Thursday, June 20, 2013

Moving to Mexico is an Adventure....Right?

Moving from one location to another is always work, but divesting of almost everything from a current life, except for a few clothes and fewer household goods, is both exhilarating and daunting. If the move is to Mexico, it must be approached with a sense of adventure. Otherwise, a multitude of somewhat confusing bureaucratic obstacles could be overwhelming.

The above statement was my Facebook post a few days ago. Let me attempt to explain what I meant. When we made the decision about a year ago to finally make the permanent move to Mérida this September, we thought the plan was fairly simple and straightforward. We would put our house on the market, have an estate sale to empty our home of over thirty years of accumulated furniture and household goods that we had no intention of taking with us, load our motor home with a few clothes and our animals and drive away. The gently used 2004 motor home we purchased last summer is our solution for driving across the country and through Mexico to our home in Mérida. We had planned to import the vehicle in order to obtain Mexican plates in the hope that we would not stand out so much. Never mind that we have never seen a single 20 foot motor home during any of our visits. I recently contacted a customs broker in Laredo to get a quote for the importation. Needless to say, we will not be importing this vehicle at an estimated cost of a bit over $11,000.00 US. For that amount of money we can purchase a small car once we are settled in Mérida. On the other hand, that sum would likely purchase a lifetime of bus tickets and cab fares. It would be nice, however, to have a car for those times when we ...well, need a car. 

Our plan for visas has changed as well. With the new immigration law, we were thinking that we would apply for the Residente Permanente, a one time deal with no annoying yearly renewals. If we were to import the vehicle, the permanent visa would not be an issue. However, since we will now be driving a foreign-plated van, we can only cross the border with the Residente Temporal and after four years, when we will be required to obtain the permanent visa, we will have to take the van back NOB. The ironic thing about this rule is that motor homes are assigned a 10-year temporary import permit (TIP) and the Residente Temporal is only good for 4 years. 

Another thing that we are discovering (thanks to Mexico Amigos) is that if you plan to ship household goods to your new home in Mérida, be prepared to pay storage fees until you have your actual visa card in hand. The paperwork from Immigration will not get your goods released. People have reported waits of 4 to 6 weeks while their furniture sits crated on the pier (in the hot sun?). Another option would be to store the goods NOB and ship once the visa card is in hand. As I've said before, we only plan to ship a few paintings and a few small household goods, but I don't like the idea of oil paintings sitting on a pallet at the pier in Progreso. We now have to explore our other options.

It seems that everyone reporting their experiences with Immigration or Aduana has a slightly different take on the process. Purchasing a home in Mérida is the easy part. Getting there is not so easy, but all an adventure, no?