The Gamble

In May 2005 when I stepped on a plane for Mexico, having quit my job and sold most of my (non digital) earthly belongings, I did so without really taking much of a risk. Most of my earthly belongings didn’t really mean so much to me any more, and the ones that did are easily re-obtained. If things didn’t work out, I had a home to return to and , more importantly, a choice of decent paying jobs to walk back into. I was taking the smallest of gambles, and it was worth a roll of the dice. It did indeed turn out that I had rolled a pair of sixes – I had a fantastic six years in Mexico.

In a few months I’ll be doing it all over again. This time, I’ll be going the whole hog. This time I leave with the intention of staying in Mexico for good. This time, though, is perhaps more of a gamble. There’s much more of a necessity to make it work in Mexico. I can’t keep chopping and changing my mind, crossing the Atlantic every few years. On top of that, I’m not a young chap just into my 30’s this time. I’ll be 40. Not old, I’d like to think. But it is an age where health care, pensions, retirement and a settled career aren’t frivolous matters that can be worried about tomorrow.

I’m looking at global events more carefully. The impending collapse of the Euro, followed by the collapse of the European economies is worrisome. It’d affect me if I stay in the UK. How will it affect me in Mexico? I find it hard to believe the ripples of a Eurozone meltdown wouldn’t have a profound affect on the US and Mexican economies. I’m also watching the Mexican presidential election with interest. I might get to vote in one of them one day. But not this one. Fortunately. Who to pick? The sleaze bag who has the most transparent agenda for six years of corruption?  Or AMLO, who is at least a conviction politician – even if his policies do threaten to plunge the country into an economic abyss. From 2006 to 2010, I’d never have imagined, for even a moment, that I’d ever consider AMLO my preferred choice. But I think he probably is. Or maybe not. I don’t know. Phew….I don’t have a vote to cast.

Going back to Mexico isn’t a bad decision though. In fact, I think for more and more people in the UK, moving abroad is a sound decision. It’s possibly the only decision, if the desired outcome is a comfortable retirement. Life in the UK has become extortionately expensive. I suspect more than a few corporate pension pots are going to be found to be empty too. A lot of Brits of my generation are going to find themselves selling up shop to be able to live on a decent income in their golden years. The one bonus of the UK’s hyper expensive economy is that the value of a house here will, largely by itself, fund a pretty nice retirement in a Latin American country.

Moving to a country with political and economic stability is a key factor though. Many surveys have shown modern Brits have the urge to upsticks and leave. We have a long history of doing so, although in the old days it was known as colonization rather than emigration. But most people are stay put. It’s their loss. But, hopefully my gain. We’ll start to find out in just a few more months. I just have my fingers crossed that, whoever wins this election, Mexico continues to enjoy what have been twelve years of comparative economic stability. The photo below is mine, from 2006.

Obrador

22 Comments

  • Try Brazil or Chile, those chaps apparently are doing well lately. Maybe China or Southasia. I have doubts about Mexico’s future lately, you are right it’s a gamble. Getting old sucks!
    Nice picture btw.

    • I originally came to Mexico by a sort of ‘accident’. I’d always previously gone east. But now I’ve discovered the charm of Latin america, there’s no where else I’d move to.

      I’d like to do Argentina and Chile. Brazil, less so. But I have a wife, and she’s Mexican 🙂

  • As the shit hits the fan (and it’s on a direct course now), the knee jerk reaction of the financial markets will be to buy the USD, GBP, JPY, etc, and sell emerging market currencies like the Peso, which was trading at around 14 per USD until Friday when risk assets suddenly got a bid. If I were you, I’d keep as much money in GBP as possible until that shit hits, and then the Peso will be a screaming buy. While there’s a serious corruption problem here, Mexico, unlike the so-called first world, isn’t drowning in debts, both public and private.

    I look forward to meeting you here again.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    DF, Mexico
    Where we have a bit more than a week before we go back to Boston again.

    • I tend to leave things like that to the last minute – which by the sounds of it will be a good thing. I have long tracked the peso and pound, but they seem to have kept a similar rate around the 19-21 pesos to the pound for years. But here’s hoping, because I’m always in favour of some extra spending power…

  • The heart, the soul, and the intellect, help in making a decision — and if we don’t win at the gamble, life has a way of suggesting other options. Enjoy your choices.

  • I left the US for a number of reasons. This was nine years ago and so I am now happily living in Mexico. I hope to get permanent residency here very soon. Some of the reason were the insane politics going on in the US. And things have gotten repressively worse! The other reason was that I could not comfortably live in the States because of skyrocketing costs. Here I not only live in relative comfort but actually have expendable income. While there may be some violence it is economically stable, much more than Europe, the USA and much of the rest of the world. You’ll find out that you are making a very good choice!

    • Citizenship will need to be my goal. As soon as possible. Although the heels in Mexico turn slowly, so it won’t be soon…

      I have no fear, trepidation or concern over the move back. Just an awareness that things are different, and there is an element of safety that I leave behind in the UK.

  • One of my reasons to invest and decide to live out the “golden years” down here was that, should the shxx hit the fan in the North American continent,let alone the rest of the globe, Mexico has a better chance at surviving since the people down here have been through several downturns and are much more adept at surviving, than the NOB bodies that go nuts when there tv or phone quit working.
    Mexico is pretty resilient unlike the 2 and 3rd generations of professional welfare recipients and the likes who depend on the govmint for it’s daily bread.
    Hopefully the big crash will not come, but based on the corporate corruption we’ve seen in the last decade, that along with the poor education the US is exhibiting in their teaching system, I feel more confident down south than any other place around.
    We have a little land and can attempt to offset some issues with trying to be a little self sufficient, at please that is the option.
    The US is becoming more and more invasive into sticking their nose in your personal business more so each day, my feeling is that Mexico is at least a decade or two behind them, which is close to my end of life cycle……
    But that’s my opinion.
    I m sure that your return will be rewarded, after all, it takes a bit of courage to do so, it’s not the easy way out, so it’s all positive from this vantage point.
    Good luck mate!

    • Those are some tough calls you’re making. Most societies have a tendency to survive downturns. Mexico has long had a terrible reputation for crime, long before the drug war, and pretty much everyone I met in DF had some horror stories to share with me. They all had one thing in common – they happened back in the mid to late 90’s when the Mexican economy crashed. Sure, the country survived, but the price was pretty high for an awful lot of people. I’m inclined to think that it’s a real over reaction to go nuts if a phone line goes down. At the same time, I’m inclined to think that if that is all a society has to go nuts over, then things ain’t so bad…

      On a slightly related note, and with a mind to the other big election coming up in North America, I do keep seeing a slogan repeating. ‘Socialism is great until you run out of someone else’s money’. It’s aimed at a certain politician north of the border – no prizes for guessing who – and repeatedly uses Europe as the example. I have a few thoughts on the subject. Firstly, they clearly have no idea what a socialist is. No clue whatsoever. Obama is not a socialist. Not even close. In Europe, his policies would be considered rabidly right wing. Secondly, there are no socialist countries in Europe. They are all mixed economies. Some of which embody greater degrees of socialism that others. Thirdly, why do they never mention Germany? Germany is largely to the left of the UK and only a little to the right of the French. And Germany, despite the troubles of its neighbours, is still managing to balance the books, invest in health care and education and maintain a thriving industrial base.

      The reality is that any poorly managed economy, of any form of ideology – be it with a socialist or capitalist bent – is fine till it runs out of other peoples money. And whilst us Brits and many Americans whine that they may not be able to afford that holiday home, the Germans have just gone and bought Greece 🙂

  • Come on back. I may not be as sanguine as Norm about the world economy, but I would rather ride out bad times here than amongst people who feel as if their entitlements were taken away from them.

  • Good luck on your move. I think you are going to the right place at the right time. Would that I could, but possibly in our not too distant future. I don’t think you’ll regret it. Suerte!

    • Thanks Angeline. Regret? No point having regrets, they say. Pft. We all have regrets. But there is no point dwelling on them. There’s usually some good stuff that comes out of taking a wrong turn. That’s been the case in life so far.

  • Houses are cheaper in Ohio than in Merida, Yucatan now that sanity has come back to our real estate market. Sanity may come to London as well in its housing market. It did in Ireland and is well on its way in Spain. The Euro zone will have some more bumps over the next few years but from what I can see from my distance, it still has strong bones on its frame. The talking heads get paid to blow smoke, the more the better; I just do not see the gain from calling it quits. If the euro were falling like a rock, if money were being priced in double digits all over the zone instead of a few basket case nations, I might buy a bit of what the news people spout. Is the euro overpriced?, Maybe considering it has a weak confederation backing it, the Germans are afraid to go all in on its support, and more than anything, things cost too much. I think Europe will be fine when the down turn, rights its self.
    I think Mexico has a great future and for a man like yourself, with your skills, you can not go wrong making your life there. I’ve been going to Mexico for 3 decades, the changes have been dramatic. Cow path roads in the 80s are running tractor trailers now, electric power goes to most towns today, Mexico is investing in its self.It is a good place to live. I wish you luck.

    • It’s highly unlikely that, barring any unforeseen catastrophe of gargantuan proportions, house prices in London will come down any great amount. Ireland and Spain had totally different sets of issues affecting their property prices – including the gross over construction of homes. Demand in London continues to exceed supply.

      I wrote a post quite some time ago about the Euro and its future. I’m less optimistic now than I was then. Absolutely nothing has been done to move the Eurozone on from the precipice of disaster. All that’s happened is that Germany has kept Greece, Spain et al dangling on that economic tightrope, stopping them from falling into the abyss. Problem is, the people of some of these countries are looking down into the abyss and, unable to see the bottom, are wondering if the unknown that lurks there might be better than what they have at the moment. They might start jumping….

  • I think you can go to bed expecting Pena Nieto to be President elect July 1st. The good ol’ boys found a matinee idol for a front man – and if that doesn’t get it then perhaps his novella queen will titillate the voters fancy – he will win and Mexico will go on business as usual.

    We look forward to your return!

    • I don’t think there’s been any other likely outcome for months. If I remember rightly, he was looking a nailed on favourite before I even left Mexico…

      I too look forward to my return. And to releasing some baby turts into the sea at Escondido one of these days.

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