Why Mexico Scores Big for Expat Families
Mexico is great for expat families looking for a destination that combines a good work-life balance, along with close proximity to the U.S., and a chance to immerse themselves in a culture that is both new and somewhat familiar. The welcoming environment is further enhanced by the number of long-established expat communities in a wide variety of locations throughout the country.
With a favorable exchange rate, currently about $0.05 U.S. to $1.00 Mexican peso, it is very easy to get more for your dollars south of the border. With the large number of multi-national corporations that maintain operations in Mexico, there is also a growing number of employment opportunities for expats looking to take their careers in a new direction.
Many Choices for Your Home in Mexico
A major concern for those moving abroad is finding the right place to live. One of the main reasons that Mexico is great for expat families is the wide variety of homes that can be purchased or rented.
Non-residents can own property in their own name throughout much of Mexico; direct ownership in the “restricted zone,” areas within 64 miles of international borders or 32 miles of the coastline, is prohibited except through something called fideicomiso, or a bank trust. Under this system, the bank is the actual title holder with the purchaser being the beneficiary of the trust, with full rights of ownership.
With favorable property prices to match the exchange rate, finding the perfect casa for your family is easier than you might imagine. Whether you are seeking an urban villa, a beachfront hacienda, or a pastoral setting, Mexico has a place for you and your family.
Survey Says: Mexico Is Great for Expat Families!
For expats with children, there are many additional factors to be considered in making a decision to move abroad. In addition to financial and logistical concerns, there’s also education, health care, and other family-friendly services that play an important role.
A recent survey conducted by InterNations, the largest global network of expats, explored 43 life aspects that factor into the decision to move abroad. On one important component, the Family Life Index, Mexico was the only country in the Americas to rank in the top 20. With a great work-life balance and family-friendly attitude, Mexico is a great place for expat families to live and grow.
Living Day to Day As an Expat Family in Mexico
One of the greatest things about living as an expat family in Mexico is the wide variety of settings in which you can choose to live. No matter what your interests or desired pace of life, there’s something for everyone in Mexico.
Many expat families, especially those who move to Mexico for employment, are drawn to the major metropolitan areas like Mexico City, Acapulco, Monterrey, and Guadalajara. The modern amenities, educational choices, and lifestyles in these locales are the ones that most closely mirror major U.S. cities.
Additionally, the number of English speakers and expat-centric communities is also greater. However, these pluses do often come with a higher price tag on things like housing, utilities, food, and other essentials that families need to sustain their lifestyle.
For those expats fortunate enough to be able to work remotely, beach and tourist locations such as Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and Rivera Maya may be desirable. In addition to the wide variety of leisure activities, these destinations have established expat communities that make fitting in much easier. As might be expected, however, the cost of living in these areas is also higher than less developed parts of the country.
Rural and Rustic
Though not for everyone, Mexico is great for expat families seeking to immerse themselves in a new and foreign culture. Smaller towns and villages afford the opportunity for children to be exposed to a lifestyle far different than that which they had back in the U.S.
The lower cost of living can offset the fact that many modern amenities may not be as readily available. Being able to truly live an authentic Mexican lifestyle can provide an unparalleled experience that expat children can carry with them as they grow and develop.
Things to Consider
While Mexico is great for expat families, there are some important considerations that should be factored in to making the decision to move. Understanding the pluses and minuses involved in such a decision can provide a good assessment of whether moving to Mexico is the right choice for you and your family.
Crime and Safety
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Mexico has certainly made its share of headlines with its problems with various drug cartels and other criminal activities. The good news is that, while certain areas appear to be hotspots for these types of incidents, the majority of the country is largely unaffected.
Prior to moving to any new location, make sure you do your research on its safety. Actually visiting prospective choices (preferably more than once) can help you decide if these are the kind of places you want to raise your family in.
Education and Language
It is important to remember that, in spite of the large number of English speakers present, Spanish is still the principal language in Mexico. Living in the country can provide an excellent opportunity – especially for children – to learn a second language, but it can also make navigating daily life rather difficult.
While there are a number of school options in Mexico, the overall public education system still needs improvement. Rural schools, in particular, seem to lag behind the rest of the country. In a recent study, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked the public system as below average in mathematics, science, and reading.
There are a growing number of international schools that offer alternatives to the public system. Home schooling and parochial schools are other alternatives that may be considered to provide educational options for children.
The election of 2016 appears to mark a dramatic shift in immigration laws that will impact both the U.S. and Mexico. As a result, there is a growing uncertainty about how these shifts will impact expats seeking to move to and work in Mexico. Keeping abreast of all current developments and changes in the laws is a necessary step in making the decision to move south of the border.
Is Mexico Right for Your Family?
There are many reasons that Mexico is great for expat families. Its affordability, relaxed pace of life, abundance of leisure-time activities, and close proximity to friends and family “back home” are all positive elements.
There is no better way to begin the discussion about moving than for you and your family to visit places in Mexico that may appeal to you. Seeing firsthand the places you could call home and seeing how your family interacts is the best barometer for measuring the success of such a life-changing decision.