Before You Move to Mexico, Figure Out What to Take and What To Leave, Without Being Bullied

Things You Can't Get in Mexico and Should Bring to Mexico

Before You Move to Mexico, Figure Out What to Take and What to Leave, Without Being Bullied

Woman holding no bullying signEvery month or so, I see a question posted to a Facebook group something like this: “How much of my household goods should I move to Mexico?”

As sure as night follows day, you will see answers like:

“Just show up with two suitcases, like we did.”

“You can get whatever you need here in Mexico.  Just bring your photos.”

“You’re coming to Mexico to live in Mexico.  Don’t bring down all your gringo items!  Live the culture here, not like they do in the US, with all its gross materialism.”

Very rarely will you see a comment from someone who brought down their mattresses, furniture, couches, etc. and advised the person asking to do the same.  Why is that?  The reason is that, if this person who brought down more of their household goods than those barking their directives has been on Facebook for any length of time, they will have seen that anyone who has given an answer to take more items would experience a pretty savage and public attack for their views.

Then, after everything calms down, in a month or so, the cycle repeats, with another innocent newbie asking the same question and pretty much the same Facebook veterans saying pretty much the same thing while others who don’t want to be attacked stay silent.  You can almost feel the piranhas as they prepare to feed.

Of course, the decision as to what each person brings down or does not bring down is a personal one, having as much to do with how much emotional, sentimental and material comfort each person receives from their own items (many times accumulated over a lifetime of travel and hard work) as it does with how much each person has actually accumulated and how much budget each person has to bring it down.  Perhaps you bought a sculpture while on honeymoon or a toaster on the same trip to the store where your husband proposed to you, so while for the jackals on Facebook, your sculpture is nothing special and your toaster should be replaced with something new you could buy at Wal-Mart in Mexico, they may have very special meaning to you and it just makes you happy to have them around.  (After all, they are part of your life.)  I would never give blanket advice on how much or what items a complete stranger should bring down, so on the face of it, such advice is ridiculous for me to give to a stranger on Facebook, because I wouldn’t know anything about that person.

I can, however, make some observations.

Mexicans like nice things, too.  The odd assertion that if you live in Mexico, you should live like a poor Mexican is quite silly.  Poor Mexicans don’t want to live like poor Mexicans, so why should you?  Any poor Mexicans I’ve ever met would like to live like rich Mexicans, or at least middle-class Mexicans.

Quick story.  Several months after we moved here, we invited some new Mexican friends (a man and his wife) to our home.  And before you get the wrong idea (because it’s relevant to the story), please let me explain that these are Mexico-born Mexicans, not US-born Mexicans.  They were both born and raised in Mexico, moved to the US as fully grown adults, and then, after the financial crash of 2008, as the man was telling us their story, they were forced to move back to Mexico.

When it came time for the man to relate to us the part of the story where he told us what items they brought back from the US to Mexico, his speech became progressively slower and his voice progressively softer until, even with our heads bent forward, it was getting difficult to hear him.  Then, he looked down and away from his wife and other than some barely audible mumbling, pretty much stopped talking completely.  After a short pause, his wife, in a voice that was quite strong, clear and easy to hear and understand said, “And he forced me to leave lots of my things in the US!”  As the man continued to look down in shame, his wife shot him a look that would be described in Hawaii as “stink eye.”  You don’t have to be Hawaiian to get the gist.

And they were visiting us in 2018, a full 10 years after the infamous event.  It was the wound that would not heal.

Would you and your significant other be like our new friends in Mexico?  I don’t know.  That would depend.  However, to make the argument that bringing your good or cherished items to Mexico is somehow politically or culturally incorrect is a bit silly.

No, Virginia, you cannot get everything you “need” here in Mexico.  Of course, the full answer to this question revolves around what you “need.”  To take an extreme example to make the point, some people only “need” water, food and a medium-sized lean-to or they can live out of their 1965 Volkswagen van.  I have been told that Mahatma Gandhi could fit all his worldly possessions in one shoe box.  However, people more average than the random ascetic or world famous advocates of non-violent resistance to British colonial rule may like and appreciate more creature comforts. If you plan on being happy in Mexico, you need to assess your “needs” without regard to what anybody else says you should need because in the end, their opinion about what you “need” isn’t important; only yours is.

In contradiction to what you read all the time on Facebook, the facts are that some things you can’t get in Mexico, others are rare, and if you could get them, are very expensive.  And don’t count on picking up that used comfy La-Z Boy for a great price at a secondhand store.  The good items go very quickly (obvious reason: these items are hard to find here), and the ones that you may get to first, if you’re lucky enough to have that happen, are much more expensive than in the US.

Another Mexican friend we made here (once again, born in Mexico, lived in the US only as an adult and came back) told us that his similarly born Mexican wife forced him to bring their American-style couches and mattress she had become accustomed to when living in the US.  Luckily for the health of his marriage, he complied, and was very happy to tell us about it, placing himself as the hero of the story, giving his wife what she “needed.”

(Check this out for a sometimes humorous but informative look at what people cannot get but want in Mexico.)

Mexican furniture can and often is very beautiful, with hand carved pieces costing a mere fraction of what they would cost in the US.  However, from the perspective of anyone who has lived in the US or Canada and plunked themselves down into a nice comfy NOB (“North of the Border”) couch, Mexican furniture can also be quite uncomfortable.  And as my wife Jet says, “You didn’t come to Mexico to suffer.”

From the perspective of someone who has slept on an American mattress, Mexican mattresses can also be quite uncomfortable.  And don’t be fooled that they have the same brand names as in the US and Canada—regardless of brand name, mattresses in Mexico tend to be made for the Mexican market and Mexican sensibilities, which can be quite different than yours… or perhaps not.  The point is, don’t take anyone’s word for it; try for yourself.

My wife also tells me that the baking dishes and other baking implements are a bit different (mostly, smaller) here in Mexico, so if you like to cook and /or bake and want to use your existing recipes, you should probably bring down what you use.  It doesn’t take up that much room, and you may not be able to replace them easily here.

After they’ve moved, very few people wish they had brought less.  Because we’re in the moving business, people will often tell me how happy or not happy they are with the amount they brought.  About 5% of the time, I hear from our clients that they wish they had brought less (or, more accurately, they wish that their spouse or partner had brought less).  That leaves the other 95% who are happy with what they brought or regretted that they had not brought more.

Of course, all other things being equal, it will cost you less to move a smaller volume of your household goods than it would cost you to move a larger volume.  However, before you too ruthlessly cull your possessions, inform your decision beforehand on how much you should get rid of by having the actual costs of different scenarios of moving more or moving less.  You may be surprised.  Legitimate commercial companies such as Best Mexico Movers have certain minimum costs for expenses such as insurance, compliance with regulations, certified drivers, etc., that don’t change if you bring one box or 500 boxes.  For example, if you bring twice as much volume, your cost will not be anywhere near twice as many dollars.  I urge you to find out early in the process, so you will know exactly how much to give away and you won’t have needless regrets.

I close this section with some observations from my wife, Jet. You may not be like Jet and you may disagree with Jet, but I know that Jet speaks for many people.  How do I know?  People tell her.  When she writes something on the topic, she gets comments all the time such as “I’m with Jet!” and “I’m so happy you wrote what you did.  You’re just like me.”

Jet says, “You worked all your life to surround yourself with the things you cherish and love, and you did not come to Mexico in order to give them all up and live like a monk.”

Or, because I don’t know you, perhaps you did come to Mexico to live like a monk.  The point is, it is your decision, so don’t be bullied.  Here’s my advice:

  • Personally try Mexican beds and furniture for comfort and decide how important it is to you to have your own.
  • Determine the most amount of items you would consider taking with you to Mexico.
  • Determine the least amount of items you would consider taking with you to Mexico.
  • Get prices for the most and the least amount of items you would consider taking with you to Mexico and for the amounts in between.
  • Without being bullied or using anyone else’s values but your own, determine the right amount for you to take with you to Mexico.
  • Get rid of everything else, either by selling it or giving it away and have no regrets.

— Chuck Bolotin, Best Mexico Movers

Growth and Reinvention in Mexico

Growth and Reinvention in Mexico

Moving to a new place, especially to a new country and especially where probably close to no one knows you, is a great chance for personal growth and what lots of expats I’ve interviewed call “reinvention,” a topic I wrote about you can find here:

  You can also get my take for “How Living Abroad Made Me a Better Person” here:

When Americans and Canadians move to Mexico, most will find a culture that is less concerned with punctuality and perfection and more concerned with interpersonal relationships than they experienced NOB (“North of the Border”; the US and Canada). Believe me, you are not going to change Mexican culture, so complaining about it only makes you more frustrated, unhappy and unlikeable.

A better course of action is just learn to see the good in the Mexican culture, relax, and try to become less of a Type A.  Your blood pressure will go down, you will be more pleasant, and you may even learn that aspects of the Mexican culture are actually better and more appropriate for living here in Mexico for many things, and perhaps even better for life in general.

I’ll give you an example.  In the US, if a truck were blocking my way on a one-way street because the passenger had to get out and have a quick conversation with a store owner or had to unload a few items, I would be very unhappy.  Here, I just wait those few moments and enjoy the day.  The wisdom of my new reaction to this can be seen in my mental and emotional health, and also in my realization that I may have to do exactly the same thing as that truck driver later in the day and I would appreciate that everyone else didn’t honk their horns, curse at me, give me bad looks, etc., and just acted patiently.  It’s just how life works here. We don’t get all that worked up over items like this. Once you get used to it and learn to embrace it, it’s very nice because you’re much less worried about “doing something wrong.”  People are much more forgiving here for all sorts of things that would be horrific NOB.

And while we’re on the subject of vehicular travel, you may find it interesting to know that when you get your car scratched or dented (and believe me, you will), it won’t cost a fortune to repair it.  Just before we moved here, I backed up into a wall in the US, which caused only minor damage to my bumper and the side of the car.  The cost to repair it: USD $1,200.  In Mexico, that same repair would be the equivalent of around USD $60 to fix it like it never happened.  With costs like that, your old habit of having your month ruined when you got a scratch or a ding in your car will eventually just fade away.  When you do get a scratch or a ding in Mexico, after you’ve been here for a while, instead of responding with of a string of curse words running through your head, regret, remorse and anger, you’ll just think “so what?”  Then, you may even laugh a bit to yourself as you compare your new response with your old one.  That’s what I did.

A great tool for your growth or reinvention (if you’re into that type of thing) is to learn as much Spanish as you can.  Doing so will not only make you much more comfortable living in a Spanish-speaking country, but it will also make you more confident, competent, relaxed (and who doesn’t want that?), and also more able to better enjoy more of the people you come into contact with every day.

Please don’t worry if you botch your Spanish.  The Mexican people are thrilled and honored that you are even trying.  Let’s honor them as well by trying to learn their language, at least a little bit.  Doing so will spread goodwill, make you lots of new friends, and make your life here much, much more enjoyable.  You will be able to integrate into the larger community here (not just the English-speaking expat one), be less isolated, be better in an emergency, and make lots of very good friends.

You don’t have to learn all at once; you can learn Spanish at your pace.  There are lots of good alternatives.  One I’ve been using lately is Duolingo.  You go as fast or slowly as you wish, it’s fun, it seems to work, and it’s free.

You absolutely don’t have to be fluent or perfect in Spanish in order for to make a huge impact on your life and the lives of Spanish-speaking people around you.  Please don’t pass up this opportunity.  Maybe you can sign up today for an app, a program on your computer or a class.

Interested to see how we can help you?  Just give us a call now at our US or Canada phone number 1 (520) 940-0481, or send us an email using our contact form.

Adjusting to Mexican Culture: Step One

Adjusting to Mexican Culture: Step One

You’ve likely heard about several adjustments you’ll have to make regarding Mexico’s culture. Perhaps you’ve been advised to learn the language and develop more patience, both long-term propositions. 

“Dios mio!” you might say (if you spoke Spanish) “All that could take years! I’m older, my attention span isn’t what it used to be and I’ll be in Mexico next month! Isn’t there a faster, easier way?”

 Yes there is: Embrace the tortilla.

Once in Mexico, hay que renunciar (you have to leave behind) your former love, the crusty loaf of bread. You must leave that affair behind and love the one you’re with … the hot, fresh corn tortilla, that chewy, earthy incarnation of Mexican history told in a single buttered bite. 

The sooner you embrace the tortilla; that is crave it, contemplate it, and ask for it over the desultory piece of white restaurant bread, the easier your whole transition to Mexico will be. This embrace will  bolster your authenticity and serve as proof positive that you belong, evidence of your Mexican spirit behind the gabacho facade.

Here’s what you need to know about the corn tortilla. (The flour tortilla’s history is different. You’ve probably never had a real Mexican flour tortilla.)

Tortillas are an ancient superfood – The corn tortilla, created thousands of years ago, became a superfood through a process known as nixtamalization. In an authentic Mexican tortilla, field corn sits in an alkaline bath for 12 to 14 hours, which breaks down the skin of the corn kernel. (The part that gets stuck in your teeth after you eat popcorn). Nixtamalization and lime (the mineral, not the fruit) make the corn more digestible and nutritious. An authentic Mexican tortilla has about the same amount of fiber as a slice of whole wheat bread.

The result of the process is masa, a dough from which many types of Mexican regional foods are made; gorditas, panuchos, and sopes, as well as tortillas. 

Not all corn is equal: Tortillas are only as good as the corn they’re made from and its milling. Mexico has over 10,000 years experience growing corn and some say the soil of certain parts of Mexico, such as Oaxaca, carries that history (terrior) into the flavor of the corn, as happens with wines.

Tortillas are politically powerful – Combined with beans, tortillas create a near perfect and cheap protein. It’s a food so important to the Mexican working class that violent protests have occurred  when prices rose. So today the Mexican government controls those prices. In all Mexican states, tortillas are part of the canasta basica, a list of price-controlled necessary foods and products. Each Mexican state has its own canasta basica. 

Dos and Don’ts of cooking your tortilla – Never, ever microwave a tortilla, especially not in front of a Mexican (who will look at you in great sorrow). Microwaving changes the texture of tortillas. They only take a minute to heat on a comal (included with many Mexican ovens) or in a frying pan. Since most Mexican ovens are gas, you can even heat them with tongs over the burner flame.

Tortillas are more versatile than bread.  You can’t put “just anything” between two slices of bread. You can put just anything into a folded, fried tortilla. From the half-can of refried beans in the back of your fridge to yesterday’s stir-fried vegetables or 30-second scrambled eggs, you’ll find that anything tastes good in a hot fried tortilla. They’ll be a godsend on the nights you don’t feel like cooking.

Care for your tortillas – Tortillas are served and kept hot in tortilleras, a woven straw basket with a soft, clean cloth inside. Otherwise they’re refrigerated, as authentic ones do not have preservatives.

Where to buy your tortillas – While you’ll likely buy many fresh tortillas (nopal, blue corn, white corn) from unmarked coolers at major grocery stores, they’re also sold by little old ladies from their homes. These little people will dart out from doorways like black market traders, handing off their small illicit bundles to grateful construction workers so quickly that you’ll wonder what you just saw.

Negotiating the price of your tortillas – Fresh tortillas are also found at OXXO convenience stores where cashiers sometimes sell them from behind the counter. The more clandestine tortillas dealers, noting you’re foreign, might ask if you prefer one pound or two pounds, which you’ll come to learn is thousands of tortillas. Surprise them by saying you’d like 20 pesos worth, 50 pesos worth, etc (a dozen or so tortillas).

How your tortillas should look – When choosing tortillas, usually the more yellow the tortilla, the fresher. A very white tortilla can indicate a “bleaching” of ingredients. If your tortillas become dry, using a plant mister is a great way to revive them.

A word of warning – Fried tortillas can become an addiction. Eating too many is the leading cause of the dreaded “tortilla belly” my Mexican girlfriends bemoan. As with any new love, you can become so thoroughly infatuated that you don’t notice the first signs of betrayal. Limit yourself to two tortillas a day. 

Develop a healthy, balanced relationship with your tortillas and they’ll serve your diet, and personal image, very well in Mexico.

Kerry Baker runs the website/blog Ventanas Mexico ( She is the author of three books, The Mexico Solution: Saving your money, sanity and quality of life through living part-time in Mexico, If Only I Had a Place (a guide to renting in Mexico) and The Lazy Expat: Healthy recipes that translate in Mexico.

Before You Move to Mexico, Eliminate as Much Paper as Possible and Consider a Mail Forwarding Service

Before You Move to Mexico, Eliminate as Much Paper as Possible and Consider a Mail Forwarding Service

Mailing addresses are wonderful in the US and Canada; no one has the same address as you, your address will show up on Google Maps (and in the right place), and when you give your address to Amazon, Amazon accepts it and can deliver to you.
Not so much in Mexico.

Also, even if some NOB (“North of the Border”; the US or Canada) companies mailing to you in Mexico could send to an address where your mail would actually be delivered, many will not.

For these reasons and others, it is a good idea to stop receiving in paper as much as you can while NOB and get everything sent to you digitally, via email or access through the Internet.  In probably 95% of cases, your vendors, banks, brokerage accounts, credit card companies, etc., will welcome you doing this, and you can do it by just logging into your account on their website, clicking some boxes and giving your email address.  If this doesn’t work, you may want to call them and ask for assistance.

Ruthlessly eliminate as many pieces of paper coming to you as possible.  There is no downside to doing this now, even if your move is still several months in the future.  That way, if something doesn’t work properly or gets lost, you’ll have a chance while still NOB to fix it in a serene way.

Next, look at all your important documents, such as:

  • Driver’s license
  • Marriage certificate
  • Birth certificate
  • Residency visa (when you get it)
  • Passport
  • All credit cards and debit cards and any other cards you have
  • Car registration
  • Tax returns and receipts
  • Your most cherished photographs
  • Medical records, x-rays, and any lists of medications you’re taking
  • All the other pieces of paper you have that you need from time to time or are especially worried about no longer having

Wouldn’t it be a shame if you lost one, two, or all of them?

In many cases, it would be a complete disaster.

Don’t let it happen, at least in digital form.

Create a directory on your computer, create some subdirectories and scan each category of paper into its own directory.  Then, just think of how secure and at ease you will feel that there is no way to lose at least the digital version of these important documents and photos and how superior your will feel when someone needs your birth certificate or passport and you can just send it to them right from your computer, without having first to find it and then scan it.

Regardless of how much paper mail you eliminate, you’ll still have some.  What do you do about that?  You can either use your sister-in-law’s address where she can collect it for you (thank you, Lisa!), use some other trusted friend or relative, or you can use a commercial service.  There are now lots of mailbox companies in the US who will receive your paper mail and either scan it and send you the scan, or even from time to time physically transport it to you in Mexico.  Make sure you have one of these in place well before you move.

  • Look at each piece of paper mail you receive.  For each one, go to the Internet, to that company’s website, and ask for your correspondence to be sent via email.
  • Buy a low-cost scanner or go to Staples, Office Depot or another retailer who can scan for you.
  • Scan each of the paper in the list above into a place on your computer where you can find it.
  • Either ask someone who is stable, you can trust and who will collect your remaining mail for you if they would do it, or contract with a mailbox company who will do it and will provide you with a legal address. 

How to Figure Out What You Need to Bring to Mexico (and Some Examples)

Things You Can't Get in Mexico and Should Bring to Mexico

How to Figure Out What You Need to Bring to Mexico (and Some Examples)

Woman sitting on a comfortable sofaThe best advice I would give is to make a trip to Lakeside [Lake Chapala / Ajijic area] several months before packing and moving here. Explore the local shops (furniture and home furnishings stores, hardware stores, drug stores, grocery stores, etc.) to determine what is available. Take a lot of notes. Then think about the things you might need in your new space. If you can’t find the specific things you want to set up a comfortable home for yourself locally, bring it from the US. The list is specific to the individual and what you personally find important.

Some real-life examples: There are high cabinets in the kitchen of our Lakeside home. But it is not possible to find a kitchen step ladder that folds to 1-inch wide for storage with more than two steps here. Likewise, for a telescoping ladder. While large extension ladders are available everywhere here, a 16-foot ladder that collapses to 3.5-feet for storage isn’t available. I brought these items from the US.

Other items I would recommend bringing from the US:

  • Soft sheets and bed linens that have a high thread count
  • Bed pillows that are comfortable to sleep on
  • Some health and beauty products that you can’t find here
  • Comfortable living room chairs and sofas – many of those available in Mexico are too firm or have a straight back by US standards
  • Specialty kitchen gadgets
  • An accurate oven thermometer that is marked in both Celsius and Fahrenheit – propane-fired ovens in Mexico are difficult to regulate for baking

There is a Wal Mart at Lakeside and Home Depot in Guadalajara. These stores are not fully stocked with all of the things that you are used to seeing in their US stores. The same item from Home Depot here is generally much more expensive as compared to the US. If you are like me, I know certain tools and pieces of hardware when I see them. But I don’t always know their name or how to describe them. Trying to ask for an item in Spanish when you don’t know the name of it in English is usually a lost cause. Moral to the story: If it is something you think you might need from Home Depot or Lowe’s, bring it with you. It is better to bring something than to regret that you didn’t.

— David Hudnall

What to Bring When You Move to Mexico: Patience, Flexibility, Humor… and Cash

Things You Can't Get in Mexico and Should Bring to Mexico

What to Bring When You Move to Mexico: Patience, Flexibility, Humor... and Cash

Jet Metier and Chuck Bolotin with Mexican childrenMy usual advice to people moving to Mexico is bring Patience, Flexibility, and a Sense of Humor.  I am going to add Cash to that.

Mexico does not operate in a linear fashion.  It does not value time, money or efficiency the same way gringos do.  And it does not have an infrastructure that facilitates getting things done quickly.  A good example is the answer I received when I complemented a local Latina rental agent for building a very successful business. Her answer was “Thank you, I am so proud.  I can support 12 families.”

Family and community was the goal of her business, not profit.  She still lives above the office she started 18 years ago, although she could buy a big house.  She would prefer to insure the security of the families who work for her.  That is a Mexican value. But it also means that repair work goes to those families, even if they might not be immediately available.  Time is less important than relationships.

So be patient, things will (usually) take longer than you imagined possible, but sometimes they happen faster.  And be flexible; if the garbage truck is stuck between you and the highway you need to get to on a one-lane cobblestone street, back up, go over to the next street and drive one block the wrong way to the intersection.  You will probably not be the only one.

And laugh.  Mexicans laugh a lot.  While you are stuck behind that garbage truck and the driver comes over to your car and says “lo siento” – I am sorry, tell him you don’t mind the delay, but can he do something about the smell” and make a funny face (No me preocupa el retraso, pero ¿puedes arreglar el mal olor?).  You will both laugh. The truck won’t move any faster, but you will feel better.

Finally, Cash.  Mexico runs on cash; not credit and not electronic money.  Oh, there are places that take your credit card and you can use your debit card at Walmart, but most places want cash.  Paying a utility bill?  Pay it with cash at OXXO. Go to great Mexican restaurant? Pay cash.  Shop at the Wednesday Market?  Cash only. Go to a medical lab in Guadalajara for a test. Cash – in advance.  Despite this, the reliance on cash has not made its use easier.  As techies in the US would say, cash has a lot of friction in Mexico.

You need cash?  Go to the bank in the morning and they are out of it.  Go to the ATM (one of the two in town that will accept your card) and it can’t connect to the internet.  Go to the ATM at LCC, and there is a long line and when you get there, the machine is empty.  Go back to the bank and wait outside with 10 other people while the armored car brings cash into the bank.  Go to the one open teller after waiting for the armored car and she tells you that they are offline and can’t give you a withdrawal.   Rinse and repeat the next day.  Cash does not move quickly in Mexico.  So get a lot when you can.

But once you get used to that, you begin to automatically plan ahead, anticipate all the things that can – and probably will – go wrong, and enjoy life if Mexico.

Oh…and learn Spanish.  Things go faster and work better when you do. Except money.

— Patrick O’Heffernan


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My Fun List of What I Brought When We Moved to Mexico

John Perdiagao and Cindy Bozeman in Mexico

Things You Can't Get in Mexico and Should Bring to Mexico

My Fun List of What I Brought When We Moved to Mexico

John Perdiagao and Cindy Bozeman in MexicoMexico has so many natural and handmade treasures one might wonder… what should I pack to bring that I might not find there…

Well … depending on what you hold dear I believe the answer differs for each if us.

For me it was sentimental cherished items such as my Mom’s ashes contained in the pearl urn and the old photographs that I hold dear from the “pre-Facebook” days. Another “must have” was my beautiful wood chest that my Grandpa built by hand especially for me. I even managed to bring my first cherished stuffed animal from my preschool years (surprised myself that I couldn’t throw that beat up puppy away). I admit I’ve tried throwing him out several times since I’ve been here… tears start welling up before I made it to the bin.  Very strange indeed. But I digress…

For my husband it was simple. He wanted his giant computer monitor and his two cats! 

Having lived here two years I admit that sometimes it’s really the small things that we crave every now and then.

Here’s a few examples…

  • Ghirardelli Chocolate chips – I found them locally here in Mexico but nearly had a coronary over the price…$7.00usd per bag!  Good gawd…enough to stop my cookie cravings.
  • Graham crackers – nope, Mexico must not know about magic cookie bars or s’mores. 
  • “ain’t nobody got time for that” self-tanning foam (hard enough to find in the US.  And yes, I need it now and then! I wear sunblock and stay white as a ghost. #itsaredheadthing
  • Frosted candelabra light bulbs for our chandelier (yes really, they only have clear). We had our friends mule them over. They were like …you want what?!?
  • Whitener strips – haven’t found them anywhere! Yellow is the new white.
  • Clothes and goodies from Ross. (Whaaaaaaa!! I do miss my Ross and Home Goods)
  • Anything from Marshall’s (think soap dispensers, soft throw blankets, trendy summer tops, lamps and shades).  Yes, lamps and shades …don’t get me started.
  • Another really odd “must have” that would have never entered my mind is a heating pad. It’s one of those things you may only need once in blue moon but when you need it you’ve got to have it. Like other things you wouldn’t think would be hard to find, why this item hasn’t made it to stores south of the border is anyone’s guess.
  • Dill pickles (they’ve gotta be here somewhere)
  • Grape jelly (Mexico has literally every other jelly except grape)
  • Butterfingers! I once brought an entire carry-on bag stuffed full for my husband …. BEST WIFE EVER!

All in all, nothing we can’t live without of course but believe me, my husband and I now bring back full suitcases every time we go home! Just cuz we can 😁😉

I hope you’ll find this helpful.

— Cindy Bozeman



Before You Move to Mexico, Figure Out What to Take and What to Leave

Things You Can't Get in Mexico and Should Bring to Mexico

Before You Move to Mexico, Figure Out What to Take and What to Leave

Quinton, Sharon, and Jessie Dube
Quinton, Sharon, and Jessie

The time between our visit Lakeside and our move to Ajijic was just over six months.  During those six months we: sold our house and car, bought a house in Ajijic, established a retirement date, set-up change of address and an account with virtual mail service, ported our Calgary phone line with Vonage, started the immigration process in Calgary to become residents in Mexico and set the date for our three day Estate Sale. However, before the Estate Sale could take place, we had to determine what was moving with us to Mexico.

Thinking that moving less furniture would be more economical than moving more, we decided that we would only bring our bedroom furniture, linens, kitchen dishes, flatware, pots and pans, a few sentimental items. That was an assumption, that we later learned was incorrect.  It is more cost effective to move more than it is to move a smaller amount.

We do wish that we had moved our living room furniture and our office furniture and bookshelves.  The furniture that we owned in Canada was high quality and comfortable and it would have suited our home in Ajijic.

There were also several physical therapy items (heating pads, support slings, ice packs, etc.) that we had purchased over the years in Calgary that now we are having to purchase online through Amazon. We cannot find all these items, not everything ships to Mexico and it is more expensive to get many of the items.

In hindsight, we should have shipped more. It would have been nice to keep the furniture we loved, photo albums, some books, and a few more personal items.  If we had more time to think it through during our six-month preparation, those are the items we would have brought to Mexico.

Quinton, Sharon, and Jessie

Back Up All Your Data Before You Move to Mexico

Back Up All Your Data Before You Move to Mexico

Now that you’ve put all your important pieces of paper online, think (and more importantly, feel) what it would be like to lose it all.  Maybe you drop your computer, or someone steals it, it’s lost in a fire, or the hard drive crashes unexpectedly, right in the middle of you using it.  Feel your frustration, your anger and your fear.  All that data, all those pictures, all those personal papers, completely lost forever.  That’s nothing you can do about it.  Nothing.  All gone.  You’re devastated as you try to figure out your next move, but there really isn’t one.

Let those emotions set in and wait a moment before you read the next paragraph.

Now, feel the relief you have because you know that you backed up everything in the cloud.  Between the two feelings, this one is better, isn’t it?

I use Dropbox to continuously back up my computer, but there are plenty of other backup services that do pretty much the same thing.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to back up your entire computer to a cloud-based service, so that, if the worse happens, you can just download your saved items onto your new or repaired computer with nothing lost.  If you don’t know how to do this, ask someone who does, and please get it done.

  • Buy a service like Dropbox for your computer and install it.
  • Back up all your files.
  • Ask a knowledgeable friend to look at what you did to make sure you really did back up all your files and that they can be restored elsewhere. 

Before You Leave for Mexico, Visit Your Doctor, Dentist, and Maybe Your Auto Mechanic

Before You Leave for Mexico, Visit Your Doctor, Dentist, and Maybe Your Auto mechanic

Whenever you move to a new place NOB (“North of the Border”; the US and Canada), you establish new service providers, and none are more important than your doctor and dentist.  Sometimes, this takes a while and sometimes, there’s an emergency before you’ve done it.  As with so many other considerations about your move, moving to Mexico is just like that, only more so.

Just before you leave the US or Canada, you may want to have that final checkup at your NOB doctor’s office and final dental cleaning at your NOB dentist, just so you don’t need a root canal while en route to your new home in Mexico or soon thereafter and have to start asking people for recommendations to the local endodontist, all while you’ve got this throbbing pain in your head.  Like so much other preparation, this problem probably won’t happen, but if it does and you’ve planned ahead, it won’t be a big deal.

While you’re visiting your NOB doctor or dentist, please let them know you’re moving to Mexico and ask them for all the documentation and records they have that would be useful to your new doctor or dentist, including your list of any allergies.  These records belong to you and NOB doctors and dentists are usually very happy to provide them.

While you’re there, ask for a list of medications you take on an ongoing basis.  Then, check to make sure you have enough for an extended period of time (well after you arrive in Mexico) and that you can get your medications in Mexico.  If you don’t have enough, have your doctor write a prescription so that you do.

And while we’re on the subject of preventive maintenance, if you’re planning on driving your car into Mexico, have that NOB 108-point check enough beforehand so that, if they find something, you can have it fixed before you leave, rather than on the side of the road in Mexico next to a bemused goat in a corn field between two towns whose names you can’t pronounce.

  • Make an appointment to visit all your medical doctors.  Tell them the reason for your visit and ask them to have all your medical records and a list of medications available for you.
  • Visit your doctor.  If necessary, ask your doctor to prescribe enough medications for you to last at least several months after you arrive in Mexico.
  • Take with you your paper medical records and list of medications and then scan them into your computer(see above).
  • Do the same for your dentist.
  • A month before you’re ready to leave, have your car checked and consider getting new tires.

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