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Who is moving to Mexico from the US? The answer might surprise you

Who is moving to Mexico from the US?

Originally published Feb. 1, 2022, in Mexico News Daily

An increasing number of Americans moving to Mexico are younger

By Debbie Slobe

When you think about who is moving to Mexico from the United States, you probably think of retirees seeking a warmer and more affordable place to live out their golden years.

While there is certainly a large population of senior snowbirds from the U.S. that live full- or part-time in Mexico, the truth is that most U.S. citizens moving to and living in Mexico today are younger people — mostly the children and spouses of Mexican citizens who have returned to their family’s home country.

According to Andrew Selee, President of the Migration Policy Institute, of the approximately 1.5 to 1.8 million U.S. citizens living in Mexico today, at least 550,000 are children of Mexicans who have returned, according to Mexican census numbers.

But there is also a growing number of young families from the U.S. with fewer direct ties to Mexico that are making the move or are already settled in the country. There is no official count of the number of American families living in Mexico today, but if their obvious presence in communities across the country is any indication, it is surely in the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

San Miguel de Allende-based relocation consultant Katie O’Grady has helped hundreds of individuals, couples and families plan, research and make the move to Mexico. She says there are myriad reasons American families move here, but it all boils down to improving their quality of life.

Who is moving to Mexico from the US? The answer might surprise you (Mexico News Daily) (Mexico News Daily)
Sick of the rat race in California, the O’Grady family moved to San Pancho, Nayarit in 2012. They currently live in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.

“The main driving force for families is their overall desire to have a life well-lived, quality family time and true connections with people — to be able to walk around their community and stop and literally smell the flowers, have conversations with people and make that personal connection,” she said.

Selee, who interviewed dozens of Americans living in Mexico for his book Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together and has connections with U.S. immigrants all over the country, found similar reasoning in his research.

“Americans tend to move because they like the pace in Mexico — it’s a less frenetic society. They also like the sense of community. Family is tight. Neighbors are tight. There is a code about relationships between people here that Americans find attractive and refreshing and different from where they came from,” said Selee.

As an American citizen who moved from San Diego to Mexico in 2012 with her husband, Frank, and young twins, O’Grady has experienced firsthand the transformation that can occur when families leave the rat race and create more expansive, balanced and connected lives in Mexico.

Back in San Diego, Frank was a firefighter whose work required him to be away from home and in life- and health-threatening situations for days at a time. Katie was an accomplished K-12 Spanish teacher who retired early a few years after their twins were born to homeschool them.

Reflecting back, with all that she and Frank were balancing in their lives in the fast-paced environment of Southern California, O’Grady said, “We were like two ships passing in the night.”

The O’Gradys spent most of their precious time off together back then in Baja California, where they lived simply from their RV, played on the beach and finally had a chance to unwind.

“From an early age, my kids had a sprinkling of what life in Mexico looks like. For them, it always represented [that] mom and dad aren’t stressed,” O’Grady said. “Mexico always had this very positive connotation to it. It always represented relaxation, concentrated family time and adventure.”

As someone who grew up near the Mexican border, visiting Mexico frequently and having a grandfather who was the chief of the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration in the 1940s — a time when border relations were more convivial than confrontational — O’Grady already had deep connections to Mexico. So when she and Frank dreamed of one day creating a different life for their family outside the U.S., Mexico was a natural fit.

In 2012, when their twins were eight years old, they made the move, first landing in San Pancho, Nayarit.

“We dove in. And we haven’t looked back with any regrets. Of course, we’ve had hard times, bumps in the road and inconveniences that weren’t expected. But that’s going to happen anywhere. I’d much rather be doing life on this side of the border any day,” said O’Grady.

She started blogging about their family’s experience immigrating to and living in Mexico, which grew in popularity and attracted the attention of others looking to make the move. In 2014, she launched her relocation consulting business, focusing on the Puerto Vallarta coastal corridor and San Miguel de Allende, where she lives now.

Who is moving to Mexico from the US? The answer might surprise you (Mexico News Daily)
“From an early age, my kids had a sprinkling of what life in Mexico looks like. For them, it always represented [that] mom and dad aren’t stressed,” Katie O’Grady said.

O’Grady says she has seen different waves of interest in moving to Mexico — first with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, and more recently with the pandemic.

“The pandemic has been a huge impetus behind the current uptick in requests for my services. Every day there are more people,” O’Grady said. “The biggest difference I see now is inquiries are coming not just from the U.S. but also from Canada, Australia and Ireland. Before, 90% of my inquiries were from the U.S. Then, it was about political discomfort. Now, interest is a direct result of the pandemic.”

Selee also sees the pandemic as a catalyst for greater immigration into Mexico.

“In the COVID world, we learned that so many jobs can be done outside of offices. That is only going to encourage more people to look at where they want to live for quality of life. I think we have seen accelerated immigration to Mexico because of the pandemic,” he said.

But even before the pandemic, populations of American immigrants throughout Mexico were growing. Not just among retirees, two-parent families, couples and individuals but also among single parents such as Kimberly Miles.

Who is moving to Mexico from the US? The answer might surprise you (Mexico News Daily)
“Living in Mexico has restored my faith in humanity,” says Kimberly Miles, who moved to Mexico from the US in 2018.It was her longtime wish to live abroad in a Spanish-speaking country that originally drew Miles and her four-year-old son from Alexandria, Virginia, to Puerto Vallarta — that, and her desire to create a different life, one that would allow her more time with her son, immerse them both in a new culture and give her a chance to start her own marketing consulting business.

Miles left her corporate job of 15 years and moved to Mexico in 2018. She is now her own boss, catering mostly to single moms like herself looking to launch their own businesses. She is also the creator and administrator of the Facebook Group Single Moms in Mexico.

Miles says her life in Mexico is markedly different than it was in Virginia. “The stress level is completely different. As a single mom in the northern Virginia area, it is extremely difficult,” she said.

“Not only is it expensive but there is also so much pressure to be a certain thing, do a certain thing, go to certain places and act a certain way. Here, I’ve found that’s not the case. I can be more relaxed and do the things I enjoy.”

Instead of rushing out of the house at 7 a.m. to get to work and get her son to school on time, only to turn around at the end of the day to pick him up and not get home until 6:30 p.m., now Miles works from home and clocks off at 2 p.m. when her son is done at school.

“Living here has provided me with a much better quality of life in terms of motherhood. Plus, I would not have had the opportunity to build a business had we stayed in Virginia,” she said.

Similar to what O’Grady and Selee have observed and experienced, the strong sense of community here — a different experience than she had in the U.S. — is what Miles finds so attractive about living in Mexico.

Who is moving to Mexico from the US? The answer might surprise you (Mexico News Daily)
Mexico is increasingly an immigrant society, says Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute.

Living in Mexico has restored my faith in humanity. People walk down the streets and say good morning to complete strangers. People are willing to go out of their way to help. When you see someone’s car broken down on the side of the road, people come out and help. I’ve never seen that back at home,” she said.

While moving to Mexico can provide harried families and parents a slower, more connected life rich with new cultural experiences, it is not without its challenges. Among the biggest are one’s ability to assimilate and adapt to things like a new language, unfamiliar social norms and a different sense of time. That’s not always easy for those conditioned in the customer-is-always-right, hurry-up culture of the United States.

“I tell people — wherever you are, there you will be. You are taking that wherever you go. A lot of people move to Mexico and it’s not the place for them,” Miles said. “It’s not the place, it’s you. Unless you understand yourself, you are not going to get what you are expecting.”

“The real opportunity,” said Selee about living in Mexico, “is integrating into local society and taking advantage of getting to know the country. There are Americans who move to Mexico and stay in American communities. Any immigrant is going to want to find people who have the same background, and you don’t want to give that up. But at the same time, you want to meet people from the country you are settling in and become part of the texture of the community you are living in. Mexico is increasingly an immigrant society. It’s ok to be one of those people.”

“Mexico is not for everybody, but it is for a lot of people,” said O’Grady. She advises families considering the move to not live in fear and figure out a way to re-create and reinvent their lives.

“If there is a little whisper knocking on the door of your heart saying, ‘See what else is out there,’ do it,” she said. “None of us are trees. We can get up and move. We don’t have to stay stuck anywhere – and that includes in Mexico.

“Try it all out; this is a big, diverse, magnificent, beautiful country — so get out and see it.”

For information about Moving to Mexico and details of my one-on-one, personalized, customized Relocation Services, feel free to email me at losogradysinmexico@gmail.com

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The Roof Is on Fire! 7 Tips for House Maintenance in Mexico

The Roof Is on Fire! 

It was our first big Summer storm since our return to the coast from San Miguel de Allende that immediately and clearly reminded us of the importance of proper & savvy house maintenance in Mexico (or any country for that matter)! The lightning came cracking down like an arrow landing a bullseye, resulting in my jumping at least a foot into the air and one of our rooftop AC compressors catching on fire! 

Fortunately for me, I am married to a firefighter and knew that our family (and my nerves) were in good hands. It was a powerful lightning bolt that caused the fire and thankfully the downpour that extinguished it. Glass half full, no?

Thanks to ingenuity and the reuse and repurpose culture of Mexico, the AC wires were changed out and the unit spared! 

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

The Power of Lightning!

Jungle storms can be powerful, messy and destructive. They are equally exciting and regenerative–popping out the dense, lush, canopies of green and a multitude of ecosystems that thrive inside of them–reminding one of the absolute magnificence of Mother Nature.

The rainstorms also provide an opportunity to identify where exactly more silicone is needed, like around the collection of leaking windows at the base of a 20-foot high boveda ceiling! Tall ladder anyone? Those first few falls on our slick marble floors were not so fun (especially after my back surgery!) and made us delay not in tending to this issue ASAP.

The jungle wasted no time in welcoming us back and reminding us of the fortitude, sense of humor and determination one needs to both survive and thrive in this thing called Life. Yes, there is a price to pay for living in paradise, folks!

The following House Maintenance in Mexico 101 Tips~Tried and True are based upon our own personal experiences from our now nine years in country. I hope they are useful and help you to maximize your enjoyment and minimize your frustrations!

1. High-Quality Roof Sealant

Ensuring that the roof of your home has been properly inspected, sealed and protected against leaks and moisture intrusion should be a top priority. We learned this the hard way when our San Pancho rental grew large circular mold spores from the outside in after our first rainy season there. A disgusting and unsafe “inconvenience” to say the least and one that a layer of paint would not remedy! Needless to say, the roof had never been sealed. A slight oversight. 

Hire a reputable company to assess the roof’s condition and if needed, to power wash it prior to putting on a quality sealant that has not been watered down.

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

What a difference a powerwash can make! The Before and After in Progress!

There are various types of impermeabilizantes (sealants) available. Spending a bit more to ensure a quality result is well worth it. We went with this one, considering the amount of rain we receive here on the coast of Nayarit. 

Having to climb up our tallest ladder to cover the mold spores coming through the unsealed roof into our bedroom was not my idea of fun! 

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

Covering the mold spores coming through our bedroom ceiling with duct tape!

2. Air Conditioners Serviced

Have all AC’s serviced at least once every six months. The filters should be cleaned of mold/dust/debris and the electrical panels checked for any unwanted critters that can wreak havoc. Apparently electrical wires are a delicacy to geckos—ridding your AC’s of them is far easier than having to replace the entire unit, trust me.

3. Over-The-Bed Mosquito Nets

Screens on all doors and windows are not just a luxury but an absolute necessity lest you want to share your home with mosquitos, spiders, geckos, scorpions, iguanas and stray animals. Additionally, these-over-the-bed mosquito nets  are must-haves and will allow for peaceful, uninterrupted sleep ( ie. no annoying buzzing in your ear!)

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

Mosquito-Free Sleeping

4. Drain Covers

If you want to prevent golf ball-sized flying cockroaches and sewer smells coming into your living space, you’ll want to get some of these

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

5. Moisture Absorbing Bags & Room Dehumidifier

Jungle living equals hot and humid for at least 6 months out of the year! Ventilate your home as much as possible to protect your clothes, shoes and other household items. Using these moisture absorbing bags inside closets and other closed spaces helps to absorb excess humidity and to protect your items from musty odors and mold. 

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

Room dehumidifiers work really well and you’ll be amazed when you empty the water collection tank how much moisture they remove!

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!6. Polarity Tester for Electrical Outlets

Make sure your outlets are grounded and wired correctly with a polarity tester or hire a qualified electrician to do so.

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

Just Say No To Electrical Fires!

7. Carbon Monoxide Detectors

If you’ve been following us for any time, you know why we recommend carbon monoxide detectors for both home and travel safety. We recommend placing one in every bedroom and next to any gas-fueled appliances such as a stove, clothes dryer, hot water heater, fireplace and any freestanding gas heater.

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Recently we purchased these units that test for both carbon monoxide and combustible gas. 

House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico!

Combo CO & Combustible Gas Alarm

Of course we have smoke alarms too! All a small investment for peace of mind.

These are our House Maintenance in Mexico 101~Tried & True Tips.

Do you have any other tips that you would like to add? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section below. 

Saludos,

~Katie O’Grady

House Maintenance in Mexico 101 Tried & True Reader’s Tips:

Arturo: For the summer months it is highly recommended to put your clothes in airtight/vacuum sealed bags so that mold doesn’t grow in them especially if you skip town. I highly recommend doing this process with your shoes because if you don’t, the soles will disintegrate completely from the salty air and humidity.

Margaret: Keep all your food in the refrigerator, even if you wouldn’t normally, especially fruit. Clean up your kitchen messes as soon as possible to deter unwanted scavengers and never ever ever let your kids eat in the bed unless you want… ANTS ANTS EVERYWHERE! (and they bite)! Even with screens and drain covers, if you leave food out they will find you.

 

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Banking in Mexico

Banking in Mexico can be frustrating for some, but don’t let it bother you for more than a few minutes. Adaptation, patience and a sense of humor are key. 

Like many things in life, especially the immigrant/expat life, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Who you bank with in your current home country and what your banking needs and residency status are will guide your banking path. 

Residency Required

In order to open a bank account in Mexico, you must be at least a Temporary Resident (it is possible that some banks would require Permanent Residency). You may not open a Mexican bank account on a Tourist Visa, as a CURP (similar to a social security number) is required and these are provided only for Temporary or Permanent Residency Visa holders.

Diversification

Mexico in large part is a cash-based society, and as such, it is best to diversify your options for accessing cash because things will not function smoothly 100% of the time.  

Our Banking Path

As Permanent Residents we opened a Mexican bank account with Citibanamex and linked it to our stateside Citibank account. This allows us to pay for things in Mexico with our Banamex debit card and provides another option for withdrawing cash.

With our Citibank account we can transfer dollars directly into our Mexico Banamex peso account and the transfer occurs within 30 minutes. A Capital One transfer can take anywhere from 3 to 5 days, so best to plan accordingly.

The following three banks are easy to work with and will refund ATM withdrawal fees: 

Capital One 360 

Fidelity Investments 

Charles Schwab Bank

It is important to set up these accounts prior to moving to Mexico so that you can take care of any necessary paperwork by traditional mail and get their apps installed on your smart devices. 

ATM Exchange Rate

When withdrawing from a Mexican ATM, it is very common for a message to be displayed asking if you accept their offered rate of exchange. Always decline. If you accept their rate of exchange it will be lower than the rate of exchange your bank will use.

Notifying Your Bank

You will want to notify your banks that you will be in Mexico so that the fraud department is not flagged when charges and withdrawals start coming in from out of your home country. 

Many banks in Canada and the USA will not accept a foreign address and will not want to maintain accounts if a customer is living full time in Mexico. You will need to navigate this as you see fit depending on who you are banking with.

Maintaining a home country mailing address is easy via US Global Mail

Going as paperless as possible is highly recommended as is maintaining a US number for when you need to receive security text message from your stateside bank. 

One option for having a US # on your Mexican cell is via:

Voip.ms obtain NOB phone #

Zoiper.com download app to your phone and connect with Voip.ms

Documents Required to Open A Mexican Bank Account

*Your passport and copies
*Your residency card and copies
*2-3 consecutive utility bills from your residence dated within the last 3 months–it does not matter if it is in your name or not–from CFE (electrical) or Telmex (landline/internet). This proves the residence actually exists.

*Home Rental contract 
*2 Personal References

You will need these documents for almost any government, banking or other service transaction you wish to initiate so it is best to make several copies of each.

You may want to consider taking a translator with you, in case they do not have English speaking staff.

In most Mexican banks, you will need to take a ticket and wait your turn as many don’t allow you to make appointments.

Two Popular Mexican Banks with Expats: 

Intercam

CiBanco

All banks have their own specific requirements. Check with their customer service or websites before you head out in person to open your account. 

Banking in Mexico Summary

Everyone must find what works best for them. You will no doubt get many different opinions on what banking path(s) work best for others on Facebook groups and other forums. It is not a bad thing to speak with other folks to compare notes and determine what options will work best for you. 

*Last but not least, have your local bank in the US provide you with some pesos prior to leaving the States.

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For information about Moving to Mexico and my one-on-one, personalized, customized Relocation Services, feel free to email me, Katie, at losogradysinmexico@gmail.com

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El Charco del Ingenio (Botanical Gardens)~San Miguel de Allende

My friend Julie and I headed over to El Charco del Ingenio the other day to get a much needed dose of Mother Nature and all her beauty.

The fee was 50 pesos per person (approximately $2.50 USD) and masks were required for entrance and if and when in close proximity to others.

A majestic wonderland of butterflies, waterfalls, cactus apples, green trails and the enchantment that the desert highlands of Central Mexico is, a visit to El Charco is not to be missed.

El Charco del Ingenio (Botanical Gardens)~San Miguel de Allende

El Charco del Ingenio (Botanical Gardens)~San Miguel de Allende

Safety at El Charco del Ingenio

For families with little ones or adventurous teens, it is highly recommended that no off-trail explorations are had unless under the watchful eye of an adult. In fact, the Charco rules state that minors are required to be accompanied by an adult at all times and with good reason. There are designated paths but also many areas that are not roped off and could potentially be quite dangerous. 

El Charco del Ingenio (Botanical Gardens)~San Miguel de Allende

We have had such a wonderful rainy Summer season here in San Miguel de Allende, still continuing now into mid September that the water levels in the wetlands of Parque Landeta down to the Obraje Dam and La Presa are quite full…a much welcomed change after the dry months we had this past March through mid May. 

El Charco del Ingenio (Botanical Gardens)~San Miguel de Allende

 

El Charco del Ingenio (Botanical Gardens)~San Miguel de Allende

The panoramic views of San Miguel, the valley of the Rio Laja and the distant horizon of the Sierra de Guanajuato are just spectacular.

El Charco del Ingenio (Botanical Gardens)~San Miguel de Allende

The variety of trees, shrubs and cacti from this semi-arid region are sure to delight, including this little treasure, titled “Mother-n-Law’s Chair”.

Birds at The Botanical Gardens

Starting in the rainy Summer season until the end of winter, aquatic, resident and migratory birds take refuge and nest on the vegetation-covered islands.

Two hours was not enough to explore this national treasure, and I will indeed be back!

 

For more information about El Charco del Ingenio (Botanical Gardens)~San Miguel de Allende, I highly suggest that you check out their very educational website and Facebook Page.

Have you been?

If so, would love to hear about your experience in the comments section below.

Saludos,

Katie O’Grady ☘️ 🇲🇽

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Ready to Simplify Your Life and Move to Mexico?~with Elle Zimmerman

Are You Ready to Simplify Your Life & Move to Mexico? 

⁠⁠

Do you ever feel tired of the busy, monotonous go-go-go of life? 

Or ever think “I wish I could just get away…forever!” ⁠⁠

On Episode 40 of She Made It with Elle Zimmerman, I share my story along with tips for creating a more adventurous and meaningful life for your family, too!

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Katie O’Grady of is a former middle school teacher who grew up in Southern California, and she always felt a call toward Mexico.

Finally, in 2012, she decided to listen. ⁠⁠
⁠⁠
Katie, her husband and their 8-year-old twins packed their bags and moved south of the border and started a new life filled with adventure. ⁠⁠
⁠⁠
Today, she’s an internationally-acclaimed writer, relocation consultant and founder of Los O’Gradys in Mexico, assisting other families, couples and individuals in their own reinvention in Mexico. ⁠⁠
⁠⁠

Listen in to hear:⁠⁠⁠⁠

  • Why Katie and her husband decided to simplify their lives and move their family south of the border⁠⁠
  • The mindset you need to write your own rules, break free of conventions and live a life that feels like YOU⁠⁠
  • The innovative ways that Katie rejects consumer culture and cultivates curiosity and creativity in her 17-year-old twins ⁠⁠
  • Keys to creating a career that aligns with your passions⁠⁠
  • Katie’s advice for other busy moms who want to create a different kind of life for their family⁠⁠
  • How to deal with naysayers and stick to your truth
  • Tips on how to simplify your life 

Listen to Katie’s interview with Elle Zimmerman on:

Apple Podcasts: Ditching The Rat Race and Rewriting the Rules For Your Family

Spotify: She Made It

Episode blog: She Ditched The American Rat Race, Moved Abroad, and Brought Her Family With Her

If you are ready to Simplify & Downsize Your Life and want to discuss what a Move to Mexico entails, feel free to reach out to Katie at losogradysinmexico@gmail.com for details on her personalized Relocation Assistance.

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*Be sure to travel with (and have your home outfitted with) Carbon Monoxide Detectors. You can read here why Katie is an advocate for Carbon Monoxide Safety and Awareness and recommends a combination of both battery-operated and plug-in CO Monitors. Power outages can and do happen. 

 

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