I love the above quote. I tried to verify the source and it’s pretty controversial whether or not Augustine of Hippo actually made that exact quote. But who cares? I love it anyway! In our case we didn’t travel. We moved 2000 miles from our family and friends to Mexico. For us, I think the above quote still applies. I don’t know why I have put this post off for so long. Sorry about that. If you read Part One, then you may have been waiting for Part Two. If not, then click on Part One to start this story from the beginning.
Continuing with Part Two… once we made the decision about moving to Mexico in July 2013, there was so much to be done! It was overwhelming, scary, and exciting, all at the same time. We decided to start getting rid of “stuff”. We were only going to take what we could pack in one comfortable, payment-free vehicle. The rest we would buy in Mexico. The car was too small and the truck was too big. We sold both and found an awesome deal on a Yukon Denali. It was perfect for us and in beautiful condition. The house had to go as well. Our furniture, Brad’s tools, my photography equipment, all the extra toys and clothes, our pool table, Brad’s four-wheeler, Brad’s hunting gear, and our camping equipment, all of it needed to be sold. We had to decide what was precious and necessary, and what was not. Using Craigslist and word-of-mouth, we sold everything we didn’t need within the next three months. This was the first half of our preparation to live abroad.
The second half of preparing to live abroad included research, and lots of it. Vaccinations, education, health care, medicine, insurance, housing, banking, immigration, pets, and more! We spent hours on the Internet pouring over these topics, trying to make the right decisions. If you move to a foreign country with a family, these are the topics you will want to know about. I will give you a run-down of what we concluded for Mexico. (Please note these are only our personal opinions.)
- Extra vaccinations really are not necessary when moving to Mexico. Most likely if you are from the US or another developed country, you have already received the important ones. Downtown Morelia we have a free clinic that we use for the kid’s routine vaccines. You have to wait a few minutes but it’s worth it, since the vaccines are free of charge.
- We chose to homeschool our daughters, ages 9 and 10, because we didn’t want to spend money on private schooling and we are unsure about the quality of Mexico’s public education system. We also did not want to move them 2000 miles away from everyone they knew and then put them in a Spanish speaking school. The public schools are not bilingual. We thought this would be too much at once and we didn’t want their education to suffer. We are thinking of enrolling the boys for a few years in a private school so they can pick up the language. We haven’t decided yet. They are ages 3 and 1. The girls are doing great learning Spanish in everyday life.
- Health care in Mexico is much more affordable then in the States. For example, a doctor’s visit costs about $2.32. Prescription medicine is low cost too. We were able to find all our medication here in Mexico. The names are slightly different so we had a bilingual doctor translate our prescriptions for us. Currently I am the only one on medication. Since we moved Brad and the girls were able to stop taking their medication with no ill effects. I can buy my medication over the counter and that is very convenient. You may wonder about emergency care… Morelia has several hospitals. Star Medica is top of the line. We are fortunate to have health care in the States as well. When we return to visit, Brad will see his doctors for check-ups, related to his brain injury. There is not much they can do to fix his condition but it’s important to keep them updated on his disability. Dental and vision care are easily found in Morelia as well. It is a good idea to find a reputable doctor, to be on the safe side.
- Auto insurance at the border is a scam. It cost us $700 for six months and we had no way to cancel it early. We could not contact the office and it was 12 hours away. When we renewed our auto insurance this April we went through a friend in Morelia. She works for an insurance company and she put together our policy. Now we are paying $500 for one year with full coverage. So much cheaper then the States and the border! If you are coming this way and need a policy, let me know. I will forward you her email. She is honest and fluent in English.
- We are on the fence about whether we should move when our lease is up. We like Arboledas de la Huerta. We love the pool and the small size of the community. The neighbors seem to be nice, as well as the guards. We don’t like the indoor garden, although my boys love the dirt :-p We don’t like the cost of rent. We pay about $650 a month but we know we can find someplace under $400 and just as nice, if we give up the pool. Another downside is that our kids have no place safe to run and play. The ideal house would be a five minute drive outside of the city, in the country. These are some things to consider when you move with a family. In Morelia the population is dense, so within the city limits a yard is either tiny or nonexistent. (By the way, for reference, at $400 you can find a large house with three or four bedrooms, two or three baths, sometimes in a private subdivision, in Morelia.)
- We do all our banking online. We set up our accounts in the States a few years ago. I love it! They offer more perks and have fewer fees. They are safe and they have good customer service. Brad’s disability payments are direct deposited. When we use our debit cards there are no extra fees, and when we use the local ATM’s to get cash out, we are reimbursed the fees each statement cycle. Only a few banks will let you use your debit card in a foreign country without a lot of hassle. Try these online banks: Ally and Fidelity. We use both.
- Immigration… this is a broad subject. Every country is different. Mexico changed their laws within the last two years, making it more difficult to obtain a resident visa. Thus, we live here on a six month visitor visa. Every six months we have to go to the border, turn our visa in, exit Mexico, obtain a new visa, and reenter Mexico. In the future we hope to obtain a resident visa, but right now it’s not possible. We also have to obtain a permit for our vehicle to enter Mexico, beyond the border towns. When you exit Mexico the fee is refunded. Unless you lose the paperwork like we did in April and then you lose your money… It’s about $300, so don’t lose that permit!
- We left our pets in Kentucky. I miss them very much but we moved to Mexico without visiting first. We had no idea what life was going to be like. We didn’t know where we were going to live. We wanted our pets to be happy and safe, so we found them new homes with our friends and family. My cat, Jinx, who I miss terribly, is about 13. I thought the move would be too much for her. She hates the car. Tia, our Golden Retriever, is a large dog. We were afraid our landlord would not approve of her or that she would not have anyplace to play and run. She is the best dog. Writing about them makes me sad, but we tried to do what was best for them. I don’t think it’s difficult to bring a pet to Mexico. I think it was harder for us because we already had four kids to think about and we couldn’t stress about our beloved pets. (Vets are everywhere! There are strays, but I can’t believe how many dog-owners there are! Mexicans love their dogs! Don’t be afraid to bring your pets with you.
Part One is a story of what motivated our decision to move to Mexico. Part Two is how we put that plan into action over a period of three months. When we left our home in Louisville, Kentucky for the last time, it felt great! The stress was rolling off us in waves. Bradley and I were practically giddy on the drive to Mexico. We knew this was a good decision but it was not an easy one. We really enjoyed the road trip to our new home. We tried not to push the kids too hard. We spent the money for a hotel with a pool every night. The kids loved it after spending many hours in the car. It was like a little vacation. The girls worked on their math and spelling while we drove. I say “we” but honestly Brad does most of the driving in our family. I read and wrote and took pictures :-)
Bill, our elderly friend from Morelia, met us at the Texas / Mexico border. We crossed the border at 3 am and the streets were empty. After a couple of hours of paperwork and inspection, we were back on the road. We felt safe on the toll roads and speaking basic Spanish was convenient. We drove straight to Morelia. It took longer then expected with four kids.We had to make lots of pit stops. Then Sawyer threw up in the truck because of too much junk food. That was fun :-p By the time we arrived it was dark.
Karen, a friend of Bill’s, met us and took us to a house we were considering through email. She is now a friend of ours and we are living in the same house. It all worked out perfectly and was much easier then expected. Karen also helped us find our furniture. We had everything we needed within a week or two. Then she helped us set up our phones, Internet, and our utilities. Having bilingual friends in Mexico made the transition much easier! David, another good friend, was also a huge help getting situated in this new country.
Are we happy here? YES! Is it perfect? NO! Did we make a good decision? YES! Do we miss our family in Kentucky? YES! Will we return to live in the States? I HOPE NOT BUT… you never really know what tomorrow will bring, do you? Whatever happens in the future we never want to accumulate so much “stuff’ and be tied down with a mortgage and car loans. Simplicity for us is a healthier life. We hope to continue putting God first in our lives because this brings us happiness. Moving abroad may not be within everyone’s reach but simplicity is a choice wherever you are. Moving abroad may not appeal to all folks but we love adventure. This is us. Living abroad in Mexico with four kids. Love and Madness abound. Signing off, Tina
For additional posts about Moving to Mexico, please visit the links below:
First Guest Post at Nanahood
Moving to Mexico – Part One
A Spanish Adventure
On The Road to Laredo
We Are In Mexico!!
We are Morelians