Mexico – More Expatriate Insights - Book Review
A Fantastic Cross-Section of Expat Communities, Reference for Mexico's Laws
When I first started swiping the virtual pages of this e-book, I was very skeptical. I thought "I've been here two years. What could this teach me?" The big fact of this book is that it's not from just one expat's knowledge and experiences. George Puckett's (the editor of this estimated 20,000-word) quick reference guide has collected a fortune of information into a very small, digital package; a steal for a six-dollar digital download.
The first half of the book features a plethora of different expat communities throughout Mexico. Here in Saltillo, I live virtually as a hermit: that is, I don't have many other North Americans in my community. Saltillo is an industrialized city: not really a draw for tourism. All my close friends and family are Mexican nationals and only speak English as a second language. I'm a special case. My step-dad is from Saltillo, so I was sort of born with expat life as a natural option.
This is not the case for most of the Americans and Canadians who have chosen to live here. It takes a lot of guts to make the move south of the border, especially when you don't know anyone in Mexico. The contributors to this book's first half are rather enticing in their invitations. Most of them want you to move to their English-speaking, expat community, and add to their civic organizations, clubs and to help with the charity work in their communities.
Areas featured in this e-book include Oaxaca, Merida, Bucerias, San Miguel de Allende (is featured twice), Kino Bay, Puerto Vallarta, Rocky Point, Mazatlan and several others. One contributor in particular, is informative on how nice life is in San Miguel de Allende, but she says there are enough gringos there already, and mentions that the barking dogs and fireworks can be bothersome to many foreigners. I don't blame her. If everyone here was a gringo it wouldn't be Mexico anymore. Most expats like Mexico because we love Mexican people. I even married one.
Some of the invitations are very direct, listing an address for their business so you can pay them a visit if you're in their neck of the woods. The first half of the book is the lure to just make a short trip. And it really works. I visited Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias just a couple of weeks ago, and I saw how beautiful it was, and I was ecstatic to be able to speak English with other expats. My wife and I have begun talking about making a home there some day.
The second half of the book, titled "Part 2: Expatriates Essential Knowledge Base" is for those who are ready to get down to the brass tacks of making the big move south of the border. It was very informative for me. I'm not too keen on interpreting Mexican law. This book's second half is a very dense data center of the most recent legal essentials for getting your visas and even permanent residency and citizenship (if you're interested in going that route).
It's much more detailed than I expected on the ins and outs of buying a home, explaining how it is legal for expats to own homes along the beaches via a 50-year land lease with a Mexican bank. The different chapters contain links for extended information and more detail, and they don't claim to be an all-in-one reference for Mexican laws. But they tell you how to find lawyers.
Insurance is another reoccurring theme in this e-book, from both consumers as well as professionals, such as those at Mexpro Insurance. The several different accounts I read on medical insurance (a common theme in the book, since many expats are retirees) were very reassuring, because this is an area where I have personal experience.
Many expats choose to buy the very affordable health insurance from Mexico's government healthcare system (Instituto Mexicano de Seguro Social, or IMSS). My father-in-law is a retired doctor from IMSS, and my wife currently works for IMSS, so I'm very familiar it. It's great for preventative medicine, routine doctor visits, etc., but the emergency care at IMSS leaves much to be desired in terms of customer service. Since so many people use IMSS, the lines for emergency care and waiting lists for specialists are long, and the bureaucracy can get very frustrating.
I would recommend you buy private health insurance, which is also very affordable down here. And like the book recommends, it's important to buy tourist insurance for your US or Canadian car if you plan to drive it into Mexico.
I know I'll be keeping George Puckett's Mexico – More Expatriate Insights handy on my smartphone as long as I'm living down here. It's as good as gold.