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

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

#weloveourforeverhome

#noregrets

What Should I Bring With Me When I Move to Mexico?

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

What Should I Bring With Me When I Move to Mexico?

Jet Metier walking to WalMart in MexicoWhat should you bring with you when you move to Mexico?

The short answer is: “It depends”. 

The longer answer is: It depends on:

  1. Where you will be living in Mexico.
  2. How comfortable you are with ordering products online.
  3. How attached you are to your furniture and other items/keepsakes.
  4. How important your home country branded products are to you.
  5. Things you may not easily find in Mexico.

Where you will be living in Mexico.

If you will be living within a short (1+/- hour) drive to a larger city, then you’ll most likely have a wide variety of shopping options. Anything you can buy at these stores, you won’t need to bring with you. 

Although you should know that any and all products shipped from the U.S. or Canada to stores in Mexico are subject to additional customs duties and a 16% IVA (Sales Tax) when they cross the border into Mexico. These additional fees and taxes will increase the retail prices of these products in Mexico.

General Merchandise:

Costco: 34 stores in 18 Mexican states Sam’s Club: 88 stores in 29 Mexican states

Walmart: 72 stores in 28 Mexican states Home Depot: 74 stores in 24 Mexican states

Best Buy: 10 stores in 5 Mexican states

Major Grocery Stores:

Soriana: 824 stores Chedraui: 138 stores Mega: 30 stores

How comfortable you are with ordering products online. 

If you’re comfortable with ordering products online, then you’ll have several good options when you’re in Mexico.

amazon.com ships many different products directly to Mexico from the U.S. (although you will still pay the customs duties and Mexican sales tax on these products). 

amazon.com.mx offers many (but certainly not all) of the same products available on its U.S. website. Most of these products are stocked and shipped directly from Amazon MX to your home in Mexico, which makes the shipping time shorter than ordering from the Amazon US website. 

You can also order directly from costco.com.mx just like you do in your home country. 

You will be surprised by how many dozens of online retailers in the U.S. will ship directly to Mexico and/or have a Mexican website that you can order from directly. 

There is also mercadolibre.com.mx which is like a Mexican version of Amazon. 

How attached you are to your furniture and other items/keepsakes.

There are many high quality, but affordable, furniture stores all across Mexico – from tables and chairs to sofas, desks, cabinets, etc. And, of course, there are always custom furniture makers in most mid-to-large cities and towns who can make you exactly what you want at very reasonable prices. 

But, if you have new furniture, or just furniture that you love and want to bring with you, that’s ok too. Maybe you have a favorite “easy chair” or a favorite bedroom suite that you just can’t part with. Or maybe you want to bring items that have sentimental value like family heirlooms (furniture, artwork, quilts, sculptures, etc.) that mean a lot to you. That’s ok too. 

Just remember that you may be moving to a location in Mexico that may have a very different climate than where you live now. This new climate may not be “friendly” to the furniture and other things you want to bring with you. For example, living on a coast in Mexico where the climate is hot and humid for many months of the year could damage your current furniture. The heat and humidity can often warp or crack furniture made of wood. The salty ocean air rusts and corrodes everything made of metal – including your outdoor patio furniture, as well as the electrical wiring in your house and your vehicle, metal doors and window frames, light fixtures, kitchen appliances and even your computer and other electronic devices. Just be sure that what you’re bringing with you will be “climate friendly” where you will be living in Mexico.

How important your home country branded products are to you.

Ok, you may not easily find Vegemite or Poutine at your local grocery store or restaurant, but if finding branded products from your home country is important to you, then you do have some very good options IF you live near a large city in Mexico. But, they WILL be more expensive than what you’re used to paying in your home country (due to shipping costs, duties and Mexican sales tax). 

For example, there are U.S.-equivalent shopping malls throughout Mexico where you will find popular U.S. and worldwide brands. In Guadalajara (Mexico’s 2nd largest city), you find just about everything you’ll ever want in these 2 shopping malls. 

There are also popular restaurants at these malls:

Applebee’s, Chili’s, McDonalds, Outback, P.F. Changs, Dairy Queen, Denny’s, Cheesecake Factory, Hooters, Carl’s Jr., Krispy Kreme

And there are similar upscale shopping malls throughout Mexico, including: Cancun, Tulum, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City and many more.

Things you may not easily find in Mexico.

If you’re a woman with a shoe size larger than an 8 or a man with a shoe size larger than a 10, then you will most likely have a problem finding shoes/sandals/boots in your size locally. 

If you wear large or tall clothing, then you will most likely have a problem finding clothes in your size locally.

If you like down pillows, 600+ thread count all-cotton sheets, soft/fluffy all-cotton towels or a soft mattress (Mexican mattresses are available in either “hard” or “rock hard”), then you will most likely have a problem finding this type of bedding locally. 

If you have countertop kitchen appliances (mixers, blenders, crock pots, steamers, bread makers, etc), that you love, then you’ll probably want to bring them with you. You will most likely have a problem finding these types of kitchen appliances locally. 

If you have favorite pots & pans and cutlery that you love, then you’ll probably want to bring them with you. You will most likely have a problem finding these types of cooking utensils locally. 

You will also want to bring your computers/laptops, tablets and mobile phones with you. Finding U.S.  brands of these products is possible, but more expensive in Mexico due to additional shipping costs, duties and taxes associated with importing these products into Mexico. Also know that computers available for sale at retail stores in Mexico will have Spanish operating systems and Spanish language keyboards (with ñ, á, upside down ? and ! keys, for example). 

The best advice on what to bring with you to Mexico is to just ask Chuck at Best Mexico Movers. He’s seen and done it all and can give you the best advice based on his own and his clients’ experiences. 

—  Lee Steele, Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico

Get Apps in Mexico for Your Favorite Media and Music

Get Apps for Your Favorite Media and Music

While I’m a big fan of immersing one’s self in the local culture for a richer and more meaningful experience, I also understand that, from time to time, you may like to listen to more familiar music, radio talk shows, etc.  Many apps do this and most (but not all) will work in Mexico.  

For music, you may want to try Surfr, which allows you to choose a genre, and then it plays songs from radio stations around the world that play that genre.  No charge.  You can also listen to Spotify, which allows you to specify music groups you like, for no charge.

Stitcher (free) is good for talk shows, as is Talk Stream (also free).

There’s a pretty good chance that whatever you like to listen to NOB (“North of the Border”; the US and Canada) can be accessed through an app; even your favorite NOB stations.  You may want to start experimenting with them now, before you move.

  • See if any of the radio programs you listen to have an app for your smartphone.  If they do, download it and try it out.
  • Consider downloading Surfr, Stitcher and Talk Stream.