Originally Posted by shinaabikwe
I know this is something that many U.S. ex pats do comfortably and happily but am not sure where to start looking for resources and thought I would ask here.
Any suggestions to websites or boards where we could do further research?
We may need to relocate our family temporarily for awhile and do not have any experience living abroad. We are looking to be there a year at most and will have a toddler. My DH is a fluent speaker and I'm...working on it.
A lot of it depends on where you would like to live in Mexico. I lived and worked in Cancun for 3 years, so I might be able to give you a little bit of advice. My son, who is going to be turning 2, was born there. My husband is also Mexican, and we processed his visa to come here (to the U.S.) as my fiancee.
One good place to start to find out general info would be the forums at http://www.cancuncare.com/forum/livi...-riviera-maya/
, you can get an idea of the upsides and downsides of life there. I highly recommend doing as much research as possible on the different types of visas available, think about what you want to do for work (options are very limited to foreigners because of mexican immigration law), and start saving money now. If you want to live in a tourist town like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, there are more chances for finding a job but the cost of living is higher (in Cancun it's quite common to pay $400-$500 US per month in rent for an apartment). If you live in a smaller, non-touristy town it'll be a bit harder to find work but the cost of living is dirt cheap.
There are lots of expat blogs that you could spend tons of time reading (I know I have!). A good one is Cancun Canuck: http://www.cancuncanuck.com/
. You can also check out her blog roll to find lots of other expat blogs. I'm giving you this info instead of just straightforward resources because I think blogs can give you a good idea of daily life ins-and-outs that will help develop realistic expectations of life in Mexico. Living in Mexico is fun but it can also be very frustrating, and some expats who still live in Mexico are quite bitter about their experiences. Some have lived there for a long time and still love it! I personally had a hard time there, but I wasn't really prepared when I went down. I had very little money and things were really hard for me. I plan on going back, but will wait a few years to save up enough to support my family and not have to worry.
If you are planning on being there only a year, you might want to consider getting an FM3 visa BEFORE you enter Mexico, based either on your income or your savings. If you fly into Mexico or cross the land border you'll get a maximum 180 (6 month) visa, which you'll have to convert to an FM3 in order to stay longer. That process can take a VERY LONG TIME (it took me 5 months). They ask for a lot of paperwork that has to be certified (google "apostille", it's a requirement for all foreign documents) and translated. This can work out to be very expensive and can turn into a big headache if you're missing a document and have to ask someone at home to get it for you. Again, the forums and blogs can be a big help because the Mexican immigration website will tell you that you need X number of specific things to do get the visa, but if you read people's experiences, you get quite a different story.
This is what happened to me:
I got a job when I was in Mexico and a lawyer who worked for the HR department in the company where I was hired was dealing with my paperwork. I gave her everything she asked for, and every time she would come back and say that she needed something else. The first go-round she told me that I would need to take a Spanish test at a specific location designated by immigration, but she didn't know exactly where it was (this was apparently a very new rule), and promised to call me back. I called her the next day, and every day thereafter to find out about the exam and she never answered her phone or called me back. Finally I found out where I could take it, and I did just that. About a week later she called me and told me that my visa had been denied because I didn't take the test in time, and that I had 16 days to leave the country. I was devastated because I had been waiting to work for 5 months. I ended up having to get my own lawyer, which I paid for with a cash advance (emergency) from my credit card, and he got my visa in ONE WEEK, by paying a bribe of course. It was a LOT of money, and the visa was only valid for 6 months, not the typical one year that it's normally valid for. I'm only telling you this because I think it's important to make sure (double, triple sure) that you have everything in order before you go. Even stupid papers you think you might not need, get them apostilled and have them with you. Also, if you plan on working in Mexico and want a working visa, expect to need to take a Spanish exam. If you have any questions, please let me know! I don't want to scare you at all, I just want to give you a heads-up so that your experience there will be as stress-free as possible.