Top 27 Things Mexico Expats Learned After Moving to Mexico but Wish They Would’ve Known Before Living in Mexico

I’m in an Expat Facebook Group and I asked a question regarding their Expat experience in Mexico.

I received so many great answers from real people actually living the expat life that I wanted to share them with you so that you too may benefit and value from those who’ve come before us.

Below is the question and what follow are actual responses from Expats living in Mexico. Enjoy!

QUESTION: What is something you learned AFTER moving to Mexico you wish you would’ve learned or known BEFORE?

RESPONSES: In no particular order except numbers 1 & 2, they were by far the most common response.

1. I wish I was already fluent in Spanish when I arrived in Mexico.

2. Mañana doesn’t necessarily mean tomorrow. It just means not today. Could be a week, or sometimes never. Sometimes people use mañana as a way of not offending you, or not wanting to do the job.

3. Rainy season vs dry; where I am from originally it rains all winter and I just assumed it would be the same here; took me a couple years to actually realize that a rainy summer (i.e. downpours every single day) was actually normal instead of some fluke. But once again, it depends on where you live, so research!

4. Investigate the weather instead of making assumptions and save your sweater. I assumed because I was moving to Mexico it would be hot and boy was I wrong!

5. I wish I had learned more Spanish, Mexican geography and Mexican history.

6. I’d have liked to have known how friendly and welcoming the people are 30 years ago. I’d have come here sooner!

7. Never pay for any work to be done up front.

8. You can’t change the culture. If you want to be happy in a new place, you have to change your own outlook. It took me 2 years to realize this.

9. If you are unfortunate enough to let yourself be ripped off repeatedly, don’t let it make you cynical.

10. When you plan a gathering or fiesta ALWAYS plan on 2 or 3 times the number you invite and never show up to a party until 2 hours after it’s supposed to start.

11. When things go wrong, get over it fast because you can only live living in a new culture when you totally embrace the people. Relax a little because it never works when you try to muscle Mexico. Welcome aboard!

12. It is not as scary as everyone promises it is. Never listen to idiots who have never set foot in the country.

13. Trash on the streets, corruption during political campaigns and kids (literally children) begging in the streets.

14. Neglect and downright abuse of pets something most of us hold dear. It’s hard to watch. I was not prepared for this.

15. To check out the healthcare options in your town of choice if you are coming as a retiree (i.e. older) and don’t expect all locations to have specialists, MRI, CT scan etc.

16. That Mexican pros, like mechanics, painters, carpenters, cement guys, hate to tell you no. They just don’t show up if the job is beyond them, or if it’s too small. But they never tell you they won’t be there.

17. House/apartment shop IN the rain. You never know when a neighborhood even without hills/incline can turn a house into a swimming pool due to a clogged drainage system. And there’s always that one street that turns into a river heavy enough to float cars away.

18. House hunt in the summer to see where the sun hits and it there is a breeze. This references the tropics where if you don’t have a breeze through your house you need A/C and the resultant really high AC.

19. Drive by a potential neighborhood at night to check out noise level and in the morning check you are not on a bus route.

20. That the sense of urgency of the Mexicans is NOT the same sense of urgency of the North Americans.

21. “Tallas Extras” is NOT the same as “plus size” in the States. If you are over a size 18 woman, you are going to have a difficult time finding clothes to buy. Shoes up to about a woman’s 8 are OK. Its odd, even to the Mexicans I know… there definitely are gorditas here.

22. That there are bad people everywhere. But the quality of the everyday good people far out weigh the quality of good people where I live. I love how happy and grateful everyday brings.

23. I had no idea, although I visited often, how genuinely warm the people are. I have found my home.

24. How so very good real food is and to be humble.

25. Wish I had to have moved here sooner…. I could have taken my children and their education would have been here in Mexico and they would have the blessing of knowing 2 language.

26. The importance of having small bills and change for tipping and purchasing local items. I loved getting 45 pesos in 1 cent coins yesterday.

27. I wish I had known how WONDERFUL it is to live here…would have moved many MANY moons ago. Feeling blessed that the government of this beautiful country is so welcoming to ex-pats. Truly, have NEVER been happier!

Would you add anything to the list?

Now, remember these are opinions and let me clarify that the Expat group is composed of mostly Americans, Canadians and some people from the UK that live in Mexico. That being said, I am aware that there will be some bias, meaning most expats that moved to Mexico and didn’t like it most likely are not in this group so we didn’t get the benefit of their data. But regardless of its short comings, this is not meant to be and exhaustive list or a conclusive scientific research based white paper. It’s real raw data from real people living real lives in Mexico. Enjoy it for what it is. Gracias!

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Fidel is obsessed with Mexico, the enrichment of life through travel and living with no regrets.

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