Finding Your Place in Mexico


It requires courage to emigrate and start a new life in a foreign country, and moving to Mexico is no exception.

The things you need to live well, to live comfortably, and to live simply are here. They probably aren’t in the shapes and forms that you are used to seeing; and how they manifest themselves might be different and, at first, alien to what you are accustomed. This journey of discovery is one that you’ll have to undertake consciously if you intend to transform your life situation and create a distinct lifestyle here.

Full adoption of any foreign country requires compromise, acceptance, and understanding. Moving to Mexico will oblige you to change habits, surrender whims, accept life for what it is—not what you wish it or demand it to be. In return, Mexico could gift new dimensions to your life, for example, by encouraging you to see beyond your current horizon, and connecting you to friends of the kind you never thought possible.

You will witness the kindnesses and wickedness of human nature as the well-documented contrasts present themselves regularly. It will frustrate you, it will annoy you; sometimes it will tease you and play with you for no apparent reason.

Mexico can also fill you with an energy and joy that will remain in you always. It’s this impulsive tapestry that creates the almost mystical allure which has brought foreigners to live here, and live out their lives here, for better and for worse, for centuries. And when—more precisely, if—you can find peace with all that Mexico is and all that Mexico is not, you will begin to find your place in these lands. If you don’t or discover that you can’t adapt and tread that testing path, Mexico will surely break your endeavors, and send you back whence you came.

You might choose a big city, a home in the mountains, or perhaps you’ll find a tranquil place to live beside the ocean. The topographical diversity here offers ample choice in respect of physical locations.

Whichever you choose, your true place, when you find it in Mexico, will be founded in the spaces which you will come to adore but which you cannot easily define, and in the feelings you hold for them which cannot be easily expressed.

It has been said that Mexico deposits a certain dust on visitors’ shoes that will cause them to return: for good, or never again. The allegory fits well with the contrasts, but it would be foolhardy to encapsulate that thing—that indefinable attendance which attracts and repels so many to these complex and absorbing lands—in such black-and-white terms.

For those who return and make a home—and for those who came and have not left—it matters not how many other foreigners are living here. To adapt, you’ll need to turn up with an open mind, with courage, and with tenacity, and be prepared to craft your own story here, on Mexico’s terms.

If what you’re seeing on the news keeps you away, your perceptions have been hijacked before you allowed yourself an opportunity to better understand these lands, and see what others here see: a country in transition, a country which is, by and large, less violent than those places where stones are so readily thrown from glass houses.

Finding your place in Mexico requires due course. There are no shortcuts, no tricks or cheats to download, no App to give you instant answers. It doesn’t matter how rich or how poor you may be. And you can never understand how irrelevant all those things, and more besides, are to become in your life as Mexico simultaneously encourages and obliges you to find your peace amidst its eccentricities.

If you come to truly know Mexico, as its closest friends who are foreign-born to its lands do, it will most likely be through a baptism of fire that will test your character, your mettle, and your heart; through a journey of preparation and discovery that brings you to being each day and the knowing within that here is where your life belongs.

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  1. V.F. says

    A great article and very well written. I have a question rather than a comment. Does anyone have the experience of living in Mexico for only a couple of months each year instead of permanent residency and do these two experiences differ?

    • Gerry Heaney says

      We have been going to Mexico for 10 years starting with 1 week and then 3 then 5 now we have bought a house and go for 6-8 weeks twice a year.
      have made friends and enjoy the Mex people very much
      the culture and amenities in our city of Guanajuato is varied and offers many different thing to do and appreciate.
      eg ,The Cervantino festival in Oct is world class
      Weather is temperate and consistently warm in the day and only cold in a few winter months at night.
      other towns like Leon,San Miguel ,Celaya are good for day trips .
      we usually start or finish the trip with a week at the coast but would not live there .
      We have grown to spend and would consider full time but for the family still in Canada
      Hope you take something from my comments

  2. Judith Gargyi says

    I also enjoyed your article. Having lived in Mexico from 1983 to 1995 the dust has remained on my shoes since I returned. Nothing about life stateside feels right or relevant. I miss everything about the way of life in Mexico its’ people, sites, aromas, and the freedom to be, just be.

  3. B.Buckman says

    I really enjoyed this article and I can say from experience it is very accurate. I have lived in Mexico for 17 years, albeit in two shifts. The first for 7 years from the late 80’s to the mid 90’s and the second, and current shift, now closing in on 10 years. I have asked myself a million times ‘why?’ yet I’m still here. Something to do with that special dust on my shoes that the author mentions I suppose.

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