Launia Tate Sullivan
All my life has been lived around the world. It started with my father working for ABMC and then on my own or with my husband who was a drilling egineer. So Europe, Africa, North America, Easter Europe, Far East were the crib for my emotions. Not ...
Where are you from, Launia, and what are you doing nowadays?
I was born in France from an American GI and a French mother. Due to my father's assignments, we were moving very often. The bug did not stop when I became an adult. I had the urge for exploring further and further. That lead me to West Africa, North Africa, the Far East, Eastern Europe, Europe, Central America, USA. My discoveries over a few decades on miscellaneous continents were mainly due to my work or my husband's work as an Oil Drilling Engineer and Consultant, now retired. The word holiday per say never stroke me. I would rather travel for a good cause. Nowadays, I have retired and I'm at home, taking care of the property we built on the Bahia of Chetumal. It is a constant occupation with the garden and the house.
Why did you choose to expatriate to Mexico?
Mexico is an easy culture to understand and once you have started respecting their laws, it is not difficult to establish oneself there.
As a US national, what where the procedures you had to follow to move there?
At first, my husband and I visited several areas such as Guadalajara in Jalisco, Encinitas in Norte Baja California, Merida in Yucatan, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Bacalar, Mahajual, Chetumal in Quintana Roo as tourists. We were looking for a place to plant our roots for retirement, away from the tourist crowds. Laws have changed since 2006. After our tourist visas expired, we applied for FM3, FM2, and later we acquired our permanent resident status. We had opened a corporation and purchased some land and built.
How long have you been in the country?
What has attracted you to Chetumal?
The attractions of Chetumal: near the border of Belize, near the Free Zone shopping, being able to have a property on the water, on the Bahia with Caribbean water colors, to be living in a safe and tranquil area with no pollution, no agriculture, no pesticides and yet minute drive to Chetumal that is the Capital city of the famous Costa Maya. Building a home on the ocean shores could have risks with hurricanes. That made us choose the Bahia that is mostly calm.
What has surprised you the most at your arrival?
The people not being stressed at all.
Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of accommodation which are available there?
There are many hotels of different classes, from luxury to none. Houses and apartments can also be found.
How do you find the Mexican lifestyle?
I appreciate the fact that the stores are open every day till late. Also, Mexicans are very family-oriented. Most of them are hard workers, especially doctors who have more than one job, and the others as well.
Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?
It was absolutely easy.
What does your every day life look like in Chetumal?
It's very simple: working around the property, relaxing... Sometimes, I go to the cinema or to the mall in town, or I do some grocery shopping.
Any particular experience in the country you would like to share with us?
I opened a Corporation as I had the desire at that time to open a business. Finally, we are living full time in the corporation. It may not be the thing to do due to higher tax consequences when reselling. A corporation can be opened with two share holders, such as my husband and I. We are USA citizens. I believe Mexico and USA have a tax agreement and it means no double taxation at the reselling time, but we have to keep in mind that share holders, once all taxes have been paid in Mexico, might have to pay taxes to the USA IRS on their shares profit. Many accountants forget about that.
What is your opinion on the cost of living in Chetumal and in Mexico? Is it easy for an expat to live there?
It all depends. I always put myself in the shoes of a Mexican friend who earns not that much, but has education and dreams. How do they survive? It would be difficult for me, especially when it comes to food. Unless you speak Spanish, you have to order books elsewhere, and that might costs a lot unless ordering for ebooks with a VPN. Otherwise, some things are cheaper and while others are more expensive. In my case, I feel I spend a lot as I like excellent wine and refined food.
How do you spend your leisure time?
Reading, swimming in the Bahia with my dog, painting for art or the walls of my house, thinking, spending hours surfing the Internet, watching movies, with fast internet and via a VPN.
What do you like the most about the country?
It is a developing country and people have a lot of hope. Many people get higher education to better themselves but often with nothing in return. So that shows perseverance.
Your favorite local dishes?
What do you miss the most about your home country?
Nothing but French crispy bread.
Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates in Mexico?
Make sure to have the homework done and understand the immigration laws just like anywhere else in the world. Internet is loaded with law and bank websites. Expat.com can be of great help. In the case of US nationals, remember that we owe allegiance to the IRS with our tax declaration and our foreign bank account declaration FBAR. It all depends on how you are planning to live, whether as a retired person or to open a business. Bear in mind that to be allowed to purchase a property on the Pacific or Atlantic coasts, the law states one has to open a Fedeicomiso or a Corporation. It's not very difficult to do so.
What are your plans for the future?
We are downsizing to have more free time. I'm also trying to sell my property.