Saturday, December 24, 2011

San Angelo 08

They are busy hoisting these things near the North side of the city.....

San Angelo 08 from San Angelo 08 on Vimeo.

Here is the official Link.

Aesthetically speaking, I am sure there this place will be very beautiful once they finish it. My guess would be another 2 years to complete it out since they have been working on it for six months already and still are not done with the subterranean parking garage. But a few more things I might point out....
  • As you can see from the American flag on the bottom of one of the website pages, they may be counting on expats to help sell this thing through.
  • Mexicans keep different hours from Canadians and Americans, for the most part. Mexicans are extremely loud, on average, and do not respect their neighbors as readily, i.e. stereos, parties, anything that generates noise. What I am saying is that living in an adult living environment in MX is comensurate with dorm life for college kids at say UCLA or the University of Texas.
  • This entire buildings will be made mostly of concrete and steel. Sound will reverberate through this entire structure like a tuning fork, unless they take the time to insulate the walls.
  • I believe these will be the tallest buildings in Merida when completed. This will garner much attention, at least at first. 
  • The views will be ?????. You are 19 miles from the coast and are overlooking brush covered fields around the Periferico Hwy. But hey, at least you can see Wal Mart from your living room. 
  • Not sure how they are pricing them but I would be interested to see if they will be higher than they should be. That is what many real estate ventures in MX and the U.S these days. Las Fincas is an example. LF is now selling double lots for the price of one at that development. It is a sign that the developers overextended themselves. I know. I physically walked the development with Fransisco (my attorney) and saw them charging $350K for base models before upgrades or a pool. Just an example of the cycle these great development ideas run here. And Las Fincas was designed, in part, with the advisory of paid U.S. land developers to draw in American buyers and consumers. Apparently they are struggling with selling through on it now.
My advice, if you are dead set on moving here, is to come down and rent for at least six months to a year while you educate yourself on this real estate market. They don't have an MLS system here like the U.S. so prices in this market are floating all over the place. Come down and buy land and build to your specs and preferences or buy some huge run down structure, gut it and build it up with a great plan. That is what I would do.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Number of Expats in Merida

INM in Merida on Avenida Colon
In October, while renewing our visas at INM (Immigration), I asked one of the ladies working there how many expats (Canadians, Americans, Cubans, ......) actually live here in Merida/Progresso. She couldn't tell me exactly but she did say that they handle 50 scheduled or walk-in appointments a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year in the Merida immigration office. That comes out to 12,500 actual appointments a year.
Now, everyone goes in for at least 2 appointments during the application/renewal process on the visas. The first is to turn in your paperwork and application. The second is to actually receive your visa, usually about 2 to 3 weeks later. So that would cut the number of people in half to 6,250 going into the INM office twice a year. Are you with me?

Now there is an immigration (INM) office in Progresso to alleviate the pressure on the Merida office. However, they are very lightly staffed and you have to live in Progresso or neighboring beach towns to use that office. I have been in that office twice, once with my attorney Fransisco, and they usually only have one lady working the front desk. I can't imagine that they get around to handling more than 10 people a day, judging from the workload of 50 appointments a day in Merida. The Merida office always has at least 5 or 6 people processing apps at any one given time. With that said, I am assuming that Progresso processes about 50 appointments a week, 2,500 per year. That would cut in half the number of actual people to 1,250 since everyone processes in-and-out on two appointments set a few weeks apart.
National Flags of Latin American Countries
Most of the expats in Progresso are retirees from Canada or the United States. They probably make up 95% or more of the traffic in that office. But the INM office in Merida is another story. I have been in that office four times now. And of the expats that I have seen in there no more than 25% of them actually look to be Canadians or Americans. Most of the time they look to be, at least to me, Spanish speaking immigrants from Latin American Countries like Cuba, Puerto Rico or Columbia.

So let's say, rounding up, that 30% of the 6,250 applicants processed annually through the Merida office are Canadian and American. That comes out to around 2,000 people. Then you have somewhere around 1,500 people being processed through the Progresso office of which about 95% or more fly the CAD or USA flag.

Then you have to factor in those expats that have already attained Inmigrado status through Immigration and are no longer being processed on an annual basis. My best guess on that number.......Let's say 1,000 of those people in Merida. I have never met an American or Canadian with inmigrado status so I think 1,000 is awfully generous.

That's 2,000 in Merida plus 1,500 in Progresso/Chelem plus maybe another 1,000 seasoned-veteran Inmigrados. I get somewhere in the neighborhood of 4,500 Canadian and U.S. expats in Merida/Progresso/Chelem/ or minus 500.

The expat community here is not very large in comparison to the overall population which is well over 1 million. You are talking maybe less than one half of one one percent of the population. I have .4% of the population, an incredibly minuscule fraction of the people.

Even amongst foreign expats, Americans and Canadians are a minority within an extreme minority. And if you are going to be involved with people here on a broad basis then guess what you are going to want to be able to do?  That's right....Speak Spanish. It doesn't mean you won't meet people that speak English. You will. But it is not the majority of people.

Just an insider's view not based on a financial agenda.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Set It On The Curb

Since I have now seen this happen twice I will write about it. About two months ago I set out a partial roll of unused chicken wire fencing to be picked up by the sanitation department. I had used the wire fencing material in the design of our large bird cage (Click Here).
Within two hours the stuff was gone. Someone had picked it up off the curb to use it in spite of the fact that the metal was half-way rusted through. Yet someone was still willing to take it. 

This morning I set out a large bag of dog food that we had bought from Sam's Club. We had tried some new dog food with our beloved Missy but she didnt' take to it to well. So, I thought I would just set it out  on the curb and see if anyone would take it. Sure enough, the bag of already opened dog food was gone within about 30 minutes.

We know a Canadian couple that owns a bed and breakfast in Centro. When remodeling some time ago they had some old sheet metal from the property that they set on the curb for trash pickup. The neighbors came out by the droves to carry it all off and use it for themselves.

Imagine watching an ant colony kill and dissect a dead insect and then carry it off for consumption. That is about what I am talking about.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Exchange Rate - November 2011

Saw this article on Yahoo today. It is in Spanish so if you have an automatic translator it will convert it over for you. Basically the exchange rate is continuing to move to new short term highs in favor of the U.S. Dollar. This is of great importance to expats living abroad, specifically here in Mexico.

How would you like to experience a 25% decrease in the cost of living over a six month period? Expats in Mexico have since May. The Peso/Dollar exchange rate has gone to $14.30 MXP to $1.00 USD today. Economists are expecting this trend to continue through Christmas with a move to 15/1 sometime before the end of the year.

FYI. Enjoy it while you can. I really think this has more to do with keeping Mexican manufacturing productive since 85% of all goods manufactured in MX are sent to the U.S.A. Those American imports are thus paid for in U.S. Dollars, keeping demand for dollars high, amongst other reasons.

Recuarda, "Hecho en Mexico."


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Good Insurance Agent

I have posted in the past on car insurance for Mexico (Click Here). Let me make one modification to my recommendation. Use a local agent that will get you the same policy who is also available 24/7 and is accountable, accessible and understands your needs. I am not saying MexAdventure won't fulfill their responsiblities. I am just saying it is better to work through Locals if you can. This is one of the things I am learning.

I have a policy with HDI through MexAdventure but I don't have a local sale rep through whom I originated the policy. If I had it to do over again I would go the route of the local rep who hooks you up with the insurance agency. That way you have a local contact who will do everything in their power to take care of your needs.

This is the local agent I recommend, Julieta Morales Vera. This is her website. She gives excellent customer service, she is bilingual and she has a good reputation among the expats I have talked to. If/When I renew my policy I will start it over and use her. You need a good local rep on the ground who knows the city. For that I recommend Julieta. Here is her email and contact info: (786) 342-0569
Telcel: 9991 63 35 61
Iusacel: 9999 49 31 32
Seguros Mérida - Oficina 
Calle 72A No. 489 x 17 Col. Garcia Gineres
C.P. 97070 Mérida, Yucatán, México
Oficina: (999) 285 72 82

I would highly recommend that you pay a few dollars more for full coverage. Contact her and she can explain the details. This is one of the areas that you definitely want to get right when living abroad.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Schooling for the Kids and Learning Spanish

My advice to you if you are moving here with school-aged children:

Don't wait until you get here before you start immersing them in a good language program. Do that now. Why? If/when you move here you are going to want to put your kids in school at some point, even if you homeschool the first year after you arrive. Our kids are now enrolled in a private school and are doing well socially. But one of our sons is going through a bigger adjustment academically than we thought would happen.

Por ejemplo (for example): He is doing the same level of math this year in his Spanish curriculum that he did in last years English home-school curriculum with a few things added in. But he is adjusting to some aspects of the this years course study more slowly because they are speaking on a more advanced level with regards to Spanish verbs in the command form. Now his teachers are telling me that his Spanish is improving. But when we are studying and doing his homework in History, Geography, Ethics and Civic Studies....whatever, it is taking longer for us to decipher the written text in those classes because much of the vocabulary and verb conjugation is new to both he and I. Mexican History, as an example is obviously going to be spoken almost exclusively in the past tense. That means the verbs fluctuate between preterite and co-pretertie with regards to all all five verb tenses of me, you, him/her, them and us.

Confused yet?

And both he and I have finished the first three and one-half levels of Spansh studies from Even if your kids have taken some of these courses, which I strongly advise that you do in advance of moving here, there is still an adjustment period for them in the language and in their course study. Some nights I spend two hours translating text with my son just to get him to a point where he can read and decipher the content of his course studies. In doing so we utilize Google Translate quite extensively along with a good Spanish dictionary.

And on top of that, if your child's teachers are not understanding of the adjustments they are going through and they grade them like they should be fluent, well, let's just say not every teacher in the world understands the word "curve". Some here do and some don't. I have already had at least three sit downs with my son's teachers. We love them and are grateful for the opportunities God has given our children and they are learning and growing. Not everything comes easy with that and you just have to understand that this will involve you with their homework, preparation for upcoming tests and general levels of encouragement more than maybe if they were going to schools where everyone speaks your native tongue.

Get a good language program like The Learnables before you come down. Learn as much Spanish as you can before you arrive. You will be glad you did and so will your children. If you have questions email me. We are glad to help and give feedback.



P.S. Just because a school in Merida says they are bilingual doesn't mean they are really bilingual. The bulk of the course studies will be in Spanish more than likely. If the teacher teaching those courses speaks very little English and they are not understanding of your situation, you will be wishing your kids spoke more Spanish. Study Spanish now.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


We just got our visas renewed about two weeks ago. Overall it was about a three week process. While we are grateful that everything went smoothly and the process is over, I am not going to write in detail about it because Visa laws in Mexico have changed. The new laws are to go into effect as of January 1, 2012 from what I have been told. Because of this, much of what I might write on may not be applicable in the next 60 days or so.

I do want to point out that we did receive help from Yucatan Expatriate Services (YES). They offer a wide variety of immigration, legal and property management services for expats. Adriana and Betty are bilingual and do answer emails promptly which I appreciated. I even caught Betty about to leave for the day when we dropped in at the office. She offered to stay and help us out with an issue even though we offered to come back later. This was very curteous and helpful on her part and very much appreciated by my wife and I.

They helped me to get my required cover letters typed and filled out properly for my renewals. I had already done my forms on line which they do offer to do for you. Their visa renewal assistance fee is only $250 MXP per person if you retain them to handle all issues for you. That comes out to less than $20 per person. Good deal if you ask me.

If you need anything they are a good resource in not only my opinion but other expats as well.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Weather and Seasons in Merida

Invierno (Winter). Primavera (Spring). Verano (Summer). Otono (Fall). Merida does have four annual seasons. They are just not as pronounced as the seasons in the continental United States. Texas and Oklahoma have very distinguishable seasons that last about 3 months per season so there is never any doubt as to what time of year it is.

From what I have seen over the past year, the four seasons of the year generally unfold in the Yucatan in the following order:
  • Invierno - December through February
  • Primavera - March through Mid April
  • Verano - Mid April through September (Mid July to September is rainy season)
  • Otono - October and November
It doesn't get cold here in the winter. It's basically about 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit for a high each day for about three months in Merida proper. You can subtract about 5 to 10 degrees off of all of these numbers for the beach towns north of here.

I still don't understand why Costco and Sam's sell winter clothing here but they do. And the Yucatecos buy them. And when you have a dip in temps them come out all bundled up. It's actually kind of funny to see.

Spring was the shortest month this year and lasted about 6 weeks. When I say Spring I mean that it didn't feel cold or hot in the midday. It just fell somewhere in between. It's pleasant and fresh outside.

Summers here are harder to endure and last at least 6 months a year. Combine the higher temperatures with the blanketing humidity and you will feel like heading back north every year just to remember what cold weather feels like. Summer is when you get heavy seasonal rains, specifically from July through mid September. During that time it rains almost every day for at least 10 minutes at a time, maybe twice a day, usually in the afternoons.

Fall weather started almost on a dime on October 1st. From what I remember last year it ended at or around December 1st.

I really miss winters in the U.S. I miss all of the seasons. Every season has noticeable smells in the air and sights that seem to mark them that you just don't experience here. The smell of burning firewood and chimney smoke in the winter, occasional snow in Texas, the smell of fresh honeysuckle in the springtime, fresh water lakes in the summer, the beautiful fall colors of trees as their leaves change over.....You just don't take in all of that here.

Everything here is just a little more bland. There are going to be things you are going to miss when you move here. These are some of the things my family and I miss. Sights, sounds, tastes, ......Some things back home just seem irreplaceable sometimes. Where's a Kleenex?


Monday, October 10, 2011

Speaking of Food...............

There are three restaurants that my family and I really enjoy frequenting here in the Yucatan.

First, La Tradicion.

La Tradicion is located on Calle 60 north of the Centro area. This was where I first had Panuchos and sopa de Lima, two of my favorite Yucatecan foods. When you come down you need to catch a cab here for dinner. I highly recommend it. La Comida del ayer, hoy. Yesterday's food today. It's delicious.

My second restaurant recommendation is Eladios at the beach in Progresso. 

My recommendation is to order your drinks and let them bring you endless finger foods. I took a client there with a couple of Yucatecos and we basically all filled up on every type of Yucatecan finger food imaginable (seafood, sauteed/flavored veggies, ......) and when we were done, after two rounds of drinks, paid a grand total of $20 USD for a party of four. Not Bad. And to top it of....

...You get a tremendous view of the beach right at the base of the pier plus all of the gulf breezes blowing across your face. Just sit back and enjoy.

My final recommendation is for people with kids. If you move here and start getting settled in you need someplace to go where the little ones can play and blow off steam while you sit back and talk and eat. We like Los Trompos at City Center on the northside. 

Upstairs has adult dining with a large indoor play area for the kids. Downstairs is where adult only parties sit. The food is typical Mexican food from outside the Yucatan, not Yucateco food. It is very popular however with the locals and gets quite busy at most of it's locations around the city. The food is not expensive, the restaurant is always clean and the service has always been very good, especially if you tip 15% or more.

These are just a few recommendations.  Hope this helps.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sanitation Essentials and Preventing Sickness

The following is a good way to try and keep yourself healthy when you live here. Besides exercise and generally eating well, you are going to have to take some precautionary measures to reduce the risk of you getting sick from improper HACCP in restaurants and grocery stores (See Previous Post) and from catching things caused by the poor hygiene standards of others. I find this to be especially applicable for kids that go to school and for the elderly.

I know people can and do get sick everywhere. But one thing you will find when you move here to Merida is that your immune system is not yet ready to fend off some of the challenges it is going to face in the first months of living here. Some of this will seem like common sense but you will find that the emphatic use of these things may not be common practice for you where you are coming from. Here goes:

Germans make good stuff!
Take Vitamins. Vivioptal is a brand that is affordable and seems to work quite well for our family. It is sold pretty much everywhere (Costco, Sam's, Wal Mart, .....). We buy ours at Costco.

Vitamins are cheaper and the selection is better North of the Border so I would recommend you bring your own every time you make a trip down. Always try and bring a 60 to 120 supply. If not, that's ok. You have some good selections here. This is one of them. Stores also sell good children's liquid vitamins here that don't have a bunch of sugar in it. Again, you will have some choices.

I already gave you my personal story on this HERE.  I can't emphasize to you enough how important it is to take this at least every six months or more. We keep a running supply of it in the house, both the children's liquid form and the adult tablets. You get a better deal on this stuff at Costco or Sam's. Take it as often as you see fit.

If I were to do this again, and this is not medical advice, I would take this every 30 to 60 days for the first six months.

I know this seems like a no-brainer but we wash our hands constantly. I would recommend you especially do so after handling cash money here. See my link on Vermox to understand why.

Wash Often!!!

Antibacterial Hand Gel. My family and I never really used it until we moved here. Now we buy it in 175 gallon drums at Sam's. I keep a 4 Liter bottle of it next to the kitchen sink. I also carry a small bottle of it in the glove box of my truck and whenever we pick up the kids from school I make them both take a bath in it.

For a good laugh on this, click here. Very Funny!

I wipe my kitchen counters down with these almost daily. Why? Because we have alot of large roaches in Merida. I will get to handling those in a minute. But they do spread a bacteria and you will see your fair share of them in your home, even if you spray daily for them. They crawl up out of the drains from the city sewers so you need to spray your drains as well.

Before we moved to Merida my wife and I were foster parents in Texas. We had a little girl for over a year who had a lingering bacterial infection in her blood from previously living in a home with roaches. Wipe your counters down even if you rarely see them.  And with that said......

They sell this stuff at Costco....Gun and everything. We go through a gallon every 60 days or so. Even if you don't have bugs in your yard or drains you may have a neighbor who does. That means they crawl over your neighbors wall and into your house.
My wife absolutely hates roaches. Not that I am a big fan of them but she despises them. I spray my house all the time and they just keep showing up dead around the house. There is nothing you can do about it except spray. It is hot to moderately warm year-round here. The humidity and temp just breeds them along with other things. Nothing you can do but aim and shoot...and be prepared to sweep up the collateral damage the next day.

Everyone...this is Microdyn. Microdyn....everyone. Guys, seriously, I had never heard of this stuff until we moved here. If we are going to boil and cook pasta with sink water we purify the water with this first.

If you are going to eat fruits and vegetables....soak them in this first with sink water. are eating fruits and vegetables picked by people that, when they need to go to the bathroom in a third world country, just squat and go right there in the field. And I have no idea what they are using to wipe with.

Always soak your fruits and vegetables in this stuff before consuming. They sell it in larger bottles at Sam's and Costco. Apply liberally.

I am not sure even this guy could drink the tap water in Mexico and come out alive. Yucatecos don't drink their own tap water so why would Yanks or Cads????

Guys will deliver it to your door twice a week if needed.

When we first moved here someone told me that you could brush your teeth with sink water and it not be a problem. I don't agree with that advice in your first six months here. Your immune system is not prepared for it. Later maybe but not at the start.

My youngest son was getting diarrhea from doing that so we switched to bottled water when brushing teeth.

And last but not least, before you eat, Pray over your food. Why?

"The horse is made ready for the day of battle but victory rests with the Lord." Proverbs 21:31

God Bless


HACCP. It's an acronym that stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. You can walk into any food service establishment in the U.S. and every manager in the building can probably tell you what HACCP means. HACCP is a system that is developed by restaurants to control the spread of food borne illnesses. Wikipedia defines food borne illnesses as any illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated foods, pathogenic bacteria, viruses or parasites. 

I used to be an Olive Garden manager so I am familiar with HACCP. Food Storage practices, proper cooking temperatures, proper heating and cooling of foods, sanitized cutting boards, how you work with raw meats, using tongs when cooking and serving, washing your hands .....the list goes on. All of these fit within the practice of HACCP. What does this have to do with Merida? Take a look at the following two pictures.

Bienvenidos a Wal Mart. Wal Mart knows better than this. I was also a Sam's Club manager and believe me, every bakery and meat department manager and associate in Wal Mart/Sam's Club in the continental U.S. knows HACCP. You would get fired for doing this in the states.

There were meat toppings on some of those pizzas. They are being served at room temperature for hours at a time. There are no food service tongs meaning people are grabbing food with their hands, including kids. People can cough and sneeze within 15 feet of that table and everything coming out of their mouths can land on that food. I could keep going.

In every major restaurant company and grocery chain in the U.S. you have Quality Assurance/Compliance departments that are meant to make sure that their stores exceed Health Department standards so that no one winds up on the evening news for the wrong reasons. When we lived in San Antonio, TX we would constantly see Mexican Taqueria's being covered on the news because they were being shut down for improper HAACP and rodent infestations.

I am seriously doubting that they have the same QA standards or procedures here. Many companies from north of the border only do what Mexican Law requires of them and little if anything else. You need to be aware of this and take precautionary measures for you and your family if you choose to live here. What precautionary measures? I will list them on the next post.


Meaning of the name "Merida"

I was curious as to the meaning of the name Merida. I found this today.
The city of Merida, Mexico was named after the Spanish city Merida. The original name of this town in Spain was "Emerita Augusta" and was then shortened to Merida. So, Merida is a shortened version of Emerita. This is a Latin name meaning "a woman who has achieved a place of honor." Since Merida is a derivative I would say that it would carry the same meaning in much the same way that Sally and Sadie have the same meaning as Sarah.
I found the info at this link.

Wikipedia seems to generally confirm the above info.
The name of Mérida in Spain comes from the Latin form Emerita Augusta, from Emeritus, one who has merit, in reference to Roman soldiers who were licensed from the army.
Muy Interestante. Very Interesting.   

Merida, Spain....a formerly Roman city.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hotels in Tampico and Villahermosa

Since we are on the subject of hotels, here are a couple of recommendations. If you have been reading up on driving down in our previous posts and other blogs and websites, most people agree that stopping in Tampico on your first day's driving down and Villahermosa on your second night is the best idea.

As for these two cities, I don't feel that my safety is in jeopardy in Villahermosa but Tampico is a city I don't particularly like. The last time I drove down in May, 2011 with another expat we drove up on a murder scene. Because of this I advise you to stay in reputable hotels like Holiday Inn right on the main road through the city. When we stayed there we saw Haliburton contractors in the hotel so I am assuming it has a good reputation. It has secured parking in the back and is very clean. The staff was very friendly, they have a nice pool and lounging area outside, a functioning bar. You can order pizza through the hotel desk or eat room service if you don't want to venture out and risk being pulled over by corrupt policeman looking for bribes. Breakfast is also included in the price of the room.

Here is the map and a picture of the Holiday Inn in Tampico:

The Holiday Inn I am referring to is marked with an "A" on the map. You will see it as you are entering the main part of the city. It will be on your right at the SouthWest corner of an intersection with a stop light.

Villahermosa is a little  more wide open. I have stayed at the Quality Inn twice now in that city. It sits two blocks back off of the main highway behind VIPS restaurant and the Hyatt Regency. It is very clean, well managed and has been newly renovated. The parking lot seems very secure and breakfast is included in the cost of the room which will run between $80 USD and $100 USD depending on the time of year. The first time I stayed there in May, 2010 I paid for my room with U.S. dollars. Not sure if they still take them however.

The hotel sits a few blocks back off of the main road. Because you will probably getting there around dark, just look for VIPS off the main road on the South side. Also look for the Hyatt which is a larger building. QI is right behind it off a short side street.

These are just two recommendation. Also, here is the link of the post I did on driving instructions. Email me if you have questions.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Dolores Alba

The Dolores Alba is the hotel that I stayed at when I made my first trip down in May, 2010. It is right in the heart of Centro and has alot of positives attributes:
  • Very affordable at around $50 USD per night for a couple, cheaper for one person.
  • Very Clean
  • Very Quiet
  • Within walking distance of alot of cathedrals, parks, shops....pretty much everything. 
  • Breakfast is included and decent. 
  • Architecture is beautiful. 
  • Staff is friendly. 
  • They can call you a cab if you need one. 
  • Rooms have individual lock safes which you set the combos on when you arrive. 
  • The Pool is clean and well kept. 
  • The outdoor dining area is very inviting. 
  • Wifi or you can pay to use their internet hookups on their computers. 
  • The A/C's in the bedrooms work really well.

It has alot of upside to it. Honestly, I think they could charge a little more if they wanted to. The place only has one drawback....They have the hardest beds you have ever slept on. And I love hard beds. If you can handle that then it is a place I would recommend.


P.S. Here is the Link to the hotel's website. (Click Here). They have one in Chichen Itza as well so make sure you click on the correct hotel.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Exchange Rate Moving Up Agressively

The Peso to US Dollar exchange rate has continued to move in favor of the Greenback in recent weeks. Last week we sat at about $13.80 MXP to $1 USD.

The reason I am posting on this again so soon is that the upswing has been substantial in percentage terms. Just three months ago in June the rate of exchange was about $2 MXP lower per US Dollar at $11.65 MXP to $1 USD.

To put all of this in practical terms:
  • If you were on a $2,000 budget in the early part of the summer at an $11.65 MXP/ $1 USD exchange rate....your cost of living has now gone down to $1,690 per month with the exchange rate swinging to $13.80 to $1 USD. If you are taking money out of US Banks to pay for your daily/monthly expenses then your cost of living is now cheaper than 90 days ago.  
  • A person making a rent payment of $7,250 MXP per month just had their rent drop about $100 per month over 90 days. That means the rent payment just went from $622 per month to $525. Would you take that?  
  • If you wire transferred $100,000 USD 90 days ago to buy a house, you now only have to transfer roughly $85,000 to buy that same house at this time. Home prices have not really appreciated that much if at all in that time.  
This is why you need to watch the exchange rate. That extra $15k will furnish your home, pay for a swimming pool, equip your home with solar or pay for the cost of digging a well. There is alot you can do with 15k in this market. Just things to consider.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Changes with Mexican Visa Laws

The new Visa laws for non-Mexican residents are not going to go into effect until next calendar year. Typically visas fall into one of three categories: FMT (Tourist Visa), FM2 or FM3.

My family and I are currently on FM3's at this time. I went to the immigration office in Progresso today and spoke with one of the English speaking employees there today. She informed me that the laws for doing away with all current visa categories are in place but have not been implemented. The Federal government has yet to release their changes to their immigration offices throughout the country and will not do so until November.

The lady continued to inform me that all immigration offices will need a few months to go through training on all aspects of the changes in law. This means that there won't be any changes implemented in this calendar year and if you already have an FM2 or FM3 visa you will simply renew it this year, 2011, and stay on that visa until you are scheduled to renew next year. Once that occurs you will apply for one of the newly developed categories of visas. And as far as that is concerned, it is my understanding that there will be several to choose from based on the nature and purpose of you being here: i.e. business, living only, religious purposes, etc, etc, etc......

I will pass on more info as I get it. Everyone, including the immigration offices, are still in a holding pattern of sorts.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Peso/Dollar Exhange Rate

The Mexican Peso to U.S. dollar exhange rate is formally sitting at $12.86 pesos to $1.00 dollar at this time. I went to Santander Bank today to do a withdrawal and I actually got $12.85 to 1. That is incredible. I have never seen it that high. In the early part of the year it was around $11.65 to one.

As to why? I would say when U.S. retailers buy goods to be exported into the U.S. they need their dollars to go farther so they can keep prices lower in the stores of U.S. retailers. This offsets the devaluation of the U.S. dollar as the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank continues to devalue the worlds global reserve currency through money printing.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Walking and Jogging in Merida

I have been an avid runner for almost my entire life. I played soccer all the way through college so it was a part of my training regimen before it became my main source of adult exercise. I have literally run thousands of miles in my lifetime so I am going to give you my personal feedback on a couple of  important variables to search out in order to continue in your exercise regimen here in Merida.

Location and Safety.  I find this to be the biggest challenge for those who move here to Merida and want to continue in their normal walking or running routines. I live in Montes De Ame and I have found a stretch of well paved undeveloped road that runs for a straight mile east and west. It sits directly between Colonia Montes de Ame and City Center Mall/Wal Mart just inside the Preferico on the northern side of town. The set up of this road is perfect for anyone because you can structure your walk or run to go various miles with no problem. It is almost like they built the street with that purpose in mind.

I can't speak for every area of the city but depending on where you move you are going to have to look for an area like I found that suits your needs. The area I am referring to is very safe. I often see dozens of people out walking after dark, including women an older couples. I don't think safety is an issue in that respect as far as crime. Safety from moving traffic is another issue altogether. When I was in college I was hit by a vehicle head on while out running one day. Fortunatley for me the vehicle had just moved from a stopped position and amazingly I was never knocked off my feet. But I will tell you that since then I have never trusted drivers when I am out jogging. You need to find an area that keeps you safely away from vehicles and other forms of transportation, especially city buses. The city bus drivers seem to drive faster than anyone. FYI. 
Estadio Salvador Alvarado

I have also noticed a few more areas of town that seem to be used quite a bit for walking/running. Estadio Salvador Alvarado is very much used by the locals for walking, running, playing basketball and other assorted activities. It is located on Calle 60 just south of Costco. I have never run there becaue of it's location and I also don't like to jog on tracks. I get bored and lose count of my mileage. But I do know that this facility is always hopping when the weather is good.

Paseo de Montejo is incredibly scenic and great for walking if you can make it accessible on a regular basis. It is more towards the center of town (Centro) so if you like to limit your driving then you probably wouldn't want to make the effort to get there for this reason. Others may feel differently. To me this stretch of road is a large component of what makes Merida so appealing. It's absolutely beautiful and historic in every way.

Paseo de Montejo
The Beach. The most enjoyable run I ever had was on the beach in Cozumel when I was 25 years old. Full on downpour of rain, cool and agressive winds, empty streets, sand, surf....It was awesome. I'll never forget it. You will see quite a few people taking walks or runs down the beach in Progresso or Chelem. It's a great place to get out and just go for it. All beaches are public domain so have at it.

Time of Day and Humidity. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my home state is Texas. I was born and raised in the northern part of the state where the climate ranges from very cold to extremely hot throughout the year. I always thought Texas had it's fair share of humidity until we moved to Merida and found out what humidity is all about. To me there is simply no way to describe it.

We did not have one good rainfall to speak of for the first five months of this year and yet it still felt humid every single day. This type of environment affects when and how much you can exercise outside, more so that in other parts of the world. I took a 3 week business trip to Texas back in July. It was over 110 degrees Fahrenheit almost every day I was there. And I still ran 4 or 5 times a week. In fact, compared to the Yucatan, the humidity felt so low to me in Texas after living in Merida for a year that I was able to tolerate the heat and run in it until at least 11AM every day.

You simply cannot do that in Merida from April to August. In fact, I find you also can't run on some days very early in the morning in those months because there is almost no wind to speak of. If you are going to walk and run in this humidity you have to have winds to offset the water loss that your body endures. I have discovered that there is a window between about 8:45 AM and 10:00 AM where the temps are lower and the winds are starting to whip up on most days. That is when you go run. Otherwise you need to wait until the cooler parts of the evenings from April through August because there is simply to much moisture in the air. 

This is also the first place I have ever lived where I carried water bottles with me while running. I freeze two water bottles the night before and I run with them in my hands. After about 2 miles they are completely melted and ready to consume. The downside to this is by the time I get home I am so soaked that I am ringing out my shirt and changing my clothes. It's simply that humid here.

As a side note, most colonias in Merida have their own parks. Small parks are a great place to walk but not so much for running. Parks here are smaller as compared to the U.S. Also, the Altabrisa area has some longer stretches of road with good side-walks for safety between their housing developments. I have noticed that around Altabrisa mall you will see some of what I am talking about, specifically to the west and north of that area.

Hope this helps.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I know there are exceptions to every rule. But it has been many people's experience here that Mexican Landlords don't know how to function with a proper business mindset. To be more specific, they are sometimes unreasonable, greedy and hard-headed.

I know an American who has lived here in Merida for 11 years. He has lived here the entire time in the same rented home with his wife and four sons. When they first rented the property many years ago the home had been unoccupied for a few years. It was full of bats, scorpions, spiders and even some snakes. They rented the home for $600 monthly. They cleaned it out, fumigated it, installed new windows and screens, installed their own appliances in the kitchen (including the stove), poured a concrete extension onto the drive-way so they could park two cars, installed a privacy gate on the drive-way, installed a hot water heater, installed an additional laundry area/maid's quarters, installed their own a/c units, repainted the house inside and out, re-landscaped the backyard ......the list goes on.

And after doing all of this work themselves, after paying for all repairs and upgrades themselves with the landlord's full consent, after paying rent faithfully for over ten years and never once missing a payment or being late......the landlord kept their deposit when they moved out in June because.....a door was not shutting properly inside the house. She kept a $600 deposit and used a squeaky door as an excuse, even after my friends basically remodeled the entire house.

Don Adams in his book "Head for Mexico" talks about this tendency amongst Mexican landlords. In his book he makes the statement that if you or anyone you know has ever rented in Mexico and they actually got their deposit back, write him and let him know because he swears he has never heard of it happening. And he has lived here most of his adult life.

By the way, this is a good book. If you are considering moving to Mexico I recommend you buy it.

As for my own personal experience, up to this point I have had a pretty good relationship with my landlord. The only hiccup occured about 2 weeks ago. I was in the U.S. for a business trip the last three weeks of July and my wife called me and told me that our water had stopped running. I had a pretty good idea what the problem was. Most houses have a cistern underneath that holds about 200 liters of water along with a 100 liter water tank on top of the house. Your water pressure in your home is determined by gravity. When the water tank on top of the house gets low your water pump kicks on and takes water from the cistern below your house and sends it upward. The water tank on top has a sensor in it, much like your toilet, that is connected electronically to your water pump. When it gets full it shuts off the water pump and you are good to go.

Last year this sensor went out on my water tank within a month of moving in. So my landlord fixed it. This year, when it started to malfunction she told me it was my responsibility to get a plumber to fix it along with paying for all the needed parts. In her mind she reasoned that this was routine maintenance and I contractually was responsible for all maintenance. This really is a grey area because in my mind it is part of the overall plumbing system which she agrees she is always responsible for. So she is willing to force me to handle this and pay for the whole thing and she thinks this is good for our relationship. Now I have been paying my rent on time, by the grace of God, and yet she is willing to test our relationship.

In my mind this isn't maintenance. Yet it isn't spelled out in the contract and falls within a grey area. Yet this is how "most" Mexican landlords think after they get comfortable in their relationship with you. I have owned rental property before in Texas and the one thing I have learned is that renters can pose enough problems without making them mad renters. If you make them mad then, if they had any inclination in the first place to take care of the property, then they just stop doing so and can really get rough with the house.

My advice....if you come down here and rent....know what to expect.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Electric Bills

My home state in the U.S. is Texas. Per this website (Click Here), the average electrical rate for the first 1000 Kilowatt hours used from a Texas electrical provider will cost you about $.10 cents per kilowatt hour. In Mexico the first 900 kilowatt hours for a private residence will run you about $.07 cents per KWH. Electricity is cheaper to use in Mexico as long as you keep it below 900 KWH's. This is easy to do if you don't have A/C. But it is difficult to live here without A/C if you live inland in Merida or on the cities outskirts. And A/C usage is what makes up about 75% of your electrical bill here.
  • Note to the Reader: If you live on the beach then you almost never need A/C. It is always 10 to 15 degrees cooler on the beach. The air that blows off the coastal waters are consistently brisk and carry with them lower temperatures that are always welcome.
The rate hike per KWH hours after your first 900 KWH's is what will get you on your electric bill in Mexico. After 900 KWH's the rate jumps over three times to 2.529 pesos per KWH hour. In dollars that runs about $.21 cents per KWH, over three times the amount charged for the first 900 hours. And we find that when we use our A/C's from April to September we end up using about another 1400 KWH's per billing cycle. That's an additional $150 USD per month.

Now electric bills are paid here every 2 months, not every month. So you only get 6 bills per year. But your bill can run you $500 USD or more, depending on your electric usage, for a span of 2 months.

Now here is another kicker. Every bill that you receive from CFE has a government discount that runs about 25% of your bill on average. That is a good thing. You get this discount as long as you use less than 850 KWH's per month for the past 12 months. That means that if on your electric bill you averaged less than 1700 KWH's per bill (remember you are billed every two months), then you get this roughly 25% discount from the government. However, if you start to average more than 1700 KWH's of usage for the past 12 months then you lose this discount on your next bi-monthly bill. And you will continue to miss out on this discount on all future bills until you cut back on your consumption to get your previous 12 month rolling average back below 1700 KWH's of usage per bill.

Does that make sense? In other words, make sure you average less than 1700 KWH's per every 2 months for the last 6 bills you received. From October to March this is not a problem. But from April to September it gets very hot and humid. And if you live inland and you are home alot it is difficult to enjoy your day when you are sweating all the time.

On our last bill we went over the 1700 KWH average for the year and hit an average of 1735 KWH per billing cycle. When we got the bill it was for roughly $700 USD. The highest bill we had every paid was for April/May of this year for $525 USD. When we saw the June/July bill we were hitting the brakes trying to figure out what was happening. In response to this I have since found that some Mexican families actually sleep in the same room during the hotter months so they can run only one A/C to offset these expenses.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Mexican Economy

Financially speaking, Mexico is still very much a two tier system of the rich and poor. Don't believe it when you hear about emerging markets in Mexico, Central and South America. You can't have emerging markets when the people are overtaxed, poorly paid and only the rich can afford manufactured goods made in plants both domestically and abroad.

Here are some basic facts about the Mexican Economy:
  • Minimum Wage is roughly $.80 cents USD per hour.
  • There are no overtime laws regulating how much you can work an employee.
  • Sales Tax for all over the counter retail purchases is 16% (IVA).
  • Income Tax is set at a flat rate of 30% of all net profits that a business earns. There are no itemized deductions per what I have been told.
  • Most goods and services offered at major retailers cost anywhere from 20% to 300% more than they do in the states. A bicycle with 26 inch wheels that sells at Wal Mart in the U.S for $100 USD costs at least $200 to $300 USD in Mexico. Hardware items, clothing, baby items, domestics, electronics, auto name it and it almost always costs more to buy in Mexico versus the U.S. Shocking isn't it?
  • It is estimated that roughly 80% of all goods manufactured in Mexico are shipped to the U.S. to be sold. So what happens if the U.S. currency continues to lose value and more jobs outsourced my U.S. based multinational corporations?
Some of this lack of income is offset in Mexican homes by family members who immigrate to the U.S. and work. I read a report recently which stated that in 2007 alone, Mexican citizens received wire transfers totalling $25 Billion USD from Mexican family members living in the United States and abroad. That is alot of  money that is being expatriated back into the Mexican financial system. This financial supplementation coming from up north won't last forever.

You can't grow an economy when you don't pay it's citizenry to do it's work. If you don't pay people then they simply don't have money to spend. And if people don't have money to spend they look for other ways to survive like committing crimes or immigrating illegally to countries with more job opportunities.

To compensate for the lack of money to drive discretionary spending, large retailers like Costco, Sam's/Wal Mart and Home Depot make credit very easy to attain here. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to sell much of what they do. Sound Familiar? That's what has been happening the the U.S. for the past 20+ years. Somewhere it is written that "the worker is worth his wage." When wages are poor then you severely limit the emergence of a middle class. That has been my observation at least.


Mexico has no plans to allow a middle class to emerge. If they did they would lose control over the people

Sunday, July 24, 2011

New Driving Rules In Merida

Yucatan’s legislature passed a new law in February 2011, with a set of rules that takes a mere 288 pages to describe. A brief scan of Yucatan’s new "Rules of the Road" offers definitions of cars, passengers, pedestrians, underpasses, and even fire hydrants, with additional sections on who is allowed to install topes, what you are supposed to keep in your Emergency Road Kit, approved types of cellular phone usage and another 250 or so odd pages on baby seats, helmets, insurance requirements, emissions testing and drug testing. We now have laws governing everything from "no red lights on top of your car" to the red lights required for night-time use as part of your emergency kit, and from fire extinguishers to fines based on one-hundred times the Minimum Wage.

There is even a whole section on the special officers in Bright Yellow Vests who will help guide us through the first 180 days of Yucatan’s plan for implementing the key points of the new road rules, in what looks to be a lifetime’s worth of Spanish-English translations of legalese.

Where The Rubber Meets The Road Rules

So what we all want to know is the nitty gritty, the details, where the rubber meets the road (especially this one!), where the tough get going while the meek go home, whether to run with the big dogs or stay on the porch, to be or not to be… yes, there are a lot of questions, and that is only one of them.

After reading it through, we think this is the bottom line: There are so many details in this 288-page law that it staggers the mind to imagine any single article like this one that could accurately and completely describe and condense what may be as many as 4,050 details that are catalogued here.

Frankly, there are so many requirements and miniscule details covering Peritos (the name for the special police officer that comes out to investigate auto accidents. These officers are specially trained and work for SSPPE del Gobierno del Estado de Yucatan) to peatones (pedestrians), that Yucatecan officers could study for a year to learn just one half of the rules they are supposed to enforce. Not to mention that it could take a decade to get a state full of laid-back Yucatecans to comply.

Read more here

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Merida in the News Again!

Today Yahoo ran an article listing Merida as one of the better places to live and retire abroad. In case you didn't see it you can CLICK HERE to read the article. I agree with the basic summary written on Merida, including the ability for a retired couple to live on $1,700 per month. This is especially true if you own your own home. If not, prepare to live in the city in a small to mid-size home or apartment in order to meet that budget.

Just as a side note, it doesn't surprise me that Merida made the list. Not only is Merida deserving in it's own right but I know some of the principle contributors for International Living live in Merida. Someone from IL was consulted for the article.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Protests in Merida

Merida is very much known for it's tranquility and easy going atmosphere. With that said, we are starting to see some protesting leading to some violence over an approved public renovation project to one of the glorietas on the main road of Prolong Montejo. The proposed improvements would take the glorieta near the north of the city from this:

To This:

Apparently the city has allocated roughly $5,000,000.00 USD for this project and while I don't know whether it is a fair price, I can tell you that I don't like driving through this glorieta. It is always conjested except for 5AM in the morning. They really need to redo this thing. Apparently some residents want to see the money spent on other things like better parks and other public works. For a more detailed article on the unfolding demonstrations surrounding this CLICK HERE.


Choose Your Neighbors Carefully!

One thing you need to consider when coming down to buy or rent a home in Merida is your neighbors. Mexico can be a very loud place. For starters, people here run on a different schedule from Canadians and Americans. That means they don't get going in the day until around 8AM, they don't eat lunch until 1 or 2PM and they don't eat dinner until around 9PM. This means some people also stay up later here in Mexico on a regular basis.

Add that with the fact that everything here is made out of concrete, tile, steel and stone and you have sound waves just bouncing off of every house, fence and man-made structure of every kind. That means the guy 2 blocks over who decides to play his stereo until 2 AM can sound like he lives next door to you.

Also add all of this with the fact that alot of construction here in Centro and in most middle-class home developments have homes that connect to each other. That means your exterior walls, at times, are the exterior walls of your neighbors house, either on one side or both. I share an exterior wall with one of my next door neighbors. He is a major socialite from a wealthy family in Tabasco. Although we get along, at least on the surface, he functions on a different time clock than we do because he is self-employed and also family-funded if you know what I mean.

With all of this in mind....if you are choosing a home to rent or buy.....look at the construction and see if your potential home connects to your neighbors home. If you see that it is, and you have your heart set on a place, I would ask around and see if the neighbors are old or young, married or not married. Take a good look at the area, not just the home. If you know someone here who knows the area, take them to dinner on a Friday or Saturday night and have them take you to the home you are looking at and visit the neighborhood at night. See how loud the area is. Although this may not tell you exactly how things are, at least you can see if the area is generally tranquil or not.

My advice would be to try and find a home with either older neighbors or families around you. Even in Mexico these demographic groups tend to go to bed earlier and "keep it down" if you know what I mean. The other option is to buy something outside the Preferico where the population is less concentrated. But if peace and quiet is not important to you....well....don't worry about it. As for me and my family....we like to get our sleep. Vibrating walls is not something I particularly enjoy.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Some Demographics of the Yucatan

Sociology is defined as the study of a society. Demographics refers to the specific characteristics of that society. With that understood, the sociological makeup and the characteristics of the Yucatan are fairly easy to break down. As I have seen it over the past year, based on personal experience and many conversations with a variety of people, the following three groups can be found in the Yucatan:

Yucatecos. These are people who are born and raised in the state of Yucatan. When they speak Spanish they do so with their own accent. They also infuse some Mayan vocabulary into their Spanish. Their food tastes different from the rest of Mexico with many distinct flavor profiles. In public they are not overly expressive. They can be quiet and reserved in their social manners. Overall, they are a distinct, unique people. They are very proud....sometimes too proud. Most of the time they do not consider themselves Mexicans. They are Yucatecos first, Mexicans second (maybe). They are very close knit....a very tight community of people.

Yucatecos can be further broken down into two ethnic groups: Mayans and Spaniards (Whites.) Mayans are of deep, rich Mayan heritage. They look different and in many rural areas still speak the Mayan language. Sometimes they look almost Asian in appearance. The whites, as it has been explained to me, are those Yucatecos that are more of Spanish (Spain) heritage. They can at times have very fair skin and could pass for being either Europeans or Americans. I have stood at the park while my kids were playing  and listened to Mayan children tell non-Mayan Yucatecos the following words: Somos Mayos. (Translation:We are Mayans.) Where did those Mayan kids get that mindset from? Obviously someone at home is reinforcing that paradigm with them. I am not saying all of them are like that. I am saying it is out there.

And as it applies to our family.....the Yucatecos here have treated us well. I am not saying people haven't had bad experiences here. I am saying that we have had alot of Grace in our relational dealings with them and we are grateful to God for that.

Mexicans (Non-Yucatecos). Many Mexicans from outside the Yucatan are seeking to move here because of the relative tranquility and perceived stability of the state as compared to the rest of Mexico and Latin America. My wife and I have heard many times from Mexicans that have moved here that it takes a long time for them to be accepted by the Yucatecos, if at all. Many of our close friends here are from Mexico City. Most say the same thing: It took a long time for them to be accepted by a few and they are still rejected by many. I find many of the Mexicans from Tabasco, Mexico City, Veracruz and other areas to be extremely easy to get along with. Many of them speak English. Many of them have lived in the United States for periods of time.

Expats. I guess you can put just about anyone not in the previous two groups in this category. It appears to me that about 98 or 99% of all expats here are either from Canada or the United States. Expats have the stigma of being wealthy, even if you are not. If you move here as an expat then every Mexican and Yucateco you meet will think your rich just because you are from North of the Border....even if you tell them you are not.

On another note I find that Expats are more accepted by the Yucatecos than non-Yucateco Mexicans. Even the Mexicans will tell you that. A Yucateco will, more often than not, befriend an American before a Mexican from another part of Mexico. However, we are also seeing that the younger generations are more accepting of those from the outside than their parents were. Some of this Yucateco stubbornness towards others is starting to wear down. It seems that way to me. Many of the Spanish Yucatecos are raising their kids to speak English. There are alot of private-education, bilingual schools in Merida. Therefore they have to encourage their children to be more accepting of English speaking people.

And as for expats......I'm an American and yet I find that most of the Canadians, at times, are easier to talk to than some of the Americans. Canadians seemed to be better informed about the ills of Socialist Government. Most Canadians that I have met are extremely well educated and have a better grasp of the current failings of the American financial and political system than many Americans do. Not to say many Americans here don't. We have American friends here who do. It's just that Canadians seem to have a grasp of things more consistently for some reason. I have enjoyed meeting and spending time with many of them.

The number of expats in the Yucatan runs around 5,000 people or so. Most are retired and over 50 years of age. Many live either in Centro or up at the beach in and around Progresso, Chelem or Chixclub. Some are scattered around the Northern colonias of the city. Few if any live in the south. Most are retired. Many are wealthy. Some move here and get involved with the culture. Some do not. Some choose to learn Spanish. Some do not and instead stay secluded.

That's my take after a year. I don't know everything and am seeking to understand more. But after hearing the same things come out of the mouths of so many people you kind of start to get a feel for trends. You start connecting the dots. Again, I don't like to make blanket judgments and I try to deal with each person on an individual basis. These are just general observations that don't always apply to every Yucateco, non-Yucateco Mexican or Expat.


Friday, July 1, 2011

Our First Year Here

Yesterday, June 30th, marked our one-year anniversary for living in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I hope you are finding many of the posts useful. In many ways, as I keep blogging about our lives here, I am trying to let the dust settle in my mind so I can understand the overall culture of Mexico and specifically the Yucatan and it's people. You see both similarities and variations between the country of Mexico and the overall culture of the U.S. in the following areas:
  • Psychologically
  • Sociologically
  • Education
  • Economic
  • Government and Law
  • Health Care and Medicine
  • Public Works and Utilities
  • Food, Arts and Entertainment
  • Expats and Immigration
  • Religion
  • Geography and Weather
  • The Future
I believe many of my perceived similarities and variations will apply equally at times to the Canadian culture, European culture and many other countries and their respective cultures around the world. I am an American by birth so I am limited in scope and vision on some of these things. Therefore, if you find my viewpoints limited please do not take offense. In upcoming posts I am going to try and write a little bit about  each one of these areas according to what we as a family have seen since we have been here. Stay tuned. I hope you enjoy them.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Roundtrip Airline Tickets: Merida to Houston

I just scheduled a business trip back to the states via Continental/United Airlines. Continental is the only airlines that flies directly from Merida to Houston, TX. Their direct flights come into Merida on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday nights and they fly back out to Houston the following morning after each one of those days.

Normally I book through Expedia because they show cost comparisons between competing airlines like Aeromexico and the Continental. Usually I have found that Expedia's prices always match the prices found on Continental's website.  Not tonight!!! For the past two weeks Expedia has been charging an additional $64 for the same flight I was looking at. 

Word to the wise. Check for their prices in addition to the travel sites. It was worth it for me tonight.

Have a good one.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Price of Gas in Merida.....6/23/2011

Right now the price of gas in Merida is $9.24 pesos per liter. Based on a peso to dollar exhange rate of $11.75 USD to $1 Peso.....that converts to $2.97 USD per gallon....I believe. Gas is still cheap here compared to the U.S., Canada and most of Europe from what I understand.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mexican Car Insurance

This is the insurance broker we use for our auto insurance policy here in Mexico. Click Here.

I just renewed for $162. That covers my 2001 Ford F-150 for the entire year. It was more last year because I carried theft coverage and had a higher declared value on the vehicle. The reason we did liability only is because we are considering nationalizing our vehicle before October. Once you nationalize a foreign vehicle you have to start carrying domestic insurance.

Nationalizing means you register your U.S. or any other foreign vehicle and get Yucatan plates on it. You can only nationalize a vehicle once it's 10 years old from the year of manufacture. That means, starting in October, 2010 through October, 2011 you can nationalize all foreign made vehicles from 2001. After this October only vehicles manufactured in 2002 will be eligilbe for nationalization for the next year.

I still need to do some research on this. I will update you if/when I find something out.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Santander Bank

It is my understanding that Santander is the largest bank in the Eurozone. Therefore some of you reading this may recognize the name. I myself had never heard of them until we moved to Mexico. The reason I bring it up is this.....If you are a Bank of America customer in the United States then do your ATM withdrawals at Santander ATM's and bank branches. It's Free!!!!!

When we found this out we started saving about $50 per month in ATM fees. If you do a $7,000.00 Peso withdrawal at Banamex it will cost you about $11.00 USD in ATM fees. I am not sure if other banks in Canada or the U.S. have this type of arrangement with a Mexican bank but at least BofA does. The only drawback is that Santander will only let you take out $6,000.00 pesos per withdrawal in a 24 hour period. I have taken out more than twice that much on some occassions at other banks, specifically the one aforementioned but not at Santander.

Just a word to the wise. Hope this helps.