Thursday, December 29, 2011

6 Ways To "Live and Finish Rich in 2012"

Here's some good advice from David Bach, he says to "Live and Finish Rich in 2012." I think it's great advice if you are planning to be an expat.

1) PAY YOURSELF FIRST - have a goal of doubling your savings.  Then, look at your 401K and increase your contribution  by 1%.

2) MAKE YOUR FINANCES "AUTOMATIC" - Change the way you get paid by directly depositing your pay into your checking account. Then by using online banking and bill pay, you will distribute your money automatically into the following key accounts:
Retirement Savings
Emergency Savings
College Savings
Dream Account (i.e. vacations, holidays savings)
Mortgage Payment
Credit Card Bills (minimum payment, so you will never miss a payment again)
Recurring Bills (utilities, phone, cable, etc.)
3) GET A WILL - for as little as $50 using a program such as Quicken WillMaker or you can hire an attorney to help you. Critical things that you will need in your will are:
Health care directive
Financial power of attorney
Executor documents
Final arrangements
4) TRACK WHERE THE MONEY GOES "AKA FIND YOUR LATTE FACTOR®" - The best way to improve your financial life that I know of, other than paying yourself first, is to track where your money is actually going. I would use a site like, or Yodlee Money Center.

5) CLEAN IT OUT AND SELL IT - accumulating stuff is not cool and your heirs will just ditch it or put it in a cardboard box high up in the garage.

6) GIVE SOMETHING UP - One of the fastest ways to cut your expenses in 2012 is to pick ONE thing and give it up.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

"There's A Big Gap Between Perception And Reality,"

The Seattle Times carries a Washington Post article about safety for tourists in Mexico.
Without a solid understanding of the geography (761,606 square miles) and the nature of the drug wars (internecine fighting), many foreigners assume that all of Mexico is a war zone. But it isn't.

"The episodes of violence are in very specific pockets," says Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board, "and are unrelated to tourism."

For proof, Lopez-Negrete rolls out the statistics, derived from a combination of government and non-government sources: Of 2,500 municipalities (what we call counties), only 80, or fewer than 5 percent, have been affected by the drug war, which accounts for only 3 percent of all crime. Mexican cities are also safer than some urban centers north of the border: Mexico City, for example, has 8.3 homicides a year per 100,000 people. That's fewer than Miami (14.1) and Chicago (16.1). On a global scale, Mexico is safer than many of its neighbors. In 2008, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported Mexico's homicide rate as 11.6 per 100,000, significantly lower than Honduras (60.9), Jamaica (59.5) or El Salvador (51.8).

Bottom line: check the news daily in any city in America or watch the late night news and you will see evidence that people are dying violently every day. Many of those people are killed in areas that I wouldn't go into in the daylight. When traveling anywhere, keep your eyes open, don't flash your wealth and stay out of bad neighborhoods.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Feliz Navidad y un muy feliz año nuevo a todos.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Strong Growth Trends In Merida

There are several strong trends that are influencing the growth of the real estate market in Merida.

The 10 trends supporting continued growth in the Merida real estate market:

1. Strong demand from Mexican buyers, investors and renters. The primary engine powering the growth of Merida is internal growth from around the Country of Mexico. Mexicans are moving to Merida to enjoy the lifestyle, cost of living and safety.

2. Infrastructure investments. New bridges, highways, government buildings, universities, trade schools, museums, hotels, shopping centers, cultural centers, markets, electrical grid, renewable fuel resources and new neighborhoods/schools.

3. Cost of living advantages. Merida has rich, middle class and poor. There are markets that serve all groups and government programs to aid the very poor. You can shop at stores like Costco, Sears, Sam's, or Walmart. But the best buys for your produce, food and household products will be found at the local markets and flea markets.

4. Public Safety. Despite a swiftly growing populace and the demands it puts on policing, public safety and the criminal justice system, Yucatan remains one of the lowest crime-rate states in Mexico.

5. Demand from foreign buyers, investors and renters. A strong influx from mostly Canadians, Americans and Europeans looking for a tropical lifestyle that provides a greater flexibility in cost of living, lower taxes and household expenses.

6. Large educated workforce. Business moving to Merida can count on a large pool of educated young people to help them grow their businesses. Additionally, the local pueblos also provide a strong resource of construction and manual laborers.

7. Excellent and inexpensive health care facilities, doctors and hospitals. Dentistry, Plastic Surgery, Therapist, Cancer Specialist, Nutritionist, Veterinarians, Dermatologist and in-home health professionals all contribute to making Merida the perfect option for anyone living with a long-term health issue or anyone just wanting to know that, in case they need it, excellent and reasonably priced health care is locally available.

8. Excellent universities, trade schools, cultural arts schools and language schools provide a vast menu of institutions to provide for continuing education, higher education or alternative learning centers.

9. Tropical weather and local beach. Accessibility to great beaches, water sports, fishing, marinas, growing and enjoying year-round gardening, fruit trees and tropical flowers and plants makes for year-round comfort and many enjoyable outdoor activities.

10. Mayan culture and ruins, shopping, cinema, art studios, theater, restaurants, night life, casinos, cantinas, symphony orchestra, opera, fabulous Yucatecan, Italian, Cuban, French, Irish, Asian, Mexican, Seafood, chops, steaks, wine bars, boutique chocolates, specialty shops and much more.

I haven't been to Merida, But I'm certainly blooking forward to visiting.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MinnPost - Mexico-U.S. relations: beyond 'looniness, stupidity and flatulence'

MinnPost - Mexico-U.S. relations: beyond 'looniness, stupidity and flatulence'

La Casa Que Canta

Someday Bev and I will stay here:

The beautiful place is called La Casa Que Canta and it's situated in Zijuatenejo, Mexico

Compare Portland's Cost Of Living to Mazatlan

Numbeo has a nice little chart that you can use to compare the city you currently live in to a city in Mexico. I compared Portland, OR to Mazatlan. It's pretty eye-opening for someone not familiar with Mexican prices.

Housing is one of our biggest expenses. Rent Prices in Mazatlan are 72.26% lower than in Portland, OR.

From reading the two previous articles, you can surmise that healthcare is cheaper. Right now Bev is paying $620 a month for healthcare, and she's healthy, or almost $7,500 a year. (We just received a bill for January that reflects a 6% increase over 2011.) In Mexico the cost for Bev's health insurance would be no higher than $300!

Mexico is calling!

Have You Been To Gringo MD?

Gringo MD is a useful service I just came across. is your community-created resource for healthcare support in Mexico. The recommendations are for gringos, by gringos.

I learned quickly from the Medical in Mexico website that doctors and dentists in Mexico do not enjoy the same income levels that doctors and dentists do in the USA do. Therefore health care is more reasonable for Mexican residents and for foreigners who use medical services in Mexico. To supplement their income, it is not unusual for a doctor to own a pharmacy (Farmacia) as well as practicing medicine. The quality of doctors and dentists in Mexico, as well as most anywhere else, varies considerably. so it is best to consult other expats for their recommendations.

Farmacias in Mexico are everywhere. A downtown area will have one every couple of blocks or so. In some cases, if you don't have a prescription the doctor can write one for you, for a small fee. The pharmacist can often be helpful if you just explain what your situation is.

Now this seems like great advice for travelers to Mexico with pre-existing conditions:
  •  Before you go, write up a brief description and history of your condition. Begin with your name, birthdate, your doctor and his contact information, and who to notify in case of emergency. Include a list of medications and dosages that you are taking. Include a list of anything that you are allergic to. Unless your Spanish is very good, I would just write this in English. Get this onto one sheet of paper or less and carry it with you. Give your travelling companions copies. That way, if you do have an emergency, someone can just hand this to the doctor and you don't have to worry so much about communicating all this information during the emergency.
  • Also before you go, find out where you might find treatment and how to make contact.
  • Find out how to say your condition in Spanish

Here's a good site: Public Health Care System in Mexico (IMSS)

Now go and have fun!

Medicare Pre-Planning For Expats In Mexico

Mexperience has an article in their Mexico Living Blog about an expat named Phil who experienced chest pains and went to a Mexican hospital. He received excellent care, but his plan to go back to the U.S. with his wife Gloria and have Medicare cover the expenses went awry. He was put in intensive care, then a standard room "...but it was clear that between the heart monitor, the IV solutions and the oxygen therapy, Phil was not moving anywhere for a while. He certainly wasn’t in any shape to jump on an international flight back to the USA to use his Medicare benefits."

If they had thought things through more carefully and had the information about the various types of insurance available to expats in Mexico, including various “blended solutions,” Gloria and Phil might have actually been able to take advantage of Medicare while still getting the emergency care that Phil needed in Mexico, and to have had quality, affordable coverage for all of it.

What was missing was information, the kind of information they would have found in The English Speaker’s Guide to Medical Care in Mexico. This helpful book suggests a number of strategies for people like Gloria and Phil.

With some pre-planning, Gloria and Phil might have actually been able to take advantage of Medicare while still getting the emergency care that Phil needed in Mexico, and to have had quality, affordable coverage for all of it.