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Working Independently in Mexico

Topics: Working

Published: Friday, October 17, 2008

As the world economy slows down and big companies begin to sharpen and swing their corporate axes, some people will be contemplating the possibility of taking a redundancy package and investing the money to start an independent business of their own – possibly, even, in Mexico.

Forget the idyllic setting of running your own beach-bar, restaurant or café. Statistically, those sorts of businesses have provided a super-highway for foreigners with a commercial death-wish: losing their shirts – and their life savings.  Some people might succeed with a B&B, although even in the recent fat years, with record numbers of visitors, supply of these has been outstripping demand in many of the quaint and popular tourist towns.

Mexico has plenty of trades people already, and doctors and nurses, so forget coming here if you plan to set up as an electrician, plumber, carpenter, or in some medical profession – including psychology. Besides those skills being ‘well covered’, you’re unlikely to secure a work permit to practise them.

The market for translators and interpreters always appears buoyant and if you have the skills, you could earn a living doing these; it’s worth noting that it takes time to build up your reputation, but once you’ve done that, if you’re good, you’re likely to be in near-constant demand from agencies and clients.  Teaching English is another trade that is always in demand, although like translators, the supply is plentiful and establishing yourself in the fields of translation, interpretation or teaching on a free-lance basis is not easy.  You have to be very good, and be prepared to work quite long hoursn to earn a reasonable living over the long term.

Most of the success-stories concerning foreigners moving to Mexico to work independently involve them being engaged with Information Technology or some type of other specialist knowledge-economy work. Website design, technical programming, professional writers, graphic design, and specialized marketing consultancies are examples.  Note, however, that you must be quite experienced and, ideally, creative too: Mexico has plenty of IT technicians and administrative professionals.

If you plan to move to Mexico under the auspice of a large firm or multi-national company, the situation is quite different: you will have your role and lifestyle cut-out for you and the living and working experience will be quite distinct to that of a person, couple, or family moving here under the power of their own steam and initiative.

When you contemplate a move to Mexico to work here independently, you should consider entering a market that you know very well and in which you have at least several years of direct, practical experience. Keys to success include market research, doing your homework thoroughly, choosing the right location for your enterprise… and tenacity: Mexico’s business environment demands this.

You will also do better, quicker, if you have contracts in place already: either from Mexican firms seeking your expertise on an independent basis or from foreign companies.  Setting up a business in Mexico is more time consuming and more expensive than you may realize, and if you’re accustomed to the USA, with its low-cost markets and overheads to match, you’ll be in for a surprise in Mexico: equipment procurement costs, for example, are 20-50% more than in the US.

You will need to set up a Mexican company, or work as an employee of a foreign company (which can be your own).   These matters, as well as a raft of others in relation to working independently in Mexico, are published in detail on the Mexperience guide to Self Employment in Mexico.

If you plan to set up your own company and employ people in Mexico, we recommend you download a copy of the Employer’s Guide to Mexico, which is detailed and covers a wide range of matters related to Mexican employment practice and law.