Time flies and it’s been a month since we moved from India on the 22nd May to come to Mexico. I know I haven’t really been sharing much, and I apologize although I’m sure you haven’t even noticed! My mom did, though, so that’s something ;)
Moving to Merida
I thought I’d just have a chat and tell you what we’ve been up to, how the move went, and what our new place is like here in Merida. I know I didn’t give much of a heads-up before we left then kind of fell off the face of the earth, which was a “bad blogger” of me to do. But, life definitely gets in the way sometimes.
The Actual Move
The move itself went pretty smooth – and actually as good as could be expected since we brought our 3 pets with us. We didn’t fly here together due to regulations with the pets so I got in a couple days before Ben. That gave me time to find the nearest OXXO and eat about 10 hotdogs (sorry, not sorry). The people working at OXXO probably said no dogs allowed since I took Shanti in with me – but my Spanish is still “muy mal” so I just smiled at them. Jk, sort of.
We stayed in a great Airbnb in Centro (the center of town). This is a gorgeous city with colorful colonial buildings from back when the Spanish were here. The little streets are so pretty and the many of the homes here are renovated architectural gems. They are really stunning. We stayed at this particular one for a week – they allowed pets which was great. It had a pool and was perfect. Then after a week, we moved into our 6 month rental in Norte (the North part of the city).
Our Neighborhood & House
At first, we thought it might have been a mistake going North as we really loved being in Centro, able to walk the dogs every morning to the park and walk to basically anywhere we wanted. It was really nice and convenient. It also got us out of the house a lot – in fact, I didn’t even have a chance to work or watch TV because we were always doing something fun in town. We ate local food all day and night and it was delicious! I could pop into the local markets and there is always some kind of festival going on.
But, we now love the North! It’s a $3 Uber into town 15 minutes if we want to go to Centro – but here we are also near where we do all our errands (Chedraui, Walmart, Sams Club, Costco, the Mall, you name it…) and we live within a 5 minute walk to all of these places I should not be going to Dairy Queen, Krispy Cream, TGIF, McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr. The list goes on and on. Luckily, there are also loads of Yucatan style food places around here like little Pastor places and we get our fill of tacos.
It’s really safe and I can walk around any time of day here. We can walk the dogs around the neighborhood and haven’t had any encounters with stray dogs (which is great since in Goa it was impossible to walk our dogs due to that, and dogfights ensuing).
We actually live across the street from the best movie theater in Merida. They give you a blanket to take to your giant reclining leather seats. When you want food, you just hit the button on your seat and they take your order – 2 tickets on Wednesdays (their 2 for 1 day) is 140 pesos ($7). I actually went to see Amy Schumer’s new movie by myself, lol. I don’t exactly have friends yet!
This is at Local 59, in centro, really tasty brunch
Our house is AMAZING. I already shared an album of photos on Facebook you can click here to see but I’ll put a couple more below. I said the rent on Facebook so might as well repeat it here. It’s 21,000 MXN per month. This is a high rent for Merida but this is a kick-ass house. That’s around $1,050. It includes a weekly housekeeper, biweekly groundskeeper, and pool cleaner. Like India, here, you have a lot of staff to help take care of your home, although most people here have a housekeeper weekly or biweekly come the entire day, while in India, they have someone come daily for a few hours.
we have papaya and bananas plus the neighbors oranges fall onto our side :)
We have had to buy some things when we moved in, like a TV, which Ben has been dying to get for years. We also stocked up our pantry and such – so spent a big amount at Sam’s Club but are finally all settled in. It’s literally 100% like being in the states here – it’s so modern, it’s so clean, it’s so just orderly and you can get anything you need.
It’s funny because on Facebook groups for expats here, I joined months back just to see what people complained about. I expected to face so many challenges plus according to them, basically, nothing we are used to in the USA is found here. I have found that to be totally not the case. So far, I haven’t been able to find a Swiffer but found a decent replacement, grape jelly (but maybe that’s for the best), and an affordable quality pool float (why are they a million dollars here!? – but I got one from Amazon USA).
Here is a random shot of the groceries you can get in Merida:
TIP: Moving to Merida? You can use Amazon USA to order things here. Some items are kind of novelty here: Kitchenaid mixer ($700 USD), pool floats (swear to god, $200 online), steam mop ($300)… and for example, I saw the steam mop I wanted on Amazon USA (not the Mexican site) for $50. If you sort by international deliveries with Amazon Global, you can have them deliver and pay the customs upfront. I paid $30 for shipping and customs on the mop. I also got two pool floats ($35 in total and one’s a donut with a bite out of it, so cute). It all came fine and on time. Basically, if the customs is more than they think, they take the hit. If it’s less, you get refunded. AND $75 was still a hell of a lot cheaper than a steam mop purchase in Mexico. By the way, I’m so domesticated now that I use a steam mop.
What We’ve Been Doing
We have been totally re-energized moving here. We wake up early, walk the dogs, I make smoothies (seriously), and we usually work in the mornings. I lounge in the pool a bit. We eat normal lunch food like turkey sandwiches (you can get all the normal lunch food here!). We cook more. I even bought a crock pot and make Pinterest recipes now. I baked cookies! It’s just so many things we didn’t do in Goa. We do go out to dinner a lot still.
Ben’s mom send my sunflowers for my birthday! They are my favorite flower and it was so nice – thanks, Alex!
some homemade meals – lasagna was yummy!
We tend to see a movie a week so far, haha. We go into town for drinks around 4 sometimes to see live music and bar hop on weeknights. When you drink at the cantinas, they give you free snacks. The more you drink, the better the snacks get – by the end of it, they’re bringing out free tacos! There’s always markets and cool stuff going on during the weekends, too, so we are usually out and about. We saw an awesome Beatles’ cover band and it’s just nice to have music other than Goa’s Psytrance.
We have tried TONS of popular restaurants here (for blog research, of course) and have been up to San Cristano, which is meant to be one of the best stretches of beach about 30 minutes from us. I found an awesome masseuse that comes to the house and a great nearby hair salon, Kate Miasik. You can get ALL the USA brand beauty products here as well. The mall has like Clinique, Mac, Bumble & Bumble, etc.
I started pilates class on the reformer which has been awesome and I love actually doing some exercise. Ben and I want to join a club near our house so we can join and play tennis. I might even take lessons because I SUCK at tennis, lol. There is SO much to do here. I’ve met up with some cool bloggers and girls I met on Facebook (sounds weird, but it’s kind of a great way to get out there and meet people). I’ve been cool people in bars and stayed in touch. We plan on seeing some baseball games here; the team is the Leon’s and Ben has never seen a baseball “match” as he calls them.
My friend Tia’s mom, Natti (you know, Natti’s Naturals in Goa?) just visited us from Tulum for the weekend so it was nice to already see a Goa face here. We went to IHOP, lol. Like in India how in Goa we were secluded and would go to Mumbai or Bangalore for some Western life, she did the same with coming from Tulum to Merida. How funny.
You MUST learn Spanish here. Wow, we are like idiots trying to do anything. I would say 90% of people we encounter don’t speak English. This is so different from India and something we took for granted in India. I luckily have some High School Spanish in the back of my brain, resurfacing. Ben, not so much. But, we are getting by.
I plan to start some classes with Spanish55 who offered me (as a blogger) and Ben each a free 1-hour private online class each month for 6 months. I don’t know what 6 hours can do over 6 months but we’ll see.
I plan on taking real classes here too, but really need to find a private tutor. The University is so cheap (like $120 for a semester) but I travel so much and would miss too many classes to take it seriously and I’m too OCD to take a class and not try to get an A (and a gold star sticker if they are giving those out).
Since everyone speaks Spanish, we are learning a bit each and every day. Sentences will come out of my mouth that afterward, I think: “holy cow, how did I know to say that!?” Other times, we struggle for 20 minutes (no exaggeration) trying to order a pizza over the phone.
Is the Heat Really Too Much to Handle?
We were told the heat was unbearable and the humidity is something no one can stand. We were also told mosquitos would eat us alive and ants would run our kitchen. While it is hot, it’s nothing like Goa in April/May. It’s 100% normal bearable heat – honestly, nothing more than an Ohio summer. The humidity has been under 60% so far while it’s 100% in Goa and even, I kid you not, Ohio! So, I haven’t found it too hot. In Centro, the ants and mosquitos are annoying but outside of there, it’s totally fine. I haven’t gotten one bite (which is good, because they do carry Zika here) and I haven’t seen any ants in the kitchen. Kitkat kills cockroaches for us – but other than that, no critters here!
It’s rainy season, but it’s rained maybe two nights and during the day a few times, lasting just an hour or so each time. Very light drizzles, not huge storms and downpours. Coming from years of Goa’s monsoon, this is nothing. In fact, we miss the monsoon!
We have had one power outage but it wasn’t due to a storm, it was some technical issue with a neighbor that took the street out. Mostly, the issues we had in Goa as expats living in a small village don’t exist here.
Instead, we have the issue of this being a city that follows laws and you cannot just bribe here and there like in Goa (driving cars without papers and license), etc.
Here, we need to do things properly and we need to learn Spanish!
Becoming Residents & Driving
So, we do have a rental car here and we cannot buy and register a used car until we are residents.
If you search online for a car rental in Merida, Cancun, and many other places in Mexico, you’ll find them for 50 cents a day. We booked for $7 for two weeks when we got here. Basically, everyone under the sun will say “it’s not real, you have to pay more when you get there, you’re an idiot thinking it’s real!” But, you guys – it’s real.
We’ve done it three times now. You just have to book through Kayak, or lately directly through Mex Rentacar and make sure it says the rental includes the 750,000 MXN liability insurance which is mandatory in Mexico and IS included on all rentals (but you need to make sure it’s listed in your booking or they try to upsell you on it). They also tried to lie at first and say the law is 1,000,000 MXN but after asking him to prove that to me, he dropped it.
Next is the CDW insurance – if your credit card at home covers you, you just need a letter from your bank’s benefits team saying so. You can then decline all coverage. I am with Chase Sapphire Reserve and they gave me one in two minutes when I asked. I put Ben on my credit card as an authorized user, so he has his own card with his name on it, and he can rent then as the primary driver and is covered with my insurance. They will try to make you take the car rental insurance but you have to be firm. Europcar basically told us no way, we had to take it, so we just left and rebooked at Mex Rentar. You just reserve online and don’t pay until you get there so it’s fine.
Anway, we did it 3 times, no issues but it’s annoying so we cannot wait to buy a car. To do so, we have to become residents. I’ll be writing a whole blog post about becoming residents. I have an appointment in Atlanta in July at the Mexican Consolute (none in Ohio) and will stop there on my way to Ohio with Ben. Even he could have done his interview there, IF he had his paperwork notarized in UK, which we didn’t do. It’s harder to get approved being self-employed so I’m a little nervous but will just take literally way too much extra bank paperwork and such to make sure I’m prepared.
Once we get the interview done, we have 30 days to register this in Mexico at the immigration office to actually be temporary residents (which is apparently a pain). In a year, we have to renew, and can renew up to 4 years. Then, if we stay on, we have to transfer and apply to permanent residency. Then we can pay into the government healthcare and other benefits.
As temporary residents, we can take that and a bill in our name to go register a car we’ve bought and got insurance for it. We can also get health insurance here in Mexico rather than paying expat health insurance which is really expensive.
The information online about residency makes it seem incredibly hard and like you need to hire a third party to do it. So, I guess we will find out as I’m going to try on my own and see if I can make it work.
What We Miss From India
Our friends! My bestie, Tia, is about to have a baby and my other BFF, Amy, and her daughter Ava I really miss. Priyanka and Rishab and all the people we always hang out with are so missed! We miss Babu and Leena, Ryance, and Sonu, literally everyone. I miss puppy, the little pup that hung out at our house and we talked Sonu into adopting – they are BFF’s now so it’s perfect.
We miss the monsoon and our home, and the chilled out jungle vibes. I love Goa and I’ll miss it a lot. I will be back there soon. I JUST updated the Goa ebook with all the changes that happened last season (this winter) and it’s got loads of new information in it. Nothing happens during the monsoon (and if it did I would see from all the friends of mine on Facebook who post about everything new in Goa!) but when I go back, I’ll check out any new places that open for next season and add them, too.
What’s Next | Building a House
We hope to build a house here! We have looked at land but have not had much time to really dive into this. I think in August we will get more time to really think about. It’s likely we will extend this house rental to a year instead of six months.
What’s going on with the blog? Are you even traveling anymore!?
I am still blogging and traveling! Not only that, but I have loads of trips and projects lined up that I cannot wait to share. But, this post is already far too long, so I’ll put it in a post for Monday. Stay tuned!
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Hi Rachel, your blog is amazing! It’s cool especially you lived in India for a long time, I am visiting Delhi, Agra, Jaipur this coming September, will definitely check out your tips then. In the meantime, good luck in Mexico!
I recently started my own blog on tech and travels, so if you have time to visit and give me some feedback, I will highly appreciate it too :) Thank you in advance!
Wow Rachel, I had no idea you had such a big move going on! But Merida does sound wonderful. How did you decide for it? I find it so hard to consider other places for living out of fear we wouldn’t like it there!
Hello Rachel. Me and my wife got here (Merida) a few days ago. We’re from Mexico City and we will be glaf to teach you Spanish (for free of course).
Hello, No idea how this happen it pop up on my google app feed, it seems we are almost neighbors, glad you are happy and enjoying life here, take care (sorry for my bad english).
Hello, i find your blog from my google app feed, we are almost neighbors, glad that you’re happy and enjoying life. take care. (sorry for my bad english).
Hey Rachel, so relieved to hear that you will continue blogging and travelling because for a second there (when you mentioned building a house), I thought i’m going to miss my favourite blogger.
I am so sad you left India(Even though i don’t live there) I am glad you are having a great time in Merida. It feels as though we are friends and thanks so much for sharing all the updates. I would love to meet you someday.
What a lovely post Rachel!
You sound really happy and seem to have settled in rather well. I’m delighted for you and your new life.
It’s really nice to read a detailed description as I’m sure it’ll be extremely valuable for those wishing to move to Mexico. I’ve not been to that part of the Americas myself, and I have absolutely no idea why not. I’d love to visit Mexico, Peru and perhaps Costa Rica one of these days, but I’m an Asian Travel girl at heart!
Good on yer girlfriend!
This literally gave me so much inspiration you have NO IDEA. I am so happy for you and I’ve never thought about moving to Mexico (as they are our neighbors I feel we take them – and Canada – for granted). But what a great idea! Maybe I’ll do the same when I return from South Korea. Can’t wait to continue to follow your journey x
Great posts. We are looking at moving to Merida in the near future so will be following your adventures with great interest.
Retiring to Merida in 3 yrs. Definitely following you!!