People always ask me why I live in Mexico. The easiest answer is, of course, that my husband’s job is here. But that certainly isn’t the full story. We’ve stayed here for over 2 years because we enjoy Mexico: some things more than others, of course, but you’ll find that anywhere. For me, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, and I wouldn’t mind sticking around for a few more years.
The 15 best things about living in Mexico
1. The produce is the best.
made with local produce and local dried chiles
To be short and sweet, the food in Mexico is both cheap and extremely delicious. Produce is usually locally sourced (or at least, within Mexico), meaning it is fresh and also has a minimal impact on the environment (as compared to importing fruits and veggies from far far away, cough cough like in the US).
Eating seasonally is easier in Mexico because the growing season is so long, and there are a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables to choose from each season. Plus, there are standards like tomatos, carrots, onions, and chiles available pretty much year round.
You can find avocados year round, of a high quality at bottom-barrel prices.
Aside from food, the wine and liquor and beer is cheap. My favorite wine is an imported Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, and it is 99 pesos (around 5 dollars) per bottle.
2. The restaurants are affordable and plentiful.
rooftop drinks at Divara in Cholula
Yes, this deserves its own place in the list, separate from food. Eating out is inexpensive and you’ve got a huge variety of high-quality options, especially in the bigger cities. Whether you want Arabic, Indian, American, Italian, or fantastically delicious local Mexican, you can have it.
Compared to the US, eating out tends to be around half the price for similar quality.
3. Travel within the country is easy peasy.
If you plan ahead, you can pay less than $100USD roundtrip flight to your pick of world-class beaches.
If flying isn’t your thing (it’s not mine, either) ADO and other executive bus lines can get you to your destination for a fraction of the price (especially if you book in advance for discounts up to 50%), in much more comfortable seats than planes.
Lines like Estrella Roja and ADO even leave straight from within Mexico City airport to select destinations.
4. The weather is amazing.
Pretty much any time of year, you can find a beach in Mexico that’s having perfect vacation weather.
In Central Mexico, where we live (both Mexico City and Puebla, the weather is very similar between the two), the climate is very mild in general – not too hot or too cold. It stays around 60-70ish all year, with higher temps during summer days, and lower temps during “winter” nights.
5. The local language is Spanish.
Why is this a benefit? What if you don’t speak Spanish? I’m definitely not fluent either, but people are nice to beginners and it has to be one of the best place to learn, as people talk relatively slowly and enunciate more clearly as compared to most other Spanish-speaking countries. Plus, the language is beautiful and relatively easy to learn for English speakers.
6. Tortillas are awesome.
yes, I’m eating a plain tortilla straight from the tortilleria
This deserves a category of its own, separate from food. Corn tortillas in Mexico are a work of art and a culinary staple. They are SO different from the cardboard-tasting package tortillas in the US, have less calories than flour tortillas and fewer ingredients. They’re delicious, and made fresh at every supermarket (though they’re even better to buy direct from a tortilleria if you have one near you).
7. The grocery stores are great.
You’ve got options – you can choose your small local mom and pop, which is likely a cute little hole in the wall, you can shop at an open-air market. or you can go for an American-esque big and efficient supermarket (Mexico also has Walmart and Sam’s Club, though I’d never suggest it), and Costco).
The checkout lines tend to be short (if you’re thinking “DUH”, spend a few weeks in almost any country in South America and see if you take short checkout lines for granted at the grocery store again).
There are lots of Arabic products available (hummus, labneh-style sour cream), Mexican products (of course – every kind of salsa and hot sauce you could imagine), and vegetarian staples (tofu at every big supermarket, almond milk, coconut milk).
8. You can score cheap international flights.
In the Galapagos of Ecuador
So many beautiful places just a direct flight away from Mexico. You can score tickets to Peru or Ecuador for under $400 roundtrip, and to Cuba, Colombia, and Guatemala for under $200 roundtrip, and even to Europe (Spain) for around $500 roundtrip.
9. Getting to the US is no problem.
making things like popping in for my dad’s 60th bday possible
Specifically for flying to the US, you can find direct tickets all the way north (like to the Midwest, where I’m from) for around $250 roundtrip (like Detroit-Cancun, or Chicago-Mexico City, for example), while tickets to Texas, California, and Florida are much cheaper.
I don’t go to the US that much, but the close proximity and inexpensive tickets mean that it’s much easier for me to convince friends and family to come visit me!
10. Local cuisine is ridiculously good.
getting my street food on
Mexican food is surprisingly vegetarian-friendly if you know what to watch for (specifically: lard in tamales and beans, and broth in soups and stews).
It’s incredibly diverse, even in just easily vegetarianizable options like enchiladas, tacos, guacamole, tortilla soup, and my personal favorite: chilaquiles!
If you skip the cheese and sour cream, it can also be quite healthy, as there tends to be a lot of fresh veggies used.
11. There’s an expat community (in the cities I’ve lived in).
WTF, why do you go to a different country to hang out with more foreigners?
You’re right on calling me out, that’s not why I live in Mexico.
BUT, there is something incredibly unique about being in a land that’s not your own that only other strangers truly understand. I’d never want to be friends with JUST other expats, but knowing that there’s a community to turn to when I’m struggling (and pretty much all expats do experience struggles: of fitting in, identity, loneliness, etc) feels comforted. It is also just fun and interesting to gather together a group and find amongst yourself Americans, Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, Belgians, and Israelis (like our Christmas party).
I find that other expats tend to have incredibly interesting stories, rich life experiences, plus a strong sense of individuality and adventure (I think that’s a prerequisite to surviving the turmoil of living abroad).
12. There are SO many activities.
at the Anthropology Museum
And for CHEAP.
Especially in Mexico’s bigger cities, there’s a huge art scene. The Diego Rivera murals alone in Mexico City could occupy you for days.
There’s also many hiking trails, public parks (free), and pretty streets to wander down.
If you’re into culture, there are SO many free (like the Soumaya in Mexico City) and low-cost museums of super high quality (the National Anthropology museum, for example).
If you’re hankering for some “American” standards, you can easily find bowling alleys, bars, and my favorite: movies!
13. All you need to know: VIP movies.
I swear, one of the major things keeping me from moving back to the US would be the quality and cost of movies here.
Once you go VIP, you can’t ever go back.
You get nearly fully reclining lazy-boy chairs with “loveseat” style seating (you’re only sitting next to your partner and separated from others with a table).
You don’t even need to wait in the popcorn line, as servers come to you when you push a button.
You even get blankets.
Tickets are typically around $5 for this style of movie, and snacks and drinks (even alcohol) are similarly affordably priced.
14. There’s less harassment.
I get a lot of questions from readers about catcalling in Mexico and sexual street harassment. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist at all, because it does. In touristy areas, it is a bit worse, and there is catcalling around Mexico City’s parks (and less frequent more intense harassment), but in general, I find Mexico to be the best place in Latin America that I’ve experienced thus far in terms of street harassment. At the very least, the harassment in Mexico feels more benign and less scary/aggressive.
I notice (and appreciate) that many Mexican men wait for a woman to enter or exit the elevator first, many hold the door open for women, and generally just defer to the woman/women present to pass first, enter/exit first, etc. It’s been suggested that this makes me a “bad feminist” – and you’re entitled to your opinion – but I do appreciate the kindness and “gentlemanliness” that I personally feel is inherent in these gestures.
15. Last but certainly not least: THE PEOPLE!
Tacos de Canasta de Abuela
I’ve never met more welcoming, warm people pretty much anywhere in the world. If I had $5 for every time someone has greeted me with “Welcome to Mexico!” (this includes hotel staff but also new acquaintances and friends of friends and grocery store checkout clerks), I’d be retired on a beach in Isla Mujeres by my 30th birthday.
People are just so fricken nice and helpful. This little anecdote sums it all up. At a restaurant in Mexico City near the Zocalo with my brother and friend, I was trying to place an order, but the woman had a super thick accent (as do I!) and we were having a hard go of it. A guy seated a few tables away heard my struggle, came over, introduced himself in English, welcomed us to Mexico (of course), and asked if he could help translate. I explained that I speak Spanish, but that the server and I couldn’t understand each other’s accents. He laughed and said that it even happens sometimes to him with Mexicans from different regions, but that he was there to help if we needed it.
People are so patient with my Spanish struggle. SO PATIENT. In the US, I frequently hear this mentality expressed: “Learn our language or go home.” Do you know how hard it is to learn a language as an adult who has never properly learned HOW to learn a language? SO HARD. Yet in Mexico, people are more patient than I deserve with my mumbling and fumbling and anxiety. No one has ever told me to go home and I’ve received so many truly kind smiles and been told “good work” and that I speak “good Spanish” (definitely not as good as I should, let’s be honest). I am a guest in this country, and yet I am being patted on my back (mostly metaphorically speaking) for speaking the local language.
Interested in the less-than-cheery side of expat life in Mexico? Take a look here to read the downsides to living in Mexico.
Pin it for Later: The best things about living in Mexico
The Central Mexico weather sounds perfect! Right up my alley. I am only here for 7 weeks but have spent over a year in Chiang Mai Thailand on and off. The climate rocks until February then it gets hot as hell for a few months. Other than that it is a dream, climate-wise.
I love Chiang Mai, but yeah – it can be a scorcher for a few months. I find the air really fresh, though, and there are so many cool things to do in the surrounding area. When I lived in Bangkok, I took a few weekend trips there and really enjoyed it.
Hi Steph. I keep going back to Mexico for so many of the reasons you’ve mentioned above. My last trip was 5 weeks, half of which was in Oaxaca improving my Spanish, and the rest travelling around. I’ve never been to a country where I’ve loved the intercity buses so much … they’re so much better than here in the UK, and have way more leg room than on a plane. And the food. Oh, the food! Your posts just make me want to return! Happy travels, Julie
I LOVE Oaxaca! In my opinion, it’s one of the prettiest and friendliest cities in Mexico. If you can make it back for Day of the Dead (or maybe you already have!), it was one of the most interesting travel experiences of my life.
And I agree – I love the intercity buses here more than anywhere else in the entire world. ADO is my fave!
I also found the Spanish spoken by most Mexicans relatively easy to understand and most agreeable to the ear. But the latter part is subjective, of course.
Subjective but I agree with you 🙂
I couldn’t agree more on the fresh produce. We went to Mexico City over Christmas (after many years away). I was eating a salad and turned to my husband and said, “These tomatoes have taste!” I wasn’t even looking out for it, but it just dawned on me. We love Mexico and have decided to retire there after having lived in many countries over the years (Spain, Dubai, South Africa, US). Now we just have to decide WHERE to retire in Mexico where we can find like minded international adventurers. Thanks for the blog!
Yes! I think the tomatoes are so much more flavorful here (and most produce, actually). I think part of this is because so much is grown here. I just took a look in my fridge, and the 7 different kinds of fruits and 10 different kinds of veggies: all are grown in Mexico except for the grapes, which came from Peru.
There are lots of retirees in Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, and to a lesser extent: Puebla! 🙂
Love your blog – I’ll be visiting Cholula next month, planning to stay for up to 6 months…just depends.
Do you know of any local places expats hang-out at? Pubs?
A furnished studio in Cholula?
Love Mexico….la comida, la gente, el clima… 🙂
Thanks for any suggestions!
Compared to other places in Mexico – like CDMX or Playa del Carmen or the West Coast – Puebla (including Cholula) has relatively very few expats. You can check in this Facebook group to connect to English-speaking expats (there’s another, bigger community of Germans but I don’t have advice about that group). Most expats in Puebla are families, so I can’t recommend any expat-specific bars as there really aren’t any, not like in Mexico City or the coasts. Aside from families, there are a lot of international students that come to Puebla to study Spanish and hang out with university students in the Cholula area.
If there’s a sports event on, you can usually find a few expats gathering to watch (and they’ll discuss where in the FB group I mentioned).
Airbnb is your best bet for a short-term, less than one year, rental. If you haven’t used it before, here’s a link for $19USD off.
I hope you have a great trip!
Great, thanks so much!
Excellent observations. I have spent time in Central America but there is a particular strength in Mexican culture that draws me back there.
I really love it here 🙂
Wow! It feels so great when foreigners talk about your country the way you did above. I miss Mexico so much and couldn’t agree more with all the points you mentioned, I would just add that Mexicans also help you with your Spanish pronunciation and always correct you if you are pronouncing something wrong, contrary to people in the US, even when they are mexican-americans. I’ve been in Ann Arbor, MI for over 7 years and still keep questioning myself whether I should go back home (CDMX, df). I came here for school and then found a good job and frankly that’s the only think that keeps me here. I can’t argue that there are so many things here in MI that I would never find in Mexico, but when it comes to people, friendships, family, food, WEATHER, languages, things to do, Mexico definitely rules the game. Thanks for sharing your experiences, great article!
I find Mexicans to be so friendly in helping with languages! And very patient with mistakes and kind.
I’m from Michigan (yay to the mitten state!) and I think part of our not correcting people is out of perceived politeness – I never, ever correct anyone who speaks English as a second language unless it is an embarrassing mistake I want to keep them from in the future (like they are saying a curse word accidentally) or they’ve specifically asked for my help, because I don’t want to shame anyone or make them self-conscious.
CDMX is an incredible city and one of my favorites (for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, and I’ll add onto that as well: art, parks, ease of access to other cities via air or bus, diversity, laid-backness)… the cold of Ann Arbor would be SO hard after the perfect weather of central Mexico! The only thing I miss from the US (aside from my friends and family) are Whole Foods/Trader Joes, Target, Ikea, and Panera. haha and even those are not that great.
What a sweet article! I am just so grateful you enjoy Mexico so much, we are all so happy to receive people who appreciate those sort of details, whenever you need anything here don’t worry about asking, wish you the best!
Aw thank you! 🙂