Sonia Diaz Consulting

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My name is Sonia Diaz. My education includes a three-year university degree in Human Resources. Hence, my Licenciada designation. My husband is Canadian and our daughter is 13. My husband and our daughter are my inspiration, my rock, my teachers.

I have been consulting for several years. The information you will find here is based on actual experience on the many topics I cover. I process visas every day. According to the staff of the various offices, I process by more visas, INAPAM, Seguro Popular, drivers’ licenses and citizenship than any other individual in San Miguel.

I work closely with staff at various government offices such as INM, (immigration); State driver’s license office; DIF for INAPAM; Presidencia (city hall); Seguro Popular (healthcare); SAT (taxation) and many others

I work both in San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City and soon Puerto Vallarta. I can also provide most Immigration services throughout Mexico.

Mexico’s greatest consistency is inconsistency. Working relationships are very important in Mexico and they often make a difference in the cost of items, level of service, including outright denial, and timing. Personally, I have friends at every government office at which I interact with. It makes the process so much easier. Bureaucracy is rampant. For example, opening a bank account may take 2 hours and there may be 20 pages of documents. In registering a vehicle if one document is missing or one is not perfect you will be turned away. This includes the need for the original bill of sale to be kept with the car for its’ life and signed off with the exact right words in Spanish by each seller. Every facet of government process is like this.

The visa process starts at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico, often requiring an appointment. Please be prepared. 

Consulates are fairly consistent but not totally in that some want original financial statements and others printouts; some want a marriage license and children’s birth certificates, etc. Once in Mexico, there is a process at your local Immigration office that may take 8 weeks or more. If one makes a mistake with the bank payment, for example, your funds are lost. If one when entering Mexico does not obtain the proper form or makes errors in the process starting over at a consulate may happen. Plan to be in Mexico until the process is completed which as noted may be 8 weeks or more.

Bringing in a lot of household items with a moving company is expensive and may be subject to tax. Mexico is a country of 123 million people and most items are available here and some better suited for the climate and lifestyle. There is always Amazon.com even in Mexico.

Those who are tourists or temporary residents may bring a foreign plated vehicle. A permanent resident may not.

Do not assume a lawyer is always the solution in obtaining assistance. There are few truly knowledgeable Immigration lawyers. Some provide the service with limited experience as they know expats will pay a higher fee than what they normally charge Mexicans. I, for example, process more visas than anyone in San Miguel and likely more than most anyone in Mexico. Lawyers have called me for advice. The same applies to citizenship as clients come to me after their “lawyer” took their money and sent them on a wild goose chase. I also process more Seguro Popular healthcare memberships, INAPAM senior’s discount cards, driver’s licenses vs anyone in San Miguel de Allende.

Come to Mexico knowing the pace is slower; the infrastructure may often not be to your expectations; you are a viewed by many as having an abundance even though you may not; mañana means not today and not necessarily tomorrow; getting angry at workers and especially in government offices while may be what you wish to do, it never works. Enjoy the beauty and the food and the spirit of Mexicans while remembering half the country is very poorly educated and live in poverty. The minimum wage is $5 US for a 9-hour day.

If you really, really want to help a family, provide all the requirements (on your own or in concert with others) to send their child to a private school. Education is the key to Mexico’s future and you will change not only that child’s life dramatically but also the parents and siblings,

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I’ve co-authored the book The Move to Mexico Bible with Beverly Wood now available on Amazon to help those interested in making the move to Mexico.

I can be contacted by:

CELL: (044) 415-106-1499

EMAIL: SONIANGEL32@hotmail.com

WEBSITE: www.soniadiaz.mx  

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/www.soniadiaz.mx

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Buying appliances and furnishing a house in Mexico

I didn’t know that when you rent a house in Mexico, odds are the stove and refrigerator are not installed because every apartment I rented in the US had those two basic appliances. Therefore, as soon as we arrived in Mexico and threw our mattresses on the floor for the night, we began discussing where we needed to go the next day to get a stove.

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Our first appliances in Mexico.

My husband’s mother suggested Elektra’s linea blanca (appliance line) and not having a clue, that’s where we went. We had enough money set aside to purchase a small stove and refrigerator “contado” rather than in payments. They loaded them into the truck and back to the apartment we went.

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Overall, Eletreka seems the most popular store in our area for cell phones, kitchen appliances,  motorcycles and furniture due to its ability to approve financing for your purchases through its own bank, Banco Azteca. In order to apply for credit, you’ll need your IFE (voter’s registration card) if you are a Mexican citizen or your current passport and residency card if you aren’t. Other documentation include: recent proof of residence (water/electricity bill), two years at the same residence or employment as evidenced by predial (tax) payments or a letter from your employer, signed aval (a signed contract from a guarantor in the event you don’t pay), and a signed garantías prendarias (permission to repossess any items bought with the line of credit). Sometimes, you will be asked to give an enganche (downpayment) as well.

Most other mueblerías (furniture stores) seem to have similar policies when you buy on credit. Initially, this seems like a good idea since you can take the items immediately and pay over time. Additionally, Elektra inspires prompt payment by lowering your interest for each payment you make on time. So it seems like you’ll be saving money, however, remember it always works out in favor of the store no matter what you do.

There are some drawbacks to buying on credit. Payment lines are out the wazoo causing you the loss of several hours each week. Supposedly, you can make your payment at places like OXXO or at the automatic tellers. What happens if that payment gets “lost” in the OXXO system? Or the ATM machine is broken? So just suck it up and stand in line like the rest of these fine folk.

Then, no matter what, you are responsible for paying the full amount plus interest even if your motorcycle is stolen, your fridge breaks, or you die. A few months before her death, my mother-in-law bought a motorcycle on credit from Elektra for her recently returned son M. She was wise enough to take a life insurance policy on her line of credit. After her death, her husband took a copy of the Acta de defunción (death certificate) to Elektra. The policy cleared out her debt and M got his motorcycle free and clear which he promptly sold when he skedaddled out of the area. Without that policy, someone in the family still might be making payments on that motorcycle.

If you default on your loan, they will come and get whatever it is you bought on credit. My sister-in-law has found the loophole in this though. She bought a brand-new refrigerator, top of the line model and stopped paying on it. Before the repo men could come and get it, she moved and moved again, and then moved a third time in a one month period.

Then she applied for credit at another Elektra store adding Maria in front of her name (which is her legal name but since everyone and her sister is named Maria and it is often abbreviated M. or Ma. on the birth certificate she always has gone by her second name). She bought some more stuff on credit and did the same thing.

It seems she has lucked out yet again. Her latest motorcycle was purchased in her son’s name since she’d burned her bridges too many times with her own name. The same son who was murdered recently. (Test of endurance) If she had the forethought to get the life insurance policy, then she owns this moto free and clear upon the presentation of his death certificate. It seems some people really know how to work the system.

Elektra has been trying to reduce the chance of default by asking you for a list of family members when you apply for credit. The loan officer then checks the list of bad debtors against your list of relatives and if you are related to someone like my husband’s sister, may well deny you credit.

We’ve had issues with our Banca Azteca card being cloned. It’s happened three times. Twice we reported it and were issued a new card. After the third time, we cut up our card ourselves and have refused to pay any further debts incurred. Our guess is that someone that works either at Elektra or Banco Azteca is facilitating the cloning. Anyway, since the Elektra computer system now lists us as bad debtors we won’t be getting any more credit there.

In our area, in addition to Elektra, Coppel also has a linea blanca (appliance) line and even Soriana and Fábricas de Francia carry appliances, with Soriana being at the lowest end of the quality spectrum and Fábricas of Francia on the more expensive end. I found my washer at Famsa at a good price, but they are somewhat limited as to what they have to offer overall.

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Most of the furniture items, tables, sofas, beds, dressers and so on, are really crappy at all of the aforementioned stores. We opted to buy handcrafted items whenever possible. Not only has it been less expensive, but the quality has been far superior. Our roperos (armoires) and bedside tables have been bought from carpenter tents along on the road, others we have had custom made to fit our needs and house from a local carpintería. The bed bases my husband made himself. If you aren’t so handy, you can find sturdy wooden bed frames sold from the back of a truck in most towns. My son’s fabulous corner computer desk was made by a local carpenter. 

Our tables are solid wood bought second-hand and the chairs, well, we have quite a number of handmade chairs (Sitting around the house). Kitchen cupboards, interior doors, and shelves can be ordered from the local carpintería and include installation.

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We have yet to buy a living room set because well, we don’t have a living room. I would suggest an upper-end mueblería for these items. We have one store that offers a scratch and dent sale periodically. The inventory most likely includes furniture that had been repossessed as well. We got two nice chairs there one year. Otherwise, their prices are way out of our budget.

Curtains and beddings, also known as linea blanca, can be purchased at places that specialize in those items, which often are named something like Casa Ramirez or Casa Lopez, or at the stores I mentioned before. You might want to have them made by a sastre (tailor) or costuera (seamstress) if you have odd sized windows or want a specific fabric for bedding. In fact, you might be able to have something bought at one of the Casa places altered by the seamstress on duty.

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I asked my husband about the Casa addition to the name. He said that before different haciendas were known for their needlework or embroidery. So when it was time for new bedding or curtains you would go to la casa de los Ramirez to place an order for your necessities. So the Casa part of the store name comes from that tradition which of course, as my son pointed out, you don’t really need to know in order to buy your blankets there.

Anyway, that’s what I know about buying appliances and furnishings in Mexico. Hope it helps!

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A Woman’s Survival Guide to Holidays

Remember how I said that I was writing a survival guide for women moving to Mexico? Well, the project has become enormous. So I’ve decided to publish the sections as separate books so that the sheer volume of information doesn’t become overwhelming.

Today I’d like to announce that the first section of the survival guide is now available at Amazon.  A Woman’s Survival Guide to Holidays in Mexico answers how, when, and why these festivities are observed not from abstract research, but personal experience. Because moving to a new country can be daunting, learning about the patriotic, religious and civil festival days will help you understand some of what makes up the Mexican culture and allow you to become more fully immersed in the amazingly diverse world of Mexico. Viva! holidays

This informative book is available for your reading pleasure on Kindle, as a full colored paperback (which is a bit pricey) and as a black and white paperback.

And in celebration of its release, the Kindle version is FREE for the next few days!

As for my other books……

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The paperback version of  Wascally Wabbits and Zombie Babies: Animal Antics South of the Border has also just been released.  The Kindle version of this book has been updated with a few new adventures.

La Yacata Revolution: How NOT to Buy a Piece of Heaven in Mexico and A to Z Reasons Why La Yacata is the Place to Be in Any Disaster: A Prepper’s Guide to Mexico have had updates recently as well.

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So, that ought to keep you busy while I keep working on another installment of the Woman’s Survival Guide series.  Happy reading!

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Blogs About Mexico Worth Reading–Karen Moves to Mexico

Karen Swanson writes at Karen Moves to Mexico, a blog I’ve been following for quite some time now. Her stories about the children at the shelter she and her husband volunteer at are inspiring!

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Like many expats, our dream of living here in Mexico started soon after we started vacationing here.   In addition to the regular tourist activities, we found ourselves repeatedly visiting a Children’s shelter in Bucerias, Nayarit and our growing love of the children drew us here permanently. Now we are daily volunteers at this orphanage, teaching English classes, fostering children and giving lots of hugs.

Well, I called my blog Karen Moves to Mexico because I really wanted to share the whole moving process with those closest to me.  I guess I didn’t foresee that I would keep writing long after the move was over.

This blog focuses on the daily life of my husband and me in Bucerias, Nayarit which is just north of Puerto Vallarta.  It covers our personal experiences, stories from our community and many stories are about the children we care for at Manos de Amor, Casa Hogar.

I started blogging to keep my family and friends from panicking about this crazy move.  I wanted them to know what was happening with us and to be okay with it. But I began to realize that writing was helping me process my own feelings about it all.  As we got more involved in the orphanage and started working with many families in surrounding villages, I began to realize that my heart was full of both pain and joy.  So much poverty, so many problems in the lives of these little ones. But also, so much joy as we connected deeper with each child. This blog became more of my personal journal than a how-to guide on moving to Mexico.  And people began to respond to the stories – offering encouragement and support that was good for me and for my husband.

This was hard – I have so many blog posts about the children we work with and my heart is touched every time I reread one of those posts.  But the post entitled “What I’ve Learned…So Far” is a good overview of my feelings here. That was written last year on the anniversary of our move.  This year’s anniversary post was just written last week “Are We Happy?” and it also is a reflection of my current heart thoughts.

The most difficult has been blogging about some of the crappy things I have seen in the homes of the children we work with.  I want to tell the stories of these moms and dads without judgment – I think mostly they are doing the best they can – but sometimes that is difficult.  I get mad and I get frustrated and that is hard to write about.

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Our best experience has absolutely been working with the children of Manos de Amor.  To give up our fast-paced work lives to invest in the lives of broken children has been heartbreaking but so satisfying.  Having children live in our home on weekends, a little one with an STD live with us for 5 weeks – it has been one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done but so very meaningful.  A lot of my blog talks about what we’ve learned and how we’ve changed because of that so you must read the blog to learn the lessons!

Just a few months ago we were on our way to Canada pulling a long trailer when a motorcycle driver hit us in Guadalajara.  As happens here after an accident, the insurance agents tried to negotiate a deal but when the injured motorcycle driver refused to accept any deal (he was fully at fault in the accident but wanted to get some $$$ from it) we were told that our vehicle was being impounded and my husband would have to go to jail for 48 hours until court convened.  That was a pretty scary day. After 8 hours, we were let go but the idea of Mexican jail made that our worst day here. Thank goodness we had great friends who were helping us negotiate with the police. That is our biggest takeaway from that day (besides don’t pull a trailer through Guadalajara!) – it’s okay to lean on friends. We’re used to being pretty independent but it’s good to have people in your corner.  Also, we really need to improve our Spanish!

I would tell someone planning on moving to Mexico to give up all your expectations of how things ‘should’ be and go with the flow.  You will be so frustrated if you don’t accept waiting in lines, bureaucratic nonsense and things never start on time. So what? That’s part of the charm and if you accept the fluidity of it all, you will be okay.

I think there will be a time when I will share more of the details of what to do and how to do it here.  Things we’ve figured out the hard way. For now, I’m happy sharing from my heart about what it is actually like to live here.  I hope others are inspired by my stories. not just to move to a new country, but to step out wherever they live and take risks.  Try scary things. Find deeper meaning in their lives. Make a difference in the lives of others. Keep stretching and growing.

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I can be found at:

Karen Moves to Mexico

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