11 July 2017

Shannon Sheppard - Expat in Mexico

Shannon Sheppard - Expat in Mexico

We’ve had the chance to talk to Shannon Sheppard, 66, an American expat who has moved to Mexico alone. Ms. Sheppard who has been living there for seven and a half years now is a retired librarian. 

Read more about her experiences in the full interview below.


Q: Where are you from originally?

A: San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA.


Q: What made you move out of the US?

A: Unemployment.


Q: Where are you living now? How did you come to choose this new country of residence?

A: Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico. Had visited, fell in love with Oaxaca, and when becoming unemployed during USA economic collapse in 2009 and with no job prospects due to said collapse, I moved here.


Q: How long have you been living in Mexico?

A: Seven and a half years.


Q: Are you living alone or with your family? If yes, how are they adjusting to the Expat Lifestyle?

A: Alone.


Q: Do you miss home and family sometimes? How do you cope with homesickness?

A: Not much, as I keep in contact via email, Facebook Skype, etc. and return to visit family twice a year.


Q: What do you think about the locals?

A: I LOVE them!!!  Their much simpler and people/community-centered way of life teaches many valuable lessons.


Q: Was it easy making friends and meeting people? Do you mainly socialise with other expats in Mexico? How did you manage to find a social circle there?  

A: Not difficult to meet other expats due to an expat-run library in the city, that has many activities and at which I was able to volunteer.  As my Spanish improved, I also have gotten to know several Oaxaqueños.


Q: How does the cost of living in Mexico compare to your home?

A: Much less expensive for the necessities of life, more expensive for imports.

  • Q: How much is a cup of coffee?

A: I brew my own at home.

  • Q: How much is a meal in an inexpensive restaurant?

A: $3.00 for comida corrida (prix fixe – starter, main dish, dessert, & non-alcoholic beverage)

  • Q: How much is a meal in an expensive restaurant?

A: $50, including tip and dessert.

  • Q: How much is a bottle of wine? How about a pack of cigarettes?

A: $5 + for a bottle of wine; $2.50 for a pack of cigarettes.


Q: Do you have any tips for future expats when it comes to opening a bank account in Mexico?

A: I don't have a bank account. I use ATM and transmittals from my USA bank.


Q: How will you describe your experience with government paperwork such as applications for Visa and work permits? Why is that so?

A: Is bureaucratic and fluid and, thus, can be confusing. However, there are other expats to help.


Q: Would you say that healthcare in Mexico is reliable? Any preferred clinics or advice for expats?

A: I am in southern Mexico, so, except for simple things, I don't use healthcare here and have kept Medicare in the USA. If I lived in or near Mexico City or Guadalajara, where there are major medical centers, I might reconsider. However, I do rely on dental care here and have been very pleased.


Q: Did you secure a health insurance in the US or Mexico? What should be the essentials in the coverage for expats, in your opinion?

A: I have USA Medicare, but, after falling in a hole in a sidewalk (only bruises resulted), I also purchased Mexican health insurance that covers EVERYTHING to do with hospitalization in a private hospital.


Q: What was the most memorable about the packing and moving process to Mexico? Which was the mover you chose and how was your experience with them?

A: I came here with 2 suitcases and a backpack. I downsized significantly, found it liberating, and realized how much I didn't need or miss from “back home.”


Q: What is the biggest challenge that you have faced as a new expat?

A: Learning to speak Spanish.


Q: What do you think are the positive and negative sides of living in Mexico?

A: Positive: a much more culturally and spiritually rich way of living. Negative: Complexities of politics, corruption, and inefficiencies that I don't understand, as opposed to the problems that I have a better understanding of in my home country.


Q: What are the best things to do in the area? Any particular recommendations for future expats?

A: Food, festivals, art and artisans, music and dance, and especially getting out to and learning about the indigenous villages. And, learning Spanish!


Q: Do you have plans to move to a different country or back home in the future?

A: No.


Q: What tips will you give to expats living in the country?

A: Learn Spanish and RESPECT the people and their traditions. Expats (aka, immigrants) do NOT know best.


Q: Do you have favourite websites or blogs about Mexico?

A: Local traffic and events websites.