For me, living in Mexico is a challenge because I don’t speak good Spanish. If you spoke really good Spanish, you’d get by a lot easier. I’m not good with languages and I’ve never buckled down, which is my mistake.
Things are different. It’s a much slower pace. In Mexico, and in particular, the beach communities feel like you have stepped back in time a little bit. Everybody’s got a cell phone, no doubt, and almost every who can, has a computer, but they still have a backward way of looking at it. My theory, and only my theory, is that Mexico has historically been a country of “haves and have not.” You were one of the rich people or you were one of the laborers. As a laborer, your patron took care of you from cradle to grave. You had no real incentive to work hard, get ahead, to get to be the boss, because that was never going to happen. Now, you find the younger people using the Internet and they see what’s going on in the rest of the world. Now, they want those jeans and those tennis shoes.
Mexico is not really a Third World country but I would certainly say it’s a developing country. There’s lots of corruption and there’s lots of graft. The street cops make about $10 a day, so there’s no incentive for them to write you a ticket and send you to the normal channels. You just give them some money and you can go on your way.
So living here can be a challenge of adjusting, mostly to a different way of thinking. People don’t eat until 10 o’clock at night. They nap every afternoon. The stores are open from 10 o’clock in the morning to 1 PM. They close until 4 in the afternoon and then they open until 8. This is true even with doctors, dentists, and hospitals. Everybody has that sort of strange schedule; there’s no “8 to 5.” So that’s difficult to deal with. Just that having to learn the new system on how things are done can be tough, because it’s very frustrating, especially if you’ve lived a lifetime in the US.
The other part is, even when my children were small, I had never lived in a place where I had such a sense of community. When you run into another expat, it’s like you’re friends instantly. It’s a very, very different life to live in a foreign country and have most of the people that you communicate with day in and day out to also be foreigners. The expats are like magnets to each other. I can actually be driving or walking down the street and look down the way and cross the street, and I can tell you whether the other person is a gringo or a Mexican, even if I can only see the back of him. Expats walk differently. It’s kind of eerie.
That sense of community is what keeps me here. Of course, on a personal note, my artwork keeps me here. I sell a lot of art and it is what I love doing. And thank goodness, because I don’t know what I’d do all day. So I like that about living in Mexico. I don’t like the long distances to get of here. Mazatlan is best spot, beach wise. I would not belong in Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco or Playa Del Carmen. More people would speak English but it’s a little too flashy for me
It’s typical to fly in and out in Mexico. You can fly to Puerto Vallarta, Playa Del Carmen, Cancun, etc. via cheap round trip tickets. Getting in and out of Mazatlan is pricey and not so easy, so that can be frustrating.
Here in Mazatlan, Mexico, I can afford to have a handyman. My husband is not here anymore so I have this kid who comes several days a week and it doesn’t cost me hardly anything. The downside of that is, because of that, I have to do extra to look out for his family. How can I not? If they’re hungry, I’m going to get them some food. I don’t want the three little kids to go hungry.
Sometimes it can be difficult to deal with the poverty, and there is real poverty. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t have a beggar at my door. This is partly because I live in a single-family dwelling and it’s easy to walk up and ring my doorbell. Probably at a high-rise condo, that just doesn’t happen. So you do find yourself having to help people with their medicine. I just had to give my handyman 2,000 pesos (US $121.20) the other day extra because his kids got dengue. And he was really sick, so he had to go to the hospital. What are you going to do? I can’t let the kid die. I’ve never experienced that in the US, unless it was my own family. And certainly in the US, I wouldn’t have a beggar at my door. It might be on the street corner but they’re not going to be knocking on my door.
I would recommend living here. Overall, you can live here cheaper, and you can get pretty decent medical care. If it gets to be a serious problem, you probably want to go home, especially if you’re on Medicare. I pay for most of my medicine out of pocket.
I don’t want to go back to the US. Sometimes it’s frustrating as it can be. I’d rather go visit a couple of times a year and take my car and come back with my art supplies and some groceries that I like having, but stay here in Mazatlan. Here in Mazatlan, I have a nice little house. I’ve got about $125, 000 invested in it. It’s a perfect space for me. Sometimes it’s really the distance to the US that probably I would have to tell you is my most daunting issue.