A Quick Update

In 2010, we moved back to the small town in Colorado that I never stopped missing while we lived in Mexico. Now I sometimes miss Mexico, but I wouldn't travel as freely as we did when we were there, camping out in remote areas and so forth.

Mexico today is in a period of change, and in many ways it is more dangerous now. That said, I have plenty of American friends who still live there very happily, just taking a few more precautions than they did in the past.

Just to say!

Rosana

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October 9, 2006 — I recently received this email from a reader of this blog, a woman from the US who had just gotten home from a trip to Mexico. She and her husband had flown into Guadalajara, come out to the Lake Chapala area and taken us out to dinner, then gone by bus to Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Queretaro before returning to Guadalajara to fly home nine days later. Quite a trip!

If a hotel clerk makes $6.00 a day and a hotel manager only makes $9.00 a day, how can they afford the prices we saw for food and clothing? That is not to mention housing of some kind. This is the salary we heard were paid for these types jobs, but I can not remember who told us that. If maids make $3.50 an hour for housekeeping at a private home for a Gringa, why would hotel staff be so low? Maybe it was wrong.

We went to a big grocery store in SMA outskirts and looked at the prices for Grocery/ Health and Beauty aids. They were as high or worse as the USA. This was where the locals shop. I don’t know how they can live. I shop at a Mexican Grocery store outside our neighborhood because the prices are better and the prices are about the same as Mexico and our salaries are much more.

Another observance was that soooo many people eat out at all the little hole in the wall places. I don’t know how they can afford that either. Always buying fruit, corn, candy or something. You even see the kids taking buses and taxi’s.

Example, we went to VIP’s in Queretaro to eat one evening. It was like a nice Denny’s in the USA. The place was full of Mexicans and it cost us $20 US to eat. Some looked like Bank clerks that were sitting in a table by us. We just can’t figure the economy out. Do you understand how they make it or know that they make more salary than we heard?

I don’t know that I can answer all the questions, but I’ll give it a try. Some of the people you see eating or buying things at the expensive places may well be doing it as a rare treat. The little hole in the wall places are often very cheap.

Also, they typically have less stuff than we do, partly because their houses are smaller and wouldn’t hold it all. So if you see a young woman buying a pricey cosmetic, for instance, she likely doesn’t have tons and tons of them at home like Americans might.

As for food prices, the poorer people eat a lot less meat and fish than we do, a lot more beans and tortillas. You can feed a large family a lot of beans and tortillas for not much money.

Here are some of the expenses that Americans typically have and Mexicans typically don’t:

  • Rent or mortgage payments, often astronomical… most Mexicans live in the family home which has been owned ever since it was built.
  • Expensive appliances and furniture for the homes. Many Mexicans don’t even have refrigerators or washing machines, though this is more true in rural areas.
  • Car, car payment, car insurance, car repairs, gasoline… most Mexicans don’t have cars, though the middle class does more now than before and the wealthy don’t have problems here. This lack of a family car is part of why even children will take taxis at times.
  • Credit card bills with high interest payments. Rare here, though beginning.
  • Health insurance. There are plans here, but it’s relatively rare.
  • Vacations. I’ve heard Mexicans say that they have never been to a particular city because they have no relatives to stay with there. I’m sometimes surprised at how rarely the Mexicans we know go anywhere.

Hope this helps. I’m sure there is more to it.

Comments from the old blog:

  • Anonymous said…

    This is an interesting post. A good friend of mine has family in a small village in Mexico. Actually, it’s adopted family – she’s American but speaks fluent Spanish. Anyway, she went to Mexico last year and told me that the village is having terrible troubles because so many people are sending American dollars home making the village economy wacky. Poor folks who don’t have relatives in America are destitute because the shops and such are starting to trade in American dollars and at American prices. I live in Austin, and this makes sense. There are thousands of illegal immigrants here. Some are just trying live here under the radar, but others live cheaply and send money home.

  • I said…

    Thanks, Kristina, enjoyed your comments too. In every small town in Mexico, there are relatives up north, but I had given no thought to the plight of those without relatives sending money back.

  • dumpster baby said…

    maybe they pay a lot less than you americans do, cuz you all is a-gettin’ RIPPED OFF!

    And then you go around on the net saying how it costs 900 bucks a month to live in mexico. Nonsense!

  • I said…

    I am not ripped off and the amount that people spend depends on many different factors. I have never seen any agreement regarding a figure like $900.

4 Responses to “How Can Mexicans Afford to Live?”

  • Ferch says:

    I am Mexican and you are all wrong. The people you see at VIPS are rich people. Yes, there are rich people. And the rich in Mexico have way more than the rich in the US. That's why Mexico is one of the countries with the biggest inequality gap. The poor are poorer and the rich are richer. So, VIPS, nice restaurants, etc… yes, most are upper class citizens. Now, we also have the “poor” that have relatives in the US and don't know or don't care how much it costs their relatives to earn that money, so they spend like crazy, they stand out. In a nice place, they'll stand out as less assimilated into the upper class culture. And third, we have the people that rip other people off. Yes, there are lots of those in Mexico… government officials, those in positions where money flows usually keep the money to themselves. Others rip people off from provinces selling them job positions and then disappearing with the money. It is very common. So there you have it. Coming from a Mexican. If it seems to good to be true, it is.

  • Rosana says:

    Thanks for your point of view, Ferch. I don't think we are all wrong but you definitely add to the conversation!

  • Shelley says:

    Why would rich Mexicans regularly eat at an average restaurant like VIPS? I would think that if they are rich, they would go somewhere with a little sophistication

  • SJC2Dominguillo says:

    There are all kinds of rich people, Shelley, just as there are all kinds of other people. They might like to fast-food aspect, for example!

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