Tuesday, June 27, 2017

CULTURE SHOCK LESSONS #101: MOVING TO MEXICO--No Dishwasher, No Garbage Disposal, No Washer or Dryer

And No Air Conditioner!

Downsizing & Simplifying, Life in Mexico is Pretty Restful
     More and more people are expressing interest in moving to Mexico, living a simpler life on less money. Simplifying means living with some inconveniences and fewer luxuries. Adjusting to fewer amenities is not for everyone! 
Where is the Dishwasher?!!
     Possibly the most frequent comment from others about our new life in Mexico is, "I couldn't live without a dishwasher!" I recall saying those very words myself at one time in my life. How our perspective can change! While I was washing dishes today, I thought, "How much time did I spend loading and unloading the dishwasher in my old life in the United States?" Now, I wash dishes once or twice a day while Jon dries and puts them away. I'll bet the 30 to 45 minutes we spend doing dishes each day is about the same as it was when we had a dishwasher. That's time we stand together each day now, working and talking about our plans for the day. Not such a bad thing.
     Why do most homes in Mexico lack a dishwasher? First of all, it is a relatively large expense to purchase a dishwasher, especially when living a frugal life where every peso counts. Secondly, dishwashers are water and electricity hogs. In Mexico, if something uses electricity, it is an expensive luxury. If there is another way to do the job without using electricity, then that's the way it is done.
What? No Garbage Disposal?
     Another common question from those unfamiliar with life in Mexico is, "Why wouldn't you have a garbage disposal?" The first reason is that a garbage disposal is just another expensive, unnecessary appliance that uses electricity. We scrape our dishes into the trash can as quickly as we would scrape them into the sink, so no time saved by having a disposal. An important reason not to have a garbage disposal in Mexico is that the sewer systems cannot handle grease and solid materials, even when ground up by a disposal. We put drain screens in each sink and shower to keep solids from clogging the drain lines and we clean the screens at least daily. It is much better to put food waste into the compost pile or the landfill.
Who Needs a Clothes Washer and Dryer at Home?

     We are frequently asked, "How can you live without a clothes washer and dryer?" Easy. We take our dirty laundry to the Lavandería once or twice a week and pick it up clean, neatly folded, and bagged for a very reasonable price. Since my skin is sensitive to fragrances and dyes in most Mexican laundry detergent, we take our own Kirkland UltraClean Libre y Transparente, Sin Tintes Sin Perfumes, purchased at Costco in Puerto Vallarta. We include one Rubbermaid container with a one-load measured quantity of our "detergente especial" in the top of each bag of laundry. The ladies at our Lavandería know us well, so they always use our detergent, no fabric softener, and return our Rubbermaid containers each time for reuse. Who needs a clothes washer and dryer at home?


     "What about an air conditioner?" When we bought our little Mexican house, there were ceiling fans in every room, but no air conditioner. Many Mexicans and expats live without air conditioning year around in their homes. We lived with that just fine through the first winter. By April I could see that I was going to need the bedroom cooled for sleeping at night. We soon took a bus trip to Home Depot in Puerto Vallarta and a taxi ride home with a new Rheem® minisplit that Jon installed in the bedroom. Beginning sometime in May each year, we start using our air conditioning when we sleep, set at 25°C which is 77°F. Around mid-June, it becomes hot and humid enough in the afternoons that we close the exterior doors and windows and run the minisplit to cool the three main rooms of our home. With fans pushing the air from the bedroom, that one little air conditioning unit keeps our home at about 83°F in the afternoon, just cool enough that I can sit in my office and work. 
We Added One Air Conditioning Minisplit in the Bedroom

     Or we turn off the air conditioner and take our boogie-boards to the beach and cool off in the ocean.
Jon Catches a Wave on His Boogie Board

     We adjusted to Culture Shock Lessons #101 easier than many would because we lived full-time in our motorhome for a year before we purchased our small home in Mexico. We still live in our motorhome three to four months of each year and enjoy the RV life. It's not so different really. In the motorhome there is no dishwasher, no garbage disposal, no washer and dryer. But, there ARE TWO air conditioners. We have not yet adjusted completely to the summer heat after living in Mexico for almost three years. That's when it's time for an RV trip to the Redwood forests of California and the beaches of Oregon.
Cooling Off in the California Redwood Forest

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20 comments:

  1. Terry, I enjoyed this article very much. New perspective on life in a new country. MOM

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  2. Terry, I enjoyed this article very much. New perspective on life in a new country. MOM

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    1. Thank you. Boy, are the comments flying on the Facebook Expat group pages! Interesting comments from others who have moved to Mexico. https://www.facebook.com/groups/expatslivinginmexico

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    2. Good article, but you forgot one thing, there is also no heat in the winter except for small propane heaters.

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    3. Hi Nansper,
      You are right about no heat in the winter. We brought a small electric heater with us, but have not needed to use it in two years. Our home, built of concrete block and brick holds the warmth from the daytime pretty well. We just use more blankets on the bed. This is something that varies from area to area in Mexico, I'm sure.
      Thanks for reading my blog and for your comment.
      Terry

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  3. It is pretty cheap to buy a used washing machine in Mexico. Dryer not needed as we have great clotheslines Otherwise I agree with your article totally! Plus dishwashers die a young death in our area of Nayarit because of all the minerals in the water.

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    1. Hi Hearob,
      Thanks for your comments. You have good points about washing machines and dryers. I would just rather take mine to be done by the nice ladies at the lavanderia. I can see dishwashers would corrode in our area, as do many electronic things due to the humidity. Thank you for reading my blog.
      Terry

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  4. Absolutely True. . . we have been in Mexico just north of PV for 10 years; yes, we have an a/c in the bedroom for sleep; yes, we have a w/d but have used the lavenadria with excellent results. Yes, we had a dishwasher for 3 years before the humidity killed the electronic panel. Yes, we love the beach and the laid back lifestyle. But most of all, we love living for at least 50% less!!

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    1. Hi Marilyn,
      Your comments are great! Thank you for reading my blog and commenting. I agree with you, and love living in this area. Sounds like we might be neighbors.
      Terry

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  5. We live in Mexico without most electric appliances. We have a washer, but no dryer. We do have fans and air conditioning from May to October- mostly for sleeping at night, and is is set at 27C. In the summer we don't use hot water, except to wash dishes. It is hot enough coming from the tenaco. We also have no car/vehicle of any sort - a major change from living in Canada. A much simpler and cheaper lifestyle.

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    1. Hi Kathi,
      Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you live a similar, simple life as we do, including no car. We do have a golf cart for hauling laundry and groceries. I don't think I'll ever buy a washer. The lavanderia is just such a treat to use. Thank you for reading my blog.
      Terry

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  6. Don't you just love the smell of sheets dried in the sun and air? Brings me back to my childhood. Here in sunny Durango most everything dries in two hours. In a well-built stone house, at least at this attitude, heat is never a problem. In the cheaply built homes without natural ventilation it is. When thinking cheap living, don't scrimp on the quality of your home, either renting or buying

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    1. Hi Satina,
      You are right about the quality of the home being important, even if it is simple. We are thankful that our home is well-built and well-insulated due to the concrete block and brick construction. Thank you for reading my blog and for your comments.
      Terry

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  7. Agree with all the above. I don't have any of the mentioned appliances except window a/c units and a propane heater. My "hot water tank" is an on-demand propane tank, and my house is fitted with a big outside ground propane tank which "feeds" my stove, propane hot water tank, and gas heater. I don't miss any of that stuff at all, and wonder why I had to have a dish washer to begin with. It's only me...

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    1. Hi Jackie,
      Your comments are great. We live a very similar life, it sounds like. And you are right, why did we think we had to have a dishwasher? I don't miss it either.
      Terry

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  8. HI Terry,

    Great blog bye they way. My hubby and I are trying to figure out which part to move too so this has been very helpful.

    Couple questions for you.

    Curious, here do you store your RV? And, I thought you said in another post that golf carts were prohibited. Or did I read that from another site? LOL

    In you area, do you get internet anywhere near 34.7 Mbps download & 5.21 Mbps upload by chance? That is our main criteria for finding a place, having 40's friends and trails for walking/hiking. Thx!

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    1. Hi again Nancy,
      I forgot to reply to part of your questions. We store our RV at an RV Park in Lo de Marcos, Nayarit. As for the golf cart issue, we were not allowed to drive them for about 3 weeks, then the state government decided they will need to be licensed like a motorcycle but there is not a process in place for that yet, so the police have decided we can use the golf carts on the street again. Be ready for change at any moment while living in Mexico:)
      Terry

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  9. Hi Nancy,
    Thank you for reading my blog and for your nice comment. I'm glad you found it helpful with your decision about where to move. I don't know the actual speed of our internet, but we are completely satisfied with it. In fact, it is better than we expected. Have you read my book, "Retirement Before the Age of 59: Healthy Living in Mexico #2"? about our journey to choose to retire in Mexico and where. If you are interested, here is the link to see a free sample on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NCMWMJL . Enjoy Mexico!
    Terry

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  10. Great article! The RV life is a simple life. Once you do live a simple life you see how rich and special it all is. I really related to the party where you and Jon found that time washing dishes to connect. Makes me think how much time we are not focusing on our partners. Great moment there.

    Tommy Hopkins @ AccuTemp

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    1. Hi Tommy,
      Thank you for your nice comment and that you noticed that part about dish-washing togetherness. You are the first to mention it. Living a simple life has been beneficial for our relationship, I think.
      Best wishes,
      Terry

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