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Living in Mexico: 5 Checklist Items (Before You Go)

Mexico: A State of  Mind.

How’s your state of mind? Feeling confident and resilient? Flexible and fluid? Are you poised for adventure south of the border?

Freedom and opportunity reign in Mexico. And that’s why expats love it!

living in mexico

Chris Martino

Living in Mexico: What’s Not to Love?

The vibrant culture, beaches, deserts, mountains, and oceans. World-class surfing and snorkeling. Fresh seafood, Mexican and international cuisine.

Mexico offers outstanding opportunities to start a business, purchase real estate, and invest. Its low home prices and low cost of living afford you a superior quality of life.

You get superb health care facilities and state-of-the-art health care. Mexico’s modern infrastructure is solid. And high-speed communication makes your work and personal life easy.

Mexico has a number of International Airports that service flights from around the world. And good roads that make it easy to traverse the country for both business and pleasure.

Okay, I get it. Why not move your life to Mexico?

But, if you want to love living in Mexico, there are a few facts you need to know before you go.

living in mexico

Christopher William Adach

Living in Mexico: Your 5-Item Checklist (Before You Go)

1.  Learn What It’s Like to Live in Mexico: Read Books, Blogs, and Forums.

Explore the realities of daily life through stories of ordinary expats. Read books like San Miguel de Allende: A Place In The Heart. This is a collection of stories about true expats.

Novels about Mexico can also provide unique insights about Mexico. You may know John Scherber’s popular Murder in Mexico mystery series. The Girl From Veracruz is his latest release.

The good news is, you can find these books (and pretty much everything else you need to know) on the MexConnect blog-style magazine site.

The website covers everything from articles about living in Mexico, to travel and food. Culture and arts, history, and business. And the best part is, you can join one of Mexconnect’s many forums.

Tune in for timely advice and share with other forum members. You’ll absorb copious amounts of information from experienced expats living in Mexico.

2. Learn Spanish: It’s Your Key to Thriving in Mexico.

Don’t just speak Spanish. Live and celebrate life in Spanish. There is nothing more influential in the outcome of your expat transition to Mexico.

There are many language learning options. Choose from a number of reputable self-paced programs. Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and Duolingo are all popular. You can also download apps for your mobile devices.

However, if you’re a procrastinator, a self-paced approach may not work. You may be better served by registering for Spanish classes at a local venue.

Your absolute best option is to enroll in Spanish Immersion in Mexico. This style of learning ensures you will fully engage in Mexico’s language and culture.

The Spanish Institute of Puebla and Instituto Cultural Oaxaca are two highly regarded Spanish language and culture schools in Mexico.

3. Understand Mexico’s Immigration Policies: Which Visa Is Right for You?

There are many kinds of Mexico Visas. Like many expats, you may not think twice about operating long-term on your Mexico Tourist Visa. But you may be missing out on real benefits with a Residency Visa.

Do you plan to live in Mexico six months a year (or more?) If so, you should consider the benefits of holding a temporary Visa versus a permanent Visa.

There are different ways to go about obtaining a Visa. So you may want to consider hiring an immigration lawyer who knows the immigration system well. It could save you money and hassle in the long run.

Make sure you understand the apostille process. You’re required to have a certified or notarized document (apostille) for any legal action (Visas included). This process alone is arduous. You will need birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, and divorce decrees.

And there may be more. An immigration attorney or an experienced apostille service can ensure you have the correct documents. And that you navigate the process as quickly (and as stress-free) as possible.

4. Understand Mexico’s Banking System

Mexico’s banking system has a volatile history. But it survived the global financial crisis and recent financial reform. The banking system emerged more stable and profitable.

Opening the market to foreign banks with new customer service technologies, employee training, and management programs positively influenced Mexico’s banking system.

But you still need to be on your toes when banking in Mexico. Watch for high multi-layered charges and commissions. Expect high borrowing rates and low deposit rates. And not-so-good customer service.

You’re still likely to experience long lines at the counter, so you may want to do most of your banking online.

5. Learn How to Shop Smart and Save Money.

Markets and trade are deeply rooted in Mexico culture. Smart shopping is buying local. Scope out local food markets and stores where locals shop. You’ll definitely pay less than if you buy name brands.

Stay away from supermarkets and imported items whenever possible. You’ll find your best deals on staples like breads, meats, veggies, and fruits at local family markets and mobile street vendors. Get to know the local butcher. Think “fresh.” And avoid mass-produced pre-packaged foods.

Avoid shopping malls, department stores and mega stores. Shop for clothing and shoes with local shop owners and market traders. They’re usually open to negotiation. They may be inclined to make a special price just for you.

Shop local crafters for home furnishings as well. Local artisans’ handmade furnishings are crafted from local woods, recycled, and other local materials. If they’re not obvious, use your best Spanish to ask locals where you can find a local furniture maker.

living in mexico

Christopher William Adach

Living in Mexico: What to Research Next

This checklist gets you off to a good start. And learning is simply a part of the journey. Here are four more items you may want to research next.

  • Long-term living costs in Mexico
  • How to prepare your budget
  • How are Mexico properties valued?
  • Mexico’s tax structure

Be patient and flexible. Be adventurous. And make the most of living in Mexico.

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