Expat's Manual

Living in Mexico has long been popular with those who live north of the border. It is a popular place for holidays – especially with those looking for some winter sun and is also a popular retirement destination for Americans due to its close proximity to the US. The country boasts beautiful beaches, fascinating attractions, friendly locals, an all year round good climate, low cost of living and a good quality of life for all who travel there.

Mexico boasts one of the strongest economies in Latin America and also has a very strong trade agreement with the US. The capital, Mexico City, is growing at an impressive rate and now boasts excellent opportunities for all budding entrepreneurs. There is however a big gap between the rich and poor and a fine line between survival and poverty. However, in terms of international business, the country is ranked second highest out of all the Latin countries in terms of high income. The cost of living in Mexico is also very cheap, which means that many expats living here can enjoy a lavish lifestyle.

Business opportunities are plenty in Mexico as it is still largely a developing country and for those people with savings or who are financially secure enough to invest, now is a very good time. It is necessary to have the required visa and work permits before entering Mexico to live and work. If you have skills that are desirable in the country, you should not have a problem obtaining the right documentation.


Mexico as an Expat Destination

Mexico is a popular expat destination and there are currently an estimated 2 million expats living in the region. It is particularly appealing as a retirement destination for Americas, who find that they can enjoy a lower cost of living than that available within their home country.

Expats enjoy a relaxed pace of life and often find it an enjoyable and easy going place to live. The people there are friendly and welcoming to foreigners and the crime rate is quite low. Expats living in Mexico find that there is no shortage of things to do and the country's diverse landscape offers a variety of activities from soaking up the sun on beautiful beaches through to exploring mountainside lakes.


Cost of Living in Mexico

The low value of the Mexican peso against the US Dollar means that expatriates coming from developed countries can enjoy a high standard of living here. The basic cost of living is much lower than that of Europe and the United States, especially with regards to local grocery items. However, some things can be slightly more expensive, especially utilities and electrical items. Housing in Mexico is relatively cheap and expatriates have been known to buy a good sized property for less than $20,000 USD.

Mexico’s centralized economy means that the Mexico city acts as a centrepoint to the economy. This means that living in Mexico city is much more expensive than other cities and towns in Mexico.

Each Expat Info Desk relocation guide contains detailed living costs across different types of lifestyles and living options for many popular expatriate destinations. Because our guides are written by expats who live and work in the countries themselves, you can be assured that the information is accurate.


Language

Mexico is the largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, although English is spoken by those with a good education together with the majority of international businessmen/women. However, it is still adviseable to learn Spanish if you are considering moving as it will gain your respect and open more doors.


Climate

The climate of Mexico varies according to altitude. The low-lying coastal areas are typically tropical, hot and humid whilst the weather in Mexico city is much more moderate. Seasonal variations in temperature are small.


Expat Job and Career Opportunities

Mexico can be a very challenging place to find work. A large percentage of expats relocate to Mexico in their retirement as opposed to as an opportunity to further their career. That said, a small number of opportunities do exist in the engineering, communication and technical sectors and some highly skilled foreigners do find job prospects in these areas. It is often useful to have Spanish speaking skills.

Other foreigners may be able to find suitable work within the hospitality industry, working in many of the bars, clubs and restaurants that are aimed at the tourist populations. A further option is to start your own business and many expats choose to do exactly that. This is done, however, with varying degrees of success and many expats do find the process extremely difficult and frustrating. If you are able to gain the services of a local then this would help tremendously. Information about the registration process for starting a business in Mexico can be found in our international relocation guides.


Key Facts About Living in Mexico Every Expat Should Know

  1. The rental market in Mexico is generally unregulated. This means that landlords can raise rents at a moments notice and tenants have to pay up or leave.
  2. There will often be both a Spanish and an English version of all contracts. However, in the event of a dispute, only the Spanish one will be recognized by law. This means that you should always have the Spanish version checked before signing it.
  3. In Mexico agricultural lands that are owned by the local community (ejido) are often offered for sale. If you are living in Mexico and are considering purchasing these lands you should always check the legal status as you may risk losing the land at a later date.
  4. Mexico has a value added tax system and 15% tax is included in the price displayed. If your are a business owner you may experience difficulties writing this off against revenue as, in order to do so, you are required to get a "Factura" (an official receipt). Many small businesses are not prepared to provide these as it highlights their revenue to the authorities. You therefore need to be prepared to pay additional taxes on your earnings unless you can purchase from larger stores and businesses.
  5. If you plan on entering Mexico as a resident or temporary resident you should be aware that you are only permitted to bring in household effects on a duty free basis once in your lifetime. You therefore need to plan what you bring into the country when you first arrive very carefully.
  6. One thing that all expats should know is that bills which are issued before 1993 are worthless. Never accept anything dated before 1993.

Do you have a comment about this article, a further question or even a correction? If so please do let us know. We may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all comments will be published, please be nice!

Our Expat's Manual is updated regularly so comments about the article may have already been addressed.

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