Monday, July 11, 2016

Mexico at Thailand prices

We're just a few weeks in to what we hope will become a regular annual cycle of 3-4 months in México with the rest of our time spent in Arizona. Given the insanity of U.S. politics and health care that plan has a lot of asterisks associated with it.

We'd just arrived here at Lake Chapala when the Brexit fiasco caused the largest one-day loss in the history of the stock market, and along with it a spike in the already-amazing U.S. dollar:Mexican peso exchange rate to almost 20 pesos to the dollar. Things have settled down a bit since, but we're currently at 18.50 pesos to the dollar.

During our 3+ years of full-time living down here we averaged 11 pesos to the dollar, and felt rich during occasional spikes above 14. Today's exchange rates are an amazing, perhaps once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for savvy expats and tourists, while they add unwelcome and untimely hardship to the already tough circumstances of everyday Mexicans.

Yesterday one of the trucks that regularly circulates through the villages here offering fresh produce direct from the coast was offering peak-season Paraiso mangoes. They're the ones that look like this:

The price? 3 kilos for 20 pesos. That's US$1.08 for six point two pounds of perfectly ripe, headily aromatic fruit.

Tacos are still 9-10 pesos - not cheap at all for locals earning 40-50 pesos an hour, but with three of them making a full meal for one it's a $1.50 main meal of the day for us.

Seasoned expat friends report being able to buy new and used cars now for thousands less than U.S. prices, instead of paying a substantial premium as is usually the case, and many folks who planned to be renters for the duration of their stay in México are taking a hard look at buying modest places since rents remain high while peso-denominated properties are up to 40% cheaper than normal in dollar terms.

I don't expect this situation to persist long-term (and for México's sake hope it doesn't!) but for anyone who's contemplated a visit or long-term stay here there's never been a better time. Let's just hope Faux News and the rest of the U.S. fear media machine continue to portray México as a scary place to visit (unlike the firearm and violence free country up North) - otherwise we might be faced with the prospect of this amazing country building a wall to keep the gringo hordes at bay.

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