First –We Must Feel Safe?
Our most important consideration must be for our physical safety as we travel Mexico. As we all come from very different backgrounds and regions, our ideas on safety vary but we will conclude that we must be able to sleep in peace at night, be able to move about freely night or day and have some expectation of no danger or threat to our person or belongings. Although this is a broad theory it comes down to living without the fear of danger in our everyday life. Safety is extended to our ability to go to and return from our “after years” Paradise without incident as well.
Second – Keeping our Money Safe!
This safety is financial security, meaning that wherever we put our money or spend our hard earned dollars on is safe and will provide us with the lifestyle we want without fear of losing everything. Money is the name of the game and when we have it we do not want to risk it let alone lose it. We do know however that we must have a roof over our head and this means either renting or buying property. This choice is always a dilemma because renting is like throwing our hard earned money into a black hole in the ground while buying is a huge commitment. Aside from having to have the financial capability to do either, the answer is usually decided by two factors, time spent there and personal preference.
Third – Be Healthy, Be Happy!
Some say, “I may be poor in many ways but as long as I have our health I am happy.” While this is true to a point, the second part of this truism is that we have an ongoing need to stay healthy. As the “Silver and Golden” years come upon us we are more conscientious of this regardless of whether we have preserved or abused our bodies on the long road we have traveled. Healthcare is a must and it must be affordable!
Fourth – Can We Afford It?
Remember when gas was 20 cents a gallon or a Coke was 5 cents, oh to have those days back. I remember buying my first new car, a 1969 Mach 1 Mustang for $3,300 cash. It seems that a factor of at least a ten-fold increase is about standard for the 40 year lapse from yesterday to today. Then we say, “If only we would have known then what we know now, we would have planned better.” As reality hits us in the face hardest on this issue we face not only the high cost of just living but the threat of instability in these costs almost on a daily basis. The key is seeking and finding a place where change is the exception not the rule.
Fifth – Make it Easy to Get There!
I must assume if you are reading this that you are the adventurous type and are at least contemplating spending a portion of your time away from the family “Ponderosa”. This, of course, means traveling to and from “Paradise” on a seldom or frequent basis. We have to consider the time, cost, safety, wear and tear on our bodies and means of transportation as important factors in where we end up. Paradise may not be worth it if it takes an “Act of God” or “we must take risks” to be there.
Sixth – We Want our Creature Comforts!
Among the other stigmatisms attached to us, we are also a generation that is somewhat set in our ways. While new generations seem to crave being “different” or at least living different lifestyles, we like and want our creature comforts. We need shelter, food and drink to survive. We also want transportation, entertainment and services needed to help us survive. The icing on the cake is to have daytime and nighttime activities to occupy our time, our interaction with other people and to enjoy our hobbies. This is not something we can quantify as each of us are different but suffice to say we all have some commonalities in our lifestyles and will not give them up. The key is to know our wants and/or needs and establishing our standard for each. We may not need a feather pillow but we do need a bed.
Seventh – Enjoying the Weather!
It stands to reason that if we are going to pick up and take ourselves somewhere to enjoy the “after years”, we are probably not looking to shovel snow, bail water out of a flooded house or hit the cellar when the tornado siren goes off. Needless to say we will seek the best weather possible for our adventure. There is a song that says “The weather is here, wish you were beautiful” and I always believed this play on words was a clever way of saying beautiful weather makes everything else a little more beautiful. The key here is the differentiation between tolerable and enjoyable.
Eighth – I Want Pleasant Surroundings!
Just as we want to enjoy great weather, we also seek a pleasant environment and surroundings. Although “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” we would be hard pressed to accept that our “Paradise” is next to a City dump or in a swamp. The greatest want we all have is to be accepted and the chances of finding this acceptance are to be around others with common circumstances and desires. Beauty is a mind-set, inspired by calm ocean scenes, fog covered mountains or dew in the morning tree leaves. The first look at the day should arouse positive sensations in our mind thus our need for pleasant surroundings.
Physical Safety is the most critical need we have. The basic quest for survival is deep rooted in all of us while the fear of threat to it is always somewhere in the back of our mind. Much is said about how safe an area, city, state or country is or isn’t. There are volumes of statistics on every aspect of safety as it relates to crime, driving, breathing, walking, jogging, eating, drinking, even sex as well as just about everything else we do in our lives. Life, in its simplest form is dangerous.
The violence in Mexico is localized to areas away from frequently visited tourism locations.
The short of it is:
- There is less crime of every type in Mexico than the US and Canada
- Physical and personal safety are readily achievable by using commonsense
- A large percentage of the ~$25 billion taken in each year in tourism is invested in safety and protection in tourism areas
- Traveling in Mexico is as safe as the US or Canada if you stay on the beaten path
- Experience shows that the level of safety you assume will define the level of safety you perceive
So what are we to make of this, how do all those statistics affect us and how do we interpret them for our benefit? I have done the research comparing the US and Mexico and regardless of my findings or beliefs, Mexico will usually come up as less safe in the minds of most of you because of the difference is the standards of notoriety in delivering the message on safety. Crime in Mexico is sensationalized in the US and Canada because it makes a good news story and makes you feel better about your safety in the US or Canada. Hundreds of stats show that when playing by the numbers, the US and Canada far out rank Mexico on the negative side in every category of crime. More murders are committed in one state in the US and/or Canada than the entire country in Mexico each day. But every day someone in the US and Canada picks up a paper and reads about a murder in a border town in Mexico as the headline story while the murder that took place within 2 miles of their house doesn’t get reported at all. Why, because the sum of both actions makes you feel safe about where you are and afraid of everywhere else.
Mexico, on the whole, is safe. Now if you wander into the danger zone, well publicized crime areas, bad neighborhoods or secluded places away from civilization; you may decrease your margin of safety. Wait, was I talking about Mexico or the US/Canada in that statement. Actually, I was referring to all of them because this is true no matter where you go. I have lived in Mexico for 12 ½ years and I have not feared for my safety for one minute. Why, because the first safety lesson is simple, “use your head” and take the same precautions and approach safety here in Mexico just as you would in the US or Canada. If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.
If you practice commonsense and I can assume you are not seeking to tempt fate by going to dangerous areas similar to ones in the US or Canada, I can assure you it will be safe. Tourist areas are particularly safe as long as you stay on the beaten path. Remember, tourism is the third largest revenue source in Mexico and the $25 billion they take in each year in the tourist areas is secured by employing high levels of safety for the visitors, guests and part-time international residents. All areas you will consider have a safety rating as a way to weigh one against another. Use this indicator, check with expert sources but do not be afraid, it is safe.
Taking Care of Our Money
By this time we only have what we already have in terms of money to live on unless we want to join forces with those wonderful working seniors at Wal-Mart. Thus we must be absolutely sure that wherever we put these hard earned dollars they are as safe as a baby in the mother’s womb. We need a place to stash the cash that is easy to access as well as knowing we made the right choices in where it is spent. Consider this:
- The banks of Mexico are all foreign owned with the exception of two, one of which is the Mexico National Bank
- No one on record has ever lost their money in a bank in Mexico
- Banks have direct deposit, ATM’s, debit cards, credit cards, wire transfer and checking services
- Other forms of money transactions are Western Union, MONEX, Money-Gram and money exchange outlets
- Real estate in Mexico is a safe investment if proper due diligence is performed by an industry expert that will stand behind his recommendation.
As for the safety of having your money in the bank, getting it in or out of the bank or having instant access to your money, Mexico banking is on par with US and Canada banks for safety. ATM’s, branch banks and debit cards are common and used everywhere.
The final financial safety thought is the ever dreaded devaluation of the Mexican peso to the US dollar. While this was a issue that needed attention in the past, the Mexican economy is equal to or stronger than the US economy and the value of the peso has been strong against the dollar since 1995 enduring presidential elections, market corrections and a huge hit in export revenue due to the financial collapse in the US, Mexico’s largest export recipient.
I have had my money in Mexican banks for 12 ½ years and have never once worried about it or been denied access to it. Between my credit card, debit card, ATM’s and standard check writing; accessing and spending my money is as easy as ever.
Now that our money is “safely in the bank”, let’s focus on the big ticket item we will use it for, a place to reside in retirement. This is the scariest consideration of all when contemplating moving outside the US, right? Well, it should not be. The laws, legal system and regulations are as stringent here in Mexico as anywhere including the US and Canada.
The key is to look in the right place and do your due diligence before buying. In the US and Canada we take certain things for face-value because it is comfortable for us. In Mexico, we need to ask a few more questions and get a few more answers before we jump. We have all heard the horror stories about the foreigners that bought a property in Mexico, paid some money and lost it in one fell swoop.
I am here to say that while this does happen, there about a 1 million more of us that bought, paid and are happy with our purchase. Why the big spread between the two, easy; being smart and asking questions, the right ones. In the US and Canada we have experts for everything we do to consult and listen to. In Mexico, we tend to immediately trust the sales agent or property representative to tell us the truth and represent us as well.
Take my word for it, ask an authority, someone who has lived in Mexico many years, who has bought and sold property and will still be around long after you spend your money. I have dedicated an entire section to this subject in my next story, if you read it, it will make sense to you and help protect your money.
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About the Author Frank Jackson; is an American, married to a Mexican citizen, resident of Mexico for over 13 years, and he is a prominent business owner in Mexico. Frank is a contributing writer for Escapeartist Mexico and a member of the Escapeartist Mexico Business Development Team.