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Moving from a large metro in US to Chapala area, have most people had an "OH NO, WHAT HAVE I DONE?" moment?

Did it pass mostly?

thanks
cj
 

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No, No, No it is " Oh my God what are they doing?" All part of the fun.
 

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I know a few that have packed up and gone home ... but usually because of some bad (stupid) moves on their part. Avoid financial entanglements for a good while. Other than that it should just be entertaining
 

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Well, The Dawg and Dawgette lived in the heart of San Francisco for a number of years before choosing to retire to Mexico (both Lake Chapala and the Chiapas Highlands) and once we loaded the vehicles with our belongings and dog amigos and pointed south toward Nogales, Sonora, all we could sing (figuratively) , in the words (slightly modified) of the old C&W song, was Happiness is the Bay Area in the Rear View Window. Living in Mexico, both the Lake Chapala region and Chiapas Highlands, has been a Godsend and neither of us regrets for one minute having let the big city although it was a fine place to live for many years. When I worked out of San Francisco, I often was assigned to work recurringly for short periods of time in places such as Seattle, Portland and Eugene among other Northwest delights and my Northwestern colleagues used to question me as to whether or not I intended, upon retirement, to "Californicate"" their dungholes with my presence as had so many Californians before me seeking fine properties in the cold and wet and dismal north at discounted prices. I always told then that the minute I retired, I was heading for Mexico posthaste with not even one doubt in my mnd as to where I was going to spend my years until checkout time. I just had not as yet, picked my spot in Mexico but that spot was certainly not going to be in Washington or Oregon. I can´t even figure out why people settled that region unless they were running from the law as my antecedents were when they left South Carolina for Alabama.

My wife is from Paris and we lived in San Francisco for many years with occasional work assignments to places such as New York City and other big towns. Big cities are for young folks and old folks wihout the financial resources to get the hell out of there. To me, the sounds of birdsongs in the morning and the event of picking the grapefruit off of one´s garden tree for breakfast beats the sound of churning bus engines and the Starbucks barister performing his/her duties at the espresso machine any day-
 

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The move isn't for everyone. Probably not for most people who consider/do it. However, if you're the type of person who can 'roll with the punches', is easily adaptable and adventurous ... things tend to settle-down in 6 months to a year. The quicker you learn Spanish, if you don't already have a command of the language ... the easier it gets.
 

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I am sure you have heard of the "seven year itch" From all the expats I have meet, it probably works out about right.
Mexico is a different country, they use different money, speak a different language and solve problems a different way than NOB. It is up to you if you are going to accept Mexico, it is not up to Mexico.
living in Chapalla gives you thousands of shoulders to cry on but offers no solution to the fact you are living in Mexico. It is all up to you and what you want in life.
 

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Moving from a large metro in US to Chapala area, have most people had an "OH NO, WHAT HAVE I DONE?" moment?

Did it pass mostly?

thanks
cj
I have two friends who moved to Latin America and regretted it. One moved to Guanajuato planning to be there forever. After a year he was back in the US. The other bought a condo in Panama City and after a year was also back in the US. So, it can certainly happen. Both of these were single middle-aged men, not quite sure of their direction in life. The Guanajuato individual probably did not stay long enough to get past the "OH NO, WHAT HAVE I DONE?" moment. The friend in Panama City had lived in Argentina for a year or two long before moving to Panama. He seems to change his circumstances with a fair amount of regularity, so I am not sure his experience says anything about anyone else.
 

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I think the "What have I done" moment is more likely if the person hasn't already spent some vacation time, then some serious "trial" time in the area where they think they want to settle.

Some of the expats I've met might just as well have tossed a dart at a map and/or read one of those rose colored reviews that pop up shortly after a travel writer (with all expenses paid) spends a week somewhere before expounding on the gloriousness of it. Moving to Mexico without prior experience is like getting married after a three day weekend fling.

Bur hey........I also know people who did exactly that and are still smiling at each other thirty years later. So go figure!
 

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Well, The Dawg and Dawgette lived in the heart of San Francisco for a number of years before choosing to retire to Mexico (both Lake Chapala and the Chiapas Highlands) and once we loaded the vehicles with our belongings and dog amigos and pointed south toward Nogales, Sonora, all we could sing (figuratively) , in the words (slightly modified) of the old C&W song, was Happiness is the Bay Area in the Rear View Window. Living in Mexico, both the Lake Chapala region and Chiapas Highlands, has been a Godsend and neither of us regrets for one minute having let the big city although it was a fine place to live for many years. When I worked out of San Francisco, I often was assigned to work recurringly for short periods of time in places such as Seattle, Portland and Eugene among other Northwest delights and my Northwestern colleagues used to question me as to whether or not I intended, upon retirement, to "Californicate"" their dungholes with my presence as had so many Californians before me seeking fine properties in the cold and wet and dismal north at discounted prices. I always told then that the minute I retired, I was heading for Mexico posthaste with not even one doubt in my mnd as to where I was going to spend my years until checkout time. I just had not as yet, picked my spot in Mexico but that spot was certainly not going to be in Washington or Oregon. I can´t even figure out why people settled that region unless they were running from the law as my antecedents were when they left South Carolina for Alabama.

My wife is from Paris and we lived in San Francisco for many years with occasional work assignments to places such as New York City and other big towns. Big cities are for young folks and old folks wihout the financial resources to get the hell out of there. To me, the sounds of birdsongs in the morning and the event of picking the grapefruit off of one´s garden tree for breakfast beats the sound of churning bus engines and the Starbucks barister performing his/her duties at the espresso machine any day-
The only thing I can say is " Please pass me the Pepto-Bismol. "
 
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The only culture shock I got is at the border in Nogales when several scary looking characters approached me to offer me money to buy my dogs . They thought they were perfect for dog fighting. I had just seen Amores Perros and I thought what the hell are we doing.
After that I never even thought about leaving. I had way more of a culture shock when I moved to England from France in the 60´s.
 

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The only culture shock I got is at the border in Nogales when several scary looking characters approached me to offer me money to buy my dogs . They thought they were perfect for dog fighting. I had just seen Amores Perros and I thought what the hell are we doing.
After that I never even thought about leaving. I had way more of a culture shock when I moved to England from France in the 60´s.
Your comment about "more of a culture shock when I moved to England from France in the 60's" emphasizes the point that culture shock is more about where you are in your life than anything about the place.

If someone has moved around a bit and lived in places with different cultures/climates/population size, then they probably won't experience much of a shock. If it is the first time they have changed location, they might find the experience more challenging.
 

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England was not the first country I moved to and lived but it was the first country that was totally different from where I had been and where I disliked the culture, the climate, the food ,the way of life ..name it..
I lived in England for a couple of years and I could not wait to get out, not to go back home but just to get away from it.
The only thing that made my life tolerable is my moving in with Pakistanis. I had to follow their rules but at least they were exotic and had good food and fun movies..
There is more to culture shock than living in a culture that is different, it is living in a culture that is different and that you do not like. I went back once and have no desire to ever go back there.
 

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I think it makes a great deal of difference if the retiree has, or has not, lived, worked and/or at least traveled to several other parts of the world. Having done so for the military, for work and some time for pleasure, I found moving to Mexico a piece of cake with few surprises. I will probably never be fluent in Spanish, but can muddle along and be happy. We came to Mexico in 2001 and have only visited the USA once since then. No urge to do so.
 

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I grew up in a an Army family and traveled extensively throughout my childhood. I'm quite comfortable with picking up and taking off, new adventures and experiences. HOWEVER, I have experienced culture shock to an extensive degree, moving to Durango. There are four stages of culture shock, and I skipped the first one, which is the honeymoon stage, and went to the second one. I cried several times the first week, (I'm only on week two.....one breakdown was in a Soriana) mainly out of frustration with not knowing the language, and depending on other people for EVERYTHING. Plus, although the school I am at is considered the rich, private school here, its lack of resources for teachers is just mind-boggling. I'm trying to adjust to a new country, new surroundings, new job, new language....and on top of that, I have to help my 8 year-old adjust, as well.

My school is supposed to offer Spanish classes for the American teachers, but so far, no one has set anything up. I hope once my Spanish improves, things will get better.
 

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Well there is a big difference moving to an army base or to a place where you have a lot of people in the same situation as you are.
Moving alone or with a child in a place where you do not speak the languaget can be very frustrating and lonely no matter how nice people are around you but little by little you will understand more and be able to communicate and will be in a better position to judge if you will like it or not.
Moving is a stressful experience in your own country, there are may new things and places you have to get to know, moving to a place in a different culture where you do not speak the language and you have to cope because of your work and your child is worst.
I have moved lin the same situation (minus a child or the internet or affordable phone calls..) a few times in my life and the first few months are pretty rough but since you will make connections through your work and will acustomed yourself to your new surrounding and ways of doing things you will get over it and be in a better position to judge if you like your new environment or not.

Good luck to you and let us know how you are doing!
 

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My school is supposed to offer Spanish classes for the American teachers, but so far, no one has set anything up. I hope once my Spanish improves, things will get better.
If you give it a chance ... the "shock" will subside. I believe it does for most people. But I've witnessed people 'crash' and 'burn' and run home after just two or three months.

The confidence doesn't come overnight, though. Each of us responds a bit differently, but I'm guessing you're in for an up and down ride for the next six months. It's so easy to lapse into frustration. Particularly so when you combine the personal challenges faced by you and your son and the challenges presented at the school. Get-on the school about Spanish lessons for you and your son - or it just won't happen. You need to begin that learning and once you do and in the 'total immersion' environment you're living ... you should pick-up the language, or lots of it, quickly.

Take it one day at a time so that the situation doesn't seem overwhelming. I know, it's easier said than done!

Have a look at the material the following links will take you to. Print a copy of the materials as a reference guides (and give a copy to your son):

Food

Computer

English /Spanish Medical Dictionary
 

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I grew up in a an Army family and traveled extensively throughout my childhood. I'm quite comfortable with picking up and taking off, new adventures and experiences. HOWEVER, I have experienced culture shock to an extensive degree, moving to Durango. There are four stages of culture shock, and I skipped the first one, which is the honeymoon stage, and went to the second one. I cried several times the first week, (I'm only on week two.....one breakdown was in a Soriana) mainly out of frustration with not knowing the language, and depending on other people for EVERYTHING. Plus, although the school I am at is considered the rich, private school here, its lack of resources for teachers is just mind-boggling. I'm trying to adjust to a new country, new surroundings, new job, new language....and on top of that, I have to help my 8 year-old adjust, as well.

My school is supposed to offer Spanish classes for the American teachers, but so far, no one has set anything up. I hope once my Spanish improves, things will get better.
Get a pocket Spanish English dictionary and keep it with you. A trip to Soriana will be easy then but take longer. If you read the word it will be far easier to remember. Also a pen and pad of paper and study and look up the words when you have time. Also on the pad write the phrases you need to get things across to others. Mexican people are more patient with you and you will have more and more words that you know what their meanings are and not just guessing at them.

Be very proactive and this will help you at the early stages of communicating your needs and what you want to say to others. It is amazing how fast the phrases will stick as many you will use many times a day. Always greet people with "Buenos Dias", Buenas Tardes", and "Buenas Noches" no matter who they are before doing any business with them and take your time and when you know who they are at work or in your apt, etc.
 

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laurenS147 said:
I grew up in a an Army family and traveled extensively throughout my childhood. I'm quite comfortable with picking up and taking off, new adventures and experiences. HOWEVER, I have experienced culture shock to an extensive degree, moving to Durango. There are four stages of culture shock, and I skipped the first one, which is the honeymoon stage, and went to the second one. I cried several times the first week, (I'm only on week two.....one breakdown was in a Soriana) mainly out of frustration with not knowing the language, and depending on other people for EVERYTHING. Plus, although the school I am at is considered the rich, private school here, its lack of resources for teachers is just mind-boggling. I'm trying to adjust to a new country, new surroundings, new job, new language....and on top of that, I have to help my 8 year-old adjust, as well.

My school is supposed to offer Spanish classes for the American teachers, but so far, no one has set anything up. I hope once my Spanish improves, things will get better.
I found little things helped when I arrived here with very little Spanish. I wrote shopping lists in both languages so that I could quickly get to a point where I recognized ingredients and could face shopping in the market. I now have problems remembering the English words for things which is very trying when I go home... I also kept a list in a notebook of new words and then checked out meanings when I had time which helped build up a basic vocabulary quite quickly. There are some basic Spanish courses on-line which might help you get started whilst you wait for your school to set up lessons. Life gets much easier once you can communicate, even on a basic level, with people. Good luck, I am sure that with time all will get better. I spent much of my first couple of months here feeling completely overwhelmed but now wonder how I am ever going to leave.
 

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A couple best practices

While living in an ex-pat community can be great, I would agree wit most people that knowing some Spanish is a good start. I would also say reading up on Mexican Culture as much as you can would help. A good book seems to be Mexicans and Americans by Ned Crouch, check over at amazon.

Also realize, pretty much everyone will experience some type of culture shock. Typically this occurs at about 9-14 months into the host culture experience and how long it lasts depends on each person. Remember, the cultures values are different than our values and we will wonder "why do they do this here." It is that rub that will create frustration many times. Lots of great resources on the net about culture shock. Just remember it will pass .....
 
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