Xalapa de Enriquez, or just Xalapa, is one of Mexico’s most dynamic cities. It is known as ‘The City of Flowers’, as according to folklore, the city is the birthplace of the ‘Floricita’ (literally: ‘little flower’). But Xalapa (pronounced ‘ha-lapa’) is also famous for many other reasons. The city claims to be the home of the world-famous jalapeño peppers, and the fandango dance is regularly practiced and celebrated during festivals. Expats living in Xalapa will find it hard to avoid the city’s vibrant culture; from the Metropolitana de la Immaculada Concepción de Xalapa Cathedral, one of city's oldest constructions originally built in 1641; to the Callejón Jesús de Ampare, a street popular at night for its Bohemian atmosphere.
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Xalapa has its own airport, but flights are mostly limited to Mexico City. International expatriates moving to Xalapa de Enriquez will probably arrive via Mexico City’s international airport, which is around 180 miles east of Xalapa. Before moving to Xalapa, make sure you know what to expect. While there is an existing expat population, Spanish is the national language and the language which is spoken locally and in the workplace. Make sure you are confident about your ability to converse in Spanish before you arrive in the city, and at the very least memorize some key phrases to keep you going until you pick up fluency. If you are planning to drive in Xalapa, be aware of the road laws in Mexico, and take some time to get used to the new roads and traffic. You can easily speak to other expats about what to expect from life in Mexico by signing up on InterNations and using the discussion boards and forums.
Traditional industries such as farming, hunting and fishing still make up the backbone of Xalapa’s economy. The cultivation of flowers, coffee beans, tobacco, tropical fruits and sugar cane are vital industries in the surrounding countryside, and much of the trade and export is handled in the city center. Expatriates working in Xalapa de Enriquez’ export businesses will need to be able to speak and relate to the local farmer, so fluent Spanish is a must. Practice your language skills as much as possible, and speak to veteran expats in Mexico to pick up short cuts and slang words via the InterNations forums or private messages system. The Xalapa economy is showing signs of growth, with textile factories and book-printing outlets springing up in recent years, so this is a great time to arrive as an expatriate in Xalapa and get in at the ground floor of its development.