Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mexico Is Land of Opportunity

English Library Courtyard in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
An article by Damien Cave in The New York Times yesterday detailed the changes in Mexico that are making it more attractive to big business and expatriates from the United States, Canada, and Europe.

In "For Migrants, New Land of Opportunity Is Mexico," Cave says that not only is Mexico appealing because it offers cheaper industrial costs and lower wages, it is also attractive because of its creative opportunities.

My three-story house in Ajijic with pool and two-story casita (not visible) for $550 a month.
As Cave states, "Europe, dying; Mexico, coming to life. The United States, closed and materialistic; Mexico, open and creative. Perceptions are what drive migration worldwide, and in interviews with dozens of new arrivals to Mexico City — including architects, artists and entrepreneurs — it became clear that the country’s attractiveness extended beyond economics."

My living room which is the first floor of the three-story house pictured above.
Of course, Mexico has long been a destination for retirees looking for a cheaper, simpler, and culturally diverse retirement destination.

For more information on how to make a move to Mexico, see my book, Retire in Mexico--Live Better for Less Money. 


  1. Hi, I tried finding an email address for you and could not, so thought I'd comment. I just bought your Retire in Mexico book, as it said it was updated in 2014. While this book was enjoyable to read and gave a wonderful, personal glimpse into expat life in Mexico, I am incredibly disappointed that it is no longer accurate. I assumed it was updated, but it does not seem to be - especially when it comes to drug cartel areas vs safe areas.

    For example, you tout Lake Chapala, Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara as great spots to live. However, all three of these are in the state of Jalisco, about which the U.S. Dept of State advises: "Exercise caution throughout the state, particularly in rural areas and when using secondary highways. Violent clashes between criminal organizations and government authorities, and related disturbances including barricades of burning vehicles blocking major roads and highways, are ongoing concerns that typically occur without notice."

    A Mexican paper states that 4 expats were murdered in the Lake Chapala last year. (Article: One had his arm severed off; one was stabbed to death; and one elderly couple was beaten to death. Given these murders and these US Government travel warnings, it doesn't sound like the worry-free paradise laid out in this book.

    You also outline Mazatlan as a good option, although once again, the US advises against travel within its state of Sinaloa: "Defer non-essential travel to the state of Sinaloa except the city of Mazatlan, where you should still exercise caution, particularly late at night and in the early morning. One of Mexico's most powerful criminal organizations is based in the state of Sinaloa, and violent crime rates remain high in many parts of the state. Travel off the toll roads in remote areas of Sinaloa is especially dangerous and should be avoided." I don't want to retire - looking for peace - in the home state of one of the country's most powerful criminal drug cartels.

    You made the point that you can't judge the entire USA based on crime in New York or LA. Which is true. But I can judge New York based on New York; and, as such, Lake Chapala on Lake Chapala. I don't live in Detroit because of the crime; nor do I want to live in Lake Chapala given its advisories.

    In fact, based on the US travel advisories, the only area of Mexico that is really still considered safe is the easternmost tip, across the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco, Campeche, Quintanaroo and Yucatan. Yet you only mention two of these safe areas: Merida, in the state of Yucatan, and Oaxaca in Oaxaca. I am disappointed that the book focuses so much on dangerous areas with travel advisories and violence and did not cover these more livable and safe areas.

    I can only assume that perhaps you left Mexico before these advisories were put in place and life was different when you were there, and it is heartbreaking that the beautiful places you talk about in the book are now so dangerous. Innocence lost. But given that the book was put out in the past year, I'd have hoped you would have consulted more recent safety advisories and adjusted your focus accordingly.

    For these reasons, the book is not helpful to me. I would not consider living in states that have violence advisories, and you did not cover several of the safe states, so I'll have to do that research online on my own.

    So, for me, the book is no longer relevant and cannot be used in helping me to make any determinations. It was, however, an enjoyable read and I wish I'd have had the chance to visit the Mexico you knew rather than what it has become.

    I do think you should stop selling this book given that it is not a truthful portrayal of these areas now, and many people may take it at its word without doing other proper research. Just my thoughts, as I am disappointed to have spent money on something I cannot use.

    Again, enjoyed the stories though.

    Thank you.

  2. I just finished writing to you on Amazon, but here are my comments once again. See below. Also, note that there were almost as many warnings, off and on, when I moved to Mexico as there are now. Please do not let that deter you.

    Thank you for your thoughtful review. I'm delighted you took the time to write your concerns, and, in return, I hope I can allay some of your fears. Given the United States's press coverage of events in Mexico, your fears are understandable, but, I hope to convince you, unfounded.

    Unless you are a drug dealer, you have absolutely nothing to fear from the drug cartels. Yes, the state of Jalisco is on the US list, but it's a huge state covering 30,347 square miles--it take six hours just to drive to Puerto Vallarta from Ajijic--and most of the drug activity occurs along the coast far away from tourist areas. Drug cartels have no interest in American expatriates. Indeed, hurting an American would only bring them unwanted notoriety which, of course, they avoid at all costs.

    Of course people are murdered in Ajijic.....and in Tucson and San Diego and Detroit and every other city in the United States. It is impossible to find a town in the States, or any country in the world for that matter, that has never experienced violence. Even small towns like Aurora, Colorado, and tiny Lafayette, Louisiana, had movie theater massacres. That doesn't mean that the good people of Aurora or Lafayette are never going to see a movie again, just as the murders you mentioned in Ajijic will not deter retirees from going there.

    Gwen Ifill, on the Public Broadcasting Station, recently (6 July 2015) reported on the retirees who are flocking to the very towns I mention in my book, the towns where most expats live and where services exist to meet their needs. They are going to the towns in the highlands of Mexico that offer "Hawaii's attitude and Denver's latitude." People can live cheaply and incredibly well there. For those in need of long-term care situations, Mexico offers excellent care at a fraction of the cost in the United States. Please watch this fascinating, eight minute long PBS video, shot in Ajijic, which discusses finances and interviews people who have made the move. It is well-worth your time.

    I want to assure you, too, that I keep in almost daily contact with friends in Mexico, who tell me that they still feel safer in the expat communities I mention in my book than they ever did in the States. I am also planning two trips of my own this year: a visit to my friend who is housesitting in San Miguel de Allende (There is now an international airport in Queretaro which means only a 45-minute shuttle is needed to reach San Miguel rather than a four-hour bus ride from Mexico City.), and a drive to Casas Grandes in the state of Chihuahua for Mata Ortiz pottery shopping. I have absolutely no qualms or fears--the only danger I worry about is that I might spend too much money!

    I so hope, Reader, that you will reconsider your plans and investigate some of the towns and villages I mention in my book. They ARE still safe, beautiful, and inexpensive havens where I think you would be happy for years to come.

    Wishing you a happy retirement,