Recently, the main English news source in Guadalajara for Expats is reporting that 911 operators in their area cannot respond in English to callers. The Guadalajara area including Lake Chapala is home to the largest number of Expats in Mexico. They have been servicing this market for many decades.
After a home invasion and being tied up at knife point, an Expat freed herself to call Mexico’s 911. When they realized that she did not speak Spanish and could only say Emergency, they hung up on her. This is a serious danger that Expats face in Mexico when reporting their emergencies to Mexico’s 911.
Some areas of Mexico that have high numbers of tourists visiting have a part time operator. However, there is no guarantee that the part time operator will be on duty when you need them most. This is the reality that Expats face when dealing with a medical, police or fire emergency in Mexico. This is not an issue that only affects Lake Chapala. We hear stories like this all the time across Mexico from our fellow Expats.
This fact is the main reason we have created our ExPat911 APP. Our operators are 100% fluent English speakers. Our users only have to push a button in our app which notifies us of the type of emergency they are facing. We do the rest of the work for you and will even contact your family back home to let them know of your emergency.
For more information regarding our app and service, please refer to this article which explains everything:
Below is the actual article from the Guadalajara Reporter which explains in detail what happened to this Expat when calling 911 at Lake Chapala.
By GR Staff
Foreigners who lack a firm grasp of Spanish may discover that Mexico’s recently launched nationwide 911 emergency hotline is essentially useless in moments of distress.
That’s the conclusion of a lakeside resident was left in the lurch after walking in on a burglary in progress at her home this week.
Returning from a brief outing for shopping errands on Wednesday morning, the woman realized that something was amiss when she spotted her television set unplugged and sitting out of place. Stepping out of the door again she was immediately accosted by a pair of young bandits who forced her back inside and tied her up at knife point.
She managed to get free shortly after the thieves departed the premises with a load of valuable loot. She then picked up the phone and dialed 911 to call for help. Flustered by the frightening incident she wasn’t able to express her situation in Spanish. To her surprise, rather than mustering some sort of response, the operator simply hung up.
Please follow these steps in order to properly set up your Expat911 Application and Services for your smartphone. At the bottom of this step by step guide, you will also find links to tutorial videos should you need any assistance with this guide. The videos show every one of these steps visually which may help you if you come across any issues.
2. Install the Application which will create a logo for Expat911 on your smartphone home page.
3. Click the logo for Expat911 on homepage to open the app.
4. Click on Sign Up link on App’s Log In page when App opens.
5. Enter First Name, Last Name, Email and Phone Number. Then click Next.
6. Enter Date of Birth, Street and Number, Town, Colonia, State, Zip Code and Password. Then Click on Sign Up button to finish the registration within the App.
7. Check your email that you used for registration. You will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org which has an activation link. The email should arrive within 5 minutes. If you do not find it by then, please check your spam or junk mail folder. Click activation link within email to receive a notification that your email has been successfully activated.
8. Now you will have to complete the payment process on our secured website at www.expat911.mx.
9. Visit this link Expat911. Use the same email address and password to log in that you used when registering your account on the app.
10. Now click on Orders which is shown on the left side of the page. Then click on the Go Shop button. Now choose Add To Cart which is right under the $ 99.00 subscription for our services. Now please click View Cart. (While in view cart mode you will see a section on the bottom left to add a discount code. If you have one for a spouse that is getting the additional couples plan you can enter the code here and then click apply) Then you will click on Proceed to Checkout.
11. Please enter your billing information on the next page.
12. Read the Terms and Conditions at the bottom and tick the box that says I have read and accept these terms and conditions.
13. Now click Continue to Payment. We use Stripe to process our payments securely for our clients. We found it to be better than Paypal because you do not have to have an account with them. You will just enter your credit card information and click submit. There will be a 20 second pause before loading of the next page once your payment has been accepted. This is because the system is updating and automatically activating your subscription. Once the system has completed processing and activating your account, a page will open with links to download the app. This means that you are all set for the next step.
14. Now that the payment has been processed, please open the app and log into the app with your information that you used to create the account. You may receive a pop up at this point which says “Allow Expat911 to access this devices location?” Please click allow as this is very important for when you report your emergencies. Your location is only sent to us when you send an alert. We cannot see your location at any other time.
15. Now you will finish your profile so that we have all of the information necessary on file when reporting your emergency. Click on the top left corner of the app (3 small lines which is the menu button) to open up the menu. Now click on My Profile. Now click on the top right corner of the page (symbol looks like a pen writing) to edit your profile. Please fill out any information that is blank such as Medical Information and Emergency Contacts. To add more than one contact please click the red + sign on the right side of the first contact to open more contacts to fill out. The first contact is US/Canada and so there is no need to place 001 in front of the number. The next two contacts are Mexico numbers and so please only enter the 10 digit numbers as we know they are for Mexico already. When finished, please click Save Changes (for Android) or Update (for iPhones) at the bottom. Now review all of the information in your profile to be sure that all is correct.
Congratulations!!! You have completed the steps for registering your account properly. At this point we will need you to send a test chat and alert. Until we have confirmed that your phone is set up by our customer service team, you will not be added to the main network. Our customer service hours are from 9 AM to 8 PM PST and 6 days a week from Thursday to Tuesday. Wednesday being the only day that the customer service side is not available. Our emergency operators are 24/7 and 365 days a year, but they do not handle the test chat and test alerts. So please send the word “test” in the chat box, and then click Police and send as an alert during the hours mentioned above. We will answer you back immediately to confirm that you have been set up properly. Then we will add you to the main network. This means that all further chats and alerts will go directly to our emergency operators. So after the test has been confirmed, please only use those features for real emergencies. If you have any questions, please email us at email@example.com.
If you have any issues during this set up, please use the links below to see a step by step video tutorial to go along with this guide.
One of the most overlooked services that Expat911 provides is that we will also reach out to your contacts after we have reported your emergency. Our users sign up for our application to feel secure knowing that they can report their emergency to 911 even if they do not speak Spanish. However, we also reach out to your contacts to let them know about your emergency as well. This is another important part of our service to make sure that our users feel comfortable knowing that someone will reach out to their contacts and let them know about their situation.
We added this featured because many of our fellow Expats voiced this concern to us. They realized that if they were ever rushed to the hospital for any reason, their family and loved ones would not even know about the situation they were in. This is why we have a contact section in your profile that you create on our application. We allow one contact from the US/Canada and up to 3 contacts here in Mexico. This way we can reach out to them once your emergency has been reported.
We recommend that your US/Canada contact is a family member who can then reach out to the rest of your family back home. Your local contacts can be neighbors, friends, family or even local doctors. Many of our users like to use their local doctor as a contact because they are comfortable with an English spoken doctor that they usually see during their medical check up’s. This person is already familiar with your medical history and can help you translate at the hospital or even at your house if they can arrive before the emergency responders. We have also found that a neighbor can sometimes respond quicker than the emergency responders. They may be able to come and help you out while you are awaiting the emergency responders to arrive.
This part of the application is just as important to our users as the reporting of emergencies. It gives our users the peace of mind knowing that the people important to them will be made aware of their situation. So please choose wisely when deciding who the best contacts would be when creating your profile with us.
The application was created due to the lack of English speaking 911 operators here in Mexico. We heard from many Expats living here in Mexico that they were unable to report emergency situations due to the language barrier. 911 services in Mexico vary from state to state.
Some of the states have a part time operator who speaks English, but that operator is only available at specific times. There are other states that do not have any English spoken operators. This is a big problem if you are facing a life threatening situation and you are unable to explain what type of emergency responder you need.
Most of the Expats living in Mexico have never thought about this issue. Unfortunately, they only find out about this when it may already be too late. It’s important to take all precautions ensuring your protection before these situations arise. We hope that you never have to use our application, but if you do it’s important to know that we will be there for you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. This insurance will allow you to feel at ease knowing that you are protected at all times and all places during your time in Mexico. The application has built in GPS technology which allows you to report your emergency to us at home or on the road.
The application is very simple to use.
There are 3 emergency buttons that you can push during your emergency. The 3 options are for Police, Ambulance or Fire. When you click which emergency situation you’re having, you can then add a message as well. This message and alert will be received by our team. We will call you immediately to ask for any additional details. Then we will call 911 on your behalf and report this emergency. Once we have reported the emergency, we will call you back to let you know that help is on the way. We will then ask if you wish for us to reach out to your contacts. We will then contact your family back home in the US/Canada if you confirmed. We will also call any neighbors, family, loved ones and even local doctors that you have in your predetermined contacts to let them know about your situation.
We mentioned before that we use GPS technology in the application. This is extremely important because we can send emergency responders to your location even when the situation is not in your home. If you are in a car accident this is key as we can see the location and use this during the reporting to 911. Would you be able to explain your locations to Mexico’s 911 services if you were not at home? Mexico’s 911 does not have GPS capabilities, and so if you called 911 they would not know where you are. You would have to be able to explain where you are and know the streets to give them the address. We can also cover you while you are traveling to other cities within Mexico, or even while you are out just running errands.
Below is a guide to help you get set up:
It will take around 15 minutes, but once done you will be covered for life.
We recommend you watch how-to video before installing and registering
Depending on your device, the first thing you will need to do is download the actual application from the App Store or Google Play Store. You can find the application by doing a search for “Expat911″.
Once you find the application, you will now download and install the application. A logo will be created on your home screen once the application has been downloaded and installed.
Now that you have installed the application to your smart phone, you will need to register your account.
So click on the logo for Expat911 which was created on your home screen. If you do not see it on your home screen, please check in your apps folder.
When you click on the logo, you will be taken to the home screen of the application. The home screen will ask you to log in or sign-up for an account. Please click on the sign-up link.
Now you will be asked to fill in some basic information. Please enter your full name, email and phone number. The email entered is where you will receive all emails from us and will also be your user name for logging in. The phone number is extremely important and must match the phone that you will be using for this service. We will use this number to call you during the emergency situation that you are reporting. Please click next after these steps.
The next page will have more detailed information that needs to be filled out. Here you will enter your date or birth, full address and create your password. When finished entering this information, please click the sign-up button.
At this point your account has been created in our database. If you were to try and log in, you will be told that your account needs to be activated by email activation. Please check your email address that you used when registering. You should have an email from firstname.lastname@example.org. This email may take a few minutes to arrive. If you still have not received the email after 10 minutes, please check your spam or junk email folder.
Once you have received the email, you will click on the link within the email that says “click here to activate account”. A new page will pop up saying that your account is now active. If you try and log into the application now, you will receive a pop up that says your account is still pending payment.
In order to make the payment, you will need to visit our website www.expat911.mx. On the top right corner of the website you will see the Log In link. Click on this link and enter in your email and password that you set up when registering your account on the application. On the left side of the page you will see a link for Orders. Please click here and then click Go Shop on the next page.
On the Go Shop page you will see the option for the Annual Subscription for $ 99.00. Click the Add to Cart button at the bottom of this Annual Subscription. Now click on View Cart. It will take you to the page where you can process the payment by clicking on Proceed to Checkout.
On the next page you will fill out your billing information. You then have the choice of paying by Stripe or Paypal. If you have a Paypal account already set up, then this would be the quickest form of payment for you. If you do not have a Paypal account, then we recommend using Stripe.
Stripe is quick and easy to use. It does not require an account, and you can pay quickly using your credit card. At this point you will have to accept the terms and conditions. You will see a link to view the terms and conditions, and you must check the box that you read and accept these before being able to process the payment.
The final step is to click on the payment button and enter your Paypal or Stripe information.
After you have finalized the payment, you will now receive confirmation emails regarding your payment in your email account. You should receive two emails. One will confirm that your payment has been made, and the other will confirm that you have been approved to use the service. At this point, your account is fully set up and your coverage begins.
You can now log into the app and user our services without issues.
We recommend that you now log in to the application and click on the menu button on the top left. This will open up the menu options and one of those options will be My Profile. Once you have opened this page, you can click on the top right to edit the profile. There is still some information that will be blank and was not required during the initial registration.
The information that you can enter here will have to do with your medical profile which we will use during the reporting of your emergency. You can enter your blood type, diseases, sicknesses and allergies here. At the bottom you will also see a section for Contacts. The contacts are important because we will contact these people for you, once we have reported your emergency. You can enter 1 contact from the US/Canada. Then you can add 3 more contacts here in Mexico.
In order to add more contacts, you just click on the plus sign on the top right of your first contact that you entered. This will open up a new contact form to be filled out. Please click on Save Changes once you have completed the above steps.
You have now completed all of the necessary steps. Your account and profile are now complete which allows us to provide you with the best and fastest service that we can offer.
Mexico has always offered arguably the easiest transition to expat life around: Low-cost, conveniently close, friendly locals and plenty of expats—Mexico offers an appealing balance of exotic foreign culture and familiar First-World lifestyle.
Over recent years, crime and insecurity across the border have made headlines—and yes, there are parts of Mexico we don’t recommend. But this is a big country…and while the mainstream media may bash Mexico, we’ve actually noticed a trend of people gravitating there. Seasoned expats, folks who have lived in countries like Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Belize, are moving to Mexico.
After all, there’s a reason over 1 million Americans call Mexico home. The cost of living is great—expats report living well for as little as $1,200 a month—and has gotten even better with the weakening of the peso against the dollar in recent years. Your dollars now buy nearly 50% more pesos than they did just a few short years ago.
The weak peso also means you can pick up great-value real estate (to buy or rent) for even less than you could a few years ago—an apartment that cost $1,300 to rent in 2014 costs $980 now. Those dollars also go even further when it comes to Mexican healthcare. You can get healthcare that’s even better quality than what you’re used to and for one half to one third the price to boot.
According to IL’s Roving Latin America Editor Jason Holland, who lives on the Riviera Maya, there are first-rate hospitals throughout the country—every major city has one. “Even paying cash at private facilities costs a fraction of what it would in the U.S. Most doctors have received at least part of their training in the U.S. or Europe…and many speak English,” Jason says.
English is widely spoken in popular expat spots like Lake Chapala and the Riviera Maya. This makes it easy for you to fit right in. And heck, you can drive down, or fly home for as little as $200 round-trip—so getting home is convenient.
This proximity also makes it an ideal destination for snowbird living, perfect for escaping from the worst of the winter weather. And the diverse selection of climates spread out across this massive country, ranging from hot weather on the beach to spring-like in the highlands, means you’re guaranteed to find weather that’s perfect for you.
“The cost of living in Mexico allows me to live a fun life on my Social Security check,” says San Francisco-native Jack Bramy. Living half a block from the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Jack’s not scrimping. “There are great restaurants and tons of cool bars on the malecón (promenade). My rent is $575 a month for a two-bedroom apartment with a great modern bathroom and nice kitchen.”
If you prefer to live in the Colonial Highlands, there are the picturesque historic towns like San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, and Ajijic on Lake Chapala.
Chicago native Steve Garcia, 67, has lived in Guanajuato for four years. “I live well here on Social Security. My expenses are $1,200 a month, including rent. I have a two-bedroom house with a terraced garden,” says Steve. “With the dollar going up I’ve got 50% more to spend.”
After you become a legal resident of Mexico, which is quite easy to qualify for, you can also take advantage of its retiree benefits. Those over 60 get discounts on airline and bus tickets, medical care, museum entrance fees, and much more.
“I love my senior discount card,” says expat Marty Kramer who lives in Playa del Carmen. “All Mexican citizens, including resident expats, can get one when they turn 60. With it, I get discounts on almost everything: healthcare, public transportation, groceries, restaurants, hotels, and even some airlines. It’s up to the business how much of a discount they offer, but it’s usually around 10%.”
If you acquire official residence in Mexico, you can get an INAPAM Card—and all the discounts that come with it. These can range from 5% up to 50%. And recent changes in the law now provide an easier and faster path than ever to permanent Mexican residence.
Most retirees qualify for residence by showing they have the funds to support themselves. And—also unusually—Mexico gives you two ways to qualify. You can show monthly income from Social Security or a pension. Alternatively, you can use assets, such as funds in a savings or investment account, to qualify. You don’t need to transfer these assets to Mexico; you only need to prove that you have them.
“Life here is easy and relaxed,” says IL Mexico editor Glynna Prentice. “And also rich and complex in sensations and experiences. People are friendly and welcoming, their warmth as genuine as the Mexican sun. And roots are deep.
“Whether you’re looking at the mighty ruins of Teotihuacan, the face of a local Maya vendor, or the cool patio of a Spanish colonial hacienda, you sense a depth of history and tradition around you.
“Mexico isn’t perfect—no place is. But its flaws pale when weighed against the vividness of life here.”
Mexico is not only the nearest destination abroad for U.S. and Canadian expats; it is also one of the most popular. More than a million expats are estimated to live in Mexico full- or part-time…the largest concentration of North American expats anywhere in the world.
Of course, it helps that Mexico is also one of the largest countries in the Americas, offering just about any climate, geographical landscape, and lifestyle you might want. As a result, you’ll find expats scattered all over Mexico. But some places have proven to be especially popular, with an appeal that makes them stand out from the crowd.
Here are five Mexico destinations where the living is easy…and any one of them could be your perfect expat home. (Plus a few places you may want to cross off your list.)
For many North Americans, say “Mexico” and they think of white-sand beaches. That’s not surprising. Mexico has nearly 6,000 miles of coastline, much of it beautiful beach. If you’re looking for a beach lifestyle, Mexico will have you spoiled for choice.
For classic white-sand beaches and turquoise waters, it’s hard to beat Mexico’s Riviera Maya. This 80-mile stretch of coast runs along the Yucatán Peninsula from Cancún to Tulúm. Little beach towns are scattered all along the coast…and one—Playa del Carmen—has grown to become a city. One of the fastest-growing destinations in Mexico, Playa, as it’s known locally, offers a laidback beach vibe…and the upper-end shopping and restaurant scene of a larger city.
To enjoy small-town (but upscale) beach life on this coast, head to Tulúm. Once the domain of backpackers, Tulúm today attracts fashionistas and other trendsetters who come to get away from it all. Today you’ll find rustic, palm-thatched palapasalongside gourmet restaurants here…and a beach that’s considered one of the world’s most beautiful.
Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, has been an international beach resort for more than 50 years. Once a small fishing village, today the greater Vallarta area stretches for nearly 30 miles along the shores of Banderas Bay, one of the world’s largest bays. This area offers pure First-World living, with shopping, restaurants, and real estate at every price point; an international airport; and a large, international expat community. Beaches and a long malecón (esplanade) border large swaths of the city. But Puerto Vallarta offers so much to do—from zip-lining and horseback riding in the hills, to fine dining and recent film releases in town—that you’ll have plenty to do, even if you never put a toe in the water.
If you want big-city life with the beach a short distance away, there’s Mérida. Capital of the Yucatán Peninsula, this city of nearly a million residents lies about half an hour from the Yucatán Gulf Coast. Small villages dot this placid coast. This is where Mérida’s middle-class families have summered for generations. Today expats have joined them, but many towns still have a family-oriented feel. Don’t look for boutique shopping or dining here, but if you’re seeking a laidback beach life at still-low prices, you can find it here.
Not everyone wants to live on the beach…. If you prefer temperate weather and Spanish-colonial style, then Lake Chapala or San Miguel de Allende, both in central Mexico, may fit the bill. Lake Chapala has an enviably near-perfect climate—spring-like almost all year—and a large, diverse expat community. And being near Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, means easy access to its international airport and excellent medical facilities. San Miguel, about three hours north of Mexico City, is a beautifully preserved Spanish-colonial town that offers art galleries, gourmet restaurants, a wealth of arts and crafts, and a large expat community.
No country is perfect, and Mexico has gotten more than its share of knocks. But yes, some parts of Mexico should be avoided, while others are just not worth your time.
Some Mexican states bordering the U.S.—notably Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Chihuahua—have vast, empty interiors where you can be at the mercy of accidents and bad weather. If you’re looking to drive down into central Mexico or farther south (and many expats do), consider checking routes through other Mexican states like Nuevo León, Sonora, and Baja California.
Acapulco was once one of Mexico’s top beach resorts, but age and scattered violence has dimmed the city’s glitter. If you want to stay on the beaches of Acapulco’s home state, Guerrero, head north to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.
Finally, Tabasco may be a famous hot sauce, but the Mexican state is largely humid, low-lying land. It’s the boring, often wet stretch you’ll pass if you’re driving from central Mexico to the Yucatán Peninsula. Tabasco’s capital, Villahermosa, is a major business city, headquarters of Mexico’s oil industry and home to several museums. Take a quick look if you’re inclined…but with so many interesting places both north and south of it, you probably won’t want to linger.
by Diane Schmidt, TheSpruce.com
When people speak of moving to a country like Mexico, one of the inevitable first questions will be whether it is safe to live there. With media stories going on about drug wars, shootings, and kidnapping, can it be safe to live in Mexico?
Rather than believing all I have heard and read, I decided to ask my sister about how safe she felt in Mexico since she’s now lived there for over a year.
Now that you are way past the “honeymoon” period of your love affair with Mexico, I would like to ask you about some of the less savory aspects the country is heavily rumored to possess. How safe have you felt living in Mexico this past year?
Very. I guess it helps that we are here in the Yucatan, away from the border towns where most of the trouble is reported to be. We met a local resident in Merida, who told us that the Yucatan Peninsula is just about the safest place to be in Mexico.
Why is that do you think?
According to her, the peninsula is a deterrent to crime as it makes it hard for criminals to escape, being surrounded on three sides by water. I, myself, think it has also something to do with the nature of The Mayans, a peaceful, honest and hardworking people who make up much of the population in the Yucatan. I have never felt unsafe even walking the streets by myself at night here in Playa Del Carmen.
What about lesser crimes?
Have you experienced anyone trying to cheat you or ever had anything stolen from you?
Where we are in Playa Del Carmen is also heavily populated by tourists, especially in the high seasons, and yes, there is a sense when you walk down busy Quinta Avenida that everybody is out to make a buck off you.
And while 90% of the time, it is just a matter of enterprising Mexicans working hard at making a living, yes, we have experienced an instance or two when someone has tried to cheat us. Bertrand had a minor incident at the gas station once. Now we were made aware of the common ploy where the gas attendant does not reset the pump to zero, and you end up paying for your gas plus whatever the last person put into his or her car.
This time, the new tactic, apparently, is to put you at ease by showing you that the pump has been reset to zero. Then, hoping that you are now less likely to be vigilant, they try a sleight of hand when it comes time to pay for the gas. The pump showed he owed 445 pesos (around US$40). Bertrand handed the young man (strangely enough, he wasn’t the one who had pumped the gas) two 200-peso bills and a 50-peso bill. Instead of making a change, the boy held out the bills and repeated the amount Bertrand was supposed to pay.
In a flash, he had exchanged one of the 200-peso bills for a 20-peso bill, so that when Bertrand looked at what the boy was holding out, it looked like Bertrand had mistakenly given him a 200 and a 20 instead of two 200-peso bills.
Fortunately, Bertrand was wise to the trick, gave the boy one of his fiercer looks, and the boy sheepishly made a change. Needless to say, he didn’t get a tip. The next time Bertrand filled up, another attendant also made a point of showing him that he was resisting the pump. When Bertrand paid him, he made sure to count out the money bill by bill to the attendant, to make sure there was no discrepancy.
But really, this has been just about the only time thus far that we’ve been directly targeted in anything dishonest.
So it does not make you feel unsafe, or that you need to be vigilant all the time?
No. We decided we would rather not live like that, and if we do lose something, either through our own carelessness and/or through somebody else’s dishonesty, then chances are that what we’ve lost has probably gone to someone who obviously needed it more.