Living in Mexico
Sandwiched between Central America and the United States, Mexico is a country renowned for its magnificent canyons, dense rainforests and majestic mountain ranges. It is the perfect place for expats who want to experience a unique culture and be with locals who are so accommodating they will hardly feel like new-comers.
Mexico has total inhabitants of around 120 million people who make it the tenth largest nation when it comes to population. Over the years, thousands of foreign nationals have found their way to this country because of its dynamic economy and low overall cost of living. Starting life in the birthplace of the colourful sombreros and sumptuous burritos is not as easy as many think so here is a short guide on how to make a smooth transition in Mexico.
Expats will find English speaking locals as long as they stay in the central cities or tourist destinations. However, if they are going to remain in Mexico for a couple of years, it is best to learn some of their dialects to ease the language barrier when it comes to everyday interaction with the locals. A majority of the Mexican population only speak Spanish, and these people are mostly the ones that foreign assignees will regularly mingle with like landlords, shop owners, bus drivers/conductors, etc. Here are some basic Spanish words and phrases that newcomers can use for starters.
- Hello – Hola!
- How are you? - Cómo está usted?
- What’s your name? - Cómo te llamas?
- My name is - Me llamo..
- Please - Por favour
- Thank you – Gracias
- How much is this? - Cuánto cuesta?
- Where is the... - Dónde está el...
While Mexico has an overall warm-temperate climate, every region still experiences different types of weathers. For example, the hottest months in the south are from April to May, July to September in the Pacific Coast while the Yucatan experiences it between May and September. Autumn and winter start in September where the weather is refreshing and the snowfall is just enough not to cause someone to freeze. Expats who will live in the coastal cities should expect an average yearly temperature from 32⁰ to 35⁰ C.
The rainy season in Mexico begins in May and lasts until October of every year. During these months, the country experiences light to heavy rainfall accompanied by thunder and lightning especially during the afternoons. Expats shouldn’t forget to pack an umbrella or any rain gear to avoid getting soaked or worse, sick during the wet season.
The level of security in a particular destination abroad is one of the top concerns of many expats most especially if they are bringing their family along. Mexico has a reputation for its drug-related crimes and violence. Gang or turf wars between notorious Mexican cartels and kidnappings are among the top reported crimes, particularly in the urban areas. Expats should strongly consider renting an apartment inside a gated community or if financially able, invest in home security if planning on purchasing a house.
When it comes to daily living, expats should be cautious when walking the streets because of the increasing incidents of pick-pocketing and theft. One area that is becoming popular for cases of mugging is the Parque Nacional de las Cumbres del Ajusco. Avoid wearing flashy jewellery and carrying around a huge sum of cash. Public transportation is also a favourite spot for the bad guys so expats who are going to ride the bus should ensure that its route only passes on the cuotas (toll roads) where there are stationed police officers instead of the libre (free roads) where hijackers and robbers are prevalent.
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