How to move to Mexico: Step-by-step guide

02.01.18
5 minute read
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Whether it’s white sand beaches, incomparable tacos, deep cultural roots, or the allure of Mexico’s warm and welcoming community, it’s no surprise so many would-be expats have their eye on Mexico.

If you’re hoping to work, study abroad, or perhaps you’re just in it for the adventure, relocation can be exciting - and a little scary, if you don’t have the right information.

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about moving to Mexico and getting set up for success.

Living in Mexico stats:

  • Money in Mexico: Mexican pesos (also written as MXN or MX$)
  • Population: 127.5 million
  • Capital: Mexico City (now often called CDMX)
  • Expat population: ~1 million (mostly American)
  • Official language: Spanish
  • Weather: Tropical, varies by region
  • Biggest cities: CDMX, Iztapalapa, Ecatepec
  • Average salary: MX$226,018

Step 1: Figure out the legal requirements to move to Mexico

figure out legal requirements

The visa requirements for moving to Mexico vary slightly depending on where you’re from.

Requirements for American citizens

Americans, for instance, can usually get the FM3 visa fairly easily. It requires mostly identification documents and proof that you can support yourself financially in Mexico. The FM3 visa allows you to stay in Mexico for durations over 6 months, but isn’t seen as a way to stay permanently in the country. For that, you’ll need the FM2 (immigrant visa).

Requirements for UK, EU & Australian citizens

Expats from other countries will follow roughly the same visa structure, though they may be asked to provide different documentation during the process. The best way to find out exactly what’s required for your country is to contact your local embassy.

Step 2: Make sure you can afford the cost of living in Mexico

figure out the cost of living

Generally, living in Mexico is pretty cheap, but you’ll still want to keep an eye on prices and know just how far your funds will go once you get there. The following table lays out prices for some basic items in the country:

Living expenses in MexicoAverage Cost
Inexpensive meal$90 MXN
Monthly local transportation pass$300 MXN
Gasoline 1 gallon$59 MXN
Monthly gym membership$583 MXN
Pair of Nike Running shoes$1,208 MXN

Step 3: Set up your finances in Mexico

set up your finances

The most important step in setting up your finances in Mexico is opening up a bank account, which you should be able to do in about a day with very little effort. Any of Mexico’s larger national banks or the many international banks will be able to help you convert your existing funds into Mexican pesos as well, though it’s a good idea to keep your eye on the exchange rate. If you’re not sure you’re getting a good rate, you can use an online currency converter to check on the mid-market rate - the exchange rate that banks and big businesses use to exchange money between themselves on the global financial market.

If you do find your bank is inflating the exchange rate - normally banks and transfer services add in an additional 4-5% spread to their rates - you might consider using TransferWise. TransferWise ensures you’re getting the fair rate - the real mid-market rate, the same one banks use - and cuts down on your total cost. Alternatively, you can open up a TransferWise borderless account to manage you money in dozens of global currencies.

Step 4: Find a job and get to work in Mexico

get work

All in all it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a job in Mexico, especially if you’re bilingual in Spanish. If you do find a job, it’ll be much easier to get an FM2 Immigrant Visa. To get started on your job hunt, some of the best sites to browse open positions include:

Step 5: Get a place to live in Mexico

get a place to live

Finding rental apartments in Mexico is pretty simple, with a breadth of options available to locals and expats alike. If you’re hoping to get a good rate, however, knowing some Spanish will be handy - many landlords are willing to negotiate, especially if you’re not working with a realtor. Some places that attract a large expat community include:

  • Playa del Carmen
  • Tulum
  • Puerto Peñasco
  • Mazatlán
  • Mexico city

Step 6: Make sure your healthcare is covered in Mexico

get healthcare coverage

Healthcare in Mexico is privatized, and operates on a free market system. Most people in Mexico choose to carry personal health insurance, which can save you from massive bills if you get sick or in an accident.

While finding a doctor is as easy as a quick Google search, finding an English-speaking doctor can be a challenge. A service like ISOS can help you find an English-speaking doctor in your country, and recommend the best hospitals and specialists in your region.

Step 7: If you haven’t already, learn the language

learn the language

Learning Spanish will be key to really getting the most out of living in Mexico. If you don’t already speak the language, apps like Duolingo and Babbel can go a long way towards helping you learn on your own. Alternatively, there are many tutors on craigslist who offer paid lessons over the internet, often via video call.

Step 8: Don’t be lonely - make friends and get in touch with other expats in Mexico

make friends

There are a healthy number of expats living in Mexico, and finding and making friends with some of them can go a long way towards helping you feel at home in your new country. The best places to start are Facebook and Meetup, both of which advertise numerous expat groups that regularly get together across the country. Additionally, look at your local bars and restaurants - many of them offer expat nights centered around language learning or sporting events.

Step 9: Make sure you’re prepared with important contacts in Mexico in case of an emergency

know emergency phone numbers

While learning emergency numbers aren’t something most adults think about regularly, it’s important to remember that contact information for the police, fire services, and ambulances is different in Mexico. Some important numbers to remember include:

Important contacts in MexicoPhone number
Emergency911
Police060
Red cross065
City hotline070
US Embassy+55 5080 2000
British Embassy+52 55 1670 3200
Australian Embassy+52 55 1101 2200
Canadian Embassy+52 55 5724 7900

As you can see, moving to Mexico is a pretty easy process and it won’t be long before you’re settled in your new Mexican home enjoying the tropical weather, excellent food, and beautiful historic sites. Good luck with your move!

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