Stranger in a strange land. Building house outside of country

Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 08:32 pm
I'd mentioned before just recently that I took the plunge and bought a house in San Miguel de Allende. It's was about 90% complete when my offer was accepted, and should be done when I go down there again to close in late November.

Lovely place, San Miguel. Such a mix of the old and the new. The attitude of the Mexicans there, as far as gentility, respect and living the good life (emotionally wise if nothing else) is fortunately, old.

There of course are many things, mostly small, that are just different than how Americans (and other countries I'm sure) do things. The expats who fare the best adopt an "when in Rome" outlook, realizing this isn't their country. In fact, the typical American way of doing things won't get you far.

One thing though, regarding the house, has cropped up where I had to take a stand and say "This is how I want it."

Bone of contention?

The dishwasher. Laughing

You would not believe the flurry of emails that have flown back and forth over the last 36 hours, over an appliance.

People in Mexico on the whole, just don't use dishwashers. I on the other hand, want one. Not just for me. I'll be renting the house out on short term leases until I decide to move there full time in a few years. The house will more than likely be rented to Americans. They want a dishwasher. They will have a dishwasher.

The problem began when the builder told the realtor the height of the space is too small by a cm or 2.

So? I said. Just remove the tile from under where the dishwasher will go, and/or router off part of under the counter.

Drat! Foiled! Well then, the problem now became we'll have to remove "a lot of" the counter in order to "find the drain". In addition, they picked some crazy number out of the air, 15,000 pesos ($833) to do this.


Ok, I've already picked up on the idea that this guy just doesn't want to provide space for something that he doesn't feel is necessary.

Then I get this email with an image attached, them saying "We feel this is a better, and more attractive, solution."

The picture was of this countertop dishwasher. I had never realized such a thing was made.
My response was that this would not at all meet my needs. Heh, today I actually looked at the website where this thing is sold, and you actually have to hook a hose up to your faucet every time you want to use it. Jesus wept.

This morning I was talking to a friend, and we both realized simultaneously that maybe this $833 for for the dishwasher, and the labor, which would at least make more sense.

So, the most recent email I sent said if that's the case, go ahead. If not, just build out as originally planned, and when I get down there and engage a property manager, I'll have her get a plumber and carpenter to go in and do it. Need a garbage disposal too anyway. That's another thing that's apparantly not used.

One other funny thing, regarding appliances. There, you go to a Cosco or Home Depot, and the selection of all large appliances are much smaller, and they don't tell you much about features of the products.

For instance, there was I think 3 dishwashers displayed, and it was like "this is a dishwasher". That's it.

On the whole, I'm getting so much more with this house than I could have gotten in the States. It's just so funny when something you never thought would be an issue is looked on a strange, almost outlandish.

Any suggestions that I hand wash my dishes will be met with scorn. Very Happy

So, if you were getting a home in a country not your own, what item(s) would you be insisting on, as necessary?

Oh yeah, sure, this is a "more practical and attractive" solution. Rolling Eyes
Maybe if I was camping.


  • Topic Stats
  • Top Replies
  • Link to this Topic
Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 1,803 • Replies: 18
No top replies

Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 09:15 pm
I hope you keep us filled in. I would have moved there, if my wife would have agreed. She's Houston bound for life.
Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 09:50 pm
I don't have items ranked, but right up there is the weather.

Generally dry 70's during the day, 50's at night.

Maybe she'll change her mind someday?
Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 09:51 pm
After 40+ years I know there's not a chance.
Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 10:04 pm
I have to agree.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 10:33 pm
Well, if you are ever visiting again, and no one is renting at the time, you're invited to be my guest.

My friend of over 40 years has lived there maybe close to 3 years now. I knew I'd like it because of him. We're that close. I know my husband will too.

If it wasn't for him, even if someone had told me about it, it wouldn't have sparked interest. All every single person that has ever visited for a vacation there says is "It's got this great art community", or similar.

Seriously? Like there's nothing else?
Sure, like all you would do all day long, every day, is walk around looking at art. That's such a tourist thing to say.
My mission when I went there, besides deciding on the house, was to find out where the supermarkets, hospitals, public pools, library, banks, coffee shops, etc. were.

I've already become friends with a woman named Sylvia, who came to the US once with my friend, and whom I've seen a couple times down there. She was born in Mexico City, but has spent her adult life there. I think we're going to get close. She is the one that fills me in on the way stuff works in real life, how to get things done, making connections, etc.

I've noticied there are some Americans that live there that want all the benefits, but act what I consider entitled. There's always people like that wherever you go though. I don't want to be one of them though. There's this community a few miles outside of town I had been looking at online. I learned that what on the surface seems great, for example most people there are American, so no language issues, they isolate themselves somewhat, creating a "little America". Not cool.

Oh. Here's an example of "it's just how we do it"

We went to a phone store (friend had a phone issue) so I asked about cell phone service.
Found out to have an actual phone plan, you have to be a permanent resident.
So, what you do is buy a phone for $100, and a phone card for internet/phone access, which is I think 120 pesos (about $6) that lasts 3 weeks.

I asked if you can renew it online. No. Can you just pay for 6 months or a year in advance? No.
You have to personally go into the phone store every 3 weeks and update your card. Ok. It's how you do it.

When we were leaving the store, I asked my friend "I wonder why they don't do the card for 4 weeks/a month, for $8. What's the thing about 3 weeks?

No idea. It's how it's done. Smile

The distribution system of goods can be irregular too. Everything comes in via long distance trucks. You can go into the grocery store to get paper towels, and they will be completely out. Then, you go back in 2 days, and not only are the shelves full, but there's cases of paper towels in the aisles. Feast or famine.

I think if you were an "A" type personally, or agressive, this would drive you crazy, or mad. Instead, you just go to another store. <shrugs>

Yeah, I'm sure I'll learn a lot more. I'm so grateful for my friend. I'd never be able to pull this off without him. He's my entourage of one. lol. He'll be the one to take delivery of all the stuff I need to get delivered, coordinate turning on utilites, etc. Everyone should have such a great friend.

0 Replies
Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 10:46 pm
On thing to look into; if you take the cat(s) with you, you might have lots of trouble bringing them back. I'm not sure of the situation in the past thirty years, but it's worth investigating.
Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 11:46 pm
Oh no. No cats going across the border.

For now, just planning vacations there, albeit more often than the usual once a year. We have friends and family who can see to them every day. Or, hire a pet sitting service.

Anyway, to bring animals into the country you have to have statements from the vet stating they are healthy. I'm not going to spend the money of that, especially when they have no desire to be in a car.
Reply Sat 7 Oct, 2017 11:47 pm
Problem solved. Good.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 8 Oct, 2017 01:41 pm
The only requirement I'd have, would be a gas stove/range. I cannot cook properly with those electric things.

As to dishwashers, I truly enjoy washing dishes by hand. I find it to be relaxing.

...and a roof over the kitchen.
Reply Mon 9 Oct, 2017 07:45 pm
I agree Sturgis. Got to have a gas stove.

My father had this paranoia about gas appliances and heating, so electric was all I knew growing up. When I moved into my first place that had gas I thought I died and went to heaven.

Fortunately, down there people use propane whenever they can, for stoves, fireplaces and space heaters (No one has central air or heat) The electric is very cheap up to a household limit, then the rate jumps. If you have a lot of naturual light in your house, your electric bill may be $10/mo. You get billed every 2 months.

And.....the saga of the dishwasher continues....

Yeah, I think definately Carlos just doesn't think we're deserving of a dishwasher....lazy gringos.

The 15,000 pesos was to do what he thought was necessary, which was apparantly going into walls and threading the tubing into the main drain of the house, in order not to have to go into the pipes that lead to the downstairs bathroom. That way, we wouldn't have to see unsightly tubing and wires whenever we opened the cabinet doors under the sink. What part of that even makes sense? He's just crawfishing.

I just sent an email saying to just leave the space open and we'll take care of it. I'm sure I'll have to get an electrician in to put in an outlet under the sink, and a switch for the garbage disposal above the counter.

I'm serious when I say I have sent more emails back and forth about this than the total of texts, emails and phone calls to find and buy the whole house.


0 Replies
Reply Thu 9 Nov, 2017 11:30 am
Christ on a cracker.

One FUBAR when I was traveling to Mexico was that I had not educated myself properly on how to make calls/texts.

The result was that I at one point when I went off course during the journey, I couldn't get through to my friend to get directions. I was literally in the middle of nowhere, and in the dark.

Also, when I arrived, later than I expected due to the above, I did not know how to locate his address.
I was in Centro, so I finally just parked my car on the street, got a taxi, went to his house and we rescued my car from there.

Because of that, a couple of days ago I called my cell phone carrier, and a very good CSR who talked me through the exact procedure as far as where my phone settings should be, and how to both call and text Mex to Mex and Mex to US.
She was patient, and we covered it all.
After she gave me the tutorial, I explained how I was dead in the water last time, and let her know how grateful I was for her not assuming I knew one of the steps, and spelled it out.

Of course, with 48 hours I have promptly lost the directions. Proably threw it out when cleaning. Evil or Very Mad

I called customer service this morning, and this time got a guy.

Night and Day.

For some reason he simply refused to just tell me the steps, one by one, instead confusing me with rattling off "Dial the country code, then the xyz sequence, etc" without specifically saying what they were.

I was asking things like, it that the numbers (naming them), saying "that isn't what the other csr had said" (then he would change what he said slightly) and so forth.

Finally I said "Look. If I end up sitting in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country, in the middle of the night and can't use my phone, I really don't want to have to wish I had just gotten you to explain more carefully what I'm supposed to do. YOU NEED TO SPELL IT OUT FOR ME!"

So, realizing I wasn't going to roll over, he backed up, and with an attitude that I was putting him out, gave me more specific directions.

Still, I said to him "I may have lost the directions from the other day, but this still doesn't sound exactly like what I was told the other day."

After hanging up, I went online and tried to verify everything he said.

He had Still left out a couple of digits here and there, as if I was just supposed to know what he had left out.

The blanks I had filled in made it what I remember the woman had said.

Honestly? Whenever I have to call customer service at my credit card, or like this, a phone company, things always go so much more smoothly when it's a female.
Also, if you call during the day, during the week. Speaking with foreign csr's always takes 3 times as long, as they keep repeating the same thing, and don't seem to want to let you off the phone.

Yeah, I'm tech challenged when it comes to some things. But really, I don't want a repeat performance. Wally's going to be with me, but if we can't figure out to use the phone, that's a problem.

0 Replies
Reply Thu 9 Nov, 2017 11:37 am
I'm wondering if a garbage disposal isn't used because the drains clog too quickly if you put food waste down them.

That bit about the dishwasher is pretty funny...

Reply Thu 9 Nov, 2017 11:46 am

I don't use my garbage disposal usually to actively put food down it.

It's more for the random flotsam and jetsam. Random particles that amount to no more than a spoonful over rinsing several items. I just like to keep the pipes cleared out.

I learned my lesson when trying to dispose of carrot peelings. Shocked

I don't know yet about the drain situation there. I didn't have any issues with any showers, sinks or toilets in the brief time I was visiting.

0 Replies
Reply Wed 13 Feb, 2019 07:41 pm
Random updates....

I was watching this video, and I have to say I can concur with most of the things this young couple say.

Very important to keep a coin purse with lotsa change. I personally bought a little pink plush owl coin purse for 20 pesos, and named her Muriel Very Happy
While I have a travel credit card that doesn't charge international fees, there are enough places that only take cash, and other items you buy that are just such small amounts you don't even bother.
If you're running into a convenience store to buy a bottle of soda or water for 12 to 15 pesos, espect to be bluntly asked "Tiene cambio?", and then being given a dramatic sigh or shaking of their heads when if you say no. God help you if the smallest denomination you have is a 500 peso note. Then you will get the equiv of the "are you f*cking nuts?" look.
Plus, you give small tips of 5 or 10 pesos all the time, so you need the change. Things like tipping the bagger at the grocery store. Also getting a cup of coffee, buying gas for your car (they wash your windows, check your oil etc). There are other stuff like that. You'll also get to know the people who truly are in need, and it's nice to give them some coin when you see them. Also, and this is depending on the situation, there are those that "help you" get in and out of tight parking spots. Rolling Eyes

Toilet paper.
I haven't experienced what this couple has, the clogging of pipes. I will tell everyone though to keep a roll in your glove compartment for if you are going to drive out of town or even have to use a gas station bathroom. 99% of the time you are on your own as far as paper. You have been warned.

Distances. I can't speak to that except that yeah, driving from the border to the center of the country on the equiv of good interstate highways takes 14 hours. Um, take a look at the map, the country is big. Nuff said.
On the other hand, when in SMA, you can get in your car, go to breakfast or lunch, then decide you need to run 3 or 4 errands, and it literally takes the rest of the day, as mostly you will reach top speed of 15 to 20 mph. You will return home ready for a nap, look at your odometer, and realize you have driven in 4 hours a total of 7 miles.

Generosity - Overwhelmingly true.

Air conditioning. Has nothing to do with technology. You just don't need it. For heat, people have a fireplace which you put on for a little while to take the chill off the air, or like me, a small electric heater, which stays on maybe an hour. This of course depends on where you are.
I don't think I've ever been anywhere, doctors, realtors, stores, homes, where they had AC.

Random sounds. In SMA it's fireworks....all the time at night, for seemingly any event. I'm not talking fire crackers. Fire works. Private citizens shooting off fireworks. The oddest thing about this, which I'm getting used to, is that there is no "Oooooooo.....aaaaaahhhh" or laughter, shouting etc when they go off. It's done in utter silence.
If you don't like it. Tough. If you're visiting, or retired there, you don't have to get up in the morning, so roll over and doze. Better yet, go up on your roof and watch them, get good and chilled in the night air, and you'll go back to bed and fall right to sleep.
It's not anything like every night, but it's a mystery if there's any rhyme or reason.
On the other hand, you'll be outed as a very rude gringo if you beep your car horn. Be nice, take turns, what's your rush? Don't be that person. You'll make your situation worse, as that will cause people to do more of what you're beeping your horn at.

0 Replies
Reply Mon 20 May, 2019 01:40 pm
Went to the dentist here today. A tooth has been bothering me for awhile, felt like an old filling coming loose. About a week and a half ago, while eating of all things soup, half the tooth fell out. I already had an appointment set up for today, so just didn’t chew on that side.

She did all the drilling and cleaning of the area, and put in a porcelain inlay. Took about an hour and a half.

Cost? 1000 pesos. Less than $60 USD.
In the US $650 would have been on the inexpensive end.

God I love it here.
Reply Tue 21 May, 2019 08:17 am
Lol. You can easily buy steel belted radial tires at the grocery store, but no AA batteries.
Reply Tue 21 May, 2019 09:12 am
Sorry, dentist with exrays and porcelain inlay cost 8000 pesos, $400-$450.

Still, very inexpensive.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 24 May, 2019 10:19 am

May is the hottest and driest month, and this year particular so. The low humidity which usually keeps things comfortable has at times been in the single digits. A little too dry.

For gringos it’s a constant job to keep hydrated. Since you are sweating, but you don’t know it because it dries off your skin immediately, you can easily miss clues to drink. This year even Mexicans will comment its warm.

The rainy season will be starting soon, and then and after that it will be comfortable and even cold sometimes until next May.

Along with the dryness comes the dust. I just dusted and swept the downstairs. The dust is so fine it’s too much trouble to use a dust pan. I just swept it onto the back patio and hosed it down the drain. I had bought a round indoor outdoor rug, about 5 feet across for the living room. I just draped it across a patio chair and hosed it down too. It’ll be dry before you know it.

Yesterday we were driving down a dirt round and a plume of white dust followed. When I stopped at the end to turn onto a paved road, the plume swallowed the car up. It was really interesting watching these minuscule particles bounce off the glass. They were like the tiniest beads of styrofoam with static clings just dancing all over.

Last night there was a freak rain shower, causing the humidity to rise to 50%. It was really good sleeping weather. Today is only going to get to a little over 80, and that will feel very comfortable.
0 Replies

Related Topics

Safest cities in the US - Discussion by cicerone imposter
california living help... - Question by carlysatiago92
100 million on one dollar a day? - Question by bruce martin gelman
Lowest cost of living - Discussion by dupre
  1. Forums
  2. » Stranger in a strange land. Building house outside of country
Copyright © 2024 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 05/20/2024 at 12:49:45