The things nobody tells you before moving to Mexico
Perhaps you have friends that have moved to Mexico or you have heard a lot about living there as an option. Most of the time people mention the success stories and how they are living the dream in Mexico. There are, however, some hard realities that might alter your plans a bit or just give you a heads up before taking the plunge. Here are some of the things that nobody really talks about in regard to living in Mexico.
Not all expats are good people
Some might have the idea that moving to another country means that the people you meet are going to be worldly, well traveled individuals. The truth is, you will meet a varied mix of expats. Sometimes you will encounter people that will make you think ” How did these people escape a trailer park in Florida?”. Other times you meet some pretty smart people that just happened to retire in the same spot as you. The point is, the expat community has many ideologies, political affiliations, low and higher educated people, and even people escaping the law and moving to Mexico. This is important to remember while getting settled in because you will be meeting a lot of new people.
It is important to remember as you start getting to know other expats in your area that there we be a mixed bag of people. Don’t be disappointed if everyone is not how you expected. Also, don’t fall prey to toxic people, needy or just outright scammy people. It should be noted that just because a contractor or a realtor is from your home country, it does not mean there is some secret bond or automatic trust agreement. People from your home country working in Mexico can be just as cunning as local that wants to take advantage of you.
Note: It is always good to get personal recommendations for services. This can help eliminate some of the people trying to get work and not provide good services.
It is a recurring theme in chat groups and news outlets where an American or Canadian was arrested in Mexico for warrants in another country. Also scammy people that drift through the area pretending to be good tradespeople are talked about online. It seems Mexico does attract some not so good expats, all looking to live in paradise.
Don’t open a business based on expats
If you are thinking of moving to Mexico, but not of retirement age, you might be thinking of some sort of business. Often people look for a niche that is not being filled or something that you would like. Many people base a business idea on personal experiences and comforts of home. The most popular business ideas for expats are restaurants or a bar. Even if it is another type of business based on having expat clientele, it usually never works.
Why would something like this fail? There are several reasons. For most people moving to Mexico, they see it through their eyes and experiences. The expat community is the focus of their events and social life and it feels like this big community in an area. The reality is that most expat populations are a very small percentage of the overall population of an area. So if your business plan is for only expats, you have already eliminated some 90-95% of potential clients.
In most areas where expats like to live in Mexico, usually tourism is a big part of the economy. This means that there will be high and low seasons. Business owners need to ride out the lean times and this means having a local following. Tapping into the local market allows businesses to not only survive but thrive. For more about advertising a business in Mexico, see our article here.
Mexico is not for all people
Each country has a vibe and culture that defines it. There will always be some sort of culture shock for people moving to another country, but some find it too much. In general, Mexico is a laid back country, things get done, but at their own pace. Most Mexicans are fairly happy and welcoming people. Where some people might have a problem is the pace of getting things done and lack of service. For people that like a fast paces life and have a Type A personality, it might feel like fitting a square peg in a round hole.
Just because Mexico is cheaper to live in compared to many countries, it does not make it perfect for everyone. Sometimes it is not enough just the locations, it is the other factors that make it not as enjoyable for living. It might be the hot weather, less than a great school system, or frustration trying to get things done that make people want to move back home. For more, see our article on why some people move away from Playa Del Carmen.
Living the online life in Mexico
It has never been easier to be an expat. Inexpensive flights, electronic files, working online and the ease of staying connected makes living abroad much easier. It can however, present some new challenges.
One area that expats flock to is online chat groups. It might be on Facebook or other platform. These are great places to connect with other expats, ask questions and find out news. There are some things you should know first, because you will be entering a new online world just like entering the school for the first day. There will be people that are helpful, others sarcastic, and many with a lot of opinions. So with this in mind, here are some tips to navigate the expat world of being online.
- You will be creating a reputation online just like in real life. Eventually you will meet some of these people in person, so it is best to behave online.
- Ignore rude comments or other differing opinions. It can be hard to ignore, but you have to remember that arguing over opinions is never a winning game. You have to accept that people can have different opinions about things. Ignoring sarcastic or rude comments also helps not draw even more attention to them.
- You are sure to have a lot of new questions. Many people start off by using the chats as their personal google search. Expats that have been in the area like to help, but not answer the same questions, over and over. Use the search box to look for questions that are already discussed. If you cannot find an answer, start your post by saying ” I searched but did not find anything or recent information”. This will show others that you put forth an effort to answer your question.
- Remember when we said not all expats are good people? Look out for online scams, people sending you random messages or offer services that might not be reputable.
Finding your niche can be hard
Everyone wants to find their niche in the world. It can refer to your home and physical place where you live or to your niche of friends and associates. Finding your right niche in both of these cases can be hard to do.
Most people moving to Mexico have an idea of where they would like to live. But once living in one place, it might be different from what you expected. Some that have only traveled for vacations to Mexico might be surprised at the reality of daily life and how different it is compared to what they thought it would be like. Niche of new friends in Mexico
Finding a new niche of friends can be challenging. Not only are people busy exploring on their own or with their couple, you are in the minority being an expat. Some of the best ways to meet people are by doing something you enjoy. It might be a charity or by meeting people that have an interest in your same hobby. See our article about meeting people.
Finding your location
Some expats discover the weather is too hot, or too dry, or too expensive in one location and move to another part of Mexico. Moving once to Mexico can be a big enough move, but then having to move again to find your niche, well that can be even harder. The good news is, Mexico is a large country, spanning from the Pacific to Caribbean Sea. So there are lots of places with different feels, climates and sizes.
If you have only visited your possible dream location in one season, you might find it unbearable during the dry or hot months. It is important to actually experience conditions during different times of the year. For example: in Playa Del Carmen there are peak seasons where there are a lot more people in town, dry season, rainy season, and hot weather that can take a toll on those not used to it.
You might find learning Spanish hard
It might be your first time trying to learn another language. There are a lot of words of Spanish that are commonly heard on tv shows and conversations around the world. This might give you a false sense that it can be easy to get by or just learn a little more. There are some parts of Mexico where it is possible to get by with English daily, but outside of the few pockets, it will be necessary to learn.
You might start with audio lessons or even a private tutor. For those that are retired, starting over and starting with a new language can be a challenge. Most people learn enough to survive but not thrive. You have to push yourself for the parts that you don’t need daily. In languages we can use around 250,000 words, that is a lot of learning.
Not leaning or while in the process of struggling, you can feel nervous when people approach or ask you something. Each police checkpoint or immigration visa appointments can be stressful. There will be good days where you understand more than others. The important part is to continue so you can not only feel more relaxed, but also discover more.
Expats do go home sometimes
Your dream of living in another country could come to an end. Why? Well, not all expat stories end with happily ever after in Mexico. Here are some of the truths that affect expats and why they move back home.
- They did not really plan well, and it was very different then they expect. They might try it for a year, but then regroup and move back home.
- Older expats that are getting up in age might need to move closer to family members for help. Mexico does not have a lot of assisted living facilities nor some of the more extensive health care services for elderly. This can be very hard for some since they might have lived in Mexico for a decade or more, only to find out they need to readjust to living back in their home country.
- Financial reasons. Living in Mexico is cheaper than most places, but there are also restrictions about working in the country. Even if you establish work, you will most likely be paid very low wages. This might bring the experiment of living in Mexico to an end. It might be appealing to live near the beach and be able to have tacos all the time, but after a while it can get tiresome budgeting all the time.
- Education of children. There are more and more schools available for children in Mexico. International schools with bilingual courses are great, but some parents know how the education system works back home. Sometimes there are greater financial benefits of getting a less expensive education with better instruction.
- Some just like moving around and trying new places. There are some countries that are similar to Mexico. Belize and Costa Rica tend to be the other countries with similar conditions as living in parts of Mexico. We often see post online about people looking at changing between these countries.
We hope if you make the move to Mexico, it is a good success for you. For more about living in Mexico, see our expats tab in our menu for other articles about living in Mexico.