Things to know before moving to Mexico
If you are thinking about moving to Mexico or recently have done so, there is a lot that you will learn. There are also some good things to know before moving to Mexico so you can be more prepared. Some of these things you might not expect or have thought about. In this article we compile a list of things that will be new to most people.
Outdoor living in Mexico
For most people moving to Mexico, you are coming from climates with distinct seasons. This means living inside for several months of the year, hibernating and waiting for the warmer weather. In most parts of Mexico you find year round warm weather for living. In the Yucatan Peninsula, for example, the average winter temperature during the day is between 28/30 Celsius ( 82/86) Fahrenheit. Also in the winter the lowest it usually gets is 15 Celsius (59 Fahrenheit). This means year round outdoor/indoor living.
The climate of Mexico has affected the architecture and culture. Many homes and especially older homes, have large outdoor living spaces. These function as a second kitchen, outdoor dinning and even living rooms.Even newer homes are designed with outdoor wash areas and water pipes are not insulated because there is never a day with freezing weather. There really are countless little ways how the warm climate changes the way you will live in Mexico compared to many other places. For most people, this is a pleasant thing to deal with.
Feeling welcomed, really welcomed to Mexico
While most of the world is increasingly nationalistic and more intolerant to “outsiders”, Mexicans are very welcoming. You could say, welcoming and inquisitive to the point of really wanting to get to know their new neighbors. In a country that could be prejudice and closed off, Mexicans are very welcoming. After you move to Mexico you will find that many people are willing to try to understand your rough Spanish and help you out of an honest heart.
Mexico is a live and let live country for the most part. This means that people are laid back and not up in everyone else’s business. There of course will be mixed levels of welcoming, but most Mexicans accept people moving to Mexico as just part of life. The more you integrate and get to know the culture, the more people will really embrace you.
Of course, since Mexico is a big tourist destination, Mexicans are used to foreigners coming to visit. See our article about what Mexicans think of tourists from the United States. This will give you some insight on how Mexicans welcome both tourists and people coming to live.
Dealing with insects and creepy crawly things
Most people moving to Mexico are coming from points further from the equator. This means people are arriving from climates that have more definitive seasons and different insects and bugs that live there. Most places in the world have “dangerous insects and things that creep around” but of course some things get a bad reputation. Also, the fear of the unknown amplifies our fears. Getting to know what lives in Mexico and knowing their habits can make you more adjusted. However, the first time you encounter some of these new bugs and animals, you will no doubt be a little surprised.
The first time you see a scorpion, and you will!
One of the things to know before moving to Mexico is the fact you will eventually see a scorpion. Before living in Mexico you probably will have never had the privilege to see a live scorpion. The first time is a shock. They always appear at the most unsuspecting times. Even if you are always checking your shoes before putting them on, a common tip for tourists, you will be surprised by your first sighting. The good news is the fact that scorpions are very shy and don’t like being around people. They run from conflict but will sting when cornered.
You can limit your chances of meeting one by sealing all cracks around windows and doors. Regular cleaning of your home is also good since insects attract other insects in the circle of life. After a while, you will get more used to seeing them, although in some areas it is rare. We even know Mexicans that have lived their whole life in Mexico and never been stung by one, so that is good news.
Geckos that don’t sell car insurance
The first time you see a gecko inside you might be alarmed and not be able to go to bed without knowing it is out of the house. After moving to Mexico you will soon come to love these shy creatures. Even though they live in your house, once you get to know them a little better, you will welcome them.
Geckos eat bad bugs in your house. They often hang out near lights that attract bugs. They run along walls and the ceiling with ease and make small chirping noises. Most of you will meet these little guys when moving to Mexico. Just get to know them and enjoy what they do for you. Of course, keeping windows and doors sealed, will prevent many from getting in to clear your place of bugs.
Life gets cheaper the longer you live in Mexico
One thing to know before moving to Mexico is the cost of living. Mexico offers lower cost of housing, food and other cost are a considerable bit less than most other countries. However, the first few months you arrive or even your first year, your expenses will be more. Adjusting to living in Mexico is a process. Over time you adjust your thinking to more local ways and get to know the cost of doing things in Mexico. The more you adapt to doing things more locally, the cheaper the cost of living becomes in Mexico.
Knowing the true cost of hiring someone, how to make things, finding local markets and more will come with time. All of this will make life more affordable and more in line with what other expats say about the cost of living in Mexico. Getting to know locals and talking to them, talking with other long term foreigners living in Mexico also will speed up your process of knowing the cost of living.
Changing your perspective on things
When you first move to Mexico you might think that you would only want to live in the center of town and in a nice neighborhood. After some time you feel more comfortable exploring a little further and getting more into a local neighborhood. After a few years, you have changed your perspective on things and will be doing things that you would not of done a few years before.
We all have standards, but standards can change. Living in a different culture can easily change your perspectives.
Getting frustrated and learning to deal with different logic
Things are always things done differently in other countries, but often in Mexico, it seems to be done without much logic. After a while, some things will make sense and others that will always confound you. Many foreigners living in Mexico bemoan the quality of customer service, lines, paperwork and seemingly trival process of most things. This is an important thing to know before moving to Mexico. In fact, the paperwork starts in your home country to start the visa process.
Most of the confusion and frustration will come shortly after you move to Mexico. This is because you will need to finish your visa process, connect your services to your home, get a driver’s license and register a car if you are going to have one.
The good news is, you will come to expect some of it and there are bilingual people that offer services to help set up services and help with paperwork Of course, once you get settled in, you will not need as much interaction with bureaucracy.
Living outside the bubble
Often people that move from their home country will say they were living in a bubble. This means that most of the media and perspectives of how we see the world, it from one angle. The way society is operated also can be a bubble where people go through the motions of living, but don’t take time to step outside of that bubble and really live life. Moving to most countries will open your eyes to new ways of looking at things. Moving to Mexico will certainly be a change for more people. Mexico is far less dependent on the news, and outside world. It can be like living outside the bubble.
Mexicans are also a people that live in the moment. This can be something to learn from once you move to Mexico. Taking time to enjoy the little things in your day, can be very rewarding. Also, not planning everything. Many things happen by a chance meeting. You can be walking down the street and run into a friend and then off to coffee you go. Leaving yourself open to the moment can help you live life a little differently and just might be why Mexicans are some of the most happy people on earth.
Mexican work hard and long
In some countries, Mexicans get a bad reputation for not working hard. Most of this comes from not really knowing the truth and not knowing situations. Once in Mexico, you will learn that Mexicans are every hard working people. The biggest surprise might be that the normal work week is Monday-Friday and a half day on Saturday (See our article about the Mexican worker here for more details).
Working with such a long week leaves little time for leisure. On Sundays most Mexicans visit with family, go to the movies or a local spot for a bit of rest and relaxation. See our article about what Sundays are like in Playa Del Carmen.
Learning new things everyday
Moving to any new place opens you up to new experiences. Another country, well, that opens you to learning even more things. In a country with a rich culture and history, you have an endless amount of things to learn. This can be good for many people that are near or at retirement age. Continual stimulation helps us to stay active and our minds to be exercised. People who learn a second language often improve their memory functions and have better cognitive abilities.
What will you learn? It is endless. There are countless different fruits and seasonal things you will find in the markets (see our article about interesting things you will find in the supermarkets in Mexico), local culture, how things are done and so much more. Many expats start blogs and write almost daily about the new experiences and what they have learned. This just goes to show the continuing things that you can learn if you move to Mexico.
Travel and exploring Mexico
Once you have moved to Mexico you will have time to explore more your local area and beyond. Since Mexico is a large country, there are many areas that are different, each offering a different experience. If you are retired, you have time to travel when you feel like it or if you are moving to Mexico as a digital nomad or person working online, you will have more freedom also to travel.
Mexico is a very affordable country to travel around. You can find flights on Mexican airlines for $5o USD that take you all the way across the country. Not only are flights affordable, bus travel is as well. Hotels in Mexico offer good value compared to many countries. Often a basic hotel in a small town can cost $30 USD a night and up. This is practically unheard of in many countries.
Once you get out of the more touristy areas of the Riviera Maya, Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta, you will be paying “real Mexican” prices. You might also be impressed with the level of quality that you can get for a good price. Often in many mid to large cities there are a wide range of restaurants and services. Many rival the level of quality found in Europe, but at a steep discount.
Mexico will change you
You cannot change Mexico, but it can change you. If you move to Mexico thinking you will continue doing things your way, you will soon learn that you cannot change the traditions and culture of Mexico. It is far too entrenched in every aspect of life. Over time, people that stay in Mexico, change. Often going back to your home country a few years later, you will see just how much you have changed. If you take the plunge and move to Mexico, we hope you have a great experience! We also hope we can help you with some of the things to know before you get here.
Thank you for reading our article about things to know before you move to Mexico. If you are thinking of moving to Mexico, be sure to check out our section for expats. It is full of information for people looking to move to the area.