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From the USA to Mazatlán: Ventanas Mexico

12 June, 2017 09:33  Erin Erin

Kerry in Mexico

Hola!  I’m Kerry and I live in Mazatlán, Mexico, a great working Mexican city on the Pacific coast of Mexico. I moved here about four years ago.

1. Why did you move abroad?
At the time, it was largely financial. I wanted to save money without sacrificing quality of life. I also love the Spanish language (and the English language for that matter). Since then, the reasons have only accumulated.

Every time I have to go back to the United States for business reasons, I add a few more. There are so many negative things going on in the U.S now that it hurts to watch. Mexico, on the other hand, is a forward-moving train. The overall energy on the streets is one of optimism.

2. How do you make a living?
I have authored two books that are sold on Amazon and via my website/blog. One is on learning Spanish online as an older adult and the other is on renting in Mexico, which is very different from renting in the U.S. where you have more legal protections. That book includes a list of rental concierges with whom I work with from major expat areas all over Mexico. They preview properties for potential renters and expats before they sign On the dotted line.

I think that that network has potential to morph into something bigger. I’ve also just begun to do contract writing projects. I am considering writing a book on the healthcare system in Guadalajara and am investigating the market for it.

3. How often do you communicate with home and how?

I use Zoom and Skype mainly, although for some reason a few friends just struggle accepting Skype or doing anything that involves anything more technical that a phone call. It’s a little frustrating, truthfully.

4. What's your favorite thing about being an expat in Mexico?
Everyone will tell you that the Mexican people are lovely. My Mexican friends’ graciousness and consideration makes me feel like an earlier-period hominid. I rarely see anyone angry in Mexico. They have an ability to be compassionate in the face of aggression that I’d give anything to have.

Their general civility creates a societal balm, a sense of peace in your everyday dealings. Of course I love the economics of living in Mexico; coming and going into super markets, a dentist’s office or a restaurant without worrying about the bill.  I love exchanging ideas in another language. I love the lower level of ageism and materialism, the inclusivity of people, and the overall vibrancy on the street. I love that being well-mannered is honored more than being rich.

The schedule runs about two hours later in Mexico. Being an insomniac, that’s particularly eneficial to me working. Shall I go on?

5. What’s the worst thing about being an expat in Mexico?

Not being much of a consumer, nothing really. Sometimes speaking Spanish all day can be tiring, especially trying to understand the spoken word, which in Mazatlán is rapidísimo. Summers here are hot and humid, a bit much
sometimes. My friends are so generous in spirit, that sometimes I haven’t eiven back enough for how much they’ve enriched my life here. Is that too gooey? But it’s true.

6. What do you miss most?
Really only the day to day time with friends in the U.S. in person. Sure, American efficiency can be a wonder to behold but, now that you mention it, I don’t miss anything other than my friends.

7. What did you do to meet people and integrate in your new home?
Well, that’s a big part of not missing things, isn’t it?  I don’t miss anything because i worked so hard, and continue to put a lot of energy into understanding where I am. I never turn down an opportunity to meet people, especially Mexicans. I’m committed to the language, however tiring. I host things at my place whenever anyone wants to come. I’ve made it open for happy hours, book club meetings and dinners where I cook like a woman
possessed. I never turn down an invitation either.

Being able to speak the language is such a key.  I empathize with people who don’t want to learn because it does take work and time (If I had to learn Math to live in Mexico, I’d have the same attitude). That being said, when a Mexican compliments me on my Spanish, and then goes on to share a more complex idea or opinion with me and I can have that conversation, it just totally makes my day.

8. What custom/ habits do you find most strange about your adopted culture?
Nothing really strange. Mexicans are very polite and they have better manners than Americans do. I make a fair number of social mistakes, like not saying good-bye when I leave a store.  (I’m like a big labrador retriever at a cocktail party - high on enthusiasm and affection but a little short on awareness and subtlety).

Some processes are inconvenient. For example, it’s a cash-driven country, which is a little hard to get used to when you’re used to leaving the house with nothing more than a debit card and some loose change. Every day you have to determine how much cash you need without carrying too much.

9. What is a myth about your adopted country?
That’s easy. That Mexico is a violent country, that it’s dangerous. We won’t judge our entire country on New Orleans and Detroit (and I haven’t even mentioned Memphis, Baltimore, St. Louis, Oakland, Birmingham...or a
post office or Seven 11 on the wrong day). Mexico is big. In general, it’s much safer than the U.S.

10. Is the cost of living higher or lower than the last country you lived in and how has that made a difference in your life?

As mentioned, that part is terrific. I can live on the ocean here. My cost of living is half of what it is in Denver. And for some reason, you buy less here. You don’t feel as driven to kill time by purchasing things.

11. What advice would you give other expats?

As I alluded in why I love Mexico, a great deal of my satisfaction stems from the groundwork I did to learn the language even before I left. With skype, Spanish MeetUps and other online tools, you no longer have to live
in the country to become conversational. Making native friends is crucial to getting the most out of expat life. It doesn’t take fluidity either.

With a good attitude, a sense of humor and a little imagination, you can take native friends with rough Spanish. All you need to do is be enthusiastic and interested. Mexicans are supremely patient and understanding as long as you’re giving it your best.

12. When and why did you start your blog?
I started it on the plane to Mexico, August 2014, the first one is both a little funny and quite prescient.

Blog LinkKerry's blog, Ventanas Mexico

Guide for expatriates in Mexico
  To find out more about living in Mexico, refer to our

Mexico City Guide

 

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