Live or Retire in Mexico: Shopping for Hassles

Live or Retire in Mexico:

Shopping for … Hassles

When you leave the U.S. or Canada to live or retire in Mexico, don’t burn any bridges. You ask why? Because you will need someone to mail or bring you certain items, which I guarantee you just won’t seem to be able to find down here (or which cost significantly less back home). 

I’ve never liked shopping, so maybe I’m biased but it seems to me that shopping in Mexico is exponentially more difficult than it was when I lived up north. 

After you make the major life change and live or retire in Mexico, let me know if you experience shopping the way I do.

A Live or Retire in Mexico Shopping Story

The other day, my spouse and I wanted to buy a cheap, light, night gown.  We thought about it and decided that an oversized supermarket, aptly named “Mega,” would be the right place since it includes a clothing sales department. 

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So, there we were at Mega and they had 10 different pant-and-top style sleepwear outfits, but no one-piece gowns.  Like all normal residents of Mexico, we were working all day and couldn’t get out shopping until about 9 p.m. so by the time we had found the 10 pairs of pant-and-top jobbies, it was too late to go anywhere else. 

Driving out of the parking lot, I felt the familiar heaviness in my chest caused by a still uncompleted shopping mission. 

The Failed Shopper’s Questions

How many trips would we make?

How many days would go by before we got what we were looking for? 

How much time would be spent buying one stupid little thing?

And the habitual last live or retire in Mexico shopping question:
How much would I care if we just lived without it?

I sighed and commented to my husband that shopping in Mexico is like a treasure hunt.  You do your best to predict where you can purchase something, but rarely get the thing you set out to get on the first try.

Maybe it was the tone of my voice – which I didn’t think was so bad. Or maybe it’s because he is Mexican, but he got defensive.  He wasn’t relating to my feelings of frustration. 

So, then I had to consider something else. I’m still too chicken to drive in Mexico.  He has the car and does all of the driving and shopping – which is really quite generous of him.  Maybe my perception is exacerbated by the mode of transportation that I have to use to go shopping. 

I always force myself to take the bus, because if I took a taxi everywhere I’d spend all my earnings on that.  There is nothing wrong with the bus per se, but busses have routes.  You take a particular bus to a particular destination. This does not lend itself to multi-stop shopping.

If I happen to guess incorrectly at which store the item that I need will be sold, I’ve used a much larger amount of energy and time than he would have in the car – or more importantly, than I WOULD HAVE BACK HOME. 

When you live or retire in Mexico, it is hard to let go of some of these perceived hassles.  Also, it is hard for your friends and family back home to relate to you.

How to Help Your Friends and Family to Relate to Your Shopping Woes When You Live or Retire in Mexico

Once, a family member and I set out to buy a simple pot with a lid. All the pots sold downtown either didn’t come with lids or had breakable glass lids.  After trudging around to six different stores downtown, we still had no pot. We were tired and hungry, but not eager to leave the mission 1/2 completed.  Next, my American family member paid for the taxi to the mall. 

We trudged around the mall. The pots were either about $80 USD a piece at one store or sold in sets at another.  We are determined, resourceful women.  We decided to narrow our pot priorities down to size and durability. 

Guess what we ended up doing? 

Why, we purchased a pot which was the size we wanted and had a metal lid. It had been removed from a set because the handle on the lid was completely missing. 

Yes, the store staff still charged us for the pot as if it were a normal, good pot, but at least we didn’t have to pay for the whole set!

Five hours after beginning our mission, we emerged semi-triumphant with our sorry pot, knowing that my husband could bolt a wooden handle onto the pot lid.  When we got back to the house we were received as if we were crazy. We just looked at the others and said, “Hey, You weren’t there, Ok?”

If you find that your friends and family back home complain a little about getting stuff down to you, I recommend that you set them up for an important “live or retire in Mexico learning experience.”  If you want to improve their attitudes when you ask them to send you requested, hard-to-find items (like your favorite hypo allergenic lotion). Here’s what you do: when they come to visit you, invite them to accompany you to buy a pot with a lid. 

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