Tina Ernspiker, Uruapan

Who are you?

Many things! Haha! An American expat living in Mexico for almost five years, a wife of 20 years to a wonderful man, a mom to four great kids, ages 5 to 14, a photographer specializing in Mexico’s beauty, color, and diversity, and a writer who details our life here in Mexico.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

Uruapan, Michoacan, Mexico in October 2013.We were looking for a simple life, a change of pace, low cost-of-living, and to expand our Bible ministry.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Not many, surprisingly! One of the biggest challenges was learning to accept that not all of friends and family were going to happy about our move. Frankly some of them thought we were crazy moving to Mexico with four little kids, including a five-month-old. It was a bit discouraging.

Are there many other expats in your area?

A few. Uruapan is not a tourist or expat area. It’s in the mountains about three hours from the ocean. We actually really like that it is authentic and not overrun with foreigners. My parents and 92-year-old grandmother did move here near us about six months ago. I love having them nearby!

What do you like about life where you are?

So many things! I love the slower pace of life, the big families, the delicious food, the bright colors, and the affect that Mexico is having on our family. We are growing and changing and learning all the time. It’s a wonderful new experience even after five years.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

I really missed my family but now that they are here with me that pain is gone. Brad’s family is moving here in August and I am very excited to have them here with us as well. It is also wonderful for the kids to have their extended family nearby. I still dislike the distance between myself and my best friends in Kentucky but we are the sort of friends that will always be, no matter how far apart.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

Well, in the beginning when we made an appointment with someone we expected them to be on time. That was just what we were used to. Course I was always a few minutes late… but the other person was always on time! Haha! Anyway, that isn’t how things work in Mexico. At least not in our experience. Sometimes when the repair man says he will be there this afternoon that includes this afternoon and the next 24-48 hours. Get used to it! Slow your roll and breathe. Being late is part of that slower pace of life I mentioned earlier.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

We love the food! It took me some time to get used to spicy foods and sauces but I have conquered it! I am not a pro but now I like a bit of “bite” with my tacos and salsa. We are also eating much healthier here because the food is fresh and less processed. We don’t do fast food and pretty much everything else is homemade.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

Leave your old life behind and be willing to adapt and make changes. If you can’t do this, you won’t last. Mexico is not the US or Canada or any other country. And it doesn’t need to be. It is lovely for its own reasons. Accept it for what it is.

What are your plans for the future?

Travel! See more of Mexico and beyond. And never return to the US except for visits. The US is a beautiful country but I prefer a slower life and lower expenses. I have those here in Mexico and I am happy.

You can keep up to date with Tina's adventures on her blog, Gringos Locos.

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