Ventanas Mexico

Resources for full- or part-time life in Mexico

Ventanas Mexico provides resources to people considering moving or retiring to Mexico, including a blog, the section It's Cheaper in Mexico, and the books the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online," and "If Only I Had a Place' on renting in Mexico.

Eight Big Ways to Pamper Yourself in Mexico (For Less Than $30)

 

Living like it’s 1985 in Mexico

Tell me if I am recalling this correctly, that you have experienced the same thing.  Back 30 years ago, as a young professional recruiter making about $45,000 a year in San Diego, I remember being able to afford occasional pampering; an expensive haircut, a massage or a training session at the gym.  I wore nice, if not expensive clothing and had enough for the omnipresent bar bill of every twenty some-thing.

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Twenty years later, making considerably more money, even as part of a two-income couple I became less inclined to make the expenditures.

Today, thirty years later, I am loathe to pay the upwards to $200 for that salon appointment or the $80 charged by personal trainers at my health club in Denver.

Costs have gone up more than wages. Eliminating these small luxuries is one of the insidious little ways these cold statistics manifest in our lives. 

The luxury of personal services are weightier decisions than they used to be for a "middle income" earner in the U.S. There is some debate on how much you need to make to be classified as middle-class anymore. If defined by a home, healthcare, a car and being able to afford educating your children, which used to be the standard, the calculation is you'd need to be making around $130,000 in most mid-sized and larger cities.

I remember my first six months in Mexico.  I was sharing a house and my housemate informed me that her masseuse was coming to the house that day if I wanted to join her and a friend of her’s for a massage and a glass of wine. Cost: $30.

The sweet spot for most personal services in Mexico is 350-500 pesos or between $17.50 and $25.  Often, they will come to your home.  I never realized how much small luxuries could contribute to your sense of well-being.  Other services you can more easily afford in Mexico:

  • Private Spanish tutor  500 pesos  ($25) -  I need work on compound verbs in a way that only a tutor can provide. My tutor is an attorney and comes to my home.  If you are willing to travel to a language center, you might pay 350 pesos.
  • Root-touch up or haircut at a local salon - 350 pesos ($17)
  • Hair color done by professional at your home - 400 pesos ($25)
  • Housekeeping service - 350 - 400 pesos (sometimes this is included with the rent)
  • Massage - 350 pesos ($17)
  • Complete body exfoliation at a nice salon - 500 pesos plus tip ($27)
  • Manicure or pedicure - 350 pesos ($17)
  • Personal training session at local gym - 400 pesos ($20 - my gym in Denver charges $80)

Not surprisingly, the ambiance in a spa in Mexico may not be quite up to the level of elegance that you may be used to in some North American spas, although still attractive. I will happily give up a little window dressing not to have to pumice my own feet every time.

One Example: Getting a personal trainer in Mexico

Every year in March, I return to Denver to meet with my accountant and file taxes.  Since I arrive in March, I usually hope to do some spring skiing. 

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To prepare one year, I hired a trainer, Juan Carlos, from my gym in Mexico for 400 pesos and requested that he put together a special work-out for skiing. Of course you don’t really need Spanish to hire a personal trainer since everything is demonstrated.

It’s quite possible that the guy had never even seen snow before. He admitted he’d never skied.  I was curious about how his session would stack up to similar sessions I’ve had over the years. The day before, I smiled and said, “Be prepared.”  Adorably, he answered earnestly, “Confies en mi! (Trust me!)”

In the last decade, in typical U.S. gyms, I’ve noticed that trainers are (usually) no longer the bodybuilders and Greek gods of the past.  Nowadays, they look fit, but nothing that would draw your attention from across a street.

Some people say that in many ways Mexico is like America was in the fifties. Trainers in Mexican gyms still look like they did in the U.S. years ago. That is to say "cut".  They have a different system of working with their clients too.

Rather than staying with you the whole hour like personal trainers in the U.S, they move from client to client. I love this. No one needs a trainer watching every set, do they? Their movement throughout the gym creates a motivating energy that everyone feels a part of, whether they’re working with a trainer or not.

Incidentally, at my gym in the U.S., there are days where every single person in the gym has headphones on. Not here (some, just not everyone). I think that people being aware of one another contributes to greater energy.

A friend of mine in Denver were only recently talking about how we used to make friends at the gym. With everyone wearing headphones, those opportunities don't arise.

In my ski-training session in Mexico, only two exercises were ones I knew. Equipment in Mexican gyms is usually inferior to the best American gyms. Trainers compensate by using free weights and have to be more creative.  

My ski work-out did lack a few of the stand-bys, like wall sits. It also seemed to have more upper body exercises than I’ve ever been given for a ski-workout (I think he overestimated the upper body strength needed for pole planting) but I recognized he was working the right muscle groups, including core training.

The most surprising element in my gym is the number of women weight-training there. In all my years of working out, I have never seen so many women in a single gym doing serious weight-training.  On some days, women outnumbered men by 2:1, regardless of the heat. I guess they heard about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's weight work-out before even I did.

Whether it’s a personal training session or consultation on homeopathy, with a little Spanish and some networking, you can find competent Mexicans in practically any personal service profession.  People who can help you live like it’s 1985.

Related links:  Mother Jones has been doing some good work these days, like this piece that includes 12 charts on how overworked Americans are compared to to the past.

Don't forget dinners out in Mexico when you're pampering yourself, which will likely cost less than $20 for an excellent, well-presented meal.  [Ventanas Mexico]

Next up:  Come do a little shopping with me and imagine you're decorating your own place in Mexico {video]

Most recent:  Where would you be right now had you not pushed the outer limit of your comfort zone?    

Kerry Baker

Kerry Baker

Hola - I'm a partner with Ventanas Mexico and author of the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online."  

Spend a little time on the web and you will read how important it is to get started learning Spanish before you go.  The Interactive Guide was written specifically for adults thinking about retiring to Spanish-speaking countries. Also look for "If Only I Had a Place" on renting in Mexico.