moving to, living in, and leaving Mexico

moving to, living in, and leaving Mexico

we are now about 6 months away from 10 years of living in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.  We moved here from Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States of America.

Living in a foreign country, and I imagine this goes for any foreign country, is eye opening, and humbling.  Growing up in the USofA we are aware that we are the greatest and most powerful country on earth. It’s the way we are raised. 

A few come realize this isn’t necessarily the truth.  Yes indeed, the USofA is a great country, but not without faults. Which becomes embarrassingly apparent when you live outside of the United States and get your news from more independent, and objective resources.

I have found Merida to be a love hate relationship – for me mostly love, but there are some things, well let’s not go there, yet!

There are so many things that make my day – such as this morning; I wake early, usually about dawn, today was even earlier.  I always walk out with the dogs first thing, I enjoy my beautiful garden tremendously.  It was planted for strolling and cMurraya paniculata Mirto acontemplation, and to attract birds and butterflies – and it does all these things.  So this morning is the absolutely intoxicating scent of limonaria, I don’t even know how to describe it a bit of a citrus jasmine, and so lush and full.  So I’m standing there breathing in this scent and checking out the birds and bird sounds; a new bird sound,  I am looking looking and then see a pair of what may have been green jays, but put me more in mind of a Trogan,  I see lots of green jays, but today the sight and sound was somehow different, maybe this was the first time to see and hear them in their mating displays, quien sabe?  Then I feel things dropping and I think it must be seeds from the palm so I look up, NO! it’s an ant migration.  Occasionally ants will sprout wings and take to the air in flocks to relocate, it is amazing, almost like a murmuration of birds, the move and drift as a unit, sometimes splitting, but then coming back together.   These are the big black ants. As the ants fly they also drop, and they are dropping, on me, in the yard, in the pool, where are the Social Flycatchers and Kiskadees, they should be feasting…  I inspect the flower stalks of several of the orchids in my yard, they will be blooming soon.  I absolutely love my purple mexican petunias, the color is Ruellia-brittoniana-Mx-petunia-2-e1416579915505amazing.  And the fuchsia of the oleander, the yellow iris’, and there are figs on my fig tree, and limones ready to pick… Then I see one of my turtles, out for a stroll, then the robins are chasing off the jays who are too close to the tree with the berries that the robins and the saltaters just love.    And then the blue grey gnatcatchers go zipping by my head – yes indeed, I do love this mix of indoor outdoor living.  I am going to miss it!

Yep, I am going to miss it, because we are going to return to the USofA.  

Living in a foreign country is not got the faint hearted, you need a level of toughness, especially if you don’t speak the language.   My spanish is ok, it gets us through most things, but it sometimes gets me, and us in to trouble because I think I understand what is going on, but then really don’t, and sometimes it gets used to blame me for misunderstandings that are not my misunderstanding at all but someone else ineptitude, or laziness.   

For Tom it has been difficult, he has not picked up the language to his satisfaction, and hello-world-in-several-languages-hisort of gave up on it a few years ago.  

So, we’ve decided to return to the USofA, I’d have gone anywhere, as long as Tom could speak the language.  So with our limited choices, we choose the USofA.

We intend to be out of Mexico by years end.

a new day dawns, a new adventure beckons, a new garden to plant, new birds to become familiar with…

There are so many things I want to say, so many expressions of the emotions I feel about this.  How to express all the things that make my days full, complete, satisfying, perplexing, vexing, …  maybe for some future posts!

Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana)
Limonaria (Murraya paniculata)
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About Debi in Merida

I moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado USA to Merida, Yucatan, MX in January 2006. I love to read, garden, travel, and hang out with friends.
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70 Responses to moving to, living in, and leaving Mexico

  1. Abigayle Lofgren says:

    Hi Bonnie and Debi, We have always lived on acreages, or farms, until now. We are in a gated community with no guard or gate. We have not had any crime in here. We are on Lady’s Island, in S.C., so we understand heat. It is very friendly here. Our part of the neighborhood consists of all new homes, so everyone is from somewhere else, making friendships easy.
    We might like something on the outskirts of town.
    The home I like the best on line, is in Santa Ana, two blocks from Pasco Amarigo, or something like that, it is not in front of me right now.
    I understand what you are saying about renting first, but I need an investment. I thought if I found a home that could be rented out seven months of the year, or so, we could enjoy both worlds. Money in the bank these days, doesn’t do anything, as you all know. We have never lived within walking distance of things, so it is on our bucket list. Our days of horses, cats, dogs, etc. etc. are about over. We have one dog and an African Grey Parrot, that our granddaughter will take. We may bring the dog, but she is 8. Our neighbors love her, so she may just stay here, with that family. My husband has been studying Spanish for years. I can get my, easily, passing as a mentally challenged person. We did live in Boquete Panama for 18 months. I came back to take care of my mother, and so several other reasons. There were home invasions there, and I knew too many people than experiences violent crime. That is one reason I asked for reasons not to move to Merida. Everything I read says it’s safe. I understand that it is still Mexico, any that people need to be careful and aware of their surroundings no matter where they go. I do that in our little town. Thanks for your response. I hope to hear from you and others.
    Also, is there a good expat site in Merida that folks use? Abigayle

    • if you use facebook look up a group called Mexico Amigos, also Merida Amigos, you will find lots of american and canadian expats there. also quite a bit if drama, but look past that for the beneficial info.
      there are lots of online resources, yucatan today, yucatan expat life, yucatan living, etc

      just start googling Merida, yucatan, mexico, you”ll find lots of resources. you are getting ready for the hottest most humid part of the year there so keep that in mind. starts March through Late May, then calms.

  2. Abigayle Lofgren says:

    Not sure if you will still be reading these. Debi teased me into reading the entire blog, as I was looking for reasons why people leave the area. My husband and I are hitting 70, but feel like we have one more adventure left in us. We have lived in Panama. Our home now, is is Beaufort, S.C. We plan to keep it, but are leaving to look at homes in Merida in a few weeks. So far, I have been attracted to the historical area. We have never lived in a big busy city. Having things just around the corner is appealing. I worry about noise, street parties and buses (noise, smell). Reading Debi’s description of her walled garden, I found myself there in spirit. To have my own little world, is very appealing. Is anyone willing to shed light on why not to come? The language experience really hit home, I had that experience in Panama. It was very stressful, and left me a bit tearful. I know the usual reasons, miss the kids, miss the malls, but what reasons are specific to Merida? Thanks for your help, I hope someone reads this in time. Abigayle

    • bonnie817 says:

      Abigayle, I am not sure if responding to you here will get to you, or if it goes to Debi, but here goes. . . . I am a bit of a dunce when it comes to tech stuff. You are asking about reasons why not to move to Merida. Well, I have lived there for half a year for the past 22 years and come this August, my husband and I will be relocating to my place in Merida full time, as he retires in June and hopefully I will have finished my degree. (yes, age 70 and I went back to school)
      I don’t live downtown, but in the north east sector of the city and really, it only takes 20 minutes by cab to be downtown. My place is an acre and a half of grounds and gardens, surrounded by a 10 ft privacy wall. I have rescued a number of dogs and cats over the years and I now have a menagerie of 2 dogs and 10 cats.
      I can’t think of any reason why not to settle in Merida. I have made great friends over the years with ex-pats and locals. There is a vibrant social life in Merida and you can get as involved as you want to or stay as uninvolved as you want. As for the language, I am far from being fluent but I sure can get by as long as I can speak in the present tense all the time!
      It is a good idea you are going down for a visit as it will give you a chance to feel the magic of the place for yourself and to see if there is a fit for you and Merida. I wish you well.
      Bonnie

      • Abigayle Lofgren says:

        Debbi I just found this, and thank you for your reply.
        Bonnie, you may be right. I am not big on noise, but thought that a big city experience is about the only one I have not had. Perhaps I should rent first. We live near Beaufort S.C. and really enjoy our home here and our neighbors a bunch. I thought a half and half experience might be the best. Thanks for taking time to answer. I just found this by googling my own name to see what I would find. Abigayle

    • Hi Abigayle,
      I would suggest, in addition to a visit, rent! Find a lovely rental and enjoy Merida. It will give you an opportunity to start to understand life there, the seasons, the differing areas, etc.
      You may find you prefere the North over the South parts of Merida, or more rural to Centro. The noises, yes, lots of noises, vendors walking diwn the streets calling out their wares, the gas truck allerting you they are coming, there are so many. They may annoy you in the beginniing but you come to tune them out. I would have grown old and likely died in Merida.
      The language, I know lots of peopke content to not learn the language. For me, it is important. You must decide for yourself. When you are out most of the mexicans you will encounter speak spanish or maya, so you may not be able to communicate.
      again, you decide. but rent first, then after a year decide.

  3. Zandra says:

    Hi Debi… I know this is probably late… but if for some reason you and Tom are unsatisfied with your new home.. try St. Petersburg Fl. It is an amazing place and we love it to death. We will have a second home here and our primary in Merida. Check it out ..you won’t be disappointed Zandra.

  4. Pingback: my ‘whys’ for moving. | Debi in Mérida

  5. John Calypso says:

    Debi and Tom – Wow! Anita and I are pretty shocked at this news. We left Colorado just down the road from you practically at the same time ten years ago; and we have been in contact since before the move.

    We have seen a number of folks return to the U.S. Still surprised that you two are doing this. We lived in Ashland, Oregon for 16 years ending in the early 90’s – not so gray and damp there but we are not fans of Oregon politics. Also we have a house in Capitan, New Mexico, 10 miles north of Ruidoso in the mountains – Lovely and a lot like Colorado. So many parallels and yet we do not see ourselves returning north.

    Whatever the move, we hope you go in health and happiness and that you will remain in touch.

    Saludos – John and Anita

  6. Karl Cooper says:

    hi Debi
    My wife and I lived in mexico 17 straight years and had a house there since 87. We moved back in 2011. We lived in cancun, had a B&B boat business fishing & diving and construction business. The cost of living was cheap but we find that the states are cheaper or the same now. Sold our house in Cancun for 125 and bought a foreclosure in florida with pool for under 100. Our income went from 6k per year to now over 70k We are still young at 60 and 66. I didn’t want to grow old in Mexico and we took our retirement early. Loved it down there but now love it here. Good luck god bless. Karl & Dee Palm Coast Fl.

    • Thank you, as in all things, there comes a time….

      Florida was high on our list,, but seems the humidity level is higher year round than Merida in the rainy season, I will be happy of diminished humidity, but will sorely miss this heat! Estoy como una iguana!

  7. Angeline M says:

    Talk about being late to the party! Why didn’t I know about your blog before? Now I shall read backwards and feel even more sadness that you are leaving. I lived in Mexico as a teen for a couple of years, and spent every summer there with relatives. After getting married (in 1969) we’ve been back only a couple of times. I’ve longed to return, and that was a dream we had, to live somewhere in Mexico. Now, just recently, my husband was diagnosed with cancer, and that dream may never happen with him. I love Mexico with all my heart. I do wish you luck and happiness in wherever life takes you.

  8. Kim G says:

    Hola Debi!

    Best of luck with wherever you end up. Richmond, eh? That’s an interesting choice. Probably a bit Mérida-like in the summer, but I’d guess a pretty nice climate the rest of the time. I’d also second your other commenter’s suggestion about checking out North Carolina. I’ve spent time in Raleigh, and it’s quite charming, wooded, with plenty of space. Though it can get hot in the summer and chilly in the winter, the climate seems overall pretty nice, and the people there are *really* nice. Also the mountains around Asheville are lovely. My grandparents lived in Hendersonville, a charming small town in the mountains, and it has a great climate (cooler than the coast) and very friendly people.

    Saludos y buena suerte!

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we have been thinking about going the other way. For years, actually.

  9. Steve Cotton says:

    I am late to this party. Like others, I am very sorry to see you go. You were one of the pioneers whose stories kept me on track in my move down. Will you be over this way before you head north?

  10. Sorry to see you go, hope you change your mind and stay, but I wish you and Tom the best in your new venue.

  11. Carolina Mendez says:

    Tom y Debi,
    Les deseamos muchisisisisima suerte en su nueva aventura.
    Con cariño,
    Cesar y Carolina

  12. Just now saw this news. Quite surprising, especially after 10 years. I suspect there is more to this story than grappling with Spanish. Nothing on earth could drag me back above the border. I think you are going to be very surprised at how the U.S. has changed in the past decade.

    I wish you buena suerte. That means good luck!

  13. Andrea Montgomery says:

    Hi Deb,
    I do belive that you are in a mixed bag of feelings, about the decision of leaving Merida!
    Have you ever thought about relocating to South Africa? It is English spoken, and there will be a great opportunity for gardening and also tremendous opportunity of learning native arts! There area also a great deal of wine yards, and a great deal of diving opportunities!!! You should check it out!

  14. Carolyn Niemeyer Weiss says:

    Oh man. I am really surprised. Just as I found a buyer for Bacalar, too! The deal should close the end of this month. I am in Portland, even now, during the summers, so that move for you, might still work for me. Hope to continue spending time with you guys. I will be in Merida in October!

    • OMG Carolina, Congrats on Bacalar, you must be thrilled. How do you feel about Portland, I think it’s a fabulous place, but fear I would go crazy with all the grey and rain!

  15. princesanancy2012 says:

    Tom and Debi, Your generous donations of time, energy, and love of this community will be sorely missed. Your presence has made a difference here and I wouldn’t want you to leave without realizing it. There will be an empty place you once filled and those who know you will be sad but also life is an adventure and you are just going to begin a new part of yours. The best to you both.

  16. Janice says:

    Here’s a 3rd vote for Oregon…selfish reasons. Only I would suggest more eastern (for weather sanity). Like the high desert (west side) Bend. Much drier than my (current) side of the Cascades and nearby Portland. You’d have the local craft beer, gardening time, river events and be just a winding highway from Willamette Valley wineries. Like I said, selfish reasons, as I’d still connect with you on the East coast! 🙂 Let me know if I can help in any way this year.

    • Oh now girl, we have had this chat, all that rain, all that grey, yes, lots of seriously cool stuff, but….I remember your descriptions of how much stuff and how long it took to put on to go outside, No Thanks!

  17. Nancy Dardarian says:

    Debi, I have enjoyed knowing you through the blog and meeting you in person a few times – and for some reason I feel sad that you’re leaving! Not sure why, these decisions are very personal and often are hard to make. I hope you plan on continuing to blog as I’ll be curious about your re-entry and the culture shock or lack thereof.

    Paul and I talk about moving sometimes (especially when it’s hot here in Mazatlán) but if we were to move anywhere it would be within an hour or so of Mexico City. But we love Maz and would really miss it so I think summers near DF might be what we end up doing.

    Anyway, take care and please keep us posted. If you ever come our way, our house is your house, you know. xoxo

    • Thanks Nancy, we are all involved and know each other through our blogs and writing. It is indeed an emotional decision, one that holds promise, and regret. Guess I’ll have to rename my blog, oh my, and my email – I just never thought I’d be leaving! You just never know.

  18. Marianne says:

    Thanks for clearing up all the rumors… I suspect that Tom is just in search of a better wine selection. If you like Merida’s hot, humid weather you’ll feel right at home In Richmond in the summer, plus there’s always a chance you can wield a snow shovel in the winter.

    Merida won’t be the same without you, and I mean that in a good way.

  19. mominmexico says:

    We are so happy we got to connect with you two when you visited PV! Best of luck on your new adventure. You are both such positive souls that wherever you end up, you will find happiness.
    Provecho!
    Mary y Bruce

  20. Tancho says:

    Sad to hear that you are leaving, perhaps you will share with your readers some of the reasons , we will miss your stories which I always enjoyed, good luck and stay well

  21. norm says:

    I did a survey of Belize last winter for snowbird places. San Ignacio on the Guatemalan border stood out as a nice town. It was like a small tropical Pennsylvanian town. I have spent my share of time in Yucatan and Guatemala over the last decade but last winter was my first visit to Belize, it was an eye opener. We bused down from Cancun, it was cheap and no longer than flying into Belize City because of the puddle jumping nature of flights into Belize from Ohio. English was spoken everywhere. Belize City is a pit but the rest of that nation is a true wonder.

    I’ll still do time in Merida and Guatemala but Belize is going to get much more of my time in the next few winters.
    You were the one who got me to try the bus system for getting around in Latin America-I’m grateful for that.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

    • Belize is indeed beautiful, and as you say Belize City is a horror, we’ve decided to return to the USofA, who knows after that, things may change once again.
      Thanks for your comments!

  22. Daniel Perry says:

    I have enjoyed your posts and will keep looking forward to reading them. I am really interested to know where you will move and to hear your stories. Keep us posted. Here in New Mexico, our cactus wrens are on their second clutch and a lot of the Gambel’s quail are bringing their babies to water here in the southwest. Growing orchids here is a balance of trying to get 3% humidity up to 80% sometimes and trying to keep the greenhouse cool enough with not too much shade. Take care.

    • Thanks Daniel, We considered New Mexico, but were put off by the drought conditions, and expense, of course we were looking at some pretty big cities, Santa Fe, ABQ, Taos, we don’t know enough about the smaller communities. I do love to garden so – ????

  23. You kids moved there about the time I started working on my book. That took ten years. It’s long enough. You put in your time.

    Visiting you and Tom when I came down was always a highlight of every trip. I will greatly miss those connections, but if you head back to Colorado, I’ll look you up when we visit my wife’s family. If you go to Oregon–oh, Lordy, you won’t get rid of me because that’s where all my family is. You’ll see me all the time!

    You could always come to Cape Cod! It’s like the beach in Mexico, except only for three months out of the year.

    — Josh

    • Oh Josh, We looked forward to your visits as well, and I am still waiting for my uncensored version, wink wink. We’re leaning towards Richmond VA right now. I think we’d love Portland, except for all the cloud cover and rain, must have sun!

      • Josh says:

        Consider North Carolina. The weather is mild but you still get seasons, if that’s a desire, the cost of living is cheap and there are a lot of “gringos” (AKA, Northeasterners). Great retirement place. And I’m still tinkering with the “uncensored” version …

  24. David and I went through that process, deciding to move back to the US after five years in Merida. Many reasons, and like you, we had a love-hate relationship with the city and culture. After 4 years back in Oregon, clearly it was the right decision. But I still miss Merida, Yucatan and the fabulous Maya sites. Where will you live in the states? I like the Portland suggestion, we’re just an hour from Portland and its a really great city. All the best in your transitions.

  25. bonnie817 says:

    Yup, unfortunately saw that coming for you, Debi and Tom. I kind of wonder what gets into your bones to reverse a decision you made earlier. Here I am just making the move to retire to Merida permanently in 2 years time when I finish my degree. I have lived in Merida 20 years, 6 months in Merida, 6 months in Canada, so that probably does not yet qualify for full time. So. . . what is in your heart Debi, dear? Why did this not work for you? I see a number of folks pulling up stakes and returning from whence they came. You and Tom will surely be missed.

    • I wish we could have a summer and winter place, winter would for sure be here! I will post all the whys and wherefores….just have to get it all straight in my head.

  26. Betsy says:

    How about going to Australia? Great country — and they speak English!

  27. wayne jahr says:

    I figured something like this was coming by all the stuff you have been selling. I am really glad I got to know you two and wish you the best in your new endeavors.

  28. Even though I knew this was coming I secretly hoped that you would get bored with the idea and just…forget about it. And other ideas also stemming from magical thinking. But you’re leaving, eh; a tatoo of Chichen Itza and then good by? I love you guys. You will be missed around here. Keep enjoying it while you’re here and then go well with the blessings of all your friends…then write a blog about your new digs!

  29. janet says:

    my goodness, I was so hoping to get to know you both better….I wish you both well….

    • Where are you, are you here in Merida now? Come over, we need to make up some time! Bring Werner.

      • janet says:

        Werner left Merida today after an extended trip, I’m still trying to get there, finally bought a little place on 70 by San Sebastian Square to become my future vegetarian cafe/gallery/workshop/rubber museum!!!!

  30. Amber says:

    You got me with the leaving Mexico part of your title. I confess to not being sorry to see y’all return to the USofA and hope it means we can see y’all from time to time. I found a small horse figurine the other day and thought of you. It is a Beswick made in England Palomino Foal and it is gorgeous. Do you still collect horse figurines and maybe you haven’t for years. Don’t know. If you do, I would be happy to send it to you or hold it for you as I’m sure you don’t need anything else to move. I’m sure you know this, but just remembers gardens grow lots of places.

    • When I left home, at what 16, I think all the horses got tossed, I only took what I could carry. I loved those horses. is it a resin, or ceramic, if it is resin I may have had that one, it looks so familiar.

      • Amber says:

        Just saw your question. It’s probably porcelain. Look it up on ebay, they are quite expensive. I could see the quality right away.

  31. We will miss our vicinos…just feeling like we’re getting to know you Deb. You’ve contributed so much to both the 2 legged and 4 legged communities in Merida – you’ll be missed but I have no doubt you’ll be embraced wherever you go. Besitos

  32. Kevin says:

    Great. Now I have to move just so I can keep up with Tom and Debi! I kind of knew this was coming after a couple conversations we had last time I was down. Have you ever traveled to Ireland? New Zeland? Lovely lovely countries if the US of A doesn’t work out. If I had to pick a couple places in the States, I would pick Portland (if you want to check it out you can stay with me😀), Austin or San Antonio, and for the summer only, Montana. Keep your home in Merida and become snowbirds!

    • Your counsel put us off Portland, except in the summer, we looked at Austin, pretty pricey, leaning towards Richmond VA. We just can’t support 2 houses, wish we could!

      • Josh says:

        As a native Oregonian, I have to correct your misperception. In Portland and the Willamette Valley as well as the coast it can rain a lot. But that’s only one-third of the state. The rest of the state is dry as a bone, high desert. I grew up in Madras in the center; sagebrush and dust.

        The “non-wet” parts of the state are sparsely populated compared to the valley. If I was to look for a retirement place, I’d consider Bend. In some respects it will remind you of Colorado. But the people are great, plenty of culture and things to do, and the climate is invigorating.

        Before you go, though, note that I would never move back. Too many people from somewhere else…

  33. Debi,
    I am so sad to see you and Tom leave. I wish you all the best in your new home. You both will be a great addition to your new community!
    regards,
    Theresa

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