Mexico has one of the world’s most exciting cultures, with delicious food, a social atmosphere, and a love for festivals and parties, plus the landscape is just stunning. Many ex-pats have chosen Mexico for these exact reasons, but that’s not to say there aren’t any downsides to living in Mexico too. From the crime rate and the vast distances to deal with, Mexico can be a tough place to live for people who have grown up there and those who have decided to move there later in life.
Many are drawn to Mexico because of its pristine beaches, incredible wildlife, and warm hospitality, all of which exist. Still, there are some essential things to consider if you plan to make this country your permanent home – and they’re not all great! So, let’s be honest for a minute and discuss the pros and cons of living in Mexico, to help you decide whether this is the correct country for you.
Let’s dive in!
The Pros And Cons Of Living In Mexico
Firstly, before we dive deep into the good, the bad, and the ugly, let’s talk about the location of Mexico and what makes it so unique. While some people mistakingly refer to Mexico as Central America, it is, in fact, located in the southern part of North America and shares its borders with the USA, Belize, and Guatemala.
Mexico is a vast country and boasts many incredible beaches, some of which have been voted the best in the world. It is situated between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Gulf of Mexico and The Caribbean to the east, which allows for plenty of diversity, not to mention the array of villages, towns, and cities across the country.
Mexico’s location is a huge draw for ex-pats, but it’s not all about location, as we all know.
Overview & Comparison
|Pros of Living in Mexico
|Cons of Living in Mexico
|Slow Paced Lifestyle
Pros of Living in Mexico
The glorious climate of Mexico is a massive draw for those looking for a tropical place to move to. The weather is warm and sunny most of the year, enabling people to enjoy the outdoors, soak up the sun, and swim in the sea.
The country is vast, so of course, the climate can differ from place to place and from the coast to the mountains, but overall Mexico has a very mild climate which appeals to many people, especially those who want to escape cold, harsh winters and enjoy year-round sunshine.
Mexico is ideally located close to the USA but also just north of Central America, which makes it a fantastic place to base yourself if you want to explore this region of the world. Flight connections to Europe, especially Spain and cities like Amsterdam, Paris and London, are affordable and regular, making it easy to travel back and forth to Europe when you want.
Traveling around Mexico is relatively easy, and many affordable internal flights and buses are available. Boasting access to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and The Caribbean is a huge pro of living in Mexico, and you will never get tired of exploring this vast and diverse country.
3. Rich Culture
Cinco de Mayo, Dia de los Muertos, and Mexican Independence Day are just some of the best festivals and celebrations to experience in Mexico, but of course, each region has its reasons to celebrate, and there is almost always a party going on across the country. There is a fascinating blend of Indigenous and Spanish customs around Mexico, which can be seen throughout the country.
Mexicans not only have a social attitude, but their rich culture goes back centuries, and there are plenty of ancient Mayan ruins to discover, a rich history to learn about and, of course, food to try. Mexico’s rich culture is known worldwide, and because of this, ex-pats feel so welcomed here, which is undoubtedly a pro of living in Mexico.
4. Relaxed Lifestyle
If you are moving from the USA or certain parts of Europe, you may be shocked – in a good way. The lifestyle in Mexico is much more laid back, and people tend to enjoy family time, festivals and free time with friends more than in other parts of the world. Mexicans are well known for their sense of humor and joyfulness, and the country offers a lifestyle that is truly enchanting to many.
Mexicans are generally relaxed, fun to be around, and always do their best to make you feel at home. You will find locals enjoying their free time at the beach, eating street food, dancing and, of course, watching sports, which is a top pastime for Mexicans, especially watching soccer and Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling).
5. It’s Cheap
Yes, let’s talk about money! One of the significant pros of living in Mexico is the affordability of necessities, rent, socializing and much more. While different cities will vary in overall costs, the average cost of living in Mexico is almost three times higher (2.96) than in the USA, with the monthly cost of living for one person being $713 versus $2112 in the USA.
Mexico ranked 111/197 countries regarding its affordability. The cost of living for a family of four is around $1726, while in the USA, you can expect to budget $4790, which is a huge difference. It’s true; your money goes a long way, but even more so if you have a US-based job and work remotely since Mexican wages are not that high.
6. Incredible Food
One of the significant pros of living in Mexico is that you have access to some of the best food on earth, which is a fraction of the cost compared to other parts of the world. Mexicans take great pride in their food, and their diverse cuisine, which differs from region to region, showcases their rich culture.
From tacos and tamales to empanadas and enchiladas, there are endless authentic dishes that will tickle your taste buds, plus one of the advantages is that street food is cheap and safe to eat here. Mexicans socialize over food; recipes have been handed down through the years, making this a rich pastime for locals.
7. Ex-Pat Communities
One of the top reasons people move to Mexico is because plenty of other ex-pats have done the same. This is important if you don’t speak the language, and it provides ample opportunities for socializing, networking, and getting helpful tips from others who have also made the big move
Some central ex-pat communities exist around Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and San Miguel de Allende. As of 2022, there are 1.6 million American ex-pats in Mexico, which is the largest settlement of Americans outside the US, and then there are ex-pats from Europe and other parts of the world that have made the move too.
Mexico has one of the most fascinating landscapes, with extensive coastlines, canyons, mountains, barrier reefs, and, let’s not forget, the magical cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula. This country is thriving when it comes to its landscape, and because of its size, people who move to Mexico never tire of exploring its diversity.
From the Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s tallest mountain, to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest on earth, Mexico is a dream for nature lovers and those who want to live outdoors as much as possible.
Cons of Living in Mexico
9. Foreigner Prices
You will quickly learn this when you move to Mexico, and you will notice that you are being charged higher prices for things like rent, food, taxis, and general goods. While this doesn’t always happen, it happens occasionally, and sellers may see an opportunity to make extra cash from you.
The only way to avoid this is to be one step ahead by knowing the going rates, researching, and asking locals so you are prepared. Since prices are not always set, you will commonly need to negotiate the going rate, and this will become an important thing to do when living in Mexico permanently to avoid being ripped off all the time.
10. Slow Paced Lifestyle
We know what you’re thinking – a slow-paced life sounds ideal, but let’s look at it in detail. Yes, a laid-back lifestyle is one thing, but if you plan on getting things done quickly and efficiently, you can forget about it. This goes for Central America, South America, Italy, and Spain, where things take a lot of time.
One of the cons of living in Mexico is that you will need to learn fast, that things will not happen overnight, and you will need a lot of patience to get anything sorted. One of the most frustrating things is that there is no way around this since this is a way of life here, so you will need to adjust fast or always be annoyed.
11. Police Corruption
One of the cons of living in Mexico, which might shock those coming from North America and Europe, is the high levels of police corruption. Bribes are the norm in Mexico, and if you are living here, sooner or later, you will encounter a corrupt police officer – that’s just the Mexican way.
Generally, a police officer may stop you and convince you that you have committed a crime to get a bribe from you in cash on the spot. While you can’t always avoid paying these bribes, the best thing to do is to ask for a written citation or ask them to take you to the police station to pay, which will either deter them or make them angry, so always air on the side of caution and be calm in all situations.
12. Crime Rate
The Global Peace Index releases a report listing the world’s most dangerous and safest countries every year. In 2022, Mexico placed 137th out of 163 countries, a slight increase from the previous year. It is also regarded as one of the least peaceful Latin American countries, with high crime rates.
This article from 2022 shows that there were over 15,400 homicides in the first half of the year, which is down 9.1% from the previous year, and while this is still a high number, ex-pats are not the target. Drug trafficking and gang-related crimes are among the most common, while petty theft and kidnapping are also something to be aware of. In fact 2018, Mexico had the highest number of kidnappings in Latin America.
13. Long Distances
Mexico is not as big as Russia, China or Canada, but surprisingly it is big enough to hold 23 European countries, which makes it quite vast. One of the pros of the country being so large is that there is a lot to explore and keep you occupied when living there, but the long distances are one of the cons to living in Mexico.
For instance, getting from Mexico City to Cancun will take 2.5 hours by plane or 20+ hours by driving. Getting from A to B takes a lot of time or a flight, and while flights are generally affordable, it can be frustrating to fly everywhere, especially if you are not close to an airport. If you are in a rush, planning to drive around Mexico is not a viable option, so this is one thing to note if moving to the country.
14. Language Barrier
The language barrier is one of the main things that could prove to be a dealbreaker for those considering a move to Mexico. If you plan to live in ex-pat communities, this might not be a big issue, but you need to know that according to this study, only 5% of Mexicans speak English.
Of course, if you are willing to learn Spanish or already know the language, then this will not be a problem. Still, if you arrive and assume everyone will know English, you will be sadly mistaken, especially outside the touristy areas. Getting by daily will prove difficult if you don’t have basic Spanish skills, so it is something to know before deciding to relocate there.
15. Mexico is Loud
Yes, Mexico is loud; it is as simple as that, but what can you expect from a culture that loves to party and socialize? If living in Mexico, you can almost always expect noises from parties, advertisements, campaigners, marching bands or bars and clubs playing music until the early hours. People generally speak loud, sing, dance, and play music which can be a little offputting if you aren’t used to this.
If you live in a bigger town or city, this might be an issue and a huge con if you prefer silence and tranquillity because it will take a lot of getting used to. On the contrary, if you live in a rural area or enjoy loud noises, you will feel right at home in Mexico.
16. Cash is King
Mexico has a cash-based economy, and you will find it very difficult to use credit or debit cards, do bank transfers, or process any payments online in this country, which can be very frustrating. While much of the world is moving towards a cashless society, Mexico remains the opposite, and you will need to make sure you have cash for everything since 90% of transactions are still performed with cash.
While this might seem like a minor issue, especially if you are coming from countries like Germany etc., who still regard cash as the best option too, you need to be aware that Mexico isn’t as safe as other countries and withdrawing huge amounts of cash from an ATM can prove risky—constantly carrying cash, whether large or minor, might prove to be a hassle and a con when living in Mexico.
FAQs About Living In Mexico
Which is the most unsafe area of Mexico?
Tijuana, Acapulco and Ciudad Victoria are among the cities with the highest crime rates.
What is the best thing about living in Mexico?
The best aspects of living in Mexico are the weather, the cost of living and the welcoming people.
Are Mexicans welcoming?
Yes, Mexicans love to welcome people and make them feel at home; however, it is hard to integrate into Mexican society, and you will still be considered a ‘gringo’.
What are some popular areas for ex-pats to move to?
Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, Merida and Playa del Carmen are the most popular areas.
Do I need a visa for Mexico?
Yes, but there are many visas, from the FMM visitor visa to the Temporary Residence visas. If you don’t plan to work in Mexico, you can live in Mexico on an FMM or apply for residency by showing proof of funds.
Do I need to learn Spanish?
While English is spoken in some touristy areas, living in Mexico is a whole other thing, and as little as 5% of Mexicans speak English across the country.