Episode #121 – Marc Miller reveals the next steps in becoming expats in Mexico
In this episode, Marc covers the events of the Millers’ trip back to Austin where they stayed with an old friend, Marc’s presentation to an association of his Multi-generational Workplace Workshop, getting rid of old stuff, connecting with old friends, and stocking up for the trip back to Ajijic. Marc covers the steps to getting resident visas, crossing the border, and meeting with their attorney in Mexico to get their paperwork processed.
Listen in to this fascinating episode for insight into becoming an expat with U.S. ties.
[1:12] Marc welcomes you to Episode 121 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. Career Pivot brings you this podcast. CareerPivot.com is one of the very few websites dedicated to those of us in the second half of life and our careers. Take a moment to check out the blog and the other resources delivered to you, free of charge.
[1:41] If you are enjoying this podcast, please share it with other like-minded souls. Subscribe on CareerPivot.com, iTunes, or any of the other apps that supply podcasts. Share it on social media or just tell your neighbors, and colleagues. The more people Marc can reach, the more he can help.
[2:02] Next week, Marc will share an Encore Episode where he interviews Susan Lahey, who is the co-author on the Repurpose Your Career books. He is trying to get Susan to speak to us about her move to Portugal. That’s where Susan is, as Marc records this episode.
[2:26] This week, Marc will be discussing their trip back to Austin, his experiences in Austin, their return trip and the start of the Resident Visa process, first in the Consulate of Mexico in Laredo, and then back in Ajijic. Marc hopes you enjoy this episode.
Now on to the podcast…
[2:44] Marc had a variety of reasons to return to Austin at this time. In the first week in March, Marc was speaking at the Texas Hospital Insurance Exchange, an association. The speaking gig was booked long in advance of the Millers’ move to Ajijic. Marc also needed to get the car inspected and the registration renewed.
[3:28] The Millers also were still emptying their storage room, which was costing almost $80 a month. On this trip they gave a king-sized bed to a friend.
[3:52] They had planned to start the visa process at the Consulate of Mexico in Austin in December but they had run out of time. So, they are stopping at the Consulate of Mexico in Laredo, on the way back to Ajijic from this trip.
[4:16] On this trip, Mrs. Miller got to visit her parents while Marc did the income taxes.
[4:32] The Millers left Ajijic on February 29 and drove to Matehuala the first day. It was a nice six-and-a-half-hour drive on toll roads and a few small roads. They stayed at the Las Palmas Midway Inn, where expats stay as they travel. It is an old pet-friendly motor inn. They stayed in a more renovated room that was quite nice, for $61 for the night.
[5:19] They left about 7:30 a.m., expecting a seven-hour trip to Laredo. It turned into a 12-hour day. Road construction added an hour. A security checkpoint backed up traffic for miles as they looked at every truck. There are 10 trucks for every car on the road.
[5:59] Next, there was a power line draped over the highway. The power company, CFE, fixed it after an hour-and-a-half. Marc is happy they were near the front of the line.
[6:40] They arrived at Laredo at about 4:30 p.m. and processed through the banjercito for the temporary import permit for their car. Their $400 was refunded to their credit card (in spite of the Millers’ having changed card numbers because of a compromised card). Then it took an hour-and-a-half to cross the Laredo International Bridge Number 1.
[7:31] The Millers got to the hotel in Laredo at about 7 p.m. They were pretty exhausted. It was a very, very long day with lots of sitting in traffic. It’s something you have to get used to. If not for the delays, they could have made the trip in one 12-hour drive from Ajijic to Laredo. But delays are expected.
[8:04] The Millers checked into the La Quinta at the Laredo airport, which they like better than the one near the border. They had a nice dinner and the next morning headed off for Nacogdoches in East Texas. Mrs. Miller visited her parents there. Stephen F. Austin State University is the primary employer, besides the lumber industry.
[8:41] Friday and Saturday, Marc hung around the hotel and did his income taxes. Being near the main road, what Marc first noticed was the massive amount of noise. Marc was no longer used to road noise and constant mechanical environmental noise.
[9:57] Marc read in the Guadalajara Reporter that Mexicans don’t understand about Americans why we control the temperature year-round in our cars. That is not the practice in Mexico.
[10:25] Sunday morning, the Millers headed for Austin. They stayed with an old family friend, Donna, in the neighborhood where they had lived for 28 years. She let them use an extra bedroom, where they stayed for about two weeks.
[10:57] The old neighborhood was where the Millers had lived, in a house built in 1959 or 1960, until they moved to a condo near downtown in 2010. Marc noticed immediately the amount of gentrification that had occurred in the neighborhood.
[11:22] The Millers walked two miles to Upper Crust Bakery and saw that 20 to 30% of the homes had been demolished and replaced with “McMansions” or were drastically added onto. In 1978, when Marc moved to Austin, it was the cheapest housing market in the country. Now, it is one of the most expensive. The change has been dramatic.
[12:04] The second thing Marc noticed was everytime he wanted to do much of anything, he had to get in the car and drive. There was a Fresh Plus a mile-and-a-half away. Marc walked one day to Top Notch, a 1950s hamburger place, which was in a movie. It blew Marc away that everything is designed around the car, not around people.
[12:47] He remembered that from his bicycling days. He used to lust after Downtown Portland, which was designed around people, not around cars. But this is Texas. Even the old neighborhoods, cars are necessary.
[13:08] In Ajijic, in the last three months they have used the car three times. Twice, it was to get a 40-lb. package of kitty litter they didn’t want to carry on the bus. It was a mind-shift not to need the car. Austin’s public transportation is problematic. Most of the people who used it have left the area from gentrification.
[14:05] 130 people move to Austin every day and the school system has lost enrollment six years in a row, primarily because people with children can no longer afford to live in Austin, so they are moving East, out of town.
[14:26] Marc doesn’t like what his town was turning into. It was also during the week of SXSW, which consumes the central city, with 40-50,000
people visiting. SXSW is now mostly “hipster’ visitors. Locals stay away from SXSW.
[15:03] Marc recently saw photos posted on Facebook of Austin downtown in 2010 and 2017 and it has changed — which is one reason why it has gotten so expensive, and one reason why it has driven the Millers out.
[15:25] Marc drove up to Lakeway and gave the Multi-Generational Workplace talk that he shared on this podcast in Episode 111 and Episode 112. This event was a presentation for hospital administrators in rural counties.
[15:46] That left the rest of the visit for the Millers to get their stuff done. They got the car registered and inspected and bought Mrs. Miller’s food supplements, which filled the car. They also got their bicycles serviced and ready to go — except for the pedals on Mrs. Miller’s bike, left in storage, so Marc ordered new pedals from Amazon.com.mx!
[16:26] The Millers filled the rest of their time reconnecting with as many people as they could. They got rid of stuff from storage and started re-packing the car. Marc shared pictures of the packed car on Facebook. They ended up with about 13 milk carton crates filled with supplements and clothes.
[17:08] They left some stuff behind to pick up in October and end their rental of their storage room.
[17:21] The Millers drove back to Laredo on Sunday evening and had appointments at the Laredo Mexican Consulate Monday morning to apply for Mexican resident visas. They needed two passport pictures for each of them, filled out applications, 12 months worth of bank statements or investment statements to show adequate assets.
[18:01] You must show that you’ve had over $100K in assets over the last 12 months or $2,400 a month in pension income or Social Security for a permanent visa. For a temporary visa, you must show $20K in assets or $1,200 a month in pension income. The Millers both qualified.
[18:34] Mrs. Miller applied for a permanent resident visa and Marc applied for a temporary resident visa. The car is in Marc’s name, and you cannot bring a car into Mexico on a permanent resident visa.
[18:56] Their appointments were for 10:00 and 10:30 a.m. Mrs. Miller got in about 9:40. Marc got in about 10:30. They were out by 11:15. They were at the Mexican Consulate a couple of blocks from the border. It was fairly easy.
[19:20] The Millers chose to do it in Laredo, instead of at the Mexican Consulate in Austin, is that in Laredo they do lots and lots of these visa applications and they are not very “picky.”
[19:38] The Millers have a neighbor, John, in Ajijic, who had applied through the Consulate of Mexico in Dallas. He had to return to the consulate six times. The Laredo consulate runs like clockwork. They get people in and out. It’s a very, very busy place.
[19:59] The next morning, the car packed to the gills, the Millers crossed the bridge to Mexico at about 7:00 a.m. Marc drove into the “nothing to declare line.” They looked at the car and looked very quickly in back, saw a bunch of milk crates and the bicycles and they said, “Go.”
[20:30] However, if they had seen the supplements in the milk crates, or the cat food on the top of the car, they would have charged duty on these items. Marc had an inventory of the food supplements, so they were prepared, if asked.
[20:49] The Millers next drove to the immigration office where they processed their passports. Interestingly, Marc unknowingly dropped his passport in the parking lot. He didn’t have it when he went into the office, so he ran out. A young Mexican gentleman picked it up and handed it to him. Marc wiped the sweat off his brow and thanked him.
[21:23] Passport in hand, Marc went into the immigration office and processed through. Once they have processed their visas, they have 30 days to complete, so Immigration approved them for 30 days. They also got their Temporary Import Permit for the car for 30 days. They crossed the border and drove to Matehuala.
[21:59] They could not get a reservation at their regular hotel. The Las Palmas Midway Inn was full! Instead, they found the Hotel Casa Real Matehuala. The reviews on Hotels.com were mediocre. They checked in around 3:00 p.m. It was not a “dump.” It was old and worn, but clean. They each had one frayed towel, no washcloths.
[22:44] There were two beds and two bathrooms! It was right across the street from Walmart, so they did a little shopping there. Then they ate dinner at their favorite restaurant in town, at the Las Palmas.
[23:05] Then people started streaming into their hotel. Marc says they looked to be people traveling for work, in industrial service trucks. Marc says their hotel absolutely filled to the gills by midnight. It was noisy, but clean. It was $50 for the night.
[23:45] The next morning, the Millers did not rush to get out. They got to Ajijic about 3:00 p.m. It was a fairly easy drive and they ran into no problems. There’s only one short section of about 10 miles that’s not on toll roads. Each day, the Millers spent about $35 to $40 in tolls.
[24:11] When the Millers got home, Marc immediately contacted their lawyer for an appointment. The lawyer told them the sooner the better. They needed 15K Pesos, or about $700. The bank was closed when they needed the money, so Marc pulled money from the credit union and from the bank through ATMs and got enough.
[24:56] On Friday, the Millers went to the law office, processed and filled out all the forms, and learned they needed pictures made, both front view and side view. They did that on Saturday. The pictures had to be from a studio and they were 150 Pesos for each set. That came to 300 Pesos or about $15 for both of them to get pictures.
[25:27] The attorney was able to send all the paperwork to the immigration office and had their passports back to them by 3:00 p.m. The immigration office should get back with them in about two weeks when they will go and get fingerprinted.
[25:58] One of the things Marc noticed in returning to Ajijic was that he did not like living in Austin anymore. He did not like the noise. He did not like having to drive everywhere. The mass transit is not acceptable to him. He does not like the packaged food. Marc and his wife are eating all fresh food in Ajijic, and he is down to 170 pounds at 6’4″.
[26:48] It was a very stark contrast, being back in Austin, and it was not the city that he remembered.
[26:55] Marc hopes this gives you a good feel for the process. By the time this episode is published, the Millers should be very close to having their resident visas. Please read Marc’s fascinating blog post of March 25 on banking abroad to understand the issues of accessing your money in another country.
[27:25] Marc hopes you enjoyed that episode. The Millers have spent nine of the last 12 months in Mexico. Their current plan calls for them to return to Austin by car in October. Marc will likely fly to New Jersey for a high school reunion, and possibly some audience meetups. Marc has a huge following in the NY Metropolitan area.
[27:52] In 2020 the Millers will likely return to the U.S., sell the car, and either go carless or purchase a Mexican-plated car. Marc’s attitudes about money, environment, and the culture he desires have changed a lot, in the last 12 months.
[28:09] Listen to Marc’s interview with Queen Michele in Episode 119 to hear her similar story of how she has been transformed from leaving the U.S. and moving to the North Shore of Lake Chapala.
[28:23] Marc thanks you for listening to this episode.
[28:26] The CareerPivot.com/Community website has become a valuable resource for more than 50 members in the Beta phase of this project. They have crossed the 50-member threshold! Marc will be recruiting new members for the next cohort in a few weeks.
[28:41] If you are interested in the endeavor and would like to be put on the waiting list, please go to CareerPivot.com/Community. When you sign up you’ll receive information about the community as it evolves.
[28:55] This is a paid membership community with group coaching and special content. More importantly, it’s a community where you can seek help. Go to CareerPivot.com/Community to learn more.
[29:12] Marc invites you to connect with him on LinkedIn.com/in/mrmiller. Just include in the connection request that you heard Marc on this podcast. You can look for Career Pivot on Facebook, LinkedIn, or @CareerPivot on Twitter.
[29:34] Please come back next week, when Susan Lahey, the co-author of the Repurpose Your Career books tells her story of going from a journalist to a freelance writer. This is an encore episode with an update on her move to Portugal.
[29:48] Marc thanks you for listening to the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
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