Paying the bills

IT’S JANUARY, and that means it’s time to pay the bills.

We have three homes and two cars, and annual bills are due. The bills on the three residences are property taxes mostly, but there’s also an annual bill for water at the Downtown Casita.

The water bills for the Mexico City apartment and the Hacienda are paid monthly, as are the electricity bills.

Lots of bills.

billBut they don’t amount to much compared to what they would be above the Rio Bravo where many of you po’ folks live. My heart goes out to you.

The property tax on the Mexico City place is payable online. A few years ago we had to do it in person, but modernity is arriving. Alas, it has not arrived here on the mountaintop. If there is an online way to pay property taxes for the Hacienda and Downtown Casita, I have not found it yet.

So we go to City Hall and stand in line. We have a new City Hall. For centuries, I imagine, it was in a colonial edifice on the main plaza. It was quite cramped there.

But City Hall recently moved to a spacious, new, three-story building just three blocks away, a huge improvement.

The new City Hall sits in the same block as the post office, so we pay that annual bill at the same time. We rent a mailbox, and it costs 300 pesos, about 16 bucks a year.

Mail service works well here. It’s just pokey.

One thing we do not have is a monthly phone bill. We have neither a land line nor cell contracts. Our two cell phones are pay as you go, and we don’t go far.

The vehicle taxes used to be the biggest headache. It entailed going to an office here and standing in a mob of people trying to reach the counter. It was chaotic and absurd.

But now I get those bills online. I print them and go to the bank and pay a cashier.  This is one example of how Mexican life has improved during my 16 years (today!) here.

If memory serves, when my last wife kicked me out into the street in 1995, the annual property tax on our rather routine, three-bedroom ranch house was over $2,000 a year.

It’s gotta be far more now. Somebody must fund those fat American entitlements and freebies.

For our three places here, the dollar equivalent of the property taxes is $83. That’s eighty-three U.S. bucks.

Interestingly, the total water bills for the three homes total $140. The annual prices are set, not metered.

Until a few years ago, the taxes on the cars were high, but for some reason the car tax was eliminated on most cars in my state, and now we just pay for the window sticker.

The total for the two is $70. The charge is the same for both even though one car is five years older than the other.

These dollar equivalents are helped by the very sweet exchange rate we’ve enjoyed for the past few months.

To sum up, the outlay for the three houses — property tax and water, both set figures — and the car “tax” total $293. Oh, heck, let’s toss in the post office box’s $16, to reach $309.

I might as well mention the light bills. These are monthly charges based on usage, but since the Mexico City place and the Downtown Casita are usually unoccupied, those two bills are often a base charge. The total for the three places is $36.

* * * *

LOTS OF BACK PATTING

I enjoy looking at these figures every January. They cause me to pat myself on the back for being so wise as to move over the Rio Bravo these 16 years ago. Best decision ever.

I wonder how many thousands my ex-wife is paying in property tax on the Houston ranch house alone these days.

At age 68, she is involuntarily retired due to the lackluster Obama economy that Weepy Barry brags about.

I’ve told her to sell and move south, but that’s too much for most people to do, especially after a certain age. We get set in our ways even though the sun is shining brighter on the other side of the mountain — the Mexican mountain.

31 thoughts on “Paying the bills”

  1. Both you and Steve are posting about the same process. It appears you have had a bit more progress in being able to pay a few things online. Your total for everything would cover about 3 months of my winter electricity bills. My property tax in Ft. Worth, for an 1,800 sq. ft. home, is $3,500. The largest chunks are for the school system ($1,600) and city government ($960). Quite a difference indeed.

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    1. Scott: About 60 seconds after I sent this post out into cyberspace, I clicked on Cotton’s blog and saw he wrote about the same thing. Quite a coincidence. And yes, it seems that his sweaty, coastal community has entered the 21st century to a lesser degree than has my more with-it town. Another reason not to live on lazy coasts.

      My former home in Houston is about the same size as your Fort Worth place. I imagine my second ex is paying about that amount of property tax too.

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      1. To be fair to our coastal systems, the clerk who handles the car registrations each January is a marvel. Even though the line was long, he was moving people in and out of the office with the efficiency of a German merchant. That, of course, is one of the weaknesses of most Mexican systems — far too dependent on exceptional people making archaic bureaucracy work.

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    1. Ms. Bachelorette: It seems that’s about the going tax rate in Texas for a residence of that size. Interesting. I don’t see how people easily retire in the U.S. these days. Of course, they don’t — easily — which explains why one sees so many news and magazine articles dedicated to the subject and how you can do it — or not.

      Occasionally, I leave a comment on cyber-articles saying that Mexico is a great option. The usual reaction is to curse me or call me nuts. Or expletives against Mexicans in general. Trump people, I imagine. Online communication is so nice these days.

      Yep, it was only due to my noticing the date as I was finishing the post this morning that I realized it was my anniversary as a Mexico resident. Actually, I do not recall if it was the 19th or the 20th that the Delta airliner landed in Guadalajara from Atlanta with me aboard. No matter. It was the best move of my life. I recommend it to you.

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  2. Felipe, This so -called car tax that disappeared was called a tenencia. It started in 1967. President Diaz Ordaz told the citizens it was important to have the Olympics here, and he ordered the tax to pay the costs. (A percentage of the car’s value every year till the bills were paid). He swore (that means lying through his teeth, in his case buck teeth) that as soon as it was paid the taxing would stop. It was so lucrative and an easy way to skim for politicos that the tax continued until recently but just in some states. My son tells me they have other scams now to bilk the public with.

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    1. Señor Mystic: Yep, I know it’s the tenencia. I just stick to English here unless there’s some important reason to use Spanish. There rarely is. And it was not a so-called tax. It was a tax. I did not know its origins, so thanks for filling me in. I never understood why it was cancelled here, but I’m glad that it was because on a new or fairly new car it was really steep.

      They seem to try and get you another way by replacing the plates more often than before, and the replacements are pretty high, but not as high as the tenencia was.

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  3. January is just another month when you rent a house in Mexico. My landlord pays the taxes, water bill and the maintenance/repairs. Thanks to the dollar-peso exchange rate, my rent, utilities and most of my expenses declined 15% last year. How sweet it is!

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    1. Andrés: Yes, but you lack that pride of ownership! Owning a house here is far easier than in the U.S. for lots of reasons. Low taxes is one. Cheap maintenance is another. I highly recommend Mexican home ownership.

      As for the exchange rate for the past year or so, hoo-boy! It’s really sweet. Not too good for Mexico, but it’s really nice for us.

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  4. Don’t celebrate too soon. Remember what happened in the 1980’s when the price of oil fell so low. Mexico had already made big plans expecting a good income on the oil, and then all of a sudden it was gone.
    Then followed a freeze on dollar accounts, devaluations and nationalization of the banks. There was a terrible debt crisis, and those that had financing from abroad had to service those debts in dollars. It was not a happy time. The IMF saved Mexico.
    Worse, I have a gut feeling that the dollar is now seen as the highest point on a sinking ship. It too may suffer a bad fate.

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    1. According to wiki history:
      The macroeconomic policies of the 1970s left Mexico’s economy highly vulnerable to external conditions. These turned sharply against Mexico in the early 1980s, and caused the worst recession since the 1930s, with the period known in Mexico as La Década Perdida, “the lost decade”, i.e., of economic growth. By mid-1981, Mexico was beset by falling oil prices, higher world interest rates, rising inflation, a chronically overvalued peso, and a deteriorating balance of payments that spurred massive capital flight. This disequilibrium, along with the virtual disappearance of Mexico’s international reserves—by the end of 1982 they were insufficient to cover three weeks’ imports—forced the government to devalue the peso three times during 1982. The devaluation further fueled inflation and prevented short-term recovery. The devaluations depressed real wages and increased the private sector’s burden in servicing its dollar-denominated debt. Interest payments on long-term debt alone were equal to 28 percent of export revenue. Cut off from additional credit, the government declared an involuntary moratorium on debt payments in August 1982, and the following month it announced the nationalization of Mexico’s private banking system.

      Circumstances are much different now. The whole world’s economy is in a mess.

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      1. Are they? Just how dependent is Mexico on its petroleum income? If the US gets a cold, Mexico gets pneumonia. Bloomberg showed west Texas intermediate at $28.72 this afternoon.
        My gut feeling is that we are in for a long, hard ride.

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      2. Don’t forget that in 1982, the USA had its most severe post-war recession to date, and the global economy also went into recession. This, along with other similar events, is why investors believe that when the USA sneezes, Mexico catches pneumonia.

        That said, Mexico has *MUCH* stronger institutions now, a genuinely independent central bank, a government that has real checks and balances, and a much higher level of infrastructure and private investment. While I (and apparently the IMF which keeps lowering its growth forecasts) think that the global economy is slowing, and possibly becoming vulnerable to a recession, Mexico is unlikely to repeat either the ’82 scenario nor the ’94 scenario, even when it and/or the USA have their next recession.

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  5. Congratulations on 16 years.
    The property taxes on the 1800sf house we sold last year in California was $500. Per month. Thanks to Calif prop 13 the new owners will be paying $1100. Per month! Glad to be SOB.

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    1. Patzman: Jeez, how do people live in California? But, as we both know, if you want high crime and/or high taxes, move thyself to someplace ruled by the Democrat Party.

      Yes, it’s great to be South of the Border.

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  6. Happy Anniversary, Big Spender!
    Small taxes and bills leave enough for a bender,
    But you’ve given it up
    And now get to sup,
    With a lovely wife who’s fit and who’s slender.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    DF, México
    Where the magic of Mexico is working on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/optimism-and-your-health

    A newer U.S. study looked at 6,959 students who took a comprehensive personality test when they entered the University of North Carolina in the mid-1960s. During the next 40 years, 476 of the people died from a variety of causes, with cancer being the most common. All in all, pessimism took a substantial toll; the most pessimistic individuals had a 42% higher rate of death than the most optimistic.

    The two Dutch studies reported similar results. In one, researchers tracked 545 men who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer when they were evaluated for dispositional optimism in 1985. Over the next 15 years, the optimists were 55% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than the pessimists, even after traditional cardiovascular risk factors and depression were taken into account.

    The other study from Holland evaluated 941 men and women between the ages of 65 and 85. People who demonstrated dispositional optimism at the start of the study enjoyed a 45% lower risk of death during a nine-year follow-up period.

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  8. The way it works in the U.S. is that the public unions contribute heavily to Democrats. The Democrats raise the property taxes on everyone and give million-dollar pensions and other benefits to the loafer (public union) class who then contribute to Democrats who then raise taxes, etc. Rinse and repeat until Boobus Americans is bankrupt. Especially egregious are the teachers’ unions who give 95% of their political contributions to Democrats. I know the GOP is likewise bamboozled by the trough feeders but just look at the Blue States. They are all bankrupt due to being run as fiefdoms for the public unions.

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    1. Wes: Don’t get me started on public-sector unions, an horrendously flagrant example of corrupt collusion between governments and their employees. What you have, in effect, is people “negotiating” with themselves for salaries and benefits. Much of government financial problems today stem from public-sector unionism. Even FDR was against it. Public-sector unions should all be disbanded and made illegal.

      Of course, the biggest fans of public-sector unions are members and leaders of the Democrat Party.

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