My name is Craig Bradshaw. In an effort to cut back expenses, the company I work for offered to allow us to work from home, so I decided to take full advantage and relocate from San Diego, California to Cancun, Mexico. We have lived here once before and really enjoyed it. The main reason we chose Cancun was for the beaches, schools for our kids and the opportunity to have bilingual children.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Since this was our second time on this rodeo, it was a pretty basic move. In the past we had gone through the trouble of actually moving all of our house hold goods here. It was expensive and frankly not worth it. Looking back on that experience we decided to sell everything we owned in the USA and start fresh. We arrived with just suit cases and slowly bought new things here.Our plane tickets came with a FMT or tourist visa so that gave us time to get proper documentation from the Mexican Immigration. The only frustration is dealing with immigration. They seem to be very disorganized and not the friendliest. Usually requires us several trips to the immigration office, but is a small price to pay for paradise. There are people who will do all that for you, but at least here in Cancun, that is almost 500 usd and the visa is only 120.00 usd. For that we can muscle our way through the process.
How did you find somewhere to live?
We were lucky and had family members who live in Mexico City and happen to have a rental property open. It was only supposed to be a temporary arrangement but it ended up long term due to the centralized location. We are close to everything therefore negating the need for a car.
Are there many other expats in your area?
No there are not. Here in Cancun most of the expats live in the hotel zone by the beach. We opted not to, as we felt it would be better for us to be within walking distance to schools and stores. The hotel zone is kind of out of the way from almost everything you need except for bars and beaches. Priorities I guess.
What is your relationship like with the locals?
Fantastic! Locals are friendly and eager to learn English.
What do you like about life where you are?
Simple, inexpensive compared to the USA, schools are a step up for our children, seems to similar to a small town experience in the USA, and we get to live where millions of people spend big bucks to vacation once a year.
What do you dislike about your expat life?
The only thing we miss about the USA is family, friends and some commodities like shopping and dining. There are certain brands we miss about the USA, certain dining like Chinese food, usda steak houses. Also, the quality of goods like clothing and electronics are a better quality in the USA and considerably cheaper.
Also the level of customer service, from the cable company, to places out to eat, or shopping experience is totally different. The retail culture is different and they do not understand customer service or the nature of a business relationship. There is also an element when they see a gringo they see a dollar sign, which is an interesting experience. Some people tend to want to take advantage of you. Just like moving anywhere else it takes time to develop contacts with people and find the ones you can trust. We tend to end up doing business with people by referral or people who have been to the USA or Canada and get it.
What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?
Do your homework! Where ever you go, if you can at least check it out and vacation for a month or live somewhere for a month. Like an extended vacation to see if you will like it. During that time, explore the schools if you have kids, churches and stores. It is one thing to vacation and another to live somewhere.
I think the key is flexibility. Where ever you go, accept it for what it is and do not try to make your home country because it is not.
What are your plans for the future?
We are intent on staying right here in Cancun full time for the next 6 years at which point our youngest will be out of school and into University. At that point we are going to live in the USA part time, to get out of the warmer months and do the snow bird thing.
You may contact Craig at: firstname.lastname@example.org