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’re used to seeing; and how they manifest themselves might be different and, at first, alien to your customs. This journey of discovery is one that you’ll have to undertake consciously if you intend to create a new lifestyle for yourself in Mexico.
Full adoption of any foreign country requires compromise, acceptance, and understanding. Moving to Mexico will oblige you to change habits, surrender certain whims, and 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. Situations here will at times frustrate you or annoy you; sometimes they will appear to tease you for no apparent reason.
Mexico can also fill you with an energy and joy that will remain in you always. It’s this spontaneous tapestry that creates the almost mystical allure that has brought foreigners to live here, and live out their lives here, for better and for worse, for centuries. And when —or 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 tread that testing path and adapt, 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, or in the Mexican countryside. The topographical diversity here offers ample choice of locations.
Whatever location you choose, your true place, when you find it in Mexico, will be anchored in the spaces that 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 so often cited in lore, 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. To adapt, you’ll need to turn up with an open mind, with courage and 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 from Mexico, 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 instant answers. And as you embark on this journey you’ll never quite understand how irrelevant all your preconceptions are to become as Mexico simultaneously encourages and obliges you to find your peace amidst its contrasts and eccentricities.
If you come to truly embrace Mexico, as its closest friends who are foreign-born to these 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 discovery that brings you to being each day and a knowing within that here is where your life belongs.
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A wonderfully crafted article! Beautifully written on top of offering valuable insights. I’m searching for “my” place and will explore my hot spots while living in a camper van.
I spend lots of time as a single retired woman in Puerto Vallarta. I’ve enjoyed volunteering, the writer’s group and organizing social happy hours! But I may explore other areas…like San Miguel de Allende. I was hoping to return for another 5 months but with the pandemic everything is on hold. Hope to meet with some of you soon! Arlene
After spending 3 winters in Mazatlan, we decided to live there full time. Tomorrow we will be arriving there with only three suitcases, with our most important possessions. We feel it is essential for our health and happiness to live in a place where we feel alive instead of just living. We are fortunate to find a furnished place to rent last winter, in the area we like best, walking distance from the places we like, and the best landlady anyone can wish for.
It still wasn’t easy to make this decision, my husband is 88, but very healthy. We both like dancing and painting, and we can do that there everyday, if we so desire. Our daughters support our decision, they know how much we enjoy to be in Mazatlan, and the company of the many friends we have made there.
My wife and I just chem back from a cruise that stopped at Mazatlan and it immediately struck me as a gem that is about to shine brightly. We may travel back and forth but before even doing that would like to live there part time in a rental and look for a place then. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
Connie I like your comments about Mazatlan,I plan to visit to see how is like.I will move for 3 mounts. (Winter) I am from Chicago.
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?
Have a look at this article we have also published https://www.mexperience.com/practicalities-of-living-part-of-the-year-in-mexico/ — it will help you to get some insights into part-time residency in Mexico.
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
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.
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.