January 19, 2010

Down in the dumps

My rose colored glasses were throbbing red yesterday as I developed a flu-ish chest cold and reconciled life here.
It has been a difficult year with no end in sight. It took a sharp turn for the worse in December. Government subsidies to the gasoline industry had been cut, so moving produce is more expensive than ever before. Most of those products are also more expensive because of a 70 year drought.
Government support of the government-owned electric company has been cut, so power is more expensive than ever before. I stared at a bill yesterday that said 24 pesos a kWh and could not tell whether a 1500 peso "transfer of power" charge was part of it.
We have a "progressive' system in which you are charge in usage levels. Both properties hit level 3.
We are coping with a rise in natural gas prices. The supplier no longer plays a happy tune off the trucks as they roll into neighborhoods. I have three tanks, two of them full. And I will manage. But people without refrigerators use gas to recook their meals several times a day. Factories that produce canned goods have also raised their prices as a result.
Gasoline has gone up a big chunk of change per litre as well. The ferry prices are so high many locals have had to give up better paying jobs on the mainland because they couldn't break even.
As a result of this, the market basket has gone up 20-45 percent in the last month. That's the measure of the cost of 45 essential items ranging from milk and oil to flour and corn meal. The price of tortillas alone rose 33 percent last month.
I am grumpy over all this. I am was even more grumpy when I got an email from 8 women who wanted to stay to two weeks and asked if I could discount further when one of them stays on.
Now, the apartments were never meant to house 4 adult women for two weeks at $300 and change a week. Two adults and two children willing to make adjustments works. Not four sets of towels, four showers a day multiplied...lights and hair dryers running, not thinking.
The tax we pay on rental income, before we pay income tax, has gone up from 12 percent to 16 percent. That is before all taxpayers, Mexicans and foreigners, pay a general income tax.
I am sorry for being so blunt. But several property owners and I have been whispering over the last month or so about how difficult it is and how selfish the prospective vacationers are being, making deposits, canceling and demanding their money back, for example. I won't carp about this, but I do want people to know that we have a serious gap in paradise here.
I hope it feels a bit better after my fever drops. But it won't change the reality.


Jane said...

I think you have every right to "carp" about this, and hopefully your realistic writing will enlighten tourists to the economic realities in Mexico, coupled with sharply rising expenses too!

Jackie said...

Some people just don't get it. I always thought "if I were running this business how would I feel about guests asking for x,y,z"

jennifer rose said...

You tell 'em! Someone had to. It is more than just frustrating to see foreign tourists nickel-and-dime vacation rental owners. They're already getting far more of a bargain than they would staying in a hotel, but so many of them just don't get it.

Life's a Beach! said...

We noticed the increase in prices at the supermercado when we were there in October, so another increase has to be crippling. And people don't get it if they're asking you to drop your extremely reasonable rent more. I also don't get why people don't buy travel insurance to protect their vacation deposits. Stuff happens, and it's common at all vacation destinations for properties and hotels to require paid in full 30 days before arrival with no refunds after a certain date in advance. Hope the world economy gets better soon!

Leah Flinn said...

I have never seen such sky-rocketing inflation as exists in Mexico. Tortillas went up here in Veracruz as well, along with the bus fare, which was just increased last year. Not forgetting the raise in milk, bread, tacos & just about every food item. Did we mention construction materials (cement) and labor costs also went up? I don't know how people are going to be able to keep up. It's clear the prices are sky-rocketing and becoming ever closer to that of the United States. Thanks for sending the message - Mexico is not THAT cheap!

Anonymous said...

That's bites!!!

It seems that tourism is crucial to the economy in certain areas of MX, and with many folks the U.S in a financial crisis, the niceties - including vacations - are being cut drastically in order to survive here as well.

As far as folks asking for additional discounts, just politely decline. Stick to the original number for which the rental rate was determined, and charge extra for each adult, like other places do. You're in this to make money, not lose, verdad?

I have stayed in MANY places on Isla where the towels you received upon arrival were all you got. You could charge a buck or so for each additional towel requested, and let them wash them themselves (we had to)!

I hope things improve soon, there, as well as here!

Isla Chica

Anonymous said...

I'd like to apologize for the insenitive and idiotic gringas who think everything in Mexico is just one big bargain.

Jane said...


Sue said...

Thanks for doing the math, I just knew our pockets are always empty and we can't usually figure out where it went. I think I will post a little something and refer to this post. Good job!

jazzgate said...

Carp away! The customer is not always right. Is it possible for you to indicate typical living expenses in Mexico? Nothing lavish but merely day to day comfortable. Cheers!

MD in Texas said...

Zina, I don't know what your policy is but you defintely need a big penalty for cancelling within 30 or 60 days of arrival. Many places do that and most of the booking agents do as well. Just tell them up front to get trip insurance!!

Hope you are feeling better AND that you get some new bookings!