Monday, November 2, 2020

Mexico Is Still Welcoming Americans

Simon Black, Founder,, says Americans always threaten to leave for Canada if the election goes badly. He suggests there are many other places to escape to. Mexico is the country that the US federal government has tried so hard to block for immigration purposes. Yet, in an ironic twist of fate, Mexico is still welcoming Americans. One of the few countries that do.

According to Simon Black, “Right now, US citizens have limited options for international travel. But Mexico is still open, including to Americans.

Mexico Is Still Welcoming Americans

“You can enter Mexico without a visa and stay for up to 180 days, no questions asked.

“One of our Sovereign Man team members did this recently, enjoying a great deal of freedom on Mexico’s Gulf coast, as well as a fantastic lifestyle at a minimal cost.

“He told us recently that he went to a barber and paid just $4 for a haircut (including a generous tip), then treated his family to a delicious lunch at a great restaurant for less than what McDonald's would have cost in the US.

“Safety was not a concern; this region of Mexico is about as ‘dangerous’ as Wyoming in terms of crime incidents.

“So, Mexico presents an opportunity to spend six months on the beach, avoid strict lockdowns, distance yourself from politics and riots, and save a ton of money.

“The only other places that rival Mexico’s low cost of living in the Western Hemisphere are Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador. (Panama and Costa Rica are also great expat destinations, but both have become costlier in recent years.)

“Sure, you could easily pay New York prices for dinner at a world-class restaurant in Mexico City, or even in Cancun.

“But if you are willing to venture beyond the typical tourist traps, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Playa del Carmen is touristy, and therefore not very cheap by Mexican standards. And still, a family of four could live comfortably on $3,000 a month, rent included.

Temporary residency in Mexico is easy to acquire for anyone who can prove they have sufficient savings or income-- you’ll need at least $1,700 per month after taxes, plus $700 for each dependent.

After four years of temporary residency, you can upgrade to permanent residency. That is a great asset that gives you another option to live and work (or escape) outside your home country.

Retirees have a shortcut to permanent residency in Mexico, as long as you can prove you are officially retired and have a pension or Social Security income of at least $2,800 per month.

After five years of legal residency, you can apply for naturalization, which means becoming a Mexican citizen, and obtaining a Mexican passport.

And most of these options can be started now from your nearest consulate before you even set foot on Mexican soil.

Although it is rare, other countries offer easy residency, various paths to citizenship, and a low cost of living.

But Mexico remains one of the very few places on earth open to travelers from the United States and Europe; there are still plenty of nonstop flights between Mexico and cities like Houston, Paris, Miami, New York, Madrid, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, etc.

So you’re thinking about leaving…whether due to strict lockdowns, peaceful protests, inevitably higher taxes, or simply to retire in peace, Mexico might be worth considering.

Simon Black,

Sunday, July 12, 2020

If you build it, they will come: an art school and San Miguel

Calle Aldama & Cardo by Karen Lee Dunn of San Miguel de Allende.

Leigh Thelmadatter writing for Mexico News Daily, says, “Mexico has always attracted adventurous foreigners looking for something different, but the expat enclave phenomenon we know now in San Miguel de Allende began in the 20th century.

San Miguel is not the first, nor the last, but it is the best known, especially north of the border. The first was Taxco, just three hours from Mexico City.
In the 1920s, it attracted foreigners and artists, some famous for its scenery and “authentic” Mexican atmosphere. But by the late 1930s, there were “too many” foreigners, leading some to look for an alternative.

Around that same time, a Peruvian artist discovered the dying town of San Miguel de Allende. The loss of the commercial silver routes and the Mexican Revolution had decimated the local economy. However, Felipe Cossío de Pomar “fell in love with the light” there and envisioned the town as the “new Bauhaus” to give artists a sanctuary to work in.
He convinced the Mexican government to let him use an old convent (today the main cultural center) to establish an art school. Cossío had many contacts with prominent artists and intellectuals in Mexico and abroad and succeeded in promoting San Miguel as the new “authentic Mexican” experience.

Cossío got the school started, but it was the work of American Stirling Dickinson that gave the school and San Miguel its standing among North Americans. He continued to promote the town as an “undiscovered gem,” but the real success came when he got the school accredited with the U.S. government to receive World War II G.I. Bill money.

However, the school’s success also brought some major headaches. The main issue was an already existing conflict between the bohemian artists of the school and the rather conservative Catholic locals. This was exacerbated by hundreds of American GIs.
In addition, students expected more from their tuition money and even staged a strike that divided the entire population. To satisfy the students, the school hired David Alfaro Siqueiros to paint a mural, but his radical politics proved completely unacceptable to the townspeople. His unfinished mural can still be seen today in the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez El Nigromante.

The situation caused an international scandal, so the Mexican government stepped in. It took over, changing the school’s name to the current Instituto Allende. It was moved to the De la Cana Hacienda on the outskirts of town, a larger space, but G.I. Bill accreditation was lost.

The school is not the main reason why San Miguel attracts so many artists and retirees today. In fact, it is peripheral to life in San Miguel at best.
Although the school’s turbulent heyday lasted only a few years, the GIs who studied there remembered San Miguel fondly. When they began reaching retirement age, more than a few decided to return. They bought the old, dilapidated colonial structures and fixed them up to create the historic center as it exists today.

As their numbers grew, businesses sprang up, and infrastructure was improved, starting a snowball effect that continues to this day. San Miguel is now a tourist destination and a World Heritage Site. Condé Nast Traveler named it the best city in the world to live. The town now attracts tourists, as well as moneyed Mexicans who buy weekend homes here.
Despite the near irrelevance of the Instituto Allende and the influx of non-artist retirees, art remains an important element of life in San Miguel. The returning GIs never lost their interest, whether they had pursued a career in art or not, they certainly were involved with it (again).

To this day, the town attracts Mexican and foreign artists of retirement age and younger. The concentration of residents with the economic means to buy art means that San Miguel is Mexico’s second most important domestic art market after Mexico City.

But the picture isn’t entirely rosy. Aside from the urban sprawl and traffic that just seems to be getting worse, the center has been derided as a “Disneyland” version of Mexico — too perfect. Most locals cannot afford to live there and have moved to the less scenic periphery. These negatives have prompted another search for the “authentic Mexican experience” in places such as Coatepec, Veracruz, and San Cristóbal, Chiapas, whose residents worry that too many “gringos” will lead their town to San Miguel’s fate.”

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Moving Abroad: How To Bring All Your Essentials To Your New Home

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From Reality Biz News
For many, moving abroad to start a new job or a new life can be an exciting time. There are so many new things to look forward to, so much change, and so many adventures await. There are a number of things to attend to such as paperwork, visa applications, money conversion, car shipping, contracts, house rentals, clothes, and appliances that you need to ship out. 

As your to-do list gets longer and the anxiety heightens, the entire event can become overwhelming. As you pack up your things and think about your new home, it is important to understand that you do not need to bring everything. Trying to cram everything into your bags can only result in lots of stress and overweight baggage. 
If you are not quite sure what to take with you and what to leave behind, no worries. This article summarizes the most essential considerations about what to bring when you are moving overseas. Additionally, it also offers helpful guides when looking into real estate abroad.
  1. Essentials for consideration
Before you pack your things, think about the essentials that you should bring. To guide your decisions, use the following criteria:
  • Duration: How long are you sure to stay in the new country? Are you planning to live there permanently? Is this a temporary work arrangement? Or is this a “let’s see where it goes and whether we like it there” kind of move?
  • Restrictions: What are the country’s restrictions on the things that you want to bring? How much will you spend on import taxes, fees, and the like? Every country has its own set of rules; make sure you properly research everything beforehand.
  • Climate: What is the climate in the place where you are going? Are there things that you will no longer need to bring because of the climate there? Will you need to buy climate-appropriate clothes or devices?
  • Facilities: Will you have accommodations ready when you get there? Will you be sharing a space with someone? Will you be provided appliances or do you need to buy or bring your own?
  • Electricals: What is the voltage of electrical outlets used in your destination? What plugs do outlets generally require over there? Are plug adaptors necessary to charge your laptop, desktop, mobile phone, external battery, shaver, and other personal devices? Is it more cost-efficient to bring electrical appliances or to buy them when you get there?
When you have thought about these things, it’s time to start packing your essentials. 
  1. Taking your car abroad
If you are thinking of bringing your car with you, there are some elements that you should look into to ensure a smooth journey. For instance, to make your life easier, consider a car shipping company that offers the following: 
  • Door-to-door delivery
  • Insurance
  • International shipping
  • Open and enclosed trailers
  • Instant online pricing
It is definitely a plus if they offer last-minute car shipments, require no initial deposit, and insurance is included in the total charges. Different car shipping companies offer different price packages. Consider your budget and find one that suits you best. 
  1. Finding a home abroad
It’s not easy to find a home abroad if you’re still currently in another country. However, having your own home will save you costs on hotel accommodations. Some things to help you virtually scout for a house are the following: 
  • First, think about the duration of your stay there. Are you moving in permanently? Or is this a temporary arrangement? 
  • Hire a local lawyer to help you learn what is your rights as a real estate owner in another country. Since there are many things to consider such as titles, deeds, and ownership rights, it is important to get ahead of things by knowing the law. Take also the time to know about the law for expatriates. There are certain things that you might not be able to do or own if you are not a native of the land.
  • If there are certain facilities that you prefer to be close to then you have to take that into consideration when buying a house abroad. Do you need to be near the airport for your travels? Or do you prefer being near the groceries? 
  • Lastly, if you know of other expatriates in the country, it is best to seek real advice from them. Since they’re quite familiar with the country, they will be able to give 
  • much-needed advice to help you start on the right foot. 
Moving abroad is not easy, but it can be a fun adventure. Remember to pack all your essentials and divide them into your carry-on baggage, your luggage, and the ones that you will ship out via air or land. The key points summarized in this article should help you get started on your way towards better decisions about moving your stuff overseas, and if you decide to stay, on finding the best real-estate options for your new home.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Selling Rental Property That Was Your Primary Residence

Selling rental property that was your primary residence is a common problem for ex-pats. For example, you own a house in Omaha but have decided to move to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. When you get to Mexico, you fall in love with the city, the culture, the people, the food, and the weather. Compared to Omaha, the winter never gets much below freezing, and the summer never gets much above 90 degrees. You find that the cost of living is about a third of the U.S., resulting in a decision to live permanently in San Miguel and rent out the once primary residence in Omaha.
Selling Rental Property That Was Your Primary Residence
Now, at some point in the next five years, you face a dilemma. Before the conversion to a rental, if you lived in the house for two of the last five years and sold the house for a capital gain, you would exclude $250,000 each of the profit of $500,000. When you convert from a primary residence to a rental, the clock starts over. You can offset the rental income with depreciation, but you will lose the ability to shelter the capital gains if you do not use the house for your primary residence two years of the next five.

According to KLR, Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co, When you convert the property, you are eligible to depreciate the tax basis of the building portion (not the land) over 27.5 years. Depreciation is a great way to offset rental income without actually expending any additional cash.

KLR says, “It is important to discuss your options with your tax advisor. The more facts and accurate timeline you can provide, the more options you will have when weighing your decision. This is certainly a situation where you don’t want to let the tax tail wag the dog, but if you make one or two small changes to the circumstances, you could net significant tax savings.
Selling Rental Property That Was Your Primary Residence
In my experience, I’ve seen another example of selling rental property that was your primary residence. A couple I knew would buy a house to flip. They would use the house as their primary residence while they updated the house. They needed to live there for at least two years. Then they would find another fixer-upper, move in and rent the first house. Essentially, they lived in each house rent-free.
Ain’t real estate grand?

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