Living in Mexico: Q&A

Mexico Spotlight

Key questions and answers people most frequently ask in relation to living in Mexico

As you plan your move to Mexico, there will be many questions you’ll ask yourself that need to be answered about what’s required and what you can expect from your lifestyle here.  This Q&A outlines common questions (and answers) and also links to further resources on Mexperience for further research.

See Also: Practical Considerations for Living in Mexico

Why Do People Move to 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 in many places around Mexico, enabling retirees to take full advantage of their spare time and they also discover that the temperate climates in Mexico are more conducive to general well-being as they get older.

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, Canadian, European and Asian corporations have offices and/or manufacturing facilities in Mexico, and it’s common for managers and specialists to be given assignments in Mexico.

Increasingly, people are moving to Mexico under the auspice of their own efforts and resources.  The emergence of the ‘knowledge economy’ over the last two decades means that increasing numbers of working-age people can live and work in Mexico in ways that were not possible before the Internet Age.

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 more gentle pace of life in an environment with more space to appreciate people and culture;
  • access to year-round temperate climates which make outdoor living possible and are conducive to good health;
  • the desire to live in a foreign country, learn a new language, and deepen their appreciation for a 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, either through a company or self-employment, and gain a valuable cross-cultural working experience;
  • to down-size and live more simply;
  • to take a long break or sabbatical and review their life situation;
  • to rest after an illness, or to reflect on how to make significant lifestyle changes

What is it Like to Live in Mexico?

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 provincial 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 and Mexicans 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.

See Also: Society and Culture in Mexico and Social Etiquette in Mexico

What is the Culture Like in Mexico?

Mexico’s culture has a rich history, and is solidly based around family, 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 an afternoon lunch (la comida) together, 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 tend to be religious and fatalistic. This is in contrast to some aspects of ‘westernized’ culture in which people generally feel that they are in full 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 or want them to be.

Mexico has a gentler 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 some foreign residents unfamiliar with Mexico, 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.

Essential Skills for Expats

Our five-part blog series on Essential Skills for Expats in Mexico enables you to learn about key abilities you’ll need to help make your move here a success and avoid the pitfalls that some fall in to when they arrive in Mexico less mindful of the adjustments needed when intending to live in a foreign country.

Can Any Foreigner Just Move to Mexico?

You need to fulfill certain criteria to live, work, or retire in Mexico. Connect to our Mexico Immigration Page for full details about this.

See Also: Working in Mexico Q&A and Finding Jobs and Work in Mexico

What is the Cost of Living in Mexico?

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 which we update annually for a detailed guide of living costs here.

See Also: Shops and Shopping in Mexico

What Types of People Move to 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 here: independently, with their partners, their families, or in retirement.

The common thread of the most successful ‘case studies’ is that these people made a conscious effort 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

Essential Skills for Expats

Our five-part blog series on Essential Skills for Expats in Mexico enables you to learn about key abilities you’ll need to help make your move here a success and avoid the pitfalls that some fall in to when they arrive in Mexico less mindful of the adjustments needed when intending to live in a foreign country.

What Are My Next Steps?

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 precis of the key matters you will need to consider and address when planning your move.

If you plan to work in Mexico, through formal employment or freelance/independently, connect to our guides to Working in Mexico

If you plan to retire, our guide to Retirement in Mexico will be an excellent resource for you.

For your accommodations, connect to the guides on Real Estate in Mexico, which tell you about Renting in Mexico, Buying Property in Mexico, House Maintenance, Home Security and more…

Comprehensive Living Guides

In this Lifestyle section on Mexperience, 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,

Schools in Mexico.

Make the Most of Your Leisure Time in Mexico

Your leisure time is precious and Mexperience helps you to make the most of it when you’re visiting or living in Mexico.  Connect to our Travel Guides and Mexico Essentials section to discover places all over Mexico.

Mexico in your inbox

Our free newsletter about Mexico brings you a monthly round-up mix of recently published material, as well as gems from our extensive content archives.