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Essentials to live in Mexico

Hi,

As an expat living in Mexico, what would you advise the ones about to pack to bring along?

What are the items you can easily find in Mexico? On the other hand, what is less common or quite expensive?

Share with us what you would recommend to bring in one’s suitcase or container when moving to Mexico.

Thank you in advance,

Christine

Actually much of what you need can be found here, and sometimes it is cheaper.

The things that are harder to get are supplements, some vitamins, essential oils if you use them. Some specific cosmetics can be harder to find also. You can have some of these items shipped, but it is a slow tedious process. There is an Amazon Mx. here but they don't have all of the things that the American Amazon carries, especially supplements and vitamins.

Everyone advises you to bring your electronics which is a good plan not because they are more expensive here, because I have not found that to be so, but because they are programmed in Spanish. They say you can change that but I have not had success with either a laptop or a GPS. Oh yes I got some English words here and there but most remained in Spanish especially the commands. I just live with it, but you may not want to.  When I say electronics I mean the computer, iPad , kindle itself I don't advise you to bring a big bag of cables, if you lose a cable you can replace it here.

Prescribed meds might be another area to pay attention to , bring enough to get along for at least a month while you get established. The pharmacies do not carry all of the drugs the U.S. Pharmacies do.

Most other things are obtainable here. I've found that clothing is cheaper. Somethings are here, but you just have to look for them. They may not be where you would find them in the U.S. For some things I need to drive two hours down to Merida to go to Costco or other stores.

Bring clothes and electronics.Dont bring clothes that are dry clean only as They will destroy them in the dry cleaners here,unless you are prepared to steam clean them yourself at home.There are cheap items of clothing here but the quality is terrible.Electronics,A hewlet packard laptot that costs $1000 US dollars here costs $600 in the states.I just bought one.An IPhone 5 costs over $1000 Us dollars here costs half that in the states.I just bought 2 of them.In my experience anything of good quality will be more expensive here.

I get to the states frequently so I'm probably not typical.

These are things I have brought in for myself and Mexican friends.

Electronics that you just can't find in Mexico, for example, a 27" in. computer monitor.
Clothes, men's and women's. - selection and price are much better in the states for a given quality.

Ladies toiletries - Bed Bath and Beyond is an obligatory stop.

While I'm at it - Men's and ladies shaving supplies - prices are lower in the states.  Aerosol shaving cream is available only in small cans.

Spices and condiments - your favorite brand of mayonaise, mine is Hellmans, yes the brand is available but nothing like the US made.  Sam's sometimes has large jugs imported from the US.  My mustard is Guldens and there in nothing like it where I have lived.  Black tea (regular tea in my mind.)  Bigelow's, Twining's  Mexican stores carry a lot of herbal teas, but not anything close to the range of Celestial Seasonings.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements - Drugstores and even Walmart only carry small packages of these items and the prices can be double to 4 times what you pay in the states.  The largest 81 miligram Aspirin is 50 or 100 tabs and twice the price in the US.  Glucosamine-Chondroitin is available a Farmacias Similares (twice US price and in really inconvenient packaging) and GNC (up to 4 times the price I pay) down here.  I watch Walgreen's website and order 6mos. to a year's worth of low dose Aspirin, vitamins, mineral supplements and Glucosamine Chondroitin.

Bring a basic set of tools for home repairs.  If you don't live near a Home Depot, you may have to search widely to find an item.


I have a "Mailboxes Etc." address where everything is sent and I pick the stuff up next time I'm in the states.  With bus fare, meals and hotel, there would obviously be no savings if I didn't have other business in the states.

After reading the above three postings, I realized that I've lived in Mexico too long and have modified my NOB needs to almost nothing.

If your computer bought down here comes with Windows in Spanish and I assume Apple's operating system too, you'd have to buy an English version in the US to get complete English.  Maybe some stores here can get an English version but I haven't looked.

Prescription medicines can be a problem.  Some are just not available and others have completely different names.  If you a looksee trip before starting the visa process, bring all your meds in drugstore labeled vials or bottles and check the biggest drugstores and Farmacias Similares.  The hotel should be able to tell you where they are.

When I first arrived in Zacatecas in 2008, there were 2 prescriptions that were a problem.  One of them wasn't available at all and the other was available only in a dose, no combination of tablets and half tablets of which could be made to equal the dose my doctor prescribed.  I brought in 6 months worth at a time for two years, then the dose my doctor had prescribed became available and he decided I didn't need the other anymore..

Note: I consulted two Mexican doctors and both agreed, if the US doctor prescribed a certain dose, I should continue to follow it.  They did not suggest a substitute for the drug that was just not available.

I've found that many medicines are available in only 1 or 2 weeks quantity or different strengths than the US.  Take tour choice based on your specifics and advice of a doctor Mexican or US depending on you level of confidence and the condition being treated.

It seems that many items  also depend on where you live in Mexico. The laptop I bought was $ 600 U.S. it's a big laptop with windows 10 and lots of power plus a mouse. I don't care if it speaks Spanish because, I just use it for printing.
My main computer is the one I use the most. I bought it through Mercado Libre, and it cost exactly what it would in the U.S. It comes from the U.S. so it speaks English.

The cell I bought was about $200 and it's a smart phone, got it from Mexico city, and it speaks English also.. I have found all of the spices I need at Chedraui. Organic Full Circle, just like in the U.S.  I have found, I prefer  The body shop here to B,B and beyond, and many of the teas from Spain are quite acceptable

I bought shaving supplies  cream and 3 blades for 145 pesos . I have seen razor sets in the U.S for much more than that. That reminds me of one other issue. Hair clippers. If you trim your own hair get the set from the U.S., Scissors are iffy also, so you might want to bring some from the U.S.

The clothes I have seen here, and in Cancun are not cheap junk, or very expensive. Of course you can find cheap anywhere.

Meds though are a problem everywhere. I don't take any , but my family member who died did, and we had to go back and forth between here and Merida to try to find those drugs.   If you make friends here , that amigo or Amiga can be a lot of help finding things. It's a matter of figuring out what they call the item.

Both hewlet packard and Apple products are the same price in every outlet throughout México,as They are in the US also.An apple producto is the same price in Oregon as it is in Florida.In Monterey or in Tapachula.They just cost between 40 to 50% less in the United States.I brought 4 phones down here when i first came,one for me one for my girlfriend and I sold the other two for a nice profit.

So I just checked the cost of my computer in the U.S. It is currently on sale on Amazon for $500.00 but was $699. 00, add the mouse and that would be $700.00 +. So the part about being 40-50% less in the U.S. didn't happen with that computer in this part of Mexico. I bought it at radio shack here and it cost $600 including the mouse. No shipping cost, just put it in the truck and took it home.
It would have cost me more in the U.S. and that doesn't even count trying to ship it Here.

Lets just say sometimes the computer might be cheaper in the U.S. Especially if you buy it there and hand transport it. The computer I bought through Mercado Was identical to another computer we had bought in the states. The one I bought here cost exactly what the computer we bought in the states did. So that is two computers bought here that did not cost more than they did in the U.S.  Maybe the Yucatan area has better deals, I have no explanation, just an observation..

I think the best advice for people considering moving to mexico and wondering what to bring would be to bring as much clothes and electronics as possible.I had a landscape company in the usa for 30 years which basically means that i was with or talked with Mexicans every day for 30 years.In those 30 years the goods that They shipped home consisted of clothes and electronics.My girlfriend is Mexican,when she travels to the states with pemex she leaves with an empty suitcase and comes back with clothes and electronics.my advice would be to listen to the overwhelming amount of both gringos and Mexicans who live in both countrys and buy in the USA

stinkyboy1 :

I think the best advice for people considering moving to mexico and wondering what to bring would be to bring as much clothes and electronics as possible.I had a landscape company in the usa for 30 years which basically means that i was with or talked with Mexicans every day for 30 years.In those 30 years the goods that They shipped home consisted of clothes and electronics.My girlfriend is Mexican,when she travels to the states with pemex she leaves with an empty suitcase and comes back with clothes and electronics.my advice would be to listen to the overwhelming amount of both gringos and Mexicans who live in both countrys and buy in the USA

Every one of my Mexican lady friends does pretty much the same.  The also ask me to bring back stuff.

My 17" laptop is going on 3 years old. 
Still going strong. 
At the time I bought it I couldn't find ANY 17' laptop on any Mexican website including Mercado Libre,  Same for my 27" monitor.

I bought a friend a Gateway 15" laptop in the states for $499.  Walmart had the same model for around $100 more.  It all depends on what you want when.

Oh, I definitely agree if you are in the U.S. you should load up on what you need, but I don't go back and forth like both of you do. I was last there in September. It would not be cost effective for me to go to the U.S. when I need something. Not only is the U.S much more expensive to stay in , but there is a very long tedious flight involved, or a very long tedious costly drive.

My girlfriend is in Alabama at the moment having a field day in belk and best buy.She just bought a lap for $450 that costs $900 or 17000 pesos both in Morelia and Veracruz.she bought 4 iPhones for 300 each They cost 700 each here.She told me not to worry shes just spending the profit but Im not so sure

Hotels and rent are way cheaper in Mexico.Im renting a place at the moment that would easily be over a thousand dollars a month back home.It is $1800 pesos a month here,so about 100 bucks

That's why I take the bus.

I have the time and I can sleep most of the way.

I have other business that justifies the two night stay and car rental.

Essentials to live in Mexico.Without doubt in the land of barking dogs and blaring radios,where your neighbor thinks nothing of cranking up his grinder at 3am to sharpen his lawnmower blades.Where backround music is an alien concept my number one ítem,and without which I would move back to the States is a good pair of Earplugs.They stay in 24/7

I live in a neighborhood where there are few barking dogs and even fewer at night. The worse cases of unwanted noise come from the street vendors of fruit and vegetables where they play the same song over loudspeakers at a volume that would deafen anyone within 100 m. This background music I am  in wholeheart agreement. We went into a bar at night where the recorded music was so loud that we had to shout at the waiter who leaned over the table to place our orders. We left after one beer. I do wish the trash trucks would have a louder bell as sometime I miss them. Usually when I have a lot of bags.

Your lucky in where you live without the dog noise.In Coatza the dog chorus cranked up at 10pm and continued until 9am.I guess They slept in the Heat of the day.I used earplugs,a noise maker and a loud fan.These people have no concept of what noise is,or that the noise their making maybe bothersome to others,I mean what is someone thinking when They crank up a lawnmower and cut their grass at 3am.

joaquinx :

I live in a neighborhood where there are few barking dogs and even fewer at night. The worse cases of unwanted noise come from the street vendors of fruit and vegetables where they play the same song over loudspeakers at a volume that would deafen anyone within 100 m. This background music I am  in wholeheart agreement. We went into a bar at night where the recorded music was so loud that we had to shout at the waiter who leaned over the table to place our orders. We left after one beer. I do wish the trash trucks would have a louder bell as sometime I miss them. Usually when I have a lot of bags.

There's all that.  And there are the cathedral bells if you live near the cathedral.
The garbage truck bell is as you say.  I rarely heard it the last place I lived.  People gathered in a small plaza an hour before the truck was supposed to pass.  It's next stop was several blocks away so many houses were too far away to hear no matter what.  My place was right on that little plaza and it annoyed me that some people left their trash bags in the plaza the night before.  If any of them were loose... Well, the roving dogs had a feast.

Every antro I've been had the music so loud, it was impossible to have a conversation and you had to shout to the waiter without any expectation of understanding his response.

My pet peeve(s) in my current location are unique to the location and are part of the package.  There are many benefits and advantages, for me, that cancel out the peeves.

Good wishes to all.

After keeping up with this thread for several days, my thoughts.

Tallying up what I ,personally, require for comfort and given that I spent some thousands moving stuff from the states, I’d guess that if you can afford a move, you can replace all the essentials for the same or less and of the same quality after you sold your stuff for whatever it was worth.

Memorabilia and collections you just can’t part with are an exception.  High end electronics and computers may be an exception.

All the stuff I buy when I am in the states are conveniences and preferences I can live without for a year or forever whichever should be my destiny.  It's a good idea to come to terms with that before you decide to move.

I would agree with that Gudgrief.I sold everything i owned,and what i did not sell I gave to thrift stores or it went in a dumpster.I sent 4 large box of books ahead of me by fedex.I brought with me a lifetime supply of clothes and some electronics.

I loaded up a VW Golf to the max and sold what couldn't be stuff into or onto it.

The sound problem is a given especially during festive parts of the year. Until January it was pretty quiet . Then the fireworks began. That stirred up the dogs quite a bit and although they have calmed a bit there are still some nightly barking episodes. There is a device I may pick up next time I am in the states that sends out a signal only dogs can hear I'm thinking that might help.
If I were moving here and barking was a problem, I would add one of those to the luggage.
I won't even go into stores with loud music. There is no point I can't tolerate it, and I have told clerks that I can't shop there because of it. My trash is picked up on specific days so I put it out the night before. They do a lot of yelling back and forth when they pick up, but don't always use the bells. 
I'm between two churches, but I am far away enough to not be bothered by them. I too have ear plugs, but rarely use them because constant wear was causing problems.

Mexico is about adjustment and flexibility. It's their country and we are the ones that need to adjust.

Absolutely right about flexibility.

Noise maker or sleep aids Im not quite sure what their called.Electrical device that has numerous sounds such as white noise,a river,thunderstorm etc.Could not find one here,not the type of noise that excites Mexicans i guess.But They are usefull.I have not needed it in morelia the earplugs have done the trick.I wear them 24/7.

If you are unable to find a dedicated sound machine, there are apps for phones that do the same thing

Barcadero :

If you are unable to find a dedicated sound machine, there are apps for phones that do the same thing

Also for PC's.

As Joaquinx said, the longer i live in Mexico (8 years now without a trip back to the US), the less i find i need to have my visiting friends bring down.  And, of course, it also depends on where in Mexico you live.  i'm just south of Guadalajara so have more access to goods than i would in areas not near a large city. 

But there are still certain things that i ask my friends to bring or which i am glad that i brought with me when i moved down.  Vitamins/supplements from places like Puritan's Pride are always good (and inexpensive) to receive, as are (in my case) larger sized women's cotton underwear (yes, yes, let's us say it, "granny panties"), and puzzle books (New York Times crosswords or logic problems, for example).  And i'm still happy that i brought a good set of cookware with me all those years ago and some flannel sheets and mementos and knickknacks that mean a lot to me (even though they look out of place in my Mexican home). 

And, yes, sometimes i get food cravings and have some special treats brought down.  Regular Fritos, for example.  Plenty of Fritos here, but the closest to "regular" are those with lime.  Just not quite the same.  And, oddly enough, i can't find red beans here to make red beans and rice (lived in New Orleans for many years) or blackeyed peas, so i ask for them. 

The suggestions from the previous posters all make total sense to me,  They've given some excellent ideas.  Oh, and i think we would all say to bring your sense of humor and your patience with you.  And learn as much Spanish as you can before you arrive.  Those things will serve you well.

One very important thing to consider is Private Health Insurance. There are some very affordable & comprehensive plans available for foreigners who reside outside of their country of origin for 6 months or more a year.

Many people are misinformed about the differences between the Public Health Plans (IMSS & Seguro Popular) & Private Health Insurance (Private Hospitals & Clinics). The IMSS and Seguro Popular hospitals are underfunded and overcrowded. Wait times for services are longer and although pre-existing conditions are covered, not all medical services are guaranteed.

Medical Emergencies do happen and it is best to be prepared with a good private health insurance plan.

When I checked into private health insurance here in Mexico about 7 years ago, the cost was about $3600USD/yr but pre-existing conditions were not covered ever.  When I checked international companies, the premium was $6,000-7,000 USD/yr.  I'm over 70 and that may make a difference.

I had an emergency last October that put me in a private hospital for 2 nights with a lot of lab tests and X-rays along with a fair amount medications.  The total bill was less than $1,000 USD.

With IMSS and Seguro Popular the triage is such that if you really have a life threatening condition, you get priority, especially if you are brought in by ambulance.  There are risks, no getting around that.

As already mentioned, clothes and electronics are cheaper in the US (also perfumes etc.).
I live in Mexico-City so there are few things that you can´t get here. I buy my cothes here, but mostly there are no shoes for my size, so I buy them in the US or in Europe.

Clothes are not more expensive where I have traveled and live. Electronics are also not necessarily more expensive either. The OS is using Spanish though.

Mexico has several of the brands and stores the U.S. does . I buy my shorts from the GAP and it is not more expensive. Some things are actually cheaper.

I just talked to a

Mexican friend about these posts , and he said 10 years ago having electronics here did cost more but now as he put it "we have it all and it does not cost more"

I don't know about perfumes, I avoid scents because they attract mosquitoes.

Oh my. Clothes sizes. I had forgotten all about that. When I lived in Japan (18 years), I could buy absolutely nothing that fit. Size 13 shoes? Haha. 38"~42" waist pants (depending on how much merriment I had given to at the time): forget it. Tall size shirts? Hahahah. Even socks - hopeless. And so, it was all L.L.Bean, Eddie Bauer or Land's End for my shopping needs, save for those occasional trips back to the States when I would load up on whatever I could get. I guess I will have to do the same when it comes to Mexico, which I had sort of subconsciously assumed but had not really done much thinking about. I heard that the post in Mexico can be problematic though, so in such cases (shopping online), how do you handle delivery?

Someone mentioned their favorite mayonnaise (Gudgrief, I think it was), but since my favorite is the McCormick with Lime that is only sold in the Mexican food section of the markets here, I assume that is definitely one thing that I will be able to easily stick with in Mexico. :)

We have the Internet today.
It's easy enough to compare models and prices.
My experience is that it depends on what you want to buy, make and model, and where you're thinking of buying it and when you are looking to buy.  The equivalent of my 3 year old laptop was just not available in Mexico, period.  The closest to the laptop I bought for my girlfriend had a slower chip, a smaller hard drive and cost 15% more in Mexico than in the US.

When stores in Mexico have sales, you certainly find models, more or less, equivalent or the same as what you'd have bought in the US at a comparable price.

Oh boy, sizes.  I went to every shoe store in downtown Zacatecas about 3-4 years ago.  None of them had size 10 shoes.  The Liverpool in a new mall 5 km from downtown had them, all were over $100.  Next trip to the US I got Skechers on sale for under $50.

Things have probably changed.  A few weeks ago,  I got Skechers here in Coatepec for under $60.  Prices have probably gone up that much in the states.

As an aside, yesterday was 25% off day at Farmacias Similares, a large drugstore chain specializing in generics but also has a few brand name items.  I found that I saved money on the equivalent of Nasonex at Farmacias del Ahorro, another chain that specializes in generics.  I bought the Nasonex, low dose aspirin and pantoprazole.  I ended up saving over 500 pesos over the other's 25% off prices.

I don't think you will have the problems you did in Japan . There is sort of a great expectation here. I am 5'9 the closets are so tall, I have to reach up while on my toes at times. The clothes have had to be altered on two occasions because the pants were too long. Everyone seems to feel they are much taller than they are. Women compensate by buying very high heels. Its rare to see a women with flat shoes.

As for waist sizes Mexico has grown in other ways also. I have to do some searching at times to find an item small enough to fit me. There are lot's of large sizes. Shoes may be a problem, I know they have size 10's

As for shipping FED-EX is fast, there is a Amazon Mx. you can check out. It's the standard mail that is glacial ( about 1-3 months. Some stores won't ship to Mexico from the U.S. but many will. I tend to use Amazon or on occasion Mercado Libre   which is e-bay like. Some won't use mercado, but I have never had a problem. You credit card may not want to deal with mercado though, so you may have to pay through an OXXY ( 7-11 like) . Credit cards can be odd.

That reminds me of another issue be sure you let your bank and credit card carriers know you are in Mexico.  I had to inform my bank every 6 months that yes I was still in Mexico. If they are not kept informed you won't be getting money out of that ATM.

Bring clothes and electronics with you.And advice to the contrary is misleading.

Stinky

I don't believe anyone is misleading anyone. People are just telling what their experiences have been. They are obviously different than what you opinion, and perhaps experiences have been. That does not make what they say a lie or indicate that they are misleading anyone. You are welcome to you opinion. what you say has not been true for me, but that does not make you a liar. I don't think you intended to call anyone a liar but in effect you did.

In Mexico, private health insurance plans will review all of your pre-existing conditions (anything you take medications for, any surgeries, or medical diagnosis). Their underwriting depts. will decide how these conditions will be covered. You don´t know until you apply.

The health insurance company I have offers full coverage plans for a lot less than $3,600 a year. You have to be under 75 when you first apply.

A couple of friends have had heart attacks in Mexico. Their hospital bills were between $30,000 and $40,000 USD. I have health insurance, because I don´t want to be faced with this kind of financial burden. I choose not to have Seguro Popular, because it was designed for poor Mexicans who cannot afford private medicine. I would not feel right using Seguro Popular knowing that as a gringa, I might be receiving care while others are still waiting in line. 

Both IMSS and Seguro Popular services cannot be compared to private health care due to their overcrowding, bureaucracy, and overall lack of resources (staff, medicine, diagnostic equipment, etc.).

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