We’d been talking about, planning, and dreaming about becoming expats for a very long time. Choosing Mexico as our first foray was not even on our radar scope until quite recently. So, friends and family ask, why Mexico? Of all the possibilities, how did Mexico become the focal point?
When we first started discussion a move outside the U.S., we focused primarily on Ecuador. I did all the usual vetting: International Living magazine, websites, blogs, books and the like. We focused primarily on Cuenca or Loja. Neither of us are beach people and we both like cooler weather, so the coast was out.
Good friends of ours made a similar decision and they executed pretty quickly. They took an exploratory (which we had yet to do) and decided on Manta. They adjusted pretty well and then came the earthquake in 2016. Manta was close to the epicenter and was badly damaged. Our friends had to quickly escape.
In addition to the earthquake (as if that wasn’t enough), they had issues with internet connectivity, which for us is mission critical. So with their direct experience and the relatively long travel distance to Ecuador, we moved it down on the list and began to explore anew.
Our friends told us that several of their friends in Manta were exploring Lake Chapala as an option. We had not really considered choosing Mexico as an option (oh, my, those drug wars and murders and don’t drink the water!).
Still, we started looking there. We discovered plenty of online resources. Plus, Bonita had already visited Mexico a couple of times in her life, so she was encouraging.
We started evaluating our must-haves. Availability of reliable internet connections? Check. Great weather? Check. Easy transit? Check. We were starting to become comfortable with choosing Mexico.
Were we concerned about the blizzard of negative publicity rampant in the U.S. about Mexico? About how “dangerous” it is? Of course. Yet, we also knew enough to undertake our own evaluation.
First, Bonita had been to Mexico as a tourist. She had had very pleasant experiences.
Second, I had travel experience in so-called dangerous zones. Back in 1999 I had visited Ireland. You may have to dredge your memory on that one, but at the time, the U.S. news was brimming with reports of street wars, murders, drive-bys and violence between Catholics and Protestants all stirred up in a stew of political drama with England and Ireland.
When friends heard I was going, I got severe warnings about how dangerous it was.
Of course, I flew to Dublin, stayed in Dublin, and loved Dublin. Turns out, all the “danger” was happening in Belfast, hundreds of miles away and then, only in a few neighborhoods. Now, should I be afraid to visit New York City because there are areas in NYC that I should avoid? I posit no. Just don’t go there and I’ll be fine.
Same in Ireland in 1999 and same in Mexico, 2017 and 2018.
So, having done our research, it was time for both of us to venture on an exploratory trip, which I will discuss in a subsequent post.