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Living in Mexico: Q&A
As you plan your move to Mexico, there will be many questions you'll ask yourself that need to be answered. This guide contains a list of key questions and answers people most frequently ask in relation to living in Mexico.
People move to Mexico for a whole variety of reasons: some professional, some personal, or a combination of both.
Some move to Mexico to retire, especially so because the climate is ideal for retired people in many places around Mexico, enabling them to take full advantage of their spare time and they find that the climates in Mexico are more conducive to their general well-being.
Thousands of foreign professionals arrive in Mexico every year, as part of a secondment with the company they are working for. A lot of American, British and Japanese corporations have offices and/or manufacturing facilities in Mexico, and it is quite common for managers and specialists to be seconded to Mexico.
Although the reasons that people make a conscious decision and choose to live in Mexico under their own steam are many, common themes include:
- an opportunity to gain access to a new culture and different way of life;
- to enjoy a better quality of life;
- to engage with a slower pace of life in an environment with more time to appreciate people and culture;
- access to a more temperate climate;
- the desire to live in a foreign country, learn a new language and appreciate foreign culture;
- make a change from complacent or familiar surroundings to something new, friendly and culturally rich;
- to take up an opportunity to work in Mexico and gain a valuable cross-cultural working experience;
- to down-size and live more simply;
- to take a long break or sabbatical; to rest after an illness, or to reflect on how to make significant lifestyle changes
Living in Mexico is very different to living in the USA, Canada and Europe.
Although English is spoken in tourist centers, big hotels, and resorts as well as in professional establishments in bigger cities, it cannot be considered 'common' in every day living. You would therefore need to learn some Spanish to get by day-to-day, unless you lived in the expensive, gated 'expatriate' communities and only socialized within those circles.
Bigger towns and cities offer all of the amenities you would have access to in most towns back home: supermarkets, shops, restaurants, entertainment, nightlife, etc.
Generally speaking, Mexico's pace of life is slower than that of the US, Canada and Europe--especially when compared to the pace of major cities there.
In Mexico, things may be promised but not always delivered at the promised time (ranging from the new table you ordered to the gardener showing up) - and this can be frustrating - but once you understand that it is part of the culture, you begin to relax into it and adjust to the calmer rhythms which exist here in Mexico.
Mexican people are extremely warm and friendly. In smaller communities, especially, they will make you feel welcome and help you where they can. Mexican people love foreign lands, and they love to hear about different people and places. The more effort you make to integrate yourself into Mexican communities and the Mexican way of life, the more receptive Mexico will be towards you, and the people around you who you engage with will appreciate the fact that you have made the effort to do so.
Mexico's culture has a rich history, and is solidly based around family, religion, people, and tradition.
The Mexicans are proud of their heritage and of their accomplishments. They know that there is much to do to make Mexico better, and they may sometimes criticize lots of different things about the country, but deep inside they are patriotic and a proud people.
Family is a central theme in Mexico, and a cornerstone of the culture. It is not unusual for three or sometimes four generations of family to meet up for afternoon lunch (la comida), sit around the table, talk, gossip, laugh and joke with each other. This is not a special event: this is family life as usual! At the weekends, you'll find parks, museums, and local attractions packed with families enjoying their leisure time together.
Mexicans are religious and fatalistic. This is in contrast to some aspects of 'westernized' culture in which people generally feel that they are in control of their own destiny. A large number of people in Mexico still go to church, and it is common to see the Christian crucifix and images of the Virgin Guadalupe in people's homes, public buildings, offices, cars, taxis and buses, etc.
In terms of aesthetics, image, and status, Mexico is 'traditional' - formal dress for those higher up the corporate ladder is a status symbol, as is the car they drive. Professional titles are important here. Anyone with a professional degree should always be addressed with the title of Licenciado/a, (or their professional equivalent): see the links below about social and business etiquette for more details.
People here will sooner be diplomats than give you an absolute "yes/no" answer to a question. This makes everyday situations--as well as business negotiations--distinct to those in the US and Europe, for example.
Commitment is possible, but perhaps not in the way you would get it back on your home ground. There is a saying that in Mexico, 'yes means no and no means maybe'. This is a fair analogy of the way Mexican culture deals with the concept of truth: after living here a while, you come to understand that matters and situations are not immediately as clean cut as you may expect them to be.
Mexico has a slower pace of life than most foreigners are used to, especially when compared with the USA, Canada and some countries in western Europe. The two notable exceptions are perhaps Mexico City and Monterrey. On the whole, Mexico is laid back, with emphasis on a cool, calm, and collected pace. This can be frustrating to foreigners, especially to those who have grown up in fast-paced, 'consumer-driven' environments and who have come to expect efficiency and punctuality as a given characteristic of everyday life situations.
You need to fulfil certain criteria to live, work, retire or both. Connect to the Immigration Page for full details about this.
This is the most frequently asked question from people considering a move to Mexico. The answer to this question depends upon your lifestyle choices and expectations. Connect to the Mexico Cost of Living Guide for an overview of living costs here, and to download a detailed guide to the current living costs in Mexico.
See Also: Shops and Shopping in Mexico
There are many examples of Americans, Canadians, Britons, Germans and Japanese as well as citizens from many other countries who have successfully moved to Mexico and enjoy a great life: independently, with their partners, their families, or in retirement.
The common thread of the most successful 'case studies' is that these people strived to integrate themselves and their family within the Mexican communities where they lived: they learned Spanish, they accepted Mexico's customs, lived and shared in their ways and festivities. They gave up their 'old' ways, and accepted that 'things over here' are different, but not necessarily worse than 'things at home' - and for them - Mexico becomes home away from home; or even, just home.
It is this open-minded approach that is critical to really appreciate Mexico and enjoy living here.
See Blog: Finding Your Place in Mexico
See Also: Guide to Moving to Mexico
Hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals live very well and very happily in Mexico. They have achieved their goals by planning ahead and by making considered choices.
Moving to any foreign country takes research, planning and preparation. Mexperience offers a wealth of resources to help you:
Practical matters: read the Guide to Practical Considerations for Living in Mexico. This will give you an excellent précis of the key matters you will need to consider and address when planning your move.
If you plan to retire, our guide to Retirement in Mexico will be an excellent resource for you.
Comprehensive Living Guides
In this Living and Working section you'll also find guides about Moving to Mexico, Society and Culture, Social Etiquette, Banks, Banking and Credit in Mexico, The Media, Healthcare in Mexico and Schools in Mexico for your children.