Living in Mexico can be a wonderful experience. The culture is colorful and rich in this country, and you will enjoy plenty of warm weather. Coastal living is a possibility with the favorable currency exchange rates with most nations. You even have most of the conveniences that you’re used to having when you decide to call this country home.
Mexico offers a high quality of life. You’ll hear stories about crime and cartels, but violent incidents that target foreigners or expats are rare in the country. That’s why many who embrace the nomadic lifestyle love to come here. You can work online, find a traditional job, and enjoy the intricacies of the culture.
There are several pros and cons that you will want to think about first if you want to live in Mexico. Most people find the experience to be positive and memorable, but there are some reasons why you might want to give this issue some extra thought.
List of the Pros of Living in Mexico
1. The cost of living in Mexico is quite low for international travelers.
The most significant benefit of living in Mexico for most people is the favorable exchange rate. Almost everything is going to cost less than it would in your home country. The prices vary based on the region where you live, but there are significant cost reductions in transportation, rent, food, and entertainment for you to enjoy. You can live comfortably in most cities for less than $1,000 per month. You can go below $500 per month if you keep to a tight budget in the outlying efforts.
The only real exception to this benefit is if you choose to live at or near one of the popular beach destinations in Mexico. You’ll be spending about $1,000 per person, per month to live there.
2. There is a favorable visa policy in Mexico.
Although there are some administrative hoops you’ll need to jump through when living in Mexico, the visa policy allows you to stay for up to 180 days without much difficulty. A standard tourist visa is renewable if you cross the border and then come back again, giving you another 180 days to stay in the country. As long as you don’t need official employment in the country, you could theoretically do this indefinitely, paying $25 (500 pesos) at a time based on 2019 pricing. It’s the perfect solution for those who earn their living online.
3. The beaches of Mexico provide you with a world-class experience.
If you decide to start living in Mexico, then you’re going to be where everyone else wants to take a vacation. You’ll be in close proximity to the Pacific and Caribbean coasts here, which means there is an experience for everyone to enjoy. You could learn to sail, start surfing, or enjoy sportfishing almost all year long. The Sea of Cortez offers some amazing kayaking experiences. You can also find numerous snorkeling and diving spots to explore when you have some downtime.
There are very few places in Mexico where it would take more than a day to travel to the beach. Since that also means you’re getting free entertainment, it’s a definite win/win solution with this advantage.
4. You are going to love the food that is in Mexico.
When you start living in Mexico, then you will begin to enjoy one of the best culinary experiences in the world from a local perspective. The air is filled with fantastic smells every day, ranging from the classic taco to complex seafood dishes with stunning sauces. If you love street food, then this country will force you to do some extra exercises to keep the weight down.
One of the best choices is called elote – it is corn on the cob that is usually steamed, then topped with chili powder, lime, butter, sour cream, salt, and other toppings. Tortas, tamales, and tlayudas are also excellent choices to consider.
5. You’ll get to save plenty of cash on your entertainment options.
When the beach is not an option, you’ll find that it doesn’t cost much to enjoy an evening on the town when living in Mexico. You can make your way to the local movie theater to enjoy a show for about $30. If you like to go to the club or a bar, then you’ll spend about half of what it would be in the United States for a similar experience. Going out for dinner is also very reasonable, with a soda (usually Coca-Cola) and a couple of tacos being less than $4. Just make sure that you avoid sketchy places where people try to lure you in for cheap beer – it’s usually a scam.
6. Healthcare options in Mexico are surprisingly good.
Even though Mexico has the reputation of being closer to a third-world nation than its counterparts in Canada and the United States, the healthcare options you receive are excellent. You can visit the local medical clinic for less than 100 pesos, which is about $5 with the 2019 exchange rates. Add in a couple of extra bucks for the medication you might need, and you’ll get the care you require. You can secure insurance to visit a doctor or dentist as well, but everything is more affordable in this category even if you don’t have it.
7. Learning how to speak Spanish can be a lot of fun.
There are plenty of people who speak English in Mexico, but Spanish is the primary language. You’ll have numerous opportunities to start practicing it, so jump in and immerse yourself in the culture. You can practice everywhere, from the people you run into on the street to your friends at home. There are tutors, online courses, and apps that can help you in this area as well. Even Google Translate could be an option when you first start living here.
If you don’t want to learn Spanish, then consider living in a border city like Tijuana. Most of the people will speak English regularly. The same “rule” applies to the tourism areas throughout the country.
8. The weather is almost always warm when living in Mexico.
If you are living in a northerly climate, then the adjustment to Mexico’s climate is going to take some time. The weather is consistent throughout each season. There won’t be any cold winters to manage or huge snowdrifts to avoid. It tends to be hot and dry in the northern part of the country if that’s what you prefer. The central mountains tend to be fairly mild throughout the year. Then there are the breezes along the coast that can make the hottest days feel bearable. That means you have the perfect opportunity to start exploring the unique history of the Mexican culture whenever you have some time to spare.
List of the Cons of Living in Mexico
1. The nightlife is busy in almost every corner of the country.
If you are looking for a place that thrives in the night all week long, then Mexico is going to be the place for you. Even if you’re deep in a family-friendly neighborhood, someone is throwing a party that is going to make your windows shake at all hours of the evening. Even the kids get involved until they can’t dance anymore. If you ask someone to turn the noise down, at best you’ll get a shrug and be told that there is a party going on. With this potential disadvantage of living in Mexico, it might be better to join them instead of trying to change their ways.
2. Security in Mexico can be laughable at times.
Most apartment buildings and neighborhoods do have a security force that works to patrol the grounds. There are some excellent services that you can find in Mexico. Many of them tend to act more like a door person that announces the arrival of others for you. Police officers in some communities follow the same kind of professional path. If you need help for some reason, then your best option is to file a report at your neighborhood office if you have one. Since they are the ones that can dish out a fine, most people listen to them – up until a point.
3. There is a lot of classism that you will find in Mexico.
All you need to do is look at how the average person treats a maid when you start living in Mexico. The amount of classism that is in this culture can be shocking to those who come from somewhere else. It is not unusual to see them treated as second-class citizens, especially since most people require them to wear a uniform, use a separate entrance, and sometimes even a different bathroom. You’ll often hear them calling her “muchacha,” which is the American equivalent of a white man calling an African-American “boy.”
You’ll see similar interactions in the Mexican culture with people who clean public spaces. Anyone who feels that another is beneath them in social status will feel like they have the right to control some aspect of that situation. This disadvantage can be found in a lot of places around the world – but it can be especially prevalent here.
4. You do not have a guarantee of water in Mexico.
When you live in Mexico, then there is no guarantee that you’ll have access to running water. It is not unusual for the faucets to run dry for a day or two even in places like Puebla or Mexico City. The water stoppages are so common in this country that it is common for homes, apartment buildings, and some businesses to store a large tank under their yard or driveway. Unless you check your tank every day, then you won’t know when it has run dry. There are stretches when you might not even receive your water on a scheduled day.
5. If you do have water, you should not drink it in Mexico.
As a general rule in Mexico, you should never drink the water that comes out of the tap unless you treat it first. Even though the country’s utilities purify the water, the methods of transportation to your home are out-of-date. It can be full of heavy metals, including lead, and that can be problematic for your health. The bacteria levels are also different here, which is why some people can get sick right away and others can drink it without any difficulty.
If you’re unsure about the quality of your water when living here, then boil it before using it for food-related purposes. You may wish to have it tested for content before consumption as well.
6. You may have rolling natural gas outages when living in Mexico.
There are no city-wide gas lines in Mexico. Every house and apartment building relies on a large tank for fuel instead. You might have a line directly into your home when living somewhere like Mexico City, but otherwise, you’ll need to be proactive about checking how much fuel you have for your needs. If you run out, then you’ll need to call the local provider who can refill your tank – which could be on the roof of your home. This design means that in a standalone home, there may not be any way to check your gas levels from downstairs.
If there is a shortage in your city or region for some reason, it could be more than a month before you can get a refill.
7. You must have different expectations for the Internet in Mexico.
You are going to pay a significant price to have high-speed Internet when living in Mexico. That investment will provide you with something more reliable than what the average person receives, but it won’t have the stability you’d find somewhere in Canada or the United States. It can go in and out on you without much warning, and that impact could last for several days at a time. You may find that it could take over a week before a technician will come out to your home to see what the problem might be, with the usual complaints about bureaucracy as the explanation for the delay.
It can help to have a coffee shop or some other business close by if you work online while living in Mexico. That can serve as a backup plan if you experience an extended outage at home.
8. Expect high levels of bureaucracy for your other needs in Mexico too.
If you arrive to open a bank account in Mexico, then expect that effort to become an all-day ordeal. That’s assuming that you arrive with all of the correct documents, visas, and everything else that the organization requires to give you what you need. You’ll need proof of your current employment, immigration data, and other special requests. The best way to manage this issue is to bring a book or something to do so you can pass the time.
9. Don’t expect deliveries to reach you on time in Mexico.
People tend to work at their own pace in Mexico. Think of a deadline like it is more of a suggestion than a realistic expectation. Most people will get your things to you if you protest publicly about the service you’re receiving, but not before you have the goods to make them look bad. Even when your agreements are in writing, you’re going to experience some companies trying to take advantage of you. Everyone is still going to be super nice with their interactions with you, but that won’t change the fact that your stuff might not arrive when you expect it to be there.
10. The traffic in Mexico is completely ridiculous in many of the cities.
If you thought rush hour in Los Angeles or New York City was ridiculous, then you have never experienced what Mexico City offers. You can experience intense traffic at any time of day here, and it isn’t always predictable with its time either. Some bureaucratic mismanagement makes the problem worse too, like shutting down a 3-lane highway to paint stripes in the middle of the day. You can plan outings to avoid the usual periods of traffic-heavy times to avoid sitting in stand-still jams for hours on end, but that isn’t a guarantee that you’ll still arrive on time.
11. There can be a significant crime issue to manage in Mexico.
Crime happens everywhere in the world. It is the nature of human existence. It would be incorrect to say that Mexico is not safe, but there are some changes to your lifestyle that you’ll need to consider before moving to Mexico. Most of the incidents are petty crime, so think stealing and pickpocketing. If you leave your purse or wallet in your car, it’s going to be gone in the morning. Leaving your car on the street can mean your tires will be missing in the morning. Invest in a good security system, be smart about how you manage public areas, and you should be good to go.
The pros and cons of living in Mexico are essential to consider if you plan to spend an extended amount of time in this country. It is a beautiful place with historic trails to follow, but there are some challenges you may need to manage over time. When you come prepared for what to expect, then you can turn this adventure into a rewarding experience.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.