If you move to Mexico, keeping your US bank account and opening a Mexico bank account will depend if you are going to live here full time. If you are, you need both US and Mexico bank accounts because you’re going to work with pesos. If you keep saying, “Well, back in Canada, this would cost me $8,” you’re never going to figure out the value of what you have in your pocket. You have to work with pesos. I make a peso living, and I have a peso account. I can go to the ATM and draw out pesos. You go to your US bank ATM and draw out in dollars, and you’re constantly subject to exchange rate fluctuations.
Even though the peso is falling a lot, we still pay the same amount for a sack of cement. That means that actually, construction is cheaper now than it was 5 years ago because of the exchange rate. On the other hand, some things that are tied to the dollar are still going to go up. For example, since most of the steel doesn’t come from Mexico, the price of that is going to go up, but tile, brick, cement, dirt and sand haven’t increased in peso terms. If you figure it in dollars, it actually costs you less to build a house today than 5 years ago, because if you spend in dollars, you don’t spend as many because your dollar goes further now than it did 5 years ago.
You need to have both accounts, and it’s not hard to do. You can live for a while with your dollars and draw it out of the ATM, but sooner or later, it’s just a lot easier to pay bills if you’ve got a peso account. Check writing is not a common thing in Mexico, and I get really frustrated with that because if I have to write a check for someone, it’s like a red light goes off, and Mexico City and they think, “Oh my God, somebody has written a check. How are we going to handle this?”
(Deep terrace and chimney in home, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)