In recent years, Mexican culture has, in a way, begun to replace the primacy of Asian cultures in international cities. Popping up like summer mushrooms, burrito shops can now be seen beside the Starbucks on every corner. And yet, as Mexican culture is filtering into the great cities of the world, an equal number of expats, with more than one million US Americans alone, are finding themselves settling in the land of the ‘fiesta’.
Perhaps this can be explained by the internationalization of the culture, the thoughts of the baking sun, a rich history, or maybe it is the people themselves. The InterNations Expat Insider 2014 survey found that Mexico has the friendliest people in the world. Eight out of ten survey respondents said they felt at home among the welcoming local residents.
A popular reason for moving to Mexico might be the strength of the economy. It is important to note that it witnessed recent turbulence, with significant fluctuations in GDP growth: the GDP dropped from 4% in 2012 to 1.1% in 2013, and eventually landed below projections at 2.4% for 2014.
However, while some critics have argued the slumping oil industry and falling price of the peso are sure signs of trouble, the IMF has a much brighter outlook on the future of Mexico’s economy. Government reforms in sectors such as energy, telecommunications, education, and finance have resulted in the IMF projecting a growth of 3.5% by the end of 2015. Expats experienced in these areas will probably have a good chance of finding work in these quickly growing industries.
Nonetheless, expats outside of these sectors might not have to worry too much about the state of the economy. More than three in five respondents in our survey said they found the cost of living in Mexico good or very good. So if you’re moving to Mexico, be careful not to get too carried away by the cheap tequilas!
Outside of popular culture, troubling scenes from Mexican streets often pop up on international news outlets. Portraying images of the violent drug trade, high crime stats, widening wealth disparity, and political corruption, they make Mexico seem like a very unattractive prospect.
However, expats seem to love the country, with many expats ending up in Mexico City. A stone metropolis, the city has a vibrant pulse that makes it seem like a living, breathing creature, particularly (and ironically) during Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. A hub of activity, expats can take advantage of the harlequin markets, taste the celebrated street cuisine, and bask in the warmth of the city’s army of busking musicians.
But there is more to Mexico than just great cities like Guadalajara, Ecatepec, and Mexico City. Once a home to some of the greatest civilizations in history, most expats relish the opportunity to see the glories of the ancient world littered across Mexico, like the Mayan city of Palneque or the Aztec city of Teotihuacan. Although you should note that you won’t be able to live in the ruins of Mexico’s past, no matter how beautiful they are, so you will probably be better off sticking to the more modern cities when it comes to a place to sleep and what not.
If you want to truly delve into everyday culture, provided your Spanish is good enough, you should try your hand battling out albures with the locals. A contest of double entendres, the albur is ubiquitous in Mexico, and the people think that a good and quick albur reflects a keen mind. Many tourists and expats alike have become the focus of laughter and fallen prey to embarrassment under the comedic tongue of a Mexican. In fact, there are even local albur contests and classes for those looking to polish their skills.
So, despite what you might see on television, expats seem to enjoy life in Mexico. According to our survey results, they like it so much that half of the respondents in Mexico are thinking of staying there forever.
Pro tip from our recommended expat blogger Linda – “Learn to relax! Nothing runs swiftly in Mazatlan or Mexico. Manana means, tomorrow… but it also means, just not today.”