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My dad was 65 years old and suffered major heart issues. At the time they lived in the Carson Valley area of Nevada, experiencing cold winters and dry climate, neither found it comfortable. One day, in an effort to find sun and warmth, they got in the car and went for a drive.

The first phone call to check in with us “kids”, was Arizona. Next email came from Mexico, from the city of Hermosillo.  As children we were accustomed to their long rides and road trips and we didn’t see this adventure or “walkabout” as they called it, as anything unusual. Our expectation was that they would take another week or two to drive their adventure and return home to the home we knew in Nevada. September grew into October and October became November. A week before Thanksgiving they sent us email and advised that they would be doing Thanksgiving Mexican style on the beach of Mazatlan where they had finally landed and made friends.

It was in Mexico that they found like minded people on the same adventure. They appealed to my father’s sense of adventure in sailing and water, and my mother, ever the Pisces, found the ocean and her soul’s sense of peace. I can remember as a child in San Francisco, whenever her heart ached, or they argued, she would get in the car and drive to Ocean Beach, and sit and watch the waves and find her answers,  Their sense of belonging and comfort among the Canadian and Mid Western snowbirds seeking the same, was obvious and we, while disappointed a holiday built on expectation of traditions would be forgone that year, we admired their courage and bravery in choosing a new path, and one that would make them happy,

When Christmas arrived and we all gathered as a family once more, they sat us down and advised that they thought they would try spending winters in sunny, warm Mazatlan, and so it began their “retirement” in a foreign country, 2500 miles away on the ocean.

In the years since, they bought a beautiful ocean front, tri level townhouse, remodeled to their affinitive standards, and Mom grew a new direction in her Real Estate career, selling property in Mexico to people just like them seeking a comfortable and affordable retirement in paradise.

According to the Dallas Morning News, over 500,000 Americans and Canadians are living in Mexico — and that figure is a 500% increase from recorded numbers of 10 years ago. Add to this a figure of 600,000 Europeans and the numbers are extraordinary. What is interesting to note here is that these are registered FM holders, and does not account for those who are in Mexico without the FM status.

In the latter years of my Relocation Career I specialized in the logistics of the move from the United States and Canada into Mexico. I handled all documentation, from origin to destination, including the documentation of customs, the Menaje de Casa forms in Spanish and English, and the logistics of the transfers at the border from U.S trucks to Mexican trucks to the final destination.  The story behind the move was never the same twice, but the objective was invariably the same.  An affordable lifestyle, in warm climate and a sense of peace and calm they could not find in total package anywhere else in the world.

While the idea historically is that Mexico is third world and behind the times, nothing could be further from the truth. Satellite television, cell phone service, wireless cable and even the beloved vanilla nonfat extra hot, extra shot latte! Modern appliances, state of the art technology and French cuisine can be had in just about every metropolis and resort destination in Mexico. What you are not likely to find, is substandard service, unkindness or rude society, because Mexicans are incredibly proud of their social standards and the age old traditions and customs that define the people. Service is ingrained, not because they have to, but because they want to. Because in Mexico if you treat one another in kindness and respect, it is returned two fold.

In fact, once invited into someone’s home to share a cup of tea, or a “postre”(pastry) on a sunny afternoon, or invited to Sunday dinner, you are favored, and you are considered family.

People are in less of a hurry, and while for some this may seem frustrating, culturally it is a message that not everything is so urgent, and some things can wait, and patience is in fact a virtue.   The quality of life in Mexico is improved. Goods and services are far more affordable, and even employing household help is within the budget. A life of retirement in Mexico is built upon the principal of rest and relaxation and we all know this translate to quality of life. Savor the moments. It’s Mexico.

If you are considering this change in lifestyle, you will find a number of informative groups specific to destination on Yahoo Groups. Mazinfo and Mazr&r are perfect for those considering Mazatlan, which is growing to be a predominant retirement community and less of a resort destination every year. In Summer months, most of the retirees return home to family and friends or travel to escape the extreme heat and humidity, and Mazatlan becomes a paradise for Mexican National Citizens seeking family vacations coming from the interior areas such as Mexico City and Guadalajara.

If you want information on the West Coast, consider googling second income homes and looking at some Cabo San Lucas forums or considering towns a little more remote like La Paz or Todo Santos. Rosarito Beach is closer to San Diego and is a day’s run by car, making the states easily accessible.

Puerto Vallarta, and Punta Mita on the Eastern Side are increasing in popularity as is the Riviera Nayarit. A number of websites are available for additional information on those areas, coming from the East Coast and Midwest.

San Miguel de Allende is known for its artisans and novelists. Akamal and Cozumel is heaven to surfers and divers.

Mexico has a number of destinations all accessible, all affordable and all worthwhile, it is simply a matter of the community that suits you.

Mexico has a multi-layered immigration system. Tourists with an FM-T visa (commonly known as the tourist visa) are allowed to stay in Mexico for 6 months without crossing a border to renew the visa. For those who want to stay longer than 6 months at a time without having to make a semi-annual trip to the border, the next step in the immigration process is the FM-3. You must be 55 to apply, and you will need 6 things

  1. A completed official application form (FDN1/02) and a copy. These are available at any Mexican consulate and at the Regional Immigration Office in Mexico.
  2. Your original tourist visa (it cannot be expired).
  3. A current passport.
  4. If spouses are applying, a copy of the couple’s marriage certificate.
  5. Written proof from a U.S. or Mexican bank that the equivalent of $1030 U.S. is being deposited monthly into the bank account of the applicant. For each dependent, the amount required is approximately $515 U.S. If you own property in Mexico, the amount required is reduced by one half. These minimums are set by the Mexican government and fluctuate.
  6. There are two fees that must be paid to the Mexican Tax Department through a Mexican bank, using Hacienda Form #5. One is approximately $35 U.S. and the other approximately $90 U.S. These are paid separately; the first one before you apply for your visa, and the second one after you have applied and received a letter stating that your application has been received and is being processed.

Who do you call for the move? Well, it’s like the Real Estate. The referral is the key, and finding someone you can count on to give you honorable answers and trustworthy business. I have compiled and included here a list of valuable resources for your consideration and homework.

You will need a complete comprehensive estimate door to door based on total weight and cubic measure. This will determine what size container you will need or the shipping method you will need. If you are not moving furniture, and you want to totally refurnish in Mexico, look at CRATE INTERIORS..The product is amazing, in some of the most prestigious luxury resorts and villas, and quite durable and affordable. Call my personal friend Debra Stevenson, and tell her Jess told you to call. www.crateinteriors.com    I LOVE this product. 

If you are moving your household goods there are some requirements you will have to meet. For the “Menaje de Casa”, just hit me up via email.  For a nominal fee this can be dealt with once you have a complete estimate and survey done by a professional moving company, and the surveys are usually free of charge. You can email me jessicaarent@gmail.com

A trip to the consulate will be required. You will have to leave your documentation with them for a couple of days and go back and pick it up. You will need to take three copies of the “Menaje” already notarized and your personal docs such as Passport and FM application and Birth Certificates.

Relax, slowdown, come in from the cold, it is MEXICO and she and her community are waiting for you. For some places to start……

REAL ESTATE REFERENCES

CABO SAN LUCAS REAL ESTATE:

Cape Realty   http://www.caperealtyassociates.com/    Ask for Doug, tell him Jessica Arent sent you!

MAZATLAN REAL ESTATE:

http://www.mazatlanrealestategroup.com/aboutus.html    Ask for Evelyne Lillie tell

PUERTO VALLARTA

www.puertobahiavillas.com    Ask for Mark Tulum 

MOVING REFERENCES

Daryl Flood Incorporated, Mayflower    http://www.darylflood.com/   Ask for Doug Smith

Bluebird Moving Services, ATLAS Van Lines  http://www.bluebirdmovingservices.com/  Ask for Jim Furlong

Priority Moving Services     www.prioritymoving.com  Ask for Bryan Bloom

 

 B ASIC MEXICO DEMOGRAPHICS

Population:

109.9 million inhabitants (January 2009) Density: 55 inhabitants per sq. km
Mexico has 60 urban areas with over 100,000 inhabitants.  

The five largest are: 

  1. Mexico City 19,2 million
  2. Guadalajara 4 million 
  3. Monterrey 3,6 million 
  4. Puebla 2,1 million 
  5. Toluca 1,6 million

Welfare:

Mexico’s social security agencies are financed through contributions from members, employers, and the government. In the mid-1990s, contributions averaged around 25 percent of members’ salaries.

Approximately 1.5 million Mexicans received monthly pensions in the mid-1990s, a higher figure than in previous decades, reflecting gains in average life expectancy.

Mexico’s social security program provides health care to formal-sector workers and their families, some 50 percent of the national population in 1995. This figure represented a drop from the 56 percent coverage rate in 1992.

The Mexican Institute of Social Security covers approximately 80 percent of these beneficiaries (all employed in the private sector). The Institute of Security and Social Services for State Workers covers government workers and accounts for 17 percent of the beneficiaries.

The Secretariat of National Defense , the Secretariat of the Navy, and Mexican Petroleum have their own health programs, which cover military and naval personnel, and petroleum workers, respectively.

Education:

In 2004, the literacy rate was at 97% for youth under the age of 14 and 91% for people over 15, placing Mexico at the 24th place in the world rank accordingly to UNESCO. Primary and secondary education (9 years) is free and mandatory. Even though different bilingual education programs have existed since the 1960s for the indigenous communities, after a constitutional reform in the late 1990s, these programs have had a new thrust, and free text books are produced in more than a dozen indigenous languages.

The largest and most prestigious public university in Mexico, today numbering over 269,000 students, is the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM) founded in 1910. Three Nobel laureates and most of Mexico’s modern-day presidents are among its former students.

Religion:

Mexico has no official religion, and the Constitution of 1917 and the anti-clerical laws imposed limitations on the church and sometimes codified state intrusion into church matters. The government does not provide any financial contributions to the church, and the church does not participate in public education.

The last census reported, by self-ascription, that 95% of the population is Christian. Roman Catholics are 89% of the total population, 47% percent of whom attend church services weekly. In absolute terms, Mexico has the world’s second largest number of Catholics after Brazil.

About 6% of the population (more than 4.4 million people) is Protestant, of whom Pentecostals and Charismatics (called Neo-Pentecostals in the census), are the largest group (1.37 million people). There are also a sizeable number of Seventh-day Adventists (0.6 million people). The 2000 national census counted more than one million Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Islam in Mexico is practiced by a small Muslim population in the city of Torreon, Coahuila, and there are an estimated 300 Muslims in the San Cristobal de las Casas area in Chiapas.

The presence of Jews in Mexico dates back to 1521, when Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs, accompanied by several Conversos. According to the last national census by the INEGI, there are now more than 45,000 Mexican Jews. Almost three million people in the 2000 National Census reported having no religion.

Mexico’s Buddhist population currently makes up a tiny minority, some 108,000 according to latest accounts. Some of its members are of Asian descent, others people of various other walks of life that have turned toward Buddhism in the recent past.

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