An Expat at Your Service

About the Author of
home-sweet-mexico.com:
An Expat at Your Service

When I moved here in 2001 I could speak Spanish and had traveled extensively in Mexico. I still found the transition challenging. Before becoming an expat in Mexico, I searched the library for books on living here. I found only information about how to bring your car with you, how to cross the border, how to choose a classy piece of property, the financial benefits of retiring here, yadda, yadda, yadda.

There is nothing on the way it FEELS to live here. I read two books written by Americans who had supposedly lived here and was sorely disappointed. There was nothing about the loneliness, the frustration, the misdirected anger, the embarrassing social faux pas.

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

Nor was there anything about the incredible personal growth, the joy of new discoveries, the relaxation and letting go of materialism, the sense of community, and the increased sense of self. Since moving here, I have continued to search on the Internet for information to help me construct my own Mexican lifestyle.

The website I needed when I became an expat did not exist—until now. This website is the outgrowth of my growth here. It is an honest look at Mexican life through the eyes of an American woman.

If you like my writing, you can read some of my free-lance articles about life in Mexico.

The Author

I was born, raised, and went to college in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve lived with my Mexican husband in Cuernavaca, Mexico for 7 years now and might finally be getting used to the overly hot, sunny weather. I work 6 days a week at a private language school. My job combines teaching EFL (English as a foreign language) classes and administrative work as a coordinator.

I can wash laundry by hand and identify some common Mexican birds. My favorite pastimes are reading and writing in English (maybe I’m a bad immigrant). As well as getting to know the bird species that live in and visit the ravine near our house.

Some days I love Mexico and am sure that I’ll never want to move back to the PNW. Other days I can hardly wait to be in my native land again. It is this dichotomy that gives my writing about life in Mexico its valuable and rare honesty.

Before settling in Cuernavaca, my husband and I traveled throughout Mexico, visiting many places including Michoacan, Oaxaca, Puebla, Quintana Roo, Campeche, and Merida. We particularly enjoy seeing the ancient Native American ruins such as Teotihuacan, Chitzen Itza, Xochicalco, Konhulich, Palenque, and Bonampak as well as meeting the common people who live in small towns. Our contact with “real” Mexicans gives my writing about life in Mexico a level of detail that is rarely found in commentaries about Mexico.

The fact that I’ve lived here with a Mexican husband has forced me to go deeply into the cultural differences I’ve experienced in my life here. He has both challenged and guided me. Without his ability to see how my cultural bias will affect me, I would have stayed in the judgment and anger stage of culture shock a lot longer. If you decide to live or retire in Mexico, I don’t want you to be swamped by the anger and judgment stage of culture shock.

I hope that the content of my web site is of use to you in your Mexican travels–both long and short. If you have questions or comments about the expat life in Mexico please see “contact us.”

ENJOY

The Original Inspiration

You may wonder what caused me to start this project of writing about living and retiring in Mexico. Here’s how it all began.

A friend from the Pacific Northwest, who has her own web sites, sent me an e-mail one day, asking about how Mexicans viewed a certain political event in the United States. She was considering retiring in Mexico and wanted to get a feel for how Mexicans viewed U.S. politics. I replied with my usual honest, descriptive language and she enjoyed my response so much that in her next email she suggested the idea of writing an e-book.

I loved the idea and began work on Mexico: The Trick is Living Here. I enjoyed the writing process for about a year. Then, when I had the book done, the next step was to make a web site. There was a lot to learn to make the web site and all throughout the year that it took to get it up and running, my friend was there to help. She answered questions about HTML, Google, writing style, and other on line things. She provided technical support converting files to formats that I could use on the net. Most of all she provided tons of encouragement, and here I am today. An expat at your service.

My friend’s name is Jonni Good and she sells two excellent diet books on line. The only way I have to repay her for all of her time and energy, which she gave to me out of the kindness of her heart is to send her traffic, and hopefully, customers for her excellent books. If you are interested in improving your health or changing your diet, please have a look at her web sites The Easy Does it Diet and How to Think Thin.

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21 comments

  1. elizabeth Oct 25

    Hi there, Im a 33 years old Mexican citizen living in Florida, I´m planning to relocate to Mexico with all my family (3 kids and husband) , we were searching for information about Cuernavaca, and I found your website, I just cant belive you! you are talking about MEXICO with NO idea of what you are talking about. Offcourse if you move to ANY country without money you will be suffering all kind of inconveniences…I guess you speak spanish by now, so ahora voy a decirte en español esto, los mexicanos en efecto somos muy buenos amigos y vecinos, pero por que escribes acerca de que si no te conocen eres tratado muy mal…? perdoname, yo soy Mexicana y sin tener aspecto de hispanos hemos encontrado que este pais (el tuyo) no conoce el buen trato, la gente no habla con sus vecinos, y te conozcan o no no se compara con la hospitalidad de México. Discúlpame que te diga esto sin conocerte, y creéme que si me he tomado el tiempo de escribirte es porque realmente me molesta que una persona con tan poco conocimiento del tema, tenga un sitio de internet que habla de MI pais y ademas se atreve a vender e-books acerca de esto…???!!!!!!!

    Si te mudas a un pais sin dinero y llegas a vivir en bajas condiciones economicas, obvio que vas a extrañar hasta la tina de tu baño, pero no puedes generalizar. TE suplico que reconcideres lo que haces en tu sitio de internet, hablas en general y con un conocimiento muy pobre. México tiene gente de mucho dinero, mucha gente trabaja duro, como en todos lados, y tiene las posibilidades de todo, no esta rogando no enfermarse para o tener que pagar medicos. Espero lo mejor para ti y tu familia, ojala reconcideres que no eres la persona adecuada, al menos no en estas circunstancias , para hablar de como es vivir en México, si yo pongo a un mexicano que vive debajo de un puente en brooklyn a vender libros en internet de lo que es vivir en Estados Unidos no creo que pensaras diferente que yo. Y esto es sin animos de ofender, no es personal, solo que no creo que seas quien debe representar la opinio de como se vive en cuernavaca, y si quieres dedicarte a escribir , felicidades, escribe pero de un tema que conozcas.
    Elizabeth

  2. Julia Taylor Oct 25

    Elizabeth,
    Gracias por tus comentarios honestos. ¿Cuándo escribiste “Si te mudas a un pais sin dinero y llegas a vivir en bajas condiciones economicas, obvio que vas a extrañar hasta la tina de tu baño, pero no puedes generalizar,” a caso quisiste decir que solo la gente que tiene dinero debe escribir sobre Mexico porque no van a tener quejas?

    Además, te aseguro que entiendo muy bien que difícil es vivir adentro de los estados unidos para los extranjeros y también para la gran cantidad de gente pobre. YO reconozco los problemas de mi país.

    With classic Mexican sensitivity you have reacted to some details that seem negative about Mexico, but missed my main point. I am explaining to my people that they’ve got to break out of their mold and get to know their neighbors. As you point out in your comment “la gente no habla con sus vecinos, y te conozcan o no no se compara con la hospitalidad de México.” Throughout this site I explain to them–in words they will understand–that THEY have to change in order to enjoy Mexico.

    Here are two pages that you obviously didn’t read: Live or Retire in Mexico: Connect with your Neighbors and Retire in Mexico and No Americanization on the Side, Please.

    When you wrote, “México tiene gente de mucho dinero, mucha gente trabaja duro, como en todos lados, y tiene las posibilidades de todo, no esta rogando no enfermarse para o tener que pagar medicos.” were you implying that my neighbors don’t work hard since they don’t have money? What you wrote makes it sound as if you haven’t met any poor people in your own country. I didn’t dream up what I wrote. I observed it in my neighbors and family. Aren’t their stories as valuable as yours?

    Disfruten Cuernavaca. Les va a encantar.

  3. Eric Aug 11

    Julia: I’ve enjoyed reading your insights about living in Mexico. I’ve really been thinking about it quite a bit lately. Unfortunately, one thing that distinguishes your experience from other potential ex-pats such as me is that you are married and living with your Mexican husband. I would think that fact, in and of itself, makes your situation completely different (and frankly, a lot easier) from that faced by singles or couples who want to Mexico but don’t have that connection. This is not a criticism at all. Just an observation about your unique situation.

  4. Julia Taylor Aug 11

    Eric,

    You have an interesting thought. It’s funny, though because I have often thought that having a Mexican husband makes living in Mexico harder!

    Here’s why: He has high expectations of me fitting in with the culture. Of course, this is the beauty of it and why I’ve learned so much, but it’s hard to be reminded frequently that your joke wasn’t as funny to Dona So-and-so as you thought it was, or that you really should do things differently, etc.

    More seriously, he was born into the “poor” people of Mexico and because of this has a lot of baggage about how to live in Mexico, who you can relate to, etc. He sometimes wants to live in Mexico the way he did when he was little and that would mean giving up about 95% of the creature comforts I’m used to as the privileged white middle class gal I grew up as. I’ve actually had to “justify” having internet included in our budget, for example.

    Also, his social status didn’t help me at all. It’s not like I knew any good doctors or lawyers or anyone who would help me find a job. In fact, in the class-ist Mexican society, I saw people warm up to me, then cool off as soon as they set eyes on my husband. That was disconcerting and saddening.

    Finally, he doesn’t give me as many benefits as some Mexican spouses would because, like me, he was totally new to Cuernavaca when we moved here. He was new to city life in Mexico, even. So, from that perspective, I can still relate to my readers very well. Despite the fact that he is Mexican, when we moved to Cuernavaca we didn’t know one single person in the whole city and had no place to stay, etc., etc. We both learned together how to pay taxes, how to open bank accounts, and had to build a network of people for references, etc.

    I’m glad you posted this comment, because it really is food for thought about the different experiences people have when they move to Mexico.

    Certainly, his skill in speaking Spanish was a huge help even though I spoke Spanish at an intermediate level. I wouldn’t recommend moving to Mexico full time if you can’t speak Spanish and don’t plan to take classes as soon as you arrive.

    I’m pleased that my web site has been an interesting source of information for you. One thing I wouldn’t say is that it has been easy and I hope that what I have learned will help you if you do move to Mexico. I owe it all to my husband, who is a kind, insightful, and patient teacher through this difficult journey of living in a culture different than my own.

    Julia

  5. Antonia Jun 13

    I work in a mostly a school where 93% of the students are Latino, most of the teachers are anglosaxon. I know some of them don’t like the children because of the color of their skin, but I also know of some great teachers. It’s the same in Mexico, except that we don’t call it racism. The book you wrote is based on your experiences and no one has the same experiences ever. So Elizabeth’s comments are inappropriate since she doesn’t know what you went through or the commodities you had to give up to live with your husband in Mexico. I moved to the U.S. when I was 19 years old and after 14 years I went to Mexico, I felt very weird. I am Mexican yet people knew I was not from “there” because of my clothes and they way I “spoke.” I found it so weird. I am doing my masters in English as a Second Language and many of my friends have had the same weird experience. I think you are very brave to have made it in Mexico. Many of us decide to migrate to the U.S. so we could have a better life that we couldn’t find in Mexico. If I had stayed in Mexico I would have never had a career nor the financial stability I have in the U.S.
    I hope your book keeps on selling really well. Antonia

  6. Julia Taylor Jun 14

    Antonia,
    Thank you for your kind comment. It took a lot of guts for me to leave Elizabeth’s comment up on my site and I did some hard-thinking about my reply to her. I had to “rule out” a lot of snippy things that I could have written to her. It is kind of you to put up your supporting comment. I’m glad you were able to have a career and financial stability in the U.S. I hope that in the future the majority of Mexican women will be able to have the same — but in their home country! I do see Mexico growing and changing in good ways. It’s such a wonderful place.
    Kindest Regards, Julia Taylor

  7. Abby Macias Nov 9

    I do have to say that everyone’s experience is different. In Elizabeth’s case she left Mexico, I am assuming a while ago, if she is married now with children. She apparently left Mexico for a reason? So she can’t be upset by any negative comments that must be true. No country is perfect, even the US has many issues, and any foreigner living here can comment. However, things change in a fast pace within a country. Mexico is different than it was 6 years ago, it is a developing country, and developing in great leaps! When she returns she will understand a little bit about leaving and returning. During my years living in Mexico, I would come back to the US and visit my Mexican friends living here and they would tell me, “wow you know so much more about our country that we do”! Yes, and you know so much more about the US than I. You become a citizen based on the country that you live in. I became Mexican, where they became, gringos! So Elizabeth is more American than Mexican, because that is where she is living, especially if it has been a large amount of time, living in the US. When I was living in Mexico, I knew the Mexican politics, the music, the TV shows, and every aspect that was happening in Mexico, due to my huge Mexican family i.e. the in-laws and friends. I worked, lived and breathed in Mexico. So what does not make me a Mexican? Birth? Home is where the heart is, and my heart and love was in Mexico. Everyone has a different experience and everyone has a right to their opinion. Just had to add my thoughts! But, I would love to buy the book! Can’t wait to read it!! Abby Macias

  8. DoratheExplorer Nov 21

    Julia,

    I am grateful for your website for all its goodness and flaws alike. I see you have experienced discrimination here for expressing your experience and opinions. You are a writer. I appreciate your ability to get this website started. For someone to assume you are not qualified to write and publish online due to their own prejudice is complete horse shit. The internet provides that freedom internationally. Thank goodness that is the case. I value your experience and your ability to express it for readers who are interested in exploring a journey to living in Mexico. I am an US American of Mexican heritage. I was raised with Mexican parents that spoke to me in Spanish only but encouraged me to get all I can wherever I am. I have lived on both coasts in the US since birth but have frequently visited Mexico as my parents had planned to retire there (su madre patria). However,due to the poor medical system and inaccessibility to quality doctors and medicine, they have chosen to stay in the US. They have a home in Mexico that I will be planning to live in for one month. If I like my experience, I may just chose to stay there permanently. As you know, the US currently is suffering its economic crisis and political struggles. Not that Mexico does not suffer but its basically cheaper to live in mexico unemployed than in the US unemployed if you have saved. crime and scandal is at an all time high in the US… making it a very undesirable place to live for those who are native and foreigners alike. Anyway, I am rambling now but you know what…. that is freedom of speech and its great that the internet offers that internationally! So kudos to you and keep it up cuz I love it. I look forward to exploring Mexico for all the good it has to offer and considering remedies for its wounds and sores. Every time I go there, I can’t help but take off my blinders so to speak. You truly get to see people for who they are unless they are an actors or fakers I guess. Much of the superficial halo people place on themselves in the US is shed in Mexico… So, that said, I can’t wait to go back for a visit or maybe permanently… Time will tell.
    Dora

  9. Julia Taylor Nov 21

    Dora,

    Thank you so much.

    Julia C Taylor

  10. Norma Jan 8

    Just found your website and am ecstatic. I’ve lived on and off in Mexico but my heart is there. Thanks for the time you have spent preparting this site, cannot wait to get into it over the next days.

  11. Julia Taylor Jan 8

    Norma,

    Thank YOU for your comment. Enjoy.

    Julia C Taylor

  12. Jessie Vasquez Jan 27

    Hi Julie, My name is Jessie, I have enjoyed your book so much, My husband was born in Cuernavaca, He is here in the Us illegally :(. We are planning to go to Cuernavaca to start the immigration proceddings. Im scared so scared. I was born in ohio, we are in chicago now im sure life there will be so different..i hope its only temporary. So i wanted to ask you are you there so long because of the immigration? Is that the length of the pardon he was given? Can you please e mal me back [email removed for privacy].

  13. Julia Taylor Feb 1

    Hi Jessie,

    I hope that it has not taken me too long to reply to you. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting a few days but I wanted to have time to give you a proper reply. I’m excited that my book has finally gotten into the hands of a spouse/partner of a Mexican present in the US illegally BEFORE they move to Mexico. I’m glad you have enjoyed the book! I know that retirees will benefit from it, but people like you and I NEED it.

    To answer some of your questions, my husband was asked to leave the US for 10 years under section 212(a)(9)(C)(I) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which “renders inadmissible those aliens who were previously unlawfully present in the United States for an aggregate period of more than one year who enter or attempt to re-enter the United States without being admitted [as in: he had gone home to visit his family and come back the only way he could]. These aliens are permanently inadmissible, however, after they have been outside the United States for at least 10 years [emphasis mine], they may seek consent to reapply for admission from the Attorney General” (source: http://www.shusterman.com/aos-up.html) Back then (it was 2001), we were some of the first people to fall under that section of the Act, which came into effect in 1997.

    I learned during our experience that it’s best not to leave the US unless you are forced to leave because often it is easier to process that application for residence from inside the US. OR sometimes it’s easier to stay in the US illegally until there is a clear path for legalization, which can change according to the political climate. We, for example missed a pardon signed by Bill Clinton because we were in Mexico traveling!!! The pardon only applied to people who could prove they were in the US on a certain date. ARG!

    Each person’s situation is different and the law is a bit complex, so you MUST have a good lawyer to help you determine the best way for your to proceed. Don’t leave the US until you know what you will be applying for and what the chances are of the application being accepted! I hope you two have a good lawyer.

    The best lawyer we found worked for Catholic Charities [he is no longer a lawyer]. He was working to help people, not for the money, though some lawyers that charge more are also in it to help people. Just check on that. We spoke to three different lawyers and one of them made us all sorts of promises (that we desperately wanted to hear) that could NOT come true, so be careful.

    Feel free to ask more questions. Chin up! If you do go to Mexico you will learn and grow so much!

    Kindest Regards,

    Julia C Taylor

  14. Married to a Mexican Apr 20

    Hi Julia,
    I am also married to a Mexican and I totally agree with you that living here in Mexico can often be harder (not easier) because our husbands are Mexican. Of course there are some advantages—my husband is a native Spanish speaker, he knows his own country and its culture and its people, etc. But on the other hand, sometimes I wish I had the somewhat simplified version of Sunny Mexico in my head that the retired expats have—they don’t know when they’ve been ripped off, they don’t know how to bargain, they don’t know when something is a scam, they’re like babes in the wilderness down here. And most of them are well-off (not all, but I would say most of them don’t hurt for money), and they are here by choice. They know they can go back to the US if they change their minds or if they just feel like shopping north of the border. All these things make a difference. I see Mexico through the eyes of my husband and it’s often not a pretty picture. His giant extended family and the vast majority of his friends are all poor people. That is the rule, not the exception, in Mexico. And the gap between rich and poor is growing deeper everyday. And the poor people don’t shop at Costco and Sam’s Club, and they don’t go to see movies at the local Cinepolis. They just manage to get by, day by day, and that’s about it. I would not call that paradise, far from it.

  15. Julia Taylor Apr 21

    Married to a Mexican,

    I’m glad you added your comment. You hit the nail right on the head.

    Your comments made me think that it just affects people when their extended family is poor or exposed to difficult circumstances. With your partner you have to grapple with some heavy questions. Do you give money to the great uncle who can’t buy his medicines? How many cousins and nephews and especially nieces do you buy school supplies for so that they will continue in school? In the cases of nieces, how much do you pressure their families to keep the girls in school? Is it OK to stay at a “nice” hotel when your family doesn’t have running water? It’s a stretch to be sure.

    Kindest Regards, Julia C Taylor

  16. Married to a Mexican Apr 29

    Hi Julia,
    “Married” here again. Yes, those are some important issues you mention. We all end up giving a helping hand, and yes, the difficulty is figuring out where to put limits. I guess in the first few years we all go a bit too far (and stretch our own budgets) before we learn to say no. Right now, due to so many asking for help, we have decided to extend ourselves to mainly supporting my husband’s mom. It calls for some hard decisions, but it has to be done. There is one sister in law with 6 adult daughters. Before I met my husband, he sent down the money to her for the construction of her roof and a bathroom. Previously she had no roof nor functioning bathroom. She’s a really great cook and when she puts her mind to it, she does pretty well selling her food. But when she decides to take a vacation, she shuts down and goes to the beach for weeks with family she has over there. She is poor, but on the other hand she takes more vacations and seems to have less stress in her life than we do. Or at least she perceives said stress in a different way. So, when she comes up short and can’t buy propane, do we help her? No, because we have drawn our limits and learned to say no.
    I’d love to communicate with you offline if you are amenable to that!
    ~~”Married to a Mexican”

  17. Julia C Taylor Apr 29

    “Married,”
    Thanks again. I am amenable to individual emails. You can find my email on my “contact us” page.

    Julia

  18. Julia Fielder Ponce Oct 23

    Hi Julia (from another Julia),

    I am so plad to have found this website and can’t wait to read / buy your book. My husband has been here 10 years after overstaying his VISA and we are in deportation proceedings. We have until next October to wait, plan, hope, fear the future. If we do not prevail in the Immigration court the only option will be voluntary departure. I have such mixed feelings about even the idea of going back with him to Mexico with him. His family is in DF but he has always wanted to open a business in Playa del Carmen or thereabouts. He came to the US with nothing at 17 years old and now owns a moving company and a tire store. I finally have a wonderful career in law. I don’t know what I would do if we have to take voluntary departure and then seek a waiver. I don’t think his family likes me, and I know his mom wants him to be with a mexican woman. So, to get back to my point, I am so grateful to find your site. My only question right now is, are you still there in Mexico, and active on this website? I can’t find any very recent activity here, which is why I ask.

    Sincerely,
    Julia (Seattle)

  19. Julia Taylor Oct 23

    Hi Julia, Yes, I’m still here. I don’t blame you for not wanting to lose your career. I feel for you! It won’t save your career, but you aren’t alone.
    Julia

  20. Julia Fielder Ponce Oct 24

    Thanks for the quick reply. I have only just recently started thinking about going with him if he goes back. Now I have so many questions and worries. What about our beloved pets? I did read your message somewhere about not kissing one’s doggies when in MExico! I assume that applies to cats as well. Does anyone bring their cats and dogs with them? Is there any quarantine required or do people just cross the border/fly in with them? The upside to moving, I think, is that I would have no shortage of help with my son/babysitting, with his family being there.

    Also, is there any culture of volunteering / charity there? Would it be unthinkable that I would be able to volunteer with a legal aid service in Mexico?

    OK, back to work. Thanks again!

  21. Julia C Taylor Oct 27

    Julia,

    Right, don’t kiss your cat in front of people in Mexico until you know the people well and know how they feel about animals. You can bring your pets with you. You’ll need a certificate from a vet and there is no quarantine. I’m working on my long overdue 3rd edition right now and there will be a section on pets in it.

    You can absolutely volunteer. There is a strong community aspect to life in Mexico and volunteering and charity are a big part of it.

    Julia

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