US Expat Living in Mexico, Interview with Jen

Published: 7 Jan at 5 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Mexico
Jen is an international teacher currently living in a small fishing village along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. She spends most of her free time attempting to get her 'toes to the nose' of her surfboard and imagining what life would be like if she stayed in one place for longer than three and a half years. Jen is enjoying each revolution around the sun with her husband Sam, dog; Sage...and, their newly adopted street dog; 'El Sancho'. Jen's expat blog is called Team Fuber (see listing here)

Meet Team Fuber (Jen & Sam) - US expats living in Mexico
Meet Team Fuber (Jen & Sam) - US expats living in Mexico

Here's the interview with Jen...

Where are you originally from?
I was born and raised in Southern California. I’ve lived in six different states and three countries, since finishing college.

In which country and city are you living now?
La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico (a tiny fishing village just north of Puerto Vallarta)

How long have you lived in Mexico and how long are you planning to stay?
We have been here for a year and a half and we are constantly being asked how long we plan to stay. My husband and I just bought our first house; here in La Cruz. We are adventurers by nature and can’t stay stationary too long; so my short reply is, ‘there is no telling’.

Why did you move to Mexico and what do you do?
I teach Science at the American School of Puerto Vallarta. I have been ‘stalking’ a position at this particular school for many, many years. Finally, we got lucky and they had two teaching positions open.

Jen enjoying an afternoon in the marina of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle with her two dogs.
Jen enjoying an afternoon in the marina of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle with her two dogs.
Did you bring family with you?
I came with my husband, who is also a teacher and our dog Sage. Our family has grown after stumbling across an adorable street dog wandering the highway, last year.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The transition to living in Mexico was rather easy after living in Venezuela and Ecuador (both fantastic countries but a little more difficult to transition to). I don’t know if it is because it is our third time around or because Mexico has more in common to our own roots back in the United States. However, I still see and experience things which shock me and make me scratch my head in wonder (and smile)!

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialize with other expats?
We are very fortunate to have met many people, both local and expat, at the school we work at; it is a blessing. However, we quickly moved north to live closer to the surf and get out of bustling Puerto Vallarta. At first it was difficult to meet people in our small village, as well as, to connect with the locals out surfing, but many of them now recognize us and take care of us; as if we are family.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
Eat as many street tacos as you can and surf! Get outside and be active. The beaches are beautiful for walking, swimming, and snorkeling. The more you are outside and active in your community, the more likely it is you will meet people.

Post surf bliss! Nothing I love more than salty skin, sun-kissed hair and sandy toes!
Post surf bliss! Nothing I love more than salty skin, sun-kissed hair and sandy toes!
What do you enjoy most about living here?
The relaxed lifestyle and the friendly demeanor of the local people are by far two of my favorite aspects of the country.

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Food, gas, and clothing are the most expensive items. Rent is affordable; especially if you start renting in the low season. The pay for most jobs is low; making it difficult, at times. Labor and basic food ingredients are inexpensive. It is a tourist area, so most things cost more. You can find better deals at local stores, but you have to shop around.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
The most negative aspect is the reputation circulating in the news about Mexico's safety. Many people have the impression they can not travel to Mexico because they will be brutally murdered by the drug cartels. This is, most likely, not true and not fair to this beautiful country and it's people. I am commonly teased and referred to, by my friends, as 'Safety Jen' because I don't like to take big risks. With that said, I feel very safe living here...and have driven from the United States to Puerto Vallarta four times, as well as, walked a three day pilgrimage through the Sierra Madre Mountains.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
September and October are HOT! But, they are also one of the best times to come visit because foreign tourism is low; good deals and less crowds. Once you can wrap your brain around the fact that everyone is also suffering from the heat and humidity, you feel less miserable. My first September here, I couldn't understand how the Mexican women always looked so beautiful. I on the other hand, felt like a greasy, sweaty beast. Which I learned, was just my perception and not the truth; we are all struggling to reach November, when the weather cools down.

Breakfast in the home of a local family while on a three day pilgrimage in the Sierra Madres.
Breakfast in the home of a local family while on a three day pilgrimage in the Sierra Madres.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I usually find the transition the hardest at the beginning; especially when you move as a couple or with a friend. Everything is new and exciting and you are both on the same energy level; psyched by all the strange and new experiences. Then after a while, one person is up and the other is down. It can be difficult to find the balance between you and your partner while you establish your new life. It takes lots of patience and understanding to avoid being grouchy or negative towards your partner while you may be struggling to adjust.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I will embrace every moment of it. One of my favorite things about returning to my home country is the feeling of ‘culture shock’; experiencing everything with new eyes. The littlest of things seem so astonishing. I cherish the feeling of being puzzled by the things that were once so familiar.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Life moves slower here; relax and live more simply. Locals value personal relationships. Do your very best to stop and greet somebody; even when you are in a hurry to get somewhere.
  2. Participate in local holidays; there is always some kind of celebration happening in Mexico. The locals are very happy to teach you and include you in their celebrations.
  3. Do your very best to learn the language. A little bit of effort goes a very long way.
  4. The word ‘ahorita’ is an important term to know. It literally means ‘right now’, but is intended to signify not now; it could be two minutes from now or tomorrow. Learn to love this phrase.
  5. Many people living north of the border have a perception of what Mexico is and some people living in Mexico have perceptions of your typical ‘gringo’; make good choices and set an example to help change people’s false impressions.

The local butcher in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
The local butcher in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started a journal the first time I traveled abroad, to India, as a way to share my experiences with my mom. I continued to keep journals while traveling; until a basement flood ruined all of them. My blog is a journal of my Mexican Life; photos and stories, describing my adventures, travel advice, recipes, and anything capturing my attention.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Anyone can contact me via the blog or on my Team Fuber facebook page.

About the author

Expat Blog ListingJen is an American expat living in Mexico. Blog description: Adventures Living & Teaching Abroad; along the Pacific Coast of Mexico
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