We welcome you warmly. It wasn’t so long that we were new too! We come from mainland Mexico, the US, Canada, South America, Australia, Europe and even as close as La Paz. You may be surprised to find out that most of us are transplants here and that makes this community uniquely open to newcomers like yourself!
So, you have just been given the keys to your house. You’ve spent months picturing what your life will be like. And…now what?
Like anything in life, the more you put into this experience, the more you’re going to get out of it. We offer you here a few tips on how to get started. Some of these tips will resonate with you more than others, but ideas beget ideas. Thus, here are a few suggestions on how to get you started building your new life!
ONE MONTH IN…
FIND YOUR ROUTINE
Nothing will make you feel more at home faster than having a routine. It can be as simple as taking the same walk every morning, so that you start to recognize the other daily walkers doing the same route. Go for coffee every day at the same place at the same time. Go to the same restaurant on the same day each week. If you make an effort at creating routines, you will be amazed, within weeks, by how many people will be smiling at you saying, “Buenos Dias” or warmly shaking your hand as you walk into a restaurant.
RIP OFF THE BAND AID!
Everyone that buys here has some part of an adventurer in them. The Baja isn’t called La Frontera for no reason! Don’t forget this piece of yourself as you get settled in. Push yourself to explore. Take new streets with a blank sheet of paper and pen in your car. That way if you get lost, you can stop anyone on the street to draw you a map back to the Centro or Carretera (highway). Remember, the Mexican culture has an inherent desire to help others. If you want to sound less like a gringo, ask them to draw you a “croquis” (pronounced crow-keys). If you forget that word, “mapa” is just as correct!
Forgive the soapbox, but politeness really does matter in Mexico! Up North, we’re often guided by an inner need for efficiency. We may not even notice being treated poorly if something gets done quickly. This is not the case in Mexico. In Mexico, how you interact with people comes first and efficiency is often a distant second. It’s safe to say that an appreciation for the warmth of this culture was part of the reason for your move here. The person behind the counter who isn’t giving you what you want most likely doesn’t have the power to give it to you. So rather than responding in frustration, look at the person and openly ask what they would recommend you do. People in Mexico help each other. Let the person help you and don’t be surprised if within minutes you have a team of people together trying to fix your problem!
THREE MONTHS IN…
Be proactive and start gathering names of electricians, plumbers, handy-men and mechanics. Ask everyone, from your Realtor to local business owners, for names of good people. You may not need the referrals now but there will be a day when you will. These professions are growing constantly as more people move here for our strong economy and great quality of life. Parts may cost the same as back “home”, but labor is significantly cheaper. Find your team and hire them for a small job so that when you really need them, you have a relationship established. Remember, good people are usually busy. If they know you already, they may be willing to bump a not so urgent job to come take care of you.
TIP: The managers at the electrical and plumbing supply stores are a good source of referrals. They usually have at least 2 or 3 names on hand they can recommend.
GET A LOCAL CELL
Having a local number is important if you are going to truly interact with the community. For a long time, buying prepaid minutes was the least expensive option for snowbirds in town for only a few months a year. In the past several years though, the new laws in the telecommunications industry have prompted a complete overhaul in the structure of cell phone plans. For example, you can now get unlimited calls in Mexico, the US and Canada with 2 GB of data for only $300 pesos a month. A contract is required with these plans, but now that you can use your phone back up North as well, having a local cell plan is a real option to consider.
BECOME AWARE OF LOCAL TRAFFIC
The work week in Southern Baja runs from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. While some stores continue to honor the afternoon siesta closing from 2 to 4pm, most professionals take off only 1 hour for lunch. The lunch hour will vary from business to business but 2pm to 3pm is the most common. You are bound to see a mini-rush hour at this time in high traffic areas when people are going to lunch and also picking up their kids from school.
INSIDER TIP: In case you glossed over this detail above, the local work week is 5 ½ days and runs through Saturday to 1pm. Thus, if you need to do any errands, try to get them done Saturday morning while a large percentage of folks are still working. Between the arrival of a new batch of tourists each Saturday and people getting off of work at 1pm, Saturday afternoons can get quite crowded at the larger stores!
ONE YEAR IN…
RESCUE AN ANIMAL!
At about the one-year point of being in Mexico, the need to rescue an animal might settle in. It happens to most of us, and consider yourself forewarned that it might happen more than once! Hence why lots of us have 2 dogs!
There are several local organizations that can help with the process:
- Los Cabos Humane Society, www.loscaboshumanesociety.com
- Baja Safe, www.bajasafe.com
- Cabo Critters, www.facebook.com/CaboCritters
- El Ranchito, https://www.facebook.com/elranchitocabo/
- Cabo Kittens Rescue, https://www.facebook.com/cabokittenrescue/
The list is long and the needs are great. Fortunately, there is no shortage of people wanting to help! It is so easy to get involved here and in doing so, you’ll create for yourself a strong connection to the local community. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are few of the more popular charities in town:
Los Cabos Children’s Foundation * Liga Mac * Los Ninos del Capitan * Casa Hogar * Feeding Los Cabos Kids * PET Los Cabos * Sarahuaro * Red Autismo * The Bomberos Voluntarios * Building Baja’s Future + many more!
After multiple trips of stuffing your suitcase with things you can’t get down here, try importing something. It’s easier than you may realize! You simply ship your items directly to an importer in San Diego, you email them a receipt of the merchandise and in usually one week, your things arrive at your door! The importer handles all the paperwork and most of them have at least one truck coming down the Baja a week. Import rates range from approximately 23% to 35% of the value of the merchandise, so it’s good to make a quick call to the importer before shipping your item. (Also check out Amazon Mexico!)
Some of the most well known importers are: Arnian, Columbia Export Group and Monica Page Logistics.
INSIDER TIP: When sending something to an importer, put your name in the primary address field and the importer’s name & address in the secondary address field. That way the importer can easily match up your package to the receipt you previously emailed them.