I came to San Miguel with one extremely large suitcase, one medium suitcase, a carry-on and as the airlines like to call it, one personal item. About 50 kilograms of clothes, cosmetics and toiletries, a laptop computer, an iPod, a few books, an umbrella, some tapes to improve my brain, shoes (and a few more shoes). I thought I was clever by bringing my poncho and a very lightweight rain jacket with hood.
As soon as I unpacked in the furnished apartment, there were things I wished I’d brought. Some make absolutely no sense: they would just make me feel better. I wish I had another pair of athletic walking shoes, my purple zip-up hoodie sweatshirt. The rest of my dresses and skirts. My tea-light holder. My tea pot and cozy. The press pot for coffee. My kitchen knives. I forgot to bring any of my hosiery. My winter sweaters. The list goes on. Some of the items are “souvenirs”: they would serve to remind me of who I am, of friends, of where I’ve been, and they would make me feel more at home.
The Move to California
When I left my one-bedroom Chicago apartment, I moved to Oakland, California to be closer to my son and his family. I couldn’t afford an apartment on my own there, so I put my things into storage and found consecutive shared living situations where I needed a minimum of my things.
I missed having many of my things, like the art I’ve collected over the years (it’s sentimental, for the most art, in that the pieces remind me of a place and time, although they are by talented but not “name” artists). I wish I had my china which was purchased in France on several trips. There is the small rug from the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The out-of-style ornate lamps from a period that perhaps some choose to regret. Nothing of significant monetary value, but things I enjoy.
There’s an investment waiting to be used as well: tools of the kitchen, a vacuum cleaner, sheets, towels, and the like. A modest dollar value, to be sure, but it’s there in storage. Then there’s the time (and money) involved in replacing soap dishes, candle holders, can openers, brooms, and mops and so forth.
So, I’d like to have them and I’d like to avoid the monthly storage fees.
But at what cost?
The first question to be answered is “Can I import them?” Because the immigration rules have changed (see the post Emigration – the rules have changed), I may not.
Under the new Visitante tourist permit I could if I were driving my own car across the border, but I own no car and one cannot bring a U.S. rental truck into México. I would need professional and bonded movers to transport my goods. However, they will only do so if I have a permit for Residencia Permanente or Residencia Temporal. I may not be able to obtain either based on my income and savings. I just barely qualified under the old income limits, and now I’m my social security income from the United States falls under the new income limits. My friends think it humorous that I’m too poor to move to México. I’m also too poor to emigrate to Argentina or Canada. So, it could all be moot and I should start shopping in earnest.
Even if I qualify for either permit, the costs of moving my goods may be much more than I’m willing to spend. If I were to rent a truck NoB (north of the border) and take my things to a border town such as Nogales, AZ or El Paso, TX or McAllen, TX for transfer to a bonded Mexican shipper who would deliver them to San Miguel, that would cost approximately $4,000. Do I want to do that, or do I just buy what I need here?
An item to be considered is the elimination my storage costs NoB. It would take about 2.5 years of having my furnishings with me to offset the transportation costs. If I factor in the use of my money over those 2.5 years, what then?
Of course I could ask all my friends to visit me with the offer of free dining and lodging en mi casa on the condition they each bring one carton’s worth of my belongings. After two years I might have all my cherished possessions except for furniture (which doesn’t fit with my Mexican decor)!