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Merida, Mexico

Moving to Mexico

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Nov 02, 2022

Summary: Moving to Mexico: Expats, retirees and digital nomads talk about everything you need to know before moving to Mexico.

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What do I need to know before moving to Mexico?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Mexico, they said:

"I suggest you begin by renting in the Versalles neighborhood--it is still affordable, well laid-out, and pleasant, and is central enough to give you good access to a variety of amenities and other neighborhoods. The deciding factor in choosing where to live will be whether or not you plan on owning a car. There are some gorgeous areas with spectacular views that you would probably not choose to live in without either your own transportation, a very nearby bus stop, or a willingness to use Ubers/taxis pretty much every time you go anywhere," commented one expat who made the move to Puerto Vallarta.

"Inalambrica is a nice area, close to a lot of parks and easy access to centro and the main market, there is a huge sports facility nearby too (Complejo deportivo Inalámbrica). Would not assume that because it is not near a main road means that it is quiet, all neighborhoods have bus routes that run through them and some streets are heavily used for short cuts or in this case to get to the Deportiva. There is no zoning laws like the US so the house could be next to a restaurant or business. I would recommend at least renting for 6 months to get a real feel for the place," remarked another expat in Merida, Mexico.

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How do I find a place to live in Mexico?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"I am currently happily settled in Puerto Vallarta, where I find there are more activities that I am comfortable joining than I found in Mazatlán. Though Vallarta is more "verticle" than Mazatlán (which is one of the features that appeals to former Vancouverites), there are also plenty of flat areas with nice homes and amenities and, personally, I rent 4 blocks from the beach (the last block before the hill)," remarked another expat who made the move to Puerto Vallarta.

"Use spanish in your seaches. Casa y depas en PV, departamentos para rentar, etc. It is still better if you rent an airbnb and walk around the area that you are interested in just looking for places that are available. The ones that are real cheap tend not to be listed on the web. NEVER send money as a deposit. Don't hand over any money until you are actually inside of the apartment with the owner or an agent that you are 100% sure is authorized to be acting for the owner," explained one expat living in Merida, Mexico.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Mexico?

"What is the average price in the country you’re from? In the US it varies greatly! Mexico is a big country and prices will vary depending on where you are, the size of the house and property, and amenities (pool, gated, security, golf course, etc), as well as being higher in the beach and heavy tourist areas. Due a google search on cities you’re interested in and check out COL (including housing costs) on numbeo.com," said another expat in Mexico.

"We will be moving into a furnished casita where the landlord lives on the property. From our experience and from other expats we have spoken to, this is pretty typical. Most expats we know do not have animals with them. Bringing pets who are quite needy, has some challenges we never expected. from finding the right food to filling their prescriptions, it has been a challenge that I would love to write about," remarked another expat who made the move to Oaxaca.

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What is the average cost of housing in Mexico?

If you are thinking about moving to Mexico, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Expenses here are FAR lower than the USA even though Real Estate here has gone up in price. Still very affordable. I live in So. Rosarito close to Puerto Nuevo. My house is on a Hillside above the ocean with spectacular Views of the Ocean and coastline. I have a 3 bedroom house, 3 baths home with huge view patio and enclosed parking for 3 cars. This for a fraction of the cost of an ocean view home in California. If you are looking to rent, Ocean view and ocean front places are low price and vary from area to area. Many American colonies here have 24/7 guards and security. Rents vary from about 400 USD to well under 2000 USD. Depending on size and area, Everything from small apartments to huge view homes are available," remarked another expat in Rosarito, Mexico.

"My husband found a two bedroom one bath house in Pensiones neighborhood in Merida Yucatan for about $35,000 USD. It needs another $10k in upgrades or remodeling but it is a cute home and would be great. The rents here are all over the place. But a huge home with a lot of amenities unfurnished in my neighborhood (4 bedrooms or 5 with three bathrooms and so on? Goes for $14,000 Mexican pesos a month. About $675 or $700 USD give or take," said another expat in Mexico.

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Should I buy or rent a home in Mexico?

If you have not spent a lot of time in Mexico, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"We bought a house. It was not easy, but with a good realtor and notario not impossible. Living near the coastline, we had to purchase a fideicomiso (bank trust) and that was expensive," mentioned another expat when asked about moving to Mazatlan.

"I continue to housesit in the same home I have for the past 10 years. There are many housesitting opportunities here for people considering moving to Lake Chapala," commented one expat who made the move to Lake Chapala.

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What should I pack when moving to Mexico?

We asked people living in Mexico to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"Wished I had brought: (1) Cortizone cream (2) Sharpe Kitchen knives for cooking (3) Yoga Mat. Wish I would have left at home: (1) Luxury bags (2) jewelry (3) sweaters," said another expat in Oaxaca.

"I happened to arrive in the fall of the coldest winter in a century. As nights began to drop into the forties I regretted not having brought a jacket or 2, a good wet suit, and a big selection of my favorite teas. I had traveled very light, thus there was nothing I regretted bringing," remarked another expat who made the move to Poza Rica.

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What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Mexico?

We asked people in Mexico if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:

"I said a word in Puerto Rican Spanish that is very commonly used to mean 'to take', and it means to have sex in Mexican Spanish. It made people laugh. But I turned it around and told them but you guys say this word for the meaning of insect and that is a sexual word in Puerto Rico. They would laugh. You got to realize words mean different things in different societies and not to take yourself too seriously," explained one expat living in Merida, Mexico.

"Of course. When speaking Spanish, I often make funny mistakes. Like calling my kitchen a pig or saying I am Horney instead of I am hot," said another expat in Cozumel.

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Why do people move to Mexico?

When we asked people why foreigners move to Mexico, they responded:

"Oh, my, where do I start? This is my 4th country and I am here to stay! Merida has surpassed my expectations- it is a large city, with many different neighborhoods to choose from, each with their own separate, distinct vibe. Activities are everywhere- every night a park holds a free event. Centro is hopping on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The shopping is first class, many very nice new malls, and restaurants are everywhere, for every price range. Most of all for me is the culture- there are so many fine museums and homes to tour that I have made a list so that I don't forget any. And then there's the cenotes to swim or dive in, found nowhere else but the Yucatan, and the Mayan ruins nearby," stated one expat who made the move to Merida.

"This is a very popular expat community for a number of reasons. The first and foremost...the sun and the beaches! We have white sand and turquoise water. It is an amazing sight. Of course another reason is the cost of living is much less than in the US, Canada, or Europe. We are only about an 1.5 plan ride from Miami, so many expats like the fact that it is easy to get back if necessary," remarked another expat in Playa Del Carmen.

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How are healthcare services Mexico?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Mexico, they replied:

"Unfortunately, we do not have great options for people with serious issues - like cancer. But diabetes and high blood pressure, although serious, can be cared for here. Our issue in Huatulco is we do not have a private hospital, so we rely mostly on the Red Cross and the Marine Hospital.," commented another expat living in Huatulco.

"Although I have met people having care for serious conditions, my experience has only been dental. People I know who had the same procedure done just across the border in San Diego had side effects I did not experience with my Mexican dentist," commented one expat who moved to Tijuana, Mexico.

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"Hospital San Antonio del Lago de Chapala is a private hospital and is known to charge huge bills to patients. We used to request for daily billing details about medicines, health report, isolation charge, the staff was least bothered about this. But at the time of discharge, we got final bill and we couldn't recognize all billing things. I felt helpless on discharge from the hospital management. There were so many things that didn't reached to us but were still added in the hospital bills. Request to patients who get hospitalized in Hospital San Antonio del Lago de Chapala. DO KEEP A WATCH ON YOUR BILLS! ," said one expat living in Lake Chapala, Mexico.

"I avoid cut-and-drug as much as possible and take responsibility for the key aspects of health: eating wisely and exercising. If I don't do those things, what can anyone do for me? What I do no t like about the government health program that I joined is that doctors have the same reliance on drugs as in the US. I have not had hospital care, but friends who have report excellent care. I would like to start a movement to ban Coca Cola and other diabetes-inducing "foods." And I would like to see more attention paid to use of traditional medicinal plants, which are widely available in Mexico," offered another expat living in Coatepec.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Merida, Mexico

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