact, he and his family stayed an extra two weeks, and Grandma came back several years younger in spirit. Grandma danced in the square in Veracruz.
I have a place to stay if I ever get to Boston. That experience taught me that I should never judge whether someone will fit into Mexico, but I can make general assumptions about what might not work. Follow your heart, but take some of my suggestions to the same place.
1. You have a spirit of adventure.
Even if you are going to live in Mexico City and work for a company, life will be an adventure. You can either have fun with it or be frustrated by it. The choice is always yours.
2. You can accept that most things are out of your control.
If you think everything has to be in its place and there must be a logical explanation for everything, then you are going to spend a lot of time being unhappy. Learn to “go with the flow.”
3. You are willing to accept things as they are.
There’s a wonderful little prayer that says, in part, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” You may find yourself repeating this when little “Mexicanisms” get between you and getting things done.
4. You truly like people and can accept their differences.
Remember that you are never alone in Mexico. Even if—especially if—you live in a small town where there are no other gringos, you will meet many locals. They are a gregarious bunch with large families and a healthy curiosity about the bizarre ways of foreigners. Remember that many of the things we take for granted about ourselves are pretty darn amazing to outsiders. Old people and small kids will ask you questions as you travel about. Middle-class businessmen will go out of their way to help you when you need it. Strangers of all classes will show you things and help you find whatever it is you are looking for, be it a road out of town or a battery for your car alarm.
5. You have a sense of humor.
This is probably the most important ingredient in enjoying life in Mexico. If you do not take yourself too seriously, you will do much better than if you do. If you are a very serious or sad person and you have been sent to Mexico by your company, take heart, your whole personality could change for the better.
These are the main personality traits that will make your life in Mexico a easier. I’m not a psychologist, and there is absolutely nothing scientific about my list. It is based on my experience and what I have gathered from the thousands of people I have talked to and observed during my twenty or so years of writing about Mexico and talking to people who live in Mexico or think they want to live in Mexico. It is only to give you an honest assessment of some of the differences of living in Mexico versus living in the United States or Canada.
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