Day One of Greening Up the House

(Post 141 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. As I mentioned in the post announcing Bast’s passing from COVID, I thank everyone for your generous donations to the original Fundrazr campaign, which resulted in sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not commit to more. The link above is to a new campaign to help Bast’s family.)

Green Is Good, Redux

(Post 140 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. As I mentioned in the post announcing Bast’s passing from COVID, I thank everyone for your generous donations to the original Fundrazr campaign, which resulted in sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not commit to more. The link above is to a new campaign to help Bast’s family.)

I’m working on a post explaining what is going on with work and why my schedule has been in such upheaval this year. In the meantime, this video is about some warranty work that will be done on the exterior painting and some painting I’m having done inside at the same time. I’m really pleased with the painter’s professionalism. He told me in March, “Call me after the rainy season if you have any peeling and I’ll fix it at no charge.” So that’s what I did and what he’s doing, despite “some peeling” meaning having to touch up several complete walls. I remain thrilled with what a great list of handy people I have in my contacts.

A friend bought a house recently and asked if I could help him get a mover, ideally for the next day. Tall order? I called my favourite flete guy who helped me with the Poang chair to see if he might have a real moving truck, not just his little pickup, and some availability in the next few days Yep. He had my friend moved by midday the next day at a reasonable price! That made me feel like a magician!

Once the professional painting is all done, I have a looooong list of projects I am going to tackle myself! I think I’m done mourning all the tools I left behind in Canada and am ready to set up a workshop here!

Housekeeping in A Dusty Humid Climate

(Post 139 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. As I mentioned in the post announcing Bast’s passing from COVID, I thank everyone for your generous donations to the original Fundrazr campaign, which resulted in sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not commit to more. The link above is to a new campaign to help Bast’s family.)

I’ve never been much of a housekeeper and I don’t think I worried about dust in my home a day in my life until I moved here. But here, dust will not be ignored. MĂ©rida is a very dusty city — some blame the climate, some blame the lack of vegetation, some blame city maintenance. Whatever the reason, when you live to the open air like I do, dust will invade take over your house. But as if that wasn’t enough, add in the humidity and dust will mould and eat into your belongings (especially leather). A once-a-week visit from my house cleaner isn’t enough. You have to clean a lot (ideally once daily) here. The only way to make that task less onerous, especially in a house the size of mine, is to choose furniture with clean lines, to not have a lot of needless decorative items, and to keep what you can behind closed doors. I figured that out for my books and decorative items (glass-doored bookcases are great in this climate!), but it took me way too long to figure it out for my shoes!

This is where I’ve been keeping my shoes (well, sandals), most of these years.

Every time I want to wear a non-daily pair, I have to clean a layer of crud from it.

It finally occurred to me that I needed a shoe cabinet. The kind with the drawers that tilt out would take up the least space.

It still cracks me up that I lived in this house for YEARS before I noticed that the two light switch plates are different colours!

There wasn’t an abundance of choice for such a cabinet. I was hoping for dark brown to match my TV stand and armoires. It was about this time last year that I bought a cabinet for my kitchen from Elektra at a deep discount. I decided to try there and, to my surprise, found exactly what I wanted at a fraction of full price. At a quick glance, you could almost think it was part of a set with the TV stand.

What an improvement! But look at the front door. Oh my goodness. I’m off to go dust it!

A Heads-Up for 2021-2022 Snowbirds (and Digital Nomads)

(Post 138 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. As I mentioned in the post announcing Bast’s passing from COVID, I thank everyone for your generous donations to the original Fundrazr campaign, which resulted in sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not commit to more. The link above is to a new campaign to help Bast’s family.)

The Mexico of old where entitled tourists could come and go as they please is gone.

With reopening have come immigration crackdowns, with deportations and entry denials happening daily for those who have been gaming the system for years, applying for back–to-back 180-day tourist entries by doing a quick overnight border jump.

Sonia Diaz, a trusted “fixer” in the San Miguel area, has her finger on the pulse of all the immigration reforms. Her Facebook page has updates and clarifications straight from INM and should be a daily visit to anyone planning to come to Mexico in the next few months. The fact is that Mexico is defining the line between tourist and resident. One post in particular summarizes recent statements by a senior INM official about the clarification of rules and expectations.

INM’s new computer infrastructure is making it easy for Mexico to now track entries and exits. If you are a snowbird who has repeatedly flaunted the rules, overstaying your 180 days, you can expect to meet friction upon your arrival this year. Be prepared, like you would for any other country, to show a return ticket and proof of where you will be staying while enjoying your winter in Mexico or you may find yourself granted only a 10-day entry.

The most incredible thing that is coming out of this is that Mexico has officially recognised digital nomads and is offering them temporary residency! Coming from a country that is incredibly hostile to this lifestyle, I am so grateful to have been a pioneer in this new economic reality. I was granted my residency visa in 2017 as a digital nomad, even if the term had not been formalized yet. If you’re planning to come here to work remotely, Mexico expects you to have a temporary residency visa for the duration of your stay. It’s only to your advantage — you can stay up to four years with unlimited entries and exits, and as long as you are not earning money in pesos here in Mexico, then you have no tax obligations (something that I’ve now had confirmed at least four times by different branches of government).

I have to say that being a resident is not without its frustrations as there is seemingly no concept of being an “immigrant”, but I suspect that these new rules are going to smooth out that process. I mean, you can’t command a whole group of people to become residents of a country and continue to treat them like tourists, which is how I’ve felt when banking in this country. I suspect that my ease at opening my new bank account had as much to do with the new INM rules as it did with my conversion to permanent resident status.

All this to say, stay current. Be careful who you take advice from – I’m still hearing folks spouting regulations that date back to the old F-type visa days that haven’t been relevant since I’ve been coming to Mexico, and that’s been seven years. Be respectful and accept that you’re coming to a foreign country that does not owe you anything.

I remain so grateful to Mexico for all the opportunities it has afforded me. Come on down — the locals are friendly, the weather is wonderful, and the food is probably the best in the world. 🙂

So Far so GREAT with BBVA

(Post 137 of 263. Thanks again to those who participated in the Fundrazr. As I mentioned in the post announcing Bast’s passing from COVID, I thank everyone for your generous donations to the original Fundrazr campaign, which resulted in sponsored 263 posts. I will continue to honour the commitment to write those 263 posts, but I will not commit to more. The link above is to a new campaign to help Bast’s family.)

I’ve only been with BBVA a few days and what a breath of fresh air it has been! Ride share and food delivery platform payments go through nearly instantly, I was able to just scan the barcode on my power bill for all the payee info to be inputted for a payment (and the payment went through!), a global money transfer came in a day earlier than it would have with HSBC, and transfers in from other Mexican banks happen near instantly, not a few hours later. I still have a lot of tests to put the account through, but I can already tell the switchover is going to really reduce stress in my daily life.

There are so many advanced features to my account that I still haven’t discovered them all. My current favourite is “apartados” — partitions. You can separate your account into up to seven partitions to help with budgeting. So let’s say I get a payment of $60,000 and I want to remove my mortgage payment from my main account balance as well as start saving for a car. Let’s say all of that totals $45,00. I can move amounts to my “mortgage” and “car” partitions and then my main account balance showing available funds for debit and automatic payments is just $15,000 even though I still have $60,000 in that account. That sure beats having to open up a bunch of separate accounts, the way I know a lot of people budget. The only disadvantage is you can’t tell an automatic payment to come out of a partition, so you have to set reminders to move the money into the main partition when needed. So I think the greatest use of this system is with short-term savings where you’re not concerned about getting interest.

This is an example to show what it looks like in the app. My balance showing in the account is minus this $5,000 that I’ve set aside.

I have been using software to do this for years and it is a real headache to balance accounts. You really have to trust your data entry to be able to trust the software balance as your real “available” balance versus what the bank says it is. Having this feature built right into my main account for daily use is going to simplify my bookkeeping so much. That’s the kind of thing you get excited about when business is booming and bookkeeping is starting to be a real chore!