Published December 2002
Dear Carl & Lorena,
Hi! My husband, myself and our 8 yr old daughter are looking into relocating to Mexico in approx. 8 years. Can you give me your thoughts on what life would be like for a family with a teenager moving to, perhaps, the Mazatlan area?
I'm mostly concerned that she has a community in which she can be comfortable in, kids her own age to hangout with and be a teenager with.
We are looking into purchasing property and living in our RV until we build a home for the 3 of us. I'm very excited about relocating from our New England local to somewhere more relaxed and warm, but I worry that she will be as happy with the move.
We are only in the investigating stage of this, but I want to know more before I commit. Anything you have to say about this would be helpful. If you know of any other americans with a similar situation that would be interested in e-mailing me please let me know.
Many thanks, Karen
Carl replies: Sorry for the slow reply, but if you've got 8 years before your move, I guess a few extra days won't hurt, eh?
First of all, we don't live in Mazatlan so I'm going to forward your questions to Art Jones, our resident Mazatlan expert, and ask him to reply directly. Art not only knows the ropes, but isn't afraid to give honest, hard-earned advice.
Lorena and I do not have children so my own experience with gringo teenagers in Mexico is definitely secondhand. Having said that, I do believe that your daughter will be challenged by the move. I recall, for example, that gringo teens in San Miguel de Allende were often bored to tears, especially if they were slow to learn the language and gather new friends. Others got into bad habits... booze, drugs, the usual, and ran rather wild. But... for all I know, that is "business as usual" for modern kids.
This is rather obvious, but the success of the move for your daughter really depends on her -- if she sees it as desirable, I would expect her to be satisfied.
Arturo Replies: Geez Folks, thats a tough one. I dont pretend to know what will be happening here in Mazatlan in 8 yrs, nor 8 months. for that matter. My own experience as a parent tells me that a16 yr old girl is a very sensitive critter, often very much attached to her familiar surroundings and group of special friends.
I would suggest with all sincerity that you get into this gradually by making yearly visits to Mazatlan for as much time as you are able. A one month visit would be ideal.
I can assure you that an 8 yr old is much more flexible and open to change than a 16 yr old. Also there is the security of knowing that she will be returning "home" to friends, Grandma and all the other things kids tend to miss . If you do this for several years, it will give you, the parents, a lot better understanding of what adopting a whole new lifestyle and culture entails and you will have your answer long before the big move time comes.
I know Carl and Lorena dont advise families to just take a blind leap and move into another culture without first carefully checking it out and I dont either. Visit early and visit often (different seasons) before you make the big move. Please feel free to email me and Ill help you in any way I can,