Living abroad, especially in Mexico - Havanese Forum : Havanese Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 04:57 PM Thread Starter
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Living abroad, especially in Mexico

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Oh that sounds like a wonderful place, Popi! I've always wanted to go to Mexico but my husband is afraid of Montezuma's revenge!
Intestinal problems are pretty much a thing of the past. All the restaurants serve purified water and ice. Avoid "street food carts" that may have been out in the sun too long. In 15 years I have been sick once and it was over in two days with Pepto Bismal. I ate something I know I shouldn't have. All the expatriates (several thousand) wouldn't be living here if they were getting sick all the time. In fact most people's health improves here in Mexico because the weather is so conducive to lots of outdoor exercise - golf, tennis, bicycling, running, hiking, strolling, swimming, hang gliding, wind surfing, off road, and lots more.

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I've heard that expats can live cheaper in some of these countries than here.
Like anywhere else, you can live as expensive or inexpensive as you want. Proximity to the beaches can send your housing cost skyrocketing....but there are exceptions to that. Most expatriates live for 10% to 15% less than a comparable lifestyle in the US (as we do). Last week we splurged at a VERY nice restaurant on the beach with white table cloths, candles, courtyard fountain, a Mexican duo (she sounds like Linda Rhonstadt) and fabulous food and service (yes we drank the house water). I had the Lobster dinner and Momi had Pork Belly plus two cocktails all for $50.

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Do you have trouble with medical services for you or Ricky? What about Medicare (or maybe you are a spring chicken and don't get that yet!). Maybe someday I'll get there.
Mexico makes EVERYONE a spring chicken! Down a shot of Tequila and you will be doing the Mexican Hat Dance with the best of them.

English speaking small animal Vets are plentiful, although I have never used one, many locals have had to use them and give them high marks.

We have medical insurance through Kaiser Permanente (thank you Obamacare!). If we have a medical emergency here, Kaiser tells us to go to the nearest medical facility and get patched up. Kaiser will reimburse us for the bill less a $50 deductible on our policy. I know, we have done it. If we experience severe trauma - heart attack, stroke, seizure, auto accident, we will be stabilized locally and Kaiser will pay to get us back to the US via air ambulance (retail cost $20K to $25K).

The facilities here are fabulous, every bit as good as the US and the Mexican doctors are excellent. Most speak English or if not provide an English translator.

Mexico or living in another foreign country is not for everyone. I recommend visiting several times before a commitment to longer stays. However if you are adaptable the lifestyle can be fabulous for you and your dog!

Gotta go, we are hosting a cocktail and dinner party tonight for local friends from.....................SEATTLE!

Ricky's Popi
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 08:53 PM
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What part of Mexico are you in? Sounds wonderful to me.
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 09:21 PM
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I am not as familiar with Mexico as you are, but certainly when I've visited, I have not gotten sick, even when we've gone off into the countryside. Of course, I was with local people, who knew where to eat and where not to eat, and I'm sure that helped.

I've spent quite a lot of time in Brazil, and the only time I've gotten sick was clearly not a food issue. i was staying on a river boat, and everyone on the boat got sick... But not all at the same time. It just traveled through the passengers like wild fire. But that has happened to my parents on high-end river cruises in Europe too. It can happen whenever you have too many people in too close proximity. (Ask any elementary school teacher! )

Likewise with Costa Rica, Thailand and Taiwan. (Again, I've spent extensive time in Thailand... It is an extremely clean country, with excellent medical facilities) India, however doesn't have the same track record. Though I've never gotten severely ill there, I have gotten some tummy troubles a couple of times there. But then, I've read that about 60% of visitors to India get something. I think the medical care in India is good, however.

If I didn't have all my family here in New England, I'd move to either Thailand or Costa Rica in a minute. Thailand is much cheaper, and even beach front property can be very affordable. And I just LOVE the Thai people. But it's also a MUCH longer plane trip from the U.S.


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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-17-2016, 09:45 PM
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I've never been to Mexico before, but despite all of the hullabaloo, the only time some I know has gotten sick was back in the early 90's. Since then, everyone has been completely fine; they know to avoid certain street foods and attempt to stick to bottled water.

Costa Rica, for me, was a different story. I went on a service trip with a group of about 20, and over a 2 day time period, 11 of us got an awful stomach bug. To this day, I don't know what it was that caused it; almost every meal was home-cooked, and those that weren't were from very reliable sources. It didn't seem to be anything that was transmitted from person to person though.

One bit of advice I have for travelers: when in Australia, try to stay on the eastern coast or in the south. A physician at what was said to be Darwin's top medical center sent me home with oral antibiotics and a topical cream, and less than 48 hours later I was in the hospital (in Melbourne, thank God) with a nearly-fatal infection. Totally could have been a fluke, but that one bad experience could have had such dire consequences that I will stay far from the NT when I go back to Australia.

Like Karen, I would move to Costa Rica in a heartbeat. Good family friends of ours did for a year and can not speak highly enough about it. If I remember correctly, you can find beautiful single family homes with ocean views for a relatively low price (not sure how much the cost of living is in general, but...)

Hope Momi, Popi, and Ricky are enjoying their adventures thus far!

Sophie, Mario, and Nino.



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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 11:36 AM
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Oh Popi, that sounds so wonderful! And all the other places everyone else has traveled sound just amazing. I can't imagine what it would be like living in Thailand! I would love to see Australia too. My husband was there many years ago when he was in the Navy and he said they treated Americans like kings. I wish I was getting younger!



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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 01:50 PM
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I go to Mexico every other year and eat and drink pretty much anything (from street vendors, on the beach, restaurants), and don't get any GI issues.

I've also lived abroad in Europe and have traveled to many countries (~30). The only places I've gotten sick were in Brazil and Thailand; contracted meningitis in Sao Paulo (and was hospitalized) and giardia in Koh Samui. But neither of these experiences would keep me from visiting those countries again.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 02:10 PM Thread Starter
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Gotta go, we are hosting a cocktail and dinner party tonight for local friends from.....................SEATTLE
Maybe, it might be of interest to some of you what might be served as a home cooked party meal here in Mexico. Most of the ingredients below are fresh, fresh, fresh, coming in from the farms into the grocery stores on that day.

First we start with wine, cocktails, and mixed nuts as an appetizer for an hour of convivial conversation and toast the setting sun. Our sunsets here equal Hawai'i and we have lived in Hawai'i so we know.

For dinner:
Main dish - Chicken tortilla cassarole with Pico de Gallo salsa. Momi makes her own Pico de Gallo which consists of tomatoes, white onion, jalapeno chile peppers, and cilantro all finely chopped with a little Baja Lime juice and sprinkled over the top. It can be used for other things too, such as a dip for totopos (tortilla chips) as a snack, or as a condiment on tacos. It is the most incredible flavor explosion in your mouth. Momi's fresh Pico de Gallo is better than the pre-made stuff you can buy in the stores.

vegetable - fresh green beans cooked in soy sauce

salad - fresh broccoli salad with paises (raisins) y tocina (bacon) bits.

fruit: slices of fresh pineapple and cantaloupe

desert - Dulce de Leche Mexican ice cream, I won't even bother to explain what it is other than to say, "out of this world!"

for Ricky - he had a Kong filled with veggies and bits of cheese and ham. After an enthusiastic welcome to our guests he became engrossed with his Kong and then went quietly to sleep at the end of a sofa.

So you can see, we don't starve here. And best of all there are left overs for my lunch today!

Ricky's Popi
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-18-2016, 07:19 PM Thread Starter
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What part of Mexico are you in? Sounds wonderful to me.
We have a place at the very southern tip of Baja California where the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez meet, better known as "Cabo." 300 years ago it was the haunt of English, Portuguese, and sundry pirates where they laid in wait for the Spanish galleons returning from the Philippines to mainland Mexico laden with gold. Today, it is the marlin fishing capitol of the world and the only pirates here are the time share salesmen preying on the tourists!!!!!!

In response to some of the posts above about living in other places, here is our take. We have lived in California all our lives but have traveled extensively. We did live in the Polynesian country of Tonga for two years, a long time ago as members of the Peace Corps. I was an elementary school teacher and Momi was a midwife. We lived like a Tongan in a thatched hut that was a total of 10 ft. by 20ft. (like a one car garage) on white sand beach. We had no running water or electricity. Laundry was done on a scrub board and cooking on a one burner kerosene cooker. Often, if I didn't spear a fish while snorkeling in the lagoon, we would only have bananas for supper. It was a wonderful experience and one that makes us humble and thankful for everything we have today. We also lived in Hawai'i for a short period of time on the island of Molokai.

When it came time to start thinking about retirement, we searched the world over for our retirement paradise. We travelled to western and eastern Europe, Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, various islands in the Caribbean, Florida, Oregon, Washington, Canada, back to Hawai'i, and of course Mexico which we had visited many times including our honeymoon 50 years ago. We have never been to Thailand but our youngest daughter was a high school foreign exchange student in Phuket 25 years ago. She lived with a Thai family and became fluent in the language and an aficionado of Thai food.

So now we had to make some choices. We decided that we wanted to be bi-national, having in a smallish house in California where we could return for common medical treatments and be close to our daughters especially at holiday times when it is difficult for them to get away from work. And a smallish home in another country rather than big, complicated homes that we had been living in California. We also feel strongly that it is necessary to learn the local language in your adopted country to get the most out of your experience. Sure many of the Mexicans, and Thais, and Costa Ricans want to speak English to you so they can practice their language skills. But just think of Mexicans (or any national) who come to the US and first generation refuse to learn English and what a bad impression that makes on Americans. It is the polite thing to learn your host country national language to make the best impression. And we already spoke some Spanish.

So that ruled out any consideration of Thailand for us because the language is extremely difficult. We ruled out Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic because of rapidly increasing prices where foreigners were comfortable living AND a crime rate higher than Mexico's against foreign nationals. We have friends who live in Costa Rica and they are ready to pack it in because of the crime in their relatively affluent neighborhood. Also the weather in those countries and the Caribbean is very hot and humid year round and we had experienced that in Tonga and wanted no part of it. Hawai'i proved very expensive for what we wanted. We could pay the same for a place in Hawai'i in a dense neighborhood with no ocean view or for the same price a place in Mexico ON the beach. Oregon, Washington, and Canada, although very beautiful, proved to be too cold and rainy for us. We felt like we didn't belong in Florida (although I was born in Miami during the war).

That left us with Mexico and Western Europe. We LOVE Spain! We speak the language and it is beautiful, the weather pleasant, and the food delicious (we are not fans of French cuisine). But the distance from friends and family was just too far. So viola, Mexico came out on top and since purchasing our place here 11 years ago we have never been sorry. Cabo is a 130 minute direct flight from L.A. It is a two day drive from house to house on one of the most beautiful (mostly desert) drives in the world. We can literally, drop everything in California and leave for Mexico the next day if we want. And if something serious happens in California, we can be on the plane that afternoon or drive back the following day. We like the "lock the front door and walk away" lifestyle with minimal obligations to house and home. Footloose and fancy free and Ricky is always ready for the next adventure.

Cost of living is very reasonable here. And don't believe everything you hear about the crime in Mexico. We have great friends here both expatriates from all over the world and Mexicans. We and the other expatriates wouldn't live here if we didn't feel completely safe. Momi's favorite hairdresser is not in the US but a Mexican woman here, Rocio. And it is not all Mexican food here. We have a great middle Eastern food restaurant here run by an Iraqi guy from England. Cynthia serves some of the best healthy fresh vegetarian food. Pizza and sushi (mexican style) are all the rage here.

These are just some of the factors to consider when contemplating a home in another country. Yes, it does sound glamorous but it is a big decision and one that should not be taken lightly.

Ricky's Popi

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-19-2016, 12:08 PM
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Popi, I'm curious - do you have to pay real estate taxes on the property you own in Mexico? Do they have sales tax or other taxes that we may not be familiar with? How difficult is it to get Ricky across the borders, coming or going? I suppose you have to have proof of a rabies vaccine like we do if we go to Canada with our pets but is there anything else in getting him back and forth?

It just all sounds so fabulous. Can Willow and I come live with you?



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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 02-19-2016, 01:31 PM
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Popi we love Cabo. My husband and I have been going every year for years. We do the all inclusive thing, I must admit, but we always make a point of getting to know the mexican staff and the Mexican people we meet wandering around Cabo and area and learn about them, their lives and who they are. They are wonderful people with the most generous spirit and incredibly happy outlook on life. They are very easy to love. I always try to learn a little bit more Spanish each time we go down, but living in Canada it is hard to retain it. There is no way to get to use the language here. We enjoy getting out and about down there and we have always felt very safe. We don't hesitate to take the local bus system and we walk around the streets and feel fine. We love Cabo because it is not humid, my husband cannot function in places like Cancun. We live in a very dry climate in Canada and the dry heat in Cabo is much easier for us to take. I know staying at a resort doesn't begin to give us the experience of true Mexican culture, but the little we do get to experience by reaching out to the Mexican people we get to know each year is wonderful.







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