shopping online: a survival tip to living in mexico

shopping online: a survival tip to living in mexico

A decade ago, the area where I currently live in Mexico didn’t have a lot in the way of selection when it came to some pretty straightforward things like bedding, cookery and home decorating items or even patio furniture, which was truly nonexistent — unless you’re the type whose happy with a handful of white plastic chairs and matching plastic table that requires retrieving every time the wind blows.

Over the years as more people arrived and home construction grew, new stores opened while existing stores expanded their product line, a very welcome change for permanent residents who do not travel much. Since I live and work here full time, traveling back and forth to “mule” items just isn’t worth my time, money or effort…and depending on the item (appliances) was also not possible.

For a long time I just did without things or would improvise. Once when my magnetic Ikea knife holder that I brought with me died, yes, the magnet stopped being magnetic — I blamed the humidity but admit to having no scientific proof that’s even possible — I made a knife holder from a handful of old books that I bunched together with twine and a nice ribbon. I still have it to this day.

Moving on…

In not always wanting to improvise or not always being able to — for example, when you’re in need of a new set of sheets, that’s kinda of hard to bunch together from a handful of anything — I began learning to shop online inside the country.

Years ago, the only option at the time was Mercado Libre, a place I still frequent to this day and highly recommend because not only do they have a great consumer shopping net (the vendor doesn’t get paid until after you’ve received your product), they have great prices and someone always carries that hard-to-find item.

They were a lifesaver for many years. I have pages, upon pages of shopped for items that include everything from chemical free sunscreen to books in English to dresses, boots, high end bedding, camping gear and even a dishwasher.

I wanted a portable dishwasher on wheels, something that still doesn’t exist where I live, but I found a vendor on Mercado Libre selling them new (Maytag) out of Mexico City, so I bought one and had it delivered to my home. It arrived a week later. I still have it.

Over the past several years as Mexico continued to grow, Walmart online hit the scene, guaranteeing (at the time) that what they sold online was not sold in stores. For the most part I believed them because I looked. We have two large Walmarts (not to mention their Sam’s Club and warehouse versions) where I live, and I never did find those online items being sold in local stores.

They became my source for things like cotton sheets, large camping tent, a reasonably priced sofa set, dining table, a portable Jacuzzi and numerous other items. I was beginning to feel better for finding specific things that were so common in my other life, but now posed a challenge.

Most recently, Amazon Mexico hit the market, who, for the first year, didn’t have much in the way of well, anything really. But during year two forward, they have filled their pages with a plethora of vendors offering everything and anything you can imagine…and for comparable prices.

When I want something specific, say cotton sheets for example (which are extremely difficult to find locally since most things are a cotton-polyester blend, which is a nightmare in the heat), I can key in my search on all three sites and pick the best product and the best price.

Another great thing about shopping these online sites in particular, no import fees. The items are already here in the country. Not only does that save on import fees, it also saves on shipping costs and time, often allowing home deliveries in only a few days.