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Looking into moving to Mexico. Could use some advice.

Looking into moving to Mexico. Could use some advice.

Old Apr 22nd, 2020, 12:25 PM
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Looking into moving to Mexico. Could use some advice.

I am a 31 year old single male from the Midwest, USA. I have no kids. I have quite a bit of college done but only an Associates degree. I've worked my whole adult life, kept out of trouble and been a decent citizen. Though, there was this point of realization a few months back. There are plenty of people out there wanting to make the worthy decisions of uprooting their life, but they now have things keeping them in their places. (work, kids, family etc.)
My family is almost non-existent, no kids and I am not at a particular career oriented job. Though, my job does keep my a float a bit better than most in my field. I work as a sous chef at an upscale seafood restaurant. The reason why I've had my sights set on Mexico or even Central America is really based upon my co-workers at my job. The Mexican's I have meet at my job are some of the kindness people I've come across. They cook food constantly, invite me to their baptisms and social gatherings, and share the food and experience with me like its a gesture they carry with them from birth.
A big step to make in this process is to learn and understand the language. I have been making steps towards that. They had to learn the language to come here so I want to be respectful and understand their language before I make the leap. Though, I am in a perfect situation being immersed in their language while at work. Any interesting tips on how any of you learned a language later in life?
Money is also an important part of this. I live in a simple studio apartment mainly for this reason. I opened up a separate savings account last month solely for this reason. I'm a simple guy always have been. Decided not to own a vehicle and walk and ride public transportation on a daily basis. I lived in the damn woods for 49 days back in my early twenties to prove to myself life can be simple. I've been so immersed in the American culture my whole life and I want to make the leap and see if the grass can ever be greener for either side. How can I really enjoy what America has to offer if I don't spend some of my days experiencing how others live?
So, I'm really just asking for some help with places to look into in Mexico, the job market, resources to help with my journey. What are some of the next important steps I should take? Should I look into getting a tourist visa for the 6 month period? Use that time to find a place to live, talk to the locals, search for jobs in person?
I know there are so many options when it comes to making this decision. That's why I would love to hear what all you have to share.

Thank You,
Sincerely Chuck
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Old Apr 22nd, 2020, 05:22 PM
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Hey Chuck:
I have lived in Central Mexico for some 10 years now. Moved here at 55. Midwesterner as well, presently hunkered down in Nebraska while visiting our son when COVID hit the fan. Some random thoughts. You cannot legally work in Mexico as an employee, unless you have some specialized skill. You can however own your own business, but not as a tourist with an FMM (the so-called tourist visa). Legally/technically you cannot reside full-time in Mexico with only an FMM, but there are certainly people that do so. There are income requirements for residency, which you can review in a link I'll put at the end of this post. As far as learning Spanish, I agree with your take. We didn't start until we were in our late 40's. Additionally, being fluent in any language makes the travel/expat experience far richer if you're able to speak the local language. My wife and I traveled to Guatemala & Mexico to study/learn Spanish in addition to studying locally at a community college and devouring whatever other resources were available. Spanish language soap operas, music, and taking every opportunity to speak the language. Our experience with programs such as Rosetta Stone and Duolingo was that they were pretty elementary, and useful for primarily asking basic questions a tourist would ask and not for 'living' the language. Pimsleur was far superior. Regarding where to locate, generally the central highlands of Mexico and Central America have the best year round climates. Coastal areas are brutally hot and humid in the summer. Where I live, in San Miguel De Allende, rents are considered to be high in comparison to other parts of Mexico, but you can still rent a modest 2 bedroom home or apartment for under $300 US.
Feel free to send me a private message if you wish.

http://www.soniadiaz.mx

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Old Apr 23rd, 2020, 06:31 AM
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I've only visited Mexico as a tourist, but I have a friend who's lived and worked there for over twenty years. He taught English in San Luis Potosi (now retired). I do not know the details of how he began, but do know that his residency and employment has been legal for years. It's good that your tastes are simple (as are his) because the work doesn't pay much.

Another area he liked was Xalapa which I believe is in Veracruz state, but up in the mountains with a cooler and drier climate.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2020, 11:25 AM
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Hey, thank you so much for the reply. Its nice to know there are helpful people out there. My kind of big thing for me is if and when I decide to leave and give up my apartment. Which I cant afford to keep my apartment here and spend 3 months in Mexico. I don't really have much to fall back on here in the States(besides my job they will always take me back) so I really have to make the best of my experience. So, with your experience what would be the best way for me to enter Mexico for 3-6 months and find an apartment and maybe see what the job markets have to offer? My degree process after my associates was for secondary education\math. I didn't finish but are there ways in Mexico for me to get certified by them to teach?
The link you placed in your reply is an excellent sources. I will read deeper into that site.
I also was thinking that with this Corona virus impacting economies. Don't you think this would be a great time towards in the end of the summer to take advanage of the lows in the housing and the tourism parts. Its going to impact the entire world don't you agree? I'm willing to hear your advice on that. You're a bit older than me and with wisdom.
Every time I think of leaving it scares the sh#t out of me. I just want to be prepared but don't want to over think. I plan on going down with my back packing gear with whatever I get on my back. I keep myself from buying new things here in the States for this reason of wanting to leave. I can probably have about 10 grand saved up by the end of the summer. Planning on trying to make my adventure down there towards the end of Sept-Oct.
I'm sure Nebraska is just a blast at the moment too. I'm from Illinois and I think Nebraska is one of the worst states to ever drive-thru.
Thanks again for your time, Chuck.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2020, 03:54 PM
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My suggestion would be to get a job that allows you to work remotely before you head to Mexico. I stayed for a month with a friend in Oaxaca who works for a book service, Alibris. He began working for them in California & then moved to Mexico fulltime (a resident), works in the morning every weekday online in customer service for the site & none of his customers would have any idea he's not sitting in an office in the US. AND he's paid American wages.
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Old Apr 24th, 2020, 09:08 AM
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That is definitely something to look into. Appreciate your input. Once these lock downs end and I can get back to work. I will be able to communicate with my co-workers from Mexico. They may have some decent advice on how to move forward with this.I'm just gonna keep practicing Espanol and saving my money while doing research. When there's a will there's a way.
So, I'm guessing that if you can find a job in Mexico that employer will sponsor your residency visa? Which you can live and work in Mexico while that process goes through or do you have to wait till the whole process is complete before you can move there and work?
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Old Apr 24th, 2020, 02:15 PM
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Mexican immigration law prohibits businesses from hiring foreigners, unless they have some very specialized skill or trade that a Mexican citizen wouldn't have. So finding a job, that is, being hired by a business, just isn't going to happen I'm afraid. And even if you did have that skill, you'd need to have residency, as you cannot legally work in any capacity (even being self employed) holding an FMM (tourist card) as a tourist. And if you had enough income to qualify for residency, you wouldn't need a job. So, it's a catch-22. The lone exception would be the example of a transnational employer that sent you to work temporarily in some factory or other facility, typically in an administrative/management capacity. I know some expats (younger ones) that teach English on line to students in Asia. For my part, I started a business in the states that brought in passive income that I could manage remotely. But I started 5 years before I moved to Mexico full time. Back then, there were not the online opportunities that there are today.
It is true that COVID has hugely impacted the hospitality industry. I won't pretend to know what the situation will be in Mexico by the end of summer. We're prepared to be here in Omaha for several more months should conditions dictate. But we're hoping to return by mid-June. We have a friend that flew back to Seattle for a surgery and for his return and 14 day self quarantine, he booked an air bnb (entire apartment) for $7 a night US in San Miguel, where it probably normally rents for 8 times that. I will say that the current political and health care situation in Mexico is a complete dumpster fire, and the president tosses another tire on it almost daily. In 2 months the peso/dollar exchange rate has gone from about 18 to 25 to the dollar. That may change though, as inflation weakens the dollar. But the peso and Mexican economy is in even more trouble. But it may make travel for Americans very affordable. 10K should last you 6 months rather easily, I'd think. You sound like you're pretty frugal.
I might suggest driving your own car if it's dependable. While public transportation is comfy and cheap, there are some fantastically beautiful areas and charming pueblitos that just aren't readily reached by bus. If you've got several months, you'd have plenty of time to travel around. Plus I'd be leery of being on a bus with other travelers. A bus is probably better than a plane, however. Probably an Air bnb or VRBO is your best bet for short term rentals, and they're found throughout the country. Which would allow you to travel around instead of basing yourself in just a couple of areas.
Actually, we're enjoying our time here. We had bought a condo a few months back to use when we visit our son and rent out as an air bnb when we're not. But that plan has obviously been put on hold.
And it's been said that the best thing to come out of Nebraska is Interstate 80, lol.
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Old Apr 26th, 2020, 04:35 PM
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Chuck, fwiw, the link I'm attaching is an English language site that sources its articles from Mexican news outlets and then translates them. Normally they have a paywall, but for now, COVID articles are free. I thought it might be useful if you've not accessed it previously.
https://mexiconewsdaily.com
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Old Apr 27th, 2020, 03:18 PM
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Maybe I missed it but have you ever been to Mexico? Anywhere? On a vacation sometime maybe? I am not against your idea of a move, and it's wonderful you are studying Spanish. And I agree with the warmth of Mexican people generally speaking.
But before you let your studio apartment and current job go, could you take a little time off, do an exploratory trip and see what it's like even as a visitor? Visit a couple cities that are places you might want to settle down? Check out the restaurant scene there in person?
Just to get a feel for the country before jumping into the deep end of the pool.
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 02:17 PM
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I don't quite understand the suggestion to get an online job, when you are a sous-chef. remote jobs are generally white collar, office type jobs, that require some skills that are of use on a computer (like web design or something). Just doesn't sound like something possible in this case.

I have learned a language later in life. I just always wanted to learn French and didn't have the time until I was at least 30-35, I guess. Then I was out of grad school, in a regular job, and had more free time. I just took regular college classes as you would if you were a university language major, for several years at night. I was lucky I lived in a place that had very cheap tuition in community colleges. Then I liked it so much that I spent a couple summers in a language program at university in Paris (France does that a lot, I know Mexico has plenty of language classes, also, I have a friend who did one in Oaxaca). And I continued by reading it (newspapers, books), belonging to a language club, etc. , and continually taking a class at least once in a year in advanced topics or just conversation.

Anyone can do that if you live in a fairly decent sized city. I am not a fan nor do I believe anyone can learn a language with tapes, etc. A lot of them you are just mimicking people saying things and you never really learn to construct a sentence or the basics of grammar you need to understand how to do that. I think they are find for brushing up or as an adjunct, though, I use them myself sometimes to brush up "speaking" before a vacation where I use a language (I have studied Spanish quite a bit also, but can't speak it as well as French). I also don't believe you can learn a language by watching TV, which I've heard.

I don't think it's just a matter of "respect", either, it's just common sense that if you supposedly want to move to a country long term, you should learn the language to live there. Obviously. Otherwise, you are always an outsider, visitor, etc. I don't even understand people who do that but I've met plenty of them in France, it's very weird. Or people who supposedly love a place to much they just have to move there (like Paris) but are too lazy to even study the language. Also, you can't even do basic things that way to be part of the country, like read the newspaper, listen to the news, etc.

So my advice is find real classes, the Midwest is a big place. Then maybe go to Mexico for some language classes fulltime for some weeks, and then you'll get more of a flavor for the place.

Of course you can't learn a language very well in a few months at all. Better than nothing though. What do you mean exactly that you've been "making steps" to learning the language? Just do it, take classes. Real classes, not classes for tourists. I actually find Spanish harder than French, to be honest, the verbal structures and tenses I think are more complicated. But being an English speaker, it's not totally weird a language to learn. Don't worry about someone claiming it's so different in Mexico than Spain, etc. It's the same basic language and structure, just a few words for certain things are different. I have trouble understanding certain accents (like Cuban or Argentinean) but not Mexicans too much. El Salvadoreans are fairly easy to understand for me. I just learned basic Castellano.

OF course with COVID, schools are closed anyway, so you can't really do any real in-class studies, too bad. Because I think that gets you in the mood better than studying alone at home online, also, and you learn to speak more spontaneously, even at a beginning level, when you have to interact with others. I have no recommendation for online courses, I've tried some and just don't think they are that good. I don't believe in the method of learning without reading, either. I have used Pimsleur to brush up and if I didn't already know the language, for example, I wouldn't even know the correct spelling or understand some of the words they use. Nor the grammatical structure. So I would not do just oral but include some workbooks. I have a couple I bought on Amazon that are of some use. this is one
https://www.amazon.com/Practical-Spanish-Grammar-Self-Teaching-Guide/dp/0471134465/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=marcial+prado&qid=1593121478&sr=8-1 https://www.amazon.com/Practical-Spanish-Grammar-Self-Teaching-Guide/dp/0471134465/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=marcial+prado&qid=1593121478&sr=8-1

this is another one
https://www.amazon.com/Exacto-Practical-Guide-Spanish-Grammar/dp/0071396519/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=exacto+guide+spanish&qid=1593121605&sr=8-1 https://www.amazon.com/Exacto-Practical-Guide-Spanish-Grammar/dp/0071396519/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=exacto+guide+spanish&qid=1593121605&sr=8-1

Now Spanish has the advantage that you can listen to all kinds of Spanish on TV all day long, for free. At least you can where I live, there are several Spanish language channels, mainstream. Not sure it would help any if you don't know Spanish at all, but why not. Maybe the Spanish version of the morning news shows (Despierta America) or their version of various competition shows (dancing, singing, etc.).

My brother learned Spanish fluently by joining the Peace Corps and being sent to El Salvador. I don't think they do that anymore as it's too dangerous, though. They do still work in Costa Rica and Mexico, though, that's an idea. You have to have some skill, ideally. Your cooking skills might work not sure. I think they usually want someone with a college degree.

Look at this page and see if anything is enticing, at least they pay you a stipend and send you to language school first (I think my brother had to do Spanish immersion for at least 6 weeks before he went).
https://www.peacecorps.gov/mexico/

This is NOT some cushy lifestyle, though. The stipend is decent to allow you to live well enough in those places, though, and it's quite an experience. My brother was basically an agricultural volunteer, they work with farmers, on environmental issues, crops, etc. This is a description of that job
https://www.peacecorps.gov/stories/t...ure-volunteer/

Not sure if your cooking experience will help but you could call and find out before spending more time on it, probably. They do accept 5 yrs of professional experience instead of college degrees for some openings. And you do have an Associates Degree, so that's good. I'm thinking the agricultural or environmental jobs might work for you. Due to COVID, they aren't sending people until 2021 but that's not that far off.
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 02:18 PM
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sorry I didn't realize that was so long until it posted, well, maybe you can get something out of it
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Old Jun 25th, 2020, 07:40 PM
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I don't quite understand the suggestion to get an online job,
Christina, it's because, if you'd have read some prior posts, foreigners can't legally work in Mexico as a tourist. Nor can they legally be hired as an employee even with a residency visa if it's a job that another Mexican national can do. Sous chefs in Mexico are plentiful. So your post, while sort of informative, doesn't apply here.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 08:55 AM
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Of course learning a second language is easier as a young person. I lived in Miami from the age of 10 through HS, and in 6th grade we all took Spanish from a Cuban refugee. She really drilled us on pronunciation, so my first advice is to really get that down (and learn to count and to pronounce the alphabet). Then you will at least be able to read a sentence and be understood, or to spell your name and understand how much something costs. It was easier for me to add on to that 10-year old foundation including the dialogues that are drilled into your head when I later took Spanish in HS and then College. I keep expanding my written knowledge by reading online newspapers in Spanish, so that now I can translate about 80% of what I read.

As an adult I find that Andean Spanish (eg Peru or Colombia) is easier to understand than Spanish from Spain or Mexican accented Spanish (which I do hear a lot of here where I live in Southern California). But I was able to function well enough on a recent one-month visit in Mexico.

A good friend was a HS Spanish teacher and she recommended that I brush up with the book "Spanish for Dummies". She also likes learning Spanish through singing songs. And listen to Spanish language cartoons (since you will speak like a 6-year old for a while anyways). Don't worry too much about the tenses at first. I always find those are the hardest to remember when I've been away for a while.

I do know a few people (from Mexico and Ecuador) who learned English from television and then of course practicing a lot to improve their accents to be understood. I do think some people have a talent for it and some don't.

Last edited by mlgb; Jun 26th, 2020 at 09:00 AM.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 12:48 PM
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By what Chuck posted... I did not get the impression he had ever even been to Mexico. To me that would be the place to start. Visit in person, spend at least a month or two, in the city/town/village where you are considering relocation.
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Old Jun 26th, 2020, 03:46 PM
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"As an adult I find that Andean Spanish (eg Peru or Colombia) is easier to understand than Spanish from Spain or Mexican accented Spanish"
I agree. Especially so I think if you studied in a more formal, classroom setting. In my first ever class, the instructor, a Colombiano, asked me a question in Spanish, and I replied ¿mande? as all my Mexican friends would've responded. He quickly rebuked me and said, don't use that word, use 'como'. I asked why and he said "mande" is like how a servant would respond to a superior. That said, at least in Lima, if you ask a taxi driver to take you to a "playa pública" you'll end up in a parking lot.
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Old Jun 27th, 2020, 08:31 PM
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Don’t be afraid to leave the US. If there were not family ties and illness, I would have moved several years ago. I have family in New Zealand and in the Caribbean. One Woman has lived in NZ for forty plus years and is now a citizen. The other Person will apply for citizenship in her Caribbean country as soon as she is eligible, another three years. It is not that the grass is greener, it is just different and their new countries fit them very well. They had both traveled a lot and lived in many places before choosing. Of course, different places within the US also provide different lifestyles. It is personal.
I am just throwing this out for your consideration.
It might actually be too difficult to do now with the COVID-19 situation, but if you could delay for a couple of years and finish college, perhaps math with a minor in Spanish, there are international schools in many places. I don’t personally know about Mexico, but there definitely are in other Spanish speaking countries. That would set you up for more job opportunities as a foreigner. More education gives you more career And work options.
You might also use your savings to spend a month or two in each of two different places in an immersion course, staying with a local family. You may never want to return to the States or you may want to try new countries, or even, be happy to come back.

Last edited by Sassafrass; Jun 27th, 2020 at 08:33 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old Jun 28th, 2020, 03:18 PM
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Sassafrass, Wise words!! As you see our OP never came back since the few days he posted back in April. Of all the good things you mentioned to me this is key: They had both traveled a lot and lived in many places before choosing. I asked but he never replies, if austinbrown had ever even visited Mexico. He doesn't speak Spanish. Not that either of those would stop him from going ahead. But either of them would make it a more realistic move.
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Old Jun 28th, 2020, 06:53 PM
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Yes! Both were well prepared, speaking several languages, traveling as much as possible, having educations that allowed choices. Besides vacation and work travel, both lived in several countries for months to years at a time. Around age forty, they each seem to find their “home.” They both love cultural activities like museums and opera, and walking in a woods, but for daily life, one likes the convenience of a city. The other likes the simplicity of a small island. It would be nice to know what the OP decides to try. He has no responsibilities, so nothing to lose.

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Old Jun 29th, 2020, 11:38 AM
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I'm guessing we will never know.

It is always interesting to me (and you do read this often on travel forums) when someone decides they are going pack up and move to a different country seemingly without any research about what is required, how realistic their idea is, finances and legal paperwork required, etc. But mostly without ever even having even visited! How do they know they'd like it there? Just because you have some friendly and generous Mexican co-workers hardly seems a good enough reason
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Old Jun 29th, 2020, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by suze View Post
It is always interesting to me (and you do read this often on travel forums) when someone decides they are going pack up and move to a different country . . . without ever even having even visited!
In 1988 I moved from L.A. to Bisee AZ, a small town of 5000 where I'd spent time over several years. About a year later an L.A. friend called to tell me he was moving to Bisbee too, never having been there. He did & was there for years. During that time I made a number of trips to Asia & usually included time in Thailand. One day James told me he'd decided to move to Thailand, never having been there. As far as I know he's still there after 10+ years. I guess there are many ways to find a place.
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