It is due time that I added a Frequently Asked Questions section to Los O’Gradys in Mexico!
While this list could theoretically be endless, here are the Top 10 Questions we receive relative to living in Mexico:
1. Do you feel safe?
Yes. As we would employ anywhere, common sense and situational awareness go a long way. Limit night driving, obey all speed limits and don’t hang out in areas known for its seedy clientele. Be friendly, smile, learn the local language, be gracious and courteous and always keep in mind that you get to see life through a different lens in Mexico. Let go of preconceived notions. Let your feet-on-the ground experience guide you, not what the media chooses to sensationalize.
2. Do you feel safe raising your children in Mexico?
Double yes. Because of its family-centric culture, there truly exists the mentality that it takes a village to raise a child. Children are adored and are the focus of the family and community unit. We all look out for each other’s kids—nationals and expats alike that have chosen to raise their families here. I don’t fear letting my children use public restrooms nor them moving about independently in crowded areas like movie theaters, public parks, restaurants, plazas, beaches, schools. They have freedom to roam and explore and therefore feel empowered as they establish their own sense of identity in this big world.
For more on this, please see Moving to Mexico with Children~A Wife & Mom’s Perspective
3. How are the schools?
Great! Our experiences with the now four different schools our twins have gone to here in Mexico have been varied and all very good. From a Montessori and International Surfing school in the jungle of Nayarit to a Bilingual Educative Institution in the heart of colonial San Miguel to now a prestigious and rigorous school in Jalisco, our children have been challenged and supported academically, socially and athletically. They are bilingual and bicultural and are developing life skills that serve them very well.
4. Do you recommend coastal or central living?
Having lived on the coast and inland ourselves, there are benefits and considerations to both areas—topography, culture, customs, proximity to international airports, medical care, etc. While it is a personal choice, it is important to do as much research as possible—both via the internet and as much travel as you can to see what is (and isn’t) a fit for you. There are so many options, one could very easily be happy in several places or even do half a year in one and the other half in another depending on your own personal desires.
5. Who do you recommend for International Travel Health Insurance?
For those of you that are not making a full time move to Mexico and are instead wanting to frequent your favorite spot throughout the year, the GeoBlue Trekker Plan is the perfect fit. If you have underlying coverage in the States through your employer, an individual plan or Medicare, GeoBlue Trekker covers your pre-existing conditions. With Trekker, you pay one price for the year and can come and go as many times in that contract year with no limitations as long as no one single trip exceeds 70 consecutive days. For example a senior age 65+ the annual rate is only $220 USD!
For snowbirds that live 6 months in Mexico and 6 months north of the border, GeoBlue Voyager is a full comprehensive major medical plan. The Choice version of the plan is for those who have a domestic U.S. health plan as it covers ALL pre-existing conditions while abroad. No medical underwriting is required. And the cost of the Voyager plan is so much less than an expat plan.
The Trekker and the Voyager Choice are two great products for those that do not live in Mexico permanently.
For more information as to why GeoBlue is the go-to leader in International Medical Insurance, please see International Medical Coverage~Don’t Leave Home Without It
6. Is the water safe to drink?
Unless you have a reverse osmosis system, it is best to buy the large garrafones of purified water (with dispenser) to keep on your countertop. As for ice in restaurants, the golden rule seems to be that if it is cylinder-like in shape that it comes from a filtered source, but that if it is square it was perhaps not store bought nor filtered.
Numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10 are reader-generated questions:
7. Having lived in two completely different locations, the interior and the coast, is there a significant difference in monthly expenses between locations? (Trevor)
I would say they are more or less the same. Your best bets for keeping your grocery expenses down is to shop at the mom & pop corner stores, the fruterías, carnicerías and tortillerías. Dining out, especially in tourist-popular areas can be pricey, unless of course you are going for your delicious street fare of tacos, tamales and torta stands. Medical costs vary by specialty but on average are more or less the same coastal vs. central—at least that has been our experience. As for house rentals, they seem to be pretty consistent between both areas, although are increasingly going up as the popularity of relocating to Mexico does as well.
8. What is the naturalization process? (Amy)
You must begin the process in your country of residence. From there, we highly suggest that you work with a legal liaison to work out the details of your own circumstances—i.e. Do you want to go for temporary or permanent residence of even citizenship? Raquel Cibrian is our go-to person for all things related to residing legally in Mexico.
9. Please comment on the crime stories scare that is seemingly the only type of news we hear about Mexico from state side. Any paranoia about kidnappings, cartels, and the like? (Bertoni)
Bad things, crime and even cartels exist all over the world, just with different names and in different forms. My husband spent a quarter of a century as a feet-on-the street first responder in San Diego and I don’t feel any more concerned about kidnappings here in Mexico than I did in the States. I know it might seem like a simplified answer, but truly, exercising common sense and situational awareness go a long way. I refuse to live in fear or allow it to inhibit my sense of wonder, freedom and adventure. There is too much fun to be had and beauty to be seen!
10. How do you go about selecting where is a good place to live? Visit, gut feel, dart board, etc.? (HuaracheSol)
Great question and one with so many possible answers! It is important to research and travel as much as you can before picking that “one spot” to settle down in although settling down can take on different forms—maybe one or two years in several different areas— both coastal and central—to explore and really get to know an area beyond what a week or 2 can afford. Really, the possibilities are endless. Here we are, so happy to be back in Central Mexico for 5 days as there is truly SO much about it that we love but at the same time I know we will look forward to returning to our current home of the beauty of the coast, palm trees, warmth and surf….soooo, I don’t know if I have adequately answered your question, but it really is a beautiful evolution that unfolds on its own terms…
Cheers y Saludos,
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* Los O’Gradys in Mexico is proud to partner with GeoBlue, an International & Travel Medical Insurance Company of incomparable quality and sound reputation. We ONLY accept partnerships with entities that we feel 100% comfortable associating our name with, thus one of the reasons this platform in not filled with random advertisements.