Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Another DR follow-up: Younger Expats

When I started working in SMA, I jokingly referred to the project as "The Old Gringos." That was before I hit the field for the first time and realize that the expat community consisted of a variety of age groups, and not necessarily all were retired.

Earlier today I received this comment about the show:

It was only mentioned in passing on the show but I was wondering if you would have any information on how many young individuals (couples) (20-40)are moving to Mexico. Is there a community in SMA, and are many people coming with young children? Do you know of any other cities (except for Gdl and D.F) which are seeing the immigration on younger peoples from the North? Are there jobs available for academics in smaller cities?
My fiance is Mexican ( I met him in Mexico 6 years ago) and we have been living in Canada for the past two years. I hold a MSc from Mcgill University in Montreal and did my research in Latin America.
I have lots of friends abroad and in Mexico but am curious to know if many couples from Canada and the US have made the move and how there children manage with such things schooling in the public school system?
(It is hard to leave family isn't it?)


This is a good question. I have not done research in other Mexican cities yet, but I know of a few places where expat immigration is common, even younger expats. The first is the city of Puebla and the nearby village of Cholula are another place (and both are among my favorite places in Mexico). Cholula is the home of the Universidad de las Americas (UDLA), a bilingual university that has a substantial number of expat faculty. If you are an academic, UDLA would be a good place to start looking for a position.

If you are thinking about making the move south, I would strongly suggest that you take an extended vacation to the place(s) you are considering first. If you and your kids speak Spanish, there are many good options available to you, especially larger cities that have more educational and job opportunities. SMA does have a good elementary school system, but parents were pretty honest about the fact that they know there are trade-offs raising kids in Mexico. They are bilingual and grow up in a supportive, friendly environment. But they will not get the same types of educational opportunities (i.e., fewer computer classes), but that is not to say that the educational opportunities are inferior. They will be different, but I have yet to meet an expat family that regrets their move to SMA.

One thing that really bothered me is the fact that you really have very little time to make a point on a program like this. I guess this is why the "sound-bite" is so essential. One thing I would have liked to discuss is how easy it is to develop friends and social networks among expats. True, it would be difficult to leave one's family and friends in the U.S., but as I've mentioned here before, many expats in SMA see their friends as pseudo-family. I cannot tell you how many times older expats have talked about the care and support they receive from others in the community. So in a way, the network can mitigate the difficulty of being away from one's extended family.

9 comments:

Dawn said...

I am in my thirties, and am a theater artist by trade. I have been interested in moving away from the United States for some time, and was intrigued by your discussion on the Diane Rehm show.

I wondered if you had any thoughts about the art scene in San Miguel and cities like it. I would be interested in continuing to pursue my art, wherever I live, and wondered if there was any demand for English language theater, music, etc.

I was once fluent in Spanish, although I have lost much of it now, still imagine I could adapt, but I feel I would always prefer to work in my native tongue and particularly in Shakespeare.

I am interested to hear your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

doctor deb: Greetings! Do you know where I can obtain the stats on how many businesses in the SMA are American or Gringo owned?

Doug Bower

Anonymous said...

See my comment on my blog Mexico Notes

Anonymous said...

just thought I would add afew cents to this post. I'm up in Saltillo and there are a ton of younger foreigners from the US, Canada (like me).. even places like Germany. Most are engineers, or specialize in some manufacturing process in demand in the area .. one which is not internally generated .. and they bring them in.. at high price I might add. Most make upwards of 100,000 a year plus free rent and travel. With those wages.. in this area.. you can live like a king. I've married a local girl.. and have had 3 kids and settled in.. I hope I never leave.

John Koch-Schulte said...

I did research in Thailand on retirement migration and there are was a significant portion of younger expats living there.

It is the new economy that allows for people to work anywhere.

Adele Sonora said...

Hello Deb:
I just found your blogsite tonight (1/16/08) somehow. I hope you're still reading it. Your research is totally fascinating! And I have much experience with being an expat, of sorts, in another country. That was St. Croix. I wasn't an expat of course because it's technicall the U.S. But from what you've described in your blogs, there were SO many similarities. Several big differences: white Americans didn't stay on the island as long, as they do in SMA, as a general rule. I lived there one year and I was almost an oldtimer. So there were layers and layers of short-timers, medium-timers, and old-timers, and oldest timers. But there was the "indigenous" culture, meaning the Cruzans, who are equivalent to the native Mexicans in SMA. It took me 6 months to make friends with an older Cruzan woman in the same restaurant I worked. The same kind of networking and friendship-making went on there, in a frenzy, as you describe in SMA. The biggest similarity is that unbenownst to me, I went there PRECISELY to get my "freedom". I need to actually leave the U.S. and my corporate surroundings as a stressed-out environmental consultant (and love-lorn) to remake myself. To be myself, to find myself, and to restructure me, as I knew me. I went back to the U.S. and became a massage therapist, a healer, a channeler, and went from there. I did do another corporate (writer) stint in a related area, later on, but at age 45 I spontaneously became an artist! So, artist, writer, singer, healer --- now where? I've been wanting to move to Mexico since Bush got re-elected. I probably should have stayed out of the country, because after the last corporate writing job of 7 years, I nearly had a nervous breakdown. That, and doing shamanic healing circles with Huichol shamans just about crossed all my wires -- trying to live in two worlds (one, not of "this" world). Anyway, I want to visit SMA, but I'm thinking a coastal town to live in. I'm learning Spanish and WANT to mix in, to be Mexican as much as possible. Reading your blogs has been very informative, to say the least! Especially your opinions on other places, like Cholula (I'll have to look into that one). I totally go by my intuition and what info I scrape up, so I'm open. Can you tell me the name of the town that was spelled something like "Txitutlan" that you like? Something grabbed me on that one. I suppose Mexico will change my life, again, just like living in the Caribbean did (not to mention my name!)
Adele Sonora
p.s. I subscribed to your blog. What fun work you do!!!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Deb: Is your book coming out this year?

I hope all is well with you and your family.

Doug Bower
Ganuajuato, Gto.

Deb said...

HI All,

Thanks for your posts--I'm sorry I haven't been working on the blog. When I was in SMA last summer I twisted my knee, which was a pain, but eventually got better. The week before Christmas I twisted it again, and recently found out I really hurt it this time, so I'll be having surgery in a few weeks to remove the torn meniscus.

Doug, thanks for checking on the book. I had hopes that my book, Beyond the Borderlands, would be out before the presidential election. The process has gotten stalled, however, and it looks like it won't be out before early 2009.

When I'm back on my feet I will be back on the blog. It's great to know I still have regular readers.

Deb

Anonymous said...

Dr. Deb: I hope you are well...

Here's some very interesting news: http://www.atencionsanmiguel.org/index.php?engnewspaper

Doug and Cindi Bower