In this article we’ll explain the two sides to Mexico. There’s a good side and a bad side to the cost of living, transportation, weather, health care, etc. We’ll go over all the details of the pros and cons of living in Mexico.
(If you prefer to watch a video with the same information then click this link: The Two Sides To Mexico).
Cost Of Living
Let’s start with the cost of living because this is the most common reason why people come to live in Mexico. The good side is that it is definitely cheaper to live here in Mexico than it is in the U.S. and Canada. We spent about half of what it cost us to live a similar lifestyle in the U.S. And we rented our apartments through AirBnb which is more expensive than what you would pay for rent if you are coming to live here permanently. What is the down side to the cost of living? There are other countries in the world that are a bit cheaper than Mexico. I’m thinking Southeast Asia here. And not everything in Mexico is cheaper than the U.S. For example many products on Amazon (such as electronics) can be more expensive. Gasoline and road tolls can also be quite high.
Safety and Security
Mexico is probably safer than most people who have never been here before think it is. We didn’t have any problems with the safety here in Mexico. None of the people we met had any problems with the safety here. And the city of Merida was actually rated safer than any other large city in the U.S. So that’s the good side. Now the bad: Mexico is not crime free. You do hear stories in the news about it. And things can change very quickly here, so you definitely want to do your research to get the latest on the security situation, and that’s true anywhere in the world.
There is so much good to say about the food. It is delicious. Of course you are going to find tacos all around the country. You can get beef, pork, chicken, fish, shrimp, and vegetable tacos. But then there are dishes that are regional. In Oaxaca mole rules the cuisine. Mole is a type of sauce that is made from a mixture of many exotic ingredients. And then the Yucatan area of Mexico has many delicious dishes. Our favorites were the cochinita pibil or shredded pork marinated in citrus, and also the lime soup. The down side to the food in Mexico is that we did get sick a few times. But don’t let that stop you. We recommend a good water filter and iodine drops to purify your fruits and vegetables.
The good side to the transportation is that public buses are readily available all over the country. There are buses that run within cities and buses that run between cities. It’s pretty easy to live here without owning a car compared to the U.S. Many people from the U.S. do bring their cars down here because they’ve always had a car and can’t imagine life without one (We personally don’t miss owning a car). The downside to driving in Mexico is that some of the local roads are cobblestone which can put a lot of wear and tear on your vehicle. And there are sometimes potholes and some unpaved roads as well. But the big highways are generally in very good condition in Mexico.
The great thing about Mexico is that people generally get a 180 day length of stay when coming here, and that is one of the longest in the world. To stay longer you can qualify for residency by proving either a minimum income or minimum savings. The bad side is that these minimum requirements are higher than other countries and change frequently. There have also been some sporadic reports that Mexico is cracking down on visa runs and that some people are being denied the full 180 day length of stay, but this information is constantly changing so check for updates.
One of the best things about Mexico is the Mexican people. The people in Mexico are generally very friendly, calm, relaxed, and patient. I could tell many stories about somebody helping us. So what’s the downside? Well, none really. But it’s easier to experience the friendliness of the people if you learn some Spanish.
Our experience with the health care here was excellent. Emily had appointments with two doctors. Both took their time, the appointments didn’t feel rushed, and they both gave her their personal cell phone numbers. Our other experience with the health care system was when we were in Palenque. We were having breakfast and Ryan started feeling lightheaded and couldn’t make it back up the stairs to our hotel room. So an ambulance came and took us to the emergency room. The quality of the care was excellent, and we were especially impressed with the price. The ambulance was free. The emergency room visit was also free. The medication I needed was US$3. The only downside to our experience was that nobody in the emergency room spoke English. But Palenque is a very small town, and hey we’re in Mexico for crying out loud.
As we all know Mexico is very close geographically to the United States. This has advantages and disadvantages. First, flights between the US and Mexico are dirt cheap, quite often under US$100 right now. You can also drive between the two countries. And with Mexico being so close to the US you are also going to have a very accessible expat community of US citizens, which has both pros and cons depending on what you want to get out of life in Mexico.
The central areas of Mexico have absolutely perfect weather all year round. These areas are far enough south so that it doesn’t get too cold in the winter, and they are at a high enough elevation so that it doesn’t get too hot in the summer. Many people are comfortable living without heating or air conditioning because the temperature is fantastic all year. The country does of course have areas that get hot. There are also areas that are prone to hurricanes. And earthquakes can also occur in certain parts of the country.
A lot of people in the US and Canada probably have a picture of Mexico being completely undeveloped, impoverished, and maybe a bit primitive. But this country is growing in it’s development, and it’s growing fast. It’s quickly becoming more modern, more educated, and more affluent. The Mexico we saw on this trip is not the same Mexico we saw when we visited 10 years ago. But there is still a ways to go. We did have some occasional power outages, once we had no water for a short period of time, and we had some internet down time. But overall, we get the sense that the quality of life in Mexico is generally improving.
Celebrations are a big part of Mexican culture, and what’s not to like about a big fiesta right? We happened to be in Mexico during Mexican independence day in September and also for Dia de Los Muertos in November. And we learned that the Mexicans really know how to celebrate holidays. The family-centric culture here makes the Mexican holidays even more enjoyable. Really the only downside is that these celebrations can get loud, and really just everyday life here in Mexico can involve noise.
So those are the pros and cons of living in Mexico. We really want to emphasize that for us the positives far outweigh the negatives. Those downsides we mentioned are more like very minor annoyances, while the things we love about Mexico absolutely bring us so much enjoyment in our life being in this wonderful country. And of course, this is based on our personal experience.