A room of her own–leaving the Little House in Sunflower Valley

Where I’ve been working for the past 2 years

Once we finally got the internet up and running at our house in La Yacata, there really was no reason to keep renting the Little House in Sunflower Valley. The problems the house had with internet, electricity, and leaks, far outweighed any benefits it might have had in the past.

So, since the rent for the month was already paid, we started gearing up for the move at the end of the month. First, we needed to make arrangements to cancel the internet through Telmex.

This was a two-step process. I had to call the company and receive a “folio” number in order to return the modem to the company. The first time I called, I was disconnected. The second time I explained that I wished to cancel the service because of the numerous fallas (outages) and was given the folio number.

The next day we took the modem to Telmex. We couldn’t just turn it in at the desk with the number. We had to tromp up 4 flights of stairs to the “internet” office. Just like when we contracted the service I wondered about the lack of handicap accessible offices. So there, even though we were the ONLY people in the office, we were instructed to take a number from the number machine. We did. We were number 2.

So when the Telmex internet woman was good and ready, she called us over to her desk. I gave her the folio number. Apparently, my cancelation request was entered as a “baja” instead of cancel, whatever that meant. She deleted the transaction and created another one. I had to explain again that we did NOT have phone service with Telmex, only internet service that we would no longer be using.

Then she said I still had one month’s outstanding balance that I needed to pay before she could process the request to cancel. I sent my husband down the four flights of stairs to pay that. When he came back, she made a copy of my permanent residency card and had me sign the form ending internet service in my name.

As both the electricity and water bills at the Little House were still in the name of the owner, I could not cancel those services. I did make sure I had the last bills I paid with the receipt as proof of payment to turn over with the key. Because the bills are bi-monthly, as a renter I would still be responsible for the next water and electric bills. However, since I had paid $1000 deposit, I didn’t see why the outstanding balance wouldn’t be deducted from that, and instead, I would receive about $700 from the deposit.

The owner of the house lives in Yuriria, which is about a 40-minute drive for us, so we went there one afternoon hoping to catch her at home. Of course, she wasn’t there, but her son was. We explained that we would no longer be renting, that these were the last paid bills, and that there was an outstanding balance from the deposit owed to us.

The son refused to take any of the papers and said that he would have the owner call us to “inspect” the house and we could ask about the deposit then.  He asked about this month’s rent. I showed him the bank receipt proving it had been paid. He asked about next month’s rent. As it was still 2 days until the beginning of the next month, I certainly wasn’t paying another month. Fine, then. We didn’t leave the key.

The owner has not yet contacted me. I believe her thought process is to keep the entire deposit. While I don’t enjoy being taken advantage of, in this case, by not receiving the remainder of the balance on the deposit, I am of the mind that karma will take care of the matter for me.

You see, several months ago, the lock on the front door broke, so we replaced it. She will need to break into her own house and have a new lock made unless she calls us for the key. All of which could have been avoided had she done things as they should be done.

The move back to La Yacata took longer than I thought it should. We accumulated quite a bit of junk in the 2 years we rented there. My husband and son are heading to the tianguis in Valle this weekend to turn some of this crap into billetes (money).

In the meantime, I’ve started setting up my home office in the spare room in La Yacata.

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Sonia Diaz Consulting

sonia

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,

move to mexico bible

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.

carpenteria

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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Filed under Cultural Challenges, Economics

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.

la yacata revolution cover  atozcover

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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Filed under Book Reviews, Mexican Cultural Stories, Mexican Holidays, Politics, Religion