When we, the Working Gringos, moved to Merida a long, long time ago (or so it seems, anyway), we knew little to nothing about Merida, the Yucatan or Mexico. We were enchanted with the city and the culture, but we didn’t know how to buy a house or pay the electric bill. For the first six months, we didn’t work, but we spent a lot of time finding our way around, getting to know people and learning how to live like Yucatecos. Some days, successfully ordering Pollo Brujo over the phone was considered a big accomplishment.
Ours was the total opposite of hitting the ground running.
Flash forward to today. We have lived here for eight years. We know more than one way to pay our bills. We carry FM2 visas. We run a successful Mexican corporation with employees. We pay Mexican taxes. We have bought multiple properties, renovated a colonial home into an office and built a new house in the centro historico. We’ve bought a car, been sick and cured more than once, and traveled all over the Peninsula. We speak Spanish (mas o menos), a little Mayan, and we feel very comfortable here.
This transformation did not happen simply due to the passage of time. And it certainly didn’t happen because we are geniuses. Along the way, we needed help and received it from a variety of sources, including our real estate agent , our accountant, our neighbors, our employees and other expatriates who had lived here a while. We consider ourselves fortunate that we met the right people at the right time, most of the time, and had the time to do it.
Since launching the Yucatan Living website, we’ve met a lot of people who have moved here, or are planning to move here, or have started a business here, or have invested in property with the intention of renting now and retiring later. We’ve had hundreds of conversations with a wide range of expatriates and we’ve heard their stories. We’ve observed how some people have an easy time integrating and adapting. We’ve also seen how many people make mistakes in the process of learning how things work. Sometimes these mistakes are trivial and sometimes they are costly. Sometimes, they can be tragically wrong.
Over the past eight years, Mexico has changed. Mexico has adopted many of the accounting and legal practices of developed countries and it has implemented technology to become more efficient. It is no longer considered an emerging market but rather a “middle-class” economy, the ninth largest in the world. Its national debt is under control, which is reflected in the ratings its government bonds receive. Since we’ve moved here, the Mexican stock market has outperformed the S&P 500 by over 160%.
Merida, too, has grown considerably. Not just in size, but in sophistication. Merida and the Yucatan are quickly catching up to the rest of Mexico. Yucatan has Wi-Fi in the parks, modern hospitals, car dealerships of every kind, gourmet restaurants and is becoming a more and more well-known destination. As Mexico and Merida become more modern, some things about living here become easier, and some things become more complicated.
In short, this is not your father’s Mexico, the lawless land depicted in popular entertainment where money paid under the table will bring the results you expected. These days, it’s smarter to play by the rules.
Underlying all of this growing sophistication, the city of Merida, whose influence is far reaching on the Peninsula, still has a small town culture with a long-established social geography. As with any close-knit society, knowing the map doesn’t necessarily give you access to the territory. Around here, who you know is always as important, and often MORE important, than what you know.
So why are we telling you this?
Almost every day, we receive emails or comments on the Yucatan Living website asking a question that we are not really qualified to answer. A reader may raise a legal issue related to immigration or an obscure problem related to real estate taxation. Many times, somebody simply needs a referral, like whether we can take care of a problem here that they can’t manage directly because they still live outside Mexico. We try to help with most of the issues our readers send us, but we do not have the staff nor the qualifications to provide most of the resources requested.
Fortunately, for the past three years, we’ve been working with the people who do, and we’d like to introduce them to you. These are the people you need to know.
Meet our new affiliate website: Yucatan Expatriate Services.
This service is new, but the company wasn’t born yesterday. Far from it, in fact. Yucatan Expatriate Services brings together the expertise and skills of a team of very educated, experienced and connected individuals. They are Yucatecans by birth, who have traveled and worked on a global scale. Their clients in the past have included manufacturers, hotel groups and other professionals who have come to Merida to accomplish tasks ranging from building a factory to operating a resort. This team has taken care of these clients with great success.
Now, they are expanding their service offering to the web, and to individuals like us.
Yucatan Expatriate Services can be many things to many people. With its bilingual staff of project managers, accountants, lawyers and affiliated professionals, YES (that’s it’s name for short!) can be trusted to provide you with accurate answers to your questions and any services required to accomplish your goals. They are also publishing their knowledge in comprehensive guides about important topics such as immigration, insurance, finances, employment and other subjects expatriates in the Yucatan and Mexico need to know. These guides are full of detailed information and you can download them now from the YES website.
Click here for the Yucatan Expatriate Services website to learn more about YES services and the YES guides!