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Mexico City

Living in Mexico

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Oct 23, 2022

Summary: Expats, digital nomads and retirees discuss what it is like to live in Mexico: Cost of living, Finding a home, Meeting People and more.

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What do I need to know about living in Mexico?

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

"I have a 3 bedroom, 3 bath in a nice gated community. Very safe and quiet well except for the fireworks!!! Be prepared for 2 weeks in September. The weeks from Sept 6 to Sept 20th, Magdelena has a Saints Festival with almost nonstop fireworks,fiestas, parades and music. Then it goes into the week of Sept 16 fireworks, fiestas and music!! In December we have the posadas. The rest of the time it is quiet. We have marvelous hot air balloons, or on the ground tours of all the marvelous wineries," explained one expat living in Tequisquiapan, Mexico.

"I suggest you never secure a 6 mo lease until you see and feel the property. Committing to 6 month online is not recommended whether you get a 180 day visa or not. Get a hotel when you arrive and make that your base camp to find longer arrangements. Don't think what you see online is what is actually there. Bait and switch happens in Mexico....and don't forget it. Once they have your money you are behind the curve," said another expat in San Carlos.

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How do I meet people in Mexico?

When we asked people living in Mexico about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Basically the same way you meet people everywhere. Volunteering somewhere is a great way as is taking an in-person class, a church, and, of course, expat groups," commented one expat who made the move to Mexico.

"Stroll the malecón in the evening, hang out at Captain Don's bar in 5 de Diciembre neighborhood, and at probably lots of bars in Old Town ("Zona Romantica")," remarked another expat living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What is life like in Mexico?

When we asked people living in Mexico what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Mexicans work to live though btwn work and commuting they spend on average an exorbitant amount of time there yet always have time to stop and chat," remarked another expat who made the move to Mexico City.

"Most locals work in tourism or in the service industry. Many people are also involved with fishing and boating. Locals are very family-oriented and really enjoy sports, especially soccer - but also baseball and basketball," explained one expat living in Huatulco, Mexico.

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Is there a lot of crime in Mexico?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"There is a lot of crime here, but we see very little of it, as the "tourist" areas a somewhat sheltered from it. We don't have a lot of trouble with pickpockets or muggings. We were robbed in our house one night, but our house had a vulnerable window and it was a crime of opportunity. We have secured that window and have had no more trouble in the past 10+ years. There is some amount of problem with people stealing copper pipes and wires from roofs," added another expat in Mazatlan.

"Crime in Mexico is very fluid based on what is happening with the cartels and their fight for turf. Lake Chapala is generally safe for expats, as the government is keen to keep crime down in order to keep foreign money flowing in. However, we have had crime waves where Mexicans have been brutally victimized. Petty crimes such as purse-snatching are rare," remarked another expat who made the move to Lake Chapala.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Mexico accepting of differences?

"Tequis is wonderful. I came about 8 mo before the pandemic hit. We went through a bit of a stretch, but it is slowly coming back. Restaurants and tiendas are coming back. The town does get crowded on big holidays - Easter Holiday and Christmas. Normal weekends are 'busy' but doable. We locals just tend to stay home Friday thru Sunday. You do have to watch out for the teenagers on 4 wheelers! As far as diversity, it depends upon what you define as diversity. There is not a large LGBTQ population here. This is a VERY family oriented town. If that is what you are looking for, I suggest San Miguel. The statement about police not chasing for mordidas is true. I personally have had to get help 2 times. Just this past week, I was rear ended at a stop sign and they are just as nice and fair as can be. All have a smile and are caring! Tequis is no where near as congested as San Miguel - very tranquil lifestyle!!!," remarked another expat living in Tequisquiapan, Mexico.

"There are also Churches of most denominations and also Churches geared for Americans," added another expat in Rosarito.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What are the schools in Mexico like?

"I would not hesitate to enroll your child that is expecting a rigorous IB school. This school turned both of my middle-of-the-road students into exceptional learners and scholars. I could not be happier," said another parent with children at The Sierra School of Todos Santos in Todos Santos.

"Contact them as soon as you can as places are limited. They are a new school and some year groups are almost full. Calls and emails are always returned," commented one expat when asked about The Wingate School in Mexico City.

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Is the cost of living in Mexico high?

We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Mexico, they wrote:

"$1,500 a month for a single, $2500 a month for a couple. Less if you go to a smaller town," remarked another expat living in Mazatlan, Mexico.

"That is such a personal question. I recommend that people housesit in the community they are thinking of retiring in so they can gauge costs, safety, reliability of utilities, etc," added another expat in Lake Chapala.

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"The rents here are low for now. As more people discover the richness Merida offers, I know that they will increase, but for right now, you can get a very nice apartment or rental home for a fraction of what you'd pay in the USA. My advice is if you like it here, buy sooner rather than later (very carefully). Local food is very cheap and imports are what they are," said one expat living in Merida.

"The cost of living here is one of the most expensive in Mexico but is still much more affordable than the US. We eat out everyday....spend about $20 for two - for a complete meal, then tend to eat something light at night. I attend Zumba and pay for my monthly classes about $30, My husband goes to an amazing gym - classes included - about $50 a month. I never do my own laundry because there are laundry services everywhere. We spend about $5 a week. Gas is more expensive about $4 a gallon. Many appliances and sheets are about double the cost of what we pay in the US. So these items I try to bring from there," mentioned another expat inPlaya Del Carmen.

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What type of recreational facilities are in Mexico?

When we asked people living in Mexico about recreational activities, they mentioned:

"There is a large sport club here for tennis and golf. Every Sunday the streets are closed for bikeathons for the entire family to participate in. And any time you want to hike, go visit a ruin. Most of the cenotes allow swimming and are wonderfully cool and magical," commented one expat living in Merida, Mexico.

"Our most popular recreational activities are all water based. So all water sports - snorkeling, diving, paragliding, SUP. But we also have tennis courts, horseback riding,golf, and one of my favorites and unique to Mexico - swimming in a cenote. Cenote fresh water caves - both open are and covered - an offer a refreshing way to cool off," remarked another expat living in Playa Del Carmen.

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What is the weather like in Mexico?

"I live farther north on the Sea of Cortez, San Carlos, Sonora. Right now [July] is 96deg and 63% humidity. It has not rained since December. I love it here where the desert meets the sea. You have to be tougher than most to put up with the heat and humidity in the summer. If you want to know temps just put the town in Accuweather and look for yourself. Like everywhere else in the world near the water is humid," mentioned another expat inSan Carlos.

"It is hot, 95/100 is the norm for this time of year [June]. If you live in North Merida you can be in Progreso in 20 min. all highway, they have a full service marina there. Progreso is about 5 - 10 degrees cooler most days and seems like there is always wind from the water, we have breeze here too but when it is 115 heat index it doesn't help much. Mornings and evenings are beautiful though," commented one expat who moved to Merida, Mexico.

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Are there good restaurants in Mexico?

"There are many night clubs with live music, from Salsa to Blues. There are too many restaurants to mention, from low end to high end. You will not want for a night life or if you are a foodie. I am a nght person, so I am speaking from personal experience," said another expat.

"We have one street - 12th street - dedicated to night life and featuring Coco Bongos. Dining is my favorite activity! We have literally thousands of restaurants in all price ranges in Playa. You can get an amazing taco from a food card for less than a dollar or dine with a world renown chef. So there are more options and type of food that I could ever list here. There is absolutely no need to cook here.... it is cheaper in most cases to dine out," commented one expat living in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

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Where will I buy groceries and do other shopping in Mexico?

"There is everything in Merida from local street vendors, market stalls, to Super Duper big box markets. There is a Walmart that is a step above what you find in the States, Sears, and a few super duper markets that sell everything from household goods to groceries, all in one place. Several malls have recently opened, so you can shop from high end to low end, and Centro has many streets of unusual and unique shops. You will need to guard your money as these unique shops have lovely hand made items," commented one expat who moved to Merida.

"We have so many grocery stores that I always wonder how they all stay in businesses. Most of them in the expat area are located on the same road. We have Walmart and Sams, as well as many others. We have small organic market once a week," said another expat.

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What are the visa & residency requirements in Mexico?

"It has been over 3 years since we went through the process at the Seattle Consulate. They were very specific and they looked at our investment income with social security AND our savings accounts. We provided 2 years of statements downloaded from the brokerage house as well as deposits into our accounts from income. We knew that we would qualify for PR status so it was a breeze. There was no mention about notarization of downloaded documents but we were well organized and made it easier for them. I am unsure about future income from work since we were both retired, but I would think it will be more difficult to convince them that you will have ongoing income from work unless you provide a letter from HR or some other source that shows that you will continue to have income while residing in MX. The best method is to go fully prepared to show your financial qualifications absolutely meet or exceed their requirements," remarked another expat living in Merida.

"The main thing to know is that you must start your residency request outside of Mexico, at a Mexican consulate. Then you have 30 days to present yourself to the Mexico immigrations. There are professional groups that will do all of this for you, for a fee, of course," said one expat living in Merida.

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Are healthcare and health insurance expensive in Mexico?

"I do not have medical insurance here in Mexico. And, most of my Dr's do not accept insurance anyway. Office visits, and hospital care are 1/5th the cost of USA and much better. In office appointments are usually an hour long instead of the 15 minute flyby of USA. Few Specialist have nurses. They do their own scheduling," said one expat living in Queretaro City and Tequisquiapan.

"Medicare and supplements are only of use within the US except for certain life threatening emergencies when traveling. If you have substantial financial resources and a high respect for the health services in major cities you can pay for private care. Most insurance in MX will not cover preexisting conditions and the premiums are out of reach, especially for people over 70 or so. Staying connected with doctors and hospitals in the US is the most logical thing for us, we make several trips a year to see our doctors but are prepared to pay for care here in MX as needed," mentioned another expat inMerida.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

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.

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