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. 

Need hot tips for surviving in Mexico?
Click here to see a description of a practical, funny e-book prepared by the author of this website.

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. 

Back to Live or Retire in Mexico: Many of the Snakes are in the Banks


Live or Retire in Mexico: Bank Survival Guide

Live or Retire in Mexico
Bank Survival Guide

For your future convenience when you decide to live or retire in Mexico, I am providing the following suggestions:

Top 5 Things to Do While Standing in Line at the Bank in Mexico

1. Read a paperback novel.

Click here to see a description of a practical, funny e-book prepared by the author of this website.

2. Do an isometric exercise routine.

3. Make a grocery list.

4. Count your blessings.

5. Sing (just kidding)

* To make the best of number 1, before you live or retire in Mexico, buy a bag or purse that will easily hold a paperback novel. Also, be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Back to “Snakes”


Live or Retire in Mexico: Snakes in the Banks

Live or Retire in Mexico: Many of the Snakes are in the Banks

When you live or retire in Mexico you quickly discover one of its main inconveniences. The banks in Mexico prefer not to provide good customer service. A simple transaction, such as depositing or withdrawing money from your account can take 30 minutes to an hour.

It is a mystery to me why banks can’t train their employees in basic customer service habits, but that seems to be beyond the scope of current possibilities. There is one bank here that allows clients to take a number and sit out the long wait, but my bank isn’t that one.

Here’s how it went for me today at my bank.

11:37: I arrived at the bank and asked a busy employee, who was engrossed in something on his computer screen for a withdrawal slip.

11:38: I got into the serpentine line, where I remained patiently for 30 minutes. I passed the time brainstorming ideas for this web site. I had forgotten to bring a book, but I have passed many an enjoyable hour reading on my feet in line.

11:56: My husband joined me in line, having had time to run another errand while I stood there.

11:59: I got up to a teller window and handed over my ID and withdrawal slip.

11:59 and 10 seconds: I was asked by the teller to go to a desk out on the floor and request approval for my transaction. I requested and was granted permission not to stand in line again.

12:00: The desk employee received, then approved my request for a transaction after a silent and lengthy consultation of his computer screen, my ID, and signature.

12:03: The desk employee walked my documents–me and spouse in tow–up to a teller. He passed her my documents around the shoulder of the customer standing at her window, placing them to the side of her cubicle, and telling her I would be next. She looked at him, looked at my documents, glanced at me, then continued with the other customer’s transaction. I tried to look appreciative.

12:06: The customer ahead of me left.

12:06 and 1 second: The teller stood up, walked briskly away from her window, and through a door behind the secure teller area, all the while maintaining a secure view of her feet.

12:06 and 2 seconds: I looked at my husband. “She has to come back some time,” he commented encouragingly.

12:06 and 5 seconds: We began chatting and joking to pass the time (I was trying to ignore the fact that now I had to go the bathroom.)

12:15: The customer with the teller next window over left. Someone from the still serpentine line ran up to the window. I leaned over anyway and asked the neighboring teller if I could please come to her window because my teller was gone. She had to serve the new customer, so asked me to wait just a bit.

12:23: The customer at the neighboring teller was STILL there. I mentioned to my husband that I had to go to the bathroom. He went back to the guy at the desk and told him that we were still waiting.

12:24: The guy from the desk went up to a different teller window and called out to my vanished teller by name. She appeared from a back room looking bothered. The desk guy then moved my documents from her cubicle to a different one.

12:26: The client at the new window left and we got to begin our transaction.

12:27: My husband sent me to the bathroom, while he finished the transaction.

12:27 and 30 seconds: I left the bank, crossed the street to McDonalds….

12:34: my husband and I reunited in the street outside the bank.

Still want to live or retire in Mexico? Here’s how to make the best of the banks.

Think maybe all the hassles when you live or retire in Mexico are at the bank? Try shopping.

What’s the one thing we are all afraid of before we live or retire in Mexico? That’s right, scorpions.

Here’s how to beat one of Mexico’s most incessant problems and get a good night’s sleep.

What is likely to be missing from your rental place when you move to Mexico? Find out what it is and how to fix the problem.

cover of Mexico: The Trick is Living HereMike Goll, a U.S. citizen and his Mexican wife purchased the first edition of the e-book Mexico: The Trick is Living Here to help prepare themselves for their big move from the U.S. to Mexico. On, July 9th 2006, Mike sent me the following email:

“Well,I devoured your book yesterday. I read the whole thing! It is a very very good book. I learned a LOT of things, especially on behavior and visa requirements. I loved the part about gestures too. I knew [about the] finger wag but not the other ones.

“My wife got a few good laughs every time I would ask her about what you said. She said yes that is right -every time….

“OK have a great Sunday and Thanks SO much for writing that book. I printed out a copy to bring with us so I can reference it back. I think you should do another one now….”

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