Mexico Expat Annoyances

What’s it like living in Mexico?

Generally: absolutely awesome. I’d choose to live in Mexico over the USA any day of the week (especially in the current political climate).

BUT (and there’s always a but) it’s completely false to pretend like living in Mexico is like living in some perfect utopia. That’s just not true.

While the pros of living in Mexico vastly outweigh the cons, at least for me, I’m certainly not suggesting that there aren’t any negatives to expat life in Mexico.

Unfortunately, any time I write *my opinion* about the perceived downsides of a place (like in this piece about Thailand, or this one about Brazil) I get a deluge of horrible emails and comments telling me what an “entitled little b*tch” I am. It sucks, honestly, but I’m going to continue sharing my experience of ALL aspects of a place – not just the positives.

So, without further ado…

Here’s the negative aspects of what it is like to live in Mexico, the few minor (and not so minor) annoyances that bother me about expat life in Mexico.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: The noise.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Noise

All-night raging parties seem to be the norm, even in fraccionamientos/regulated neighborhoods. Your buttoned-up 45 year old bank manager neighbor will throw frat-style parties that would make even your hard-partying Pi Kappa Alpha brother shake his head in embarrassment… until 4 in the morning or later (or should I say, earlier?).

If you ask your neighbors to turn down the bass because you work your exhausted ass off, and you can’t sleep on a Tuesday because your windows are shaking from 4 houses down – they’ll likely shrug their shoulders and say, “But I’m having a party”, in Mexico, an understandable excuse for being kept up all night by what feels like a rock band in your living room.

My advice? Invest in a good pair of earplugs (I like these disposable ones, but have recently switched to these washable/reusable ones) and an eye mask, and maybe add in a white noise machine or fan or essential oil diffuser for additional noise-masking.

The country doesn’t change for the newbie. The newbie needs to adapt to the country. (though I have to add, many of my Mexican friends bemoan the loud and late hours, especially during the week, and also relentlessly search for a quiet home)

And, no, it doesn’t matter if you pay twice as much to live in a regulated neighborhood, with “strict rules” including supposedly enforceable quiet hours, and silent hours, because…

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: “Security” and cops don’t do anything.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Useless Security

Your neighborhood (fraccionamiento/cluster) or apartment building most likely has security (a word I use VERY loosely). The main job seems to be announcing the arrival of the pizza guy (and that’s only if you’re lucky)/Uber and hassle the cleaning ladies. It is NOT their actual responsibility to shut parties down or quiet down noisy neighbors.

Yes, your neighbors may continue to party while you’re just trying to catch a few ZZZs before you head back to work, but by calling the police and filing a report to the neighborhood office (IF you live in a fraccionamiento/cluster/coto with rules – I’d recommend checking before signing a lease), at least the party animals will get smacked with a fine, to the tune of 5000-20000 pesos ($250-1000USD) for disrupting the peace and violating the rules.

The “filing a report with the neighborhood/building office” aspect of the above equation is ESSENTIAL because, again, the cops and the security don’t do anything. The only one with apparent authority is the office, because they’ve got the ability to dish out fines and restrict the use of building amenities and access. No one cares about neighborhood peace, but they don’t like having their parking permit revoked until they fork over thousands of pesos.

Don’t get too cocky, though, because that lesson is soon forgotten, and there’ll be more surround sound speakers plopped on the lawn blasting musica norteña loud enough to rattle your doors until the sun comes up.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Classism.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Classism

While employing a cleaning lady is a common practice I won’t disagree with and actually really appreciate (I have a cleaning lady come once a week, pay her a very fair wage, and it is AMAZING because I am horrible at cleaning), the way most people treat their maids is… gross to me. More like indentured servants or second class citizens than awesome people who provide an absolutely phenomenal service.

Many people make their cleaning lady wear a uniform (that either looks a bit like hospital scrubs or a bit too close to the French maid stereotype), use a separate entrance, and sometimes even a separate bathroom. A common way to refer to a maid is NOT by her name, but as “muchacha”, which roughly translates to “girl”… regardless of how old she is.

People who clean public spaces (like parks) also wear a uniform, typically bright colored, which serves to protect their clothes and bodies of course, but also seem painfully not very weather-aware (guys cleaning in the heat of summer are wearing thick canvas bodysuits).

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Water is not a guarantee.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Water Instability

In Mexico City, we lost water for almost a day. Not so bad, until the water came back on, and we realized an hour into a movie that the sink faucet had been left open… flooding our ENTIRE apartment. Our bad, obviously.

In Puebla, we lost it for almost a month. (In Rio we lost it for over a week when we lived in a 4th story walkup, and that’s a story from hell I won’t go into here. But it involves lugging water jugs up a ridiculous number of stairs).

One day, the water pump at our house was constantly whizzing. We called our amazing handyman-on-speedial, and he popped over to help out. He brought me to the front driveway, lifted up a hatch (a la Lost), and showed me a huge empty tank.


Apparently, water stoppages are common enough that many houses and apartment buildings will at least have a big tank underneath your driveway, which ends up costing about $30USD a week to keep water running through your pipes. Unless you check your tank by lifting up the hatch every day, you won’t know when the water is out. When you need a refill, you call up your water-guy-on-speedial (as you do), and ask him to come by when he can.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been without water for more than a few hours – but it’s not nice. I like showers. I like clean dishes. And going without water sure as hell made me more appreciative of this amazing resource I used to take for granted.

In Puebla there was a long stretch where we only received water into our tank from the city 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and at extremely variable times (sometimes 8am, sometimes 9pm, welcome to Mexico). We had to budget accordingly and made sure Sunday wasn’t both a sweaty exercise day (requiring hair washing) AND laundry day… lest we wake up on Monday without water to wash our hands, let alone take a pre-work shower.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Gas isn’t certain either.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Gas Questions

Newsflash: there aren’t citywide gas lines. In every city I’ve lived in, each house (or apartment building) has a big gas tank. We had no idea until we ran out of gas to cook breakfast one morning (thanks, landlord), as in Mexico City we had a gas meter and received a gas line directly into our apartment.

Now, when you figure out that you’ve run out of a gas, you call your gas guy, who sends two 14-year olds (and that’s being generous) to throw a ladder against your exterior wall, while one shimmies up two stories onto your roof, the other tosses the gas hose, and they fill up your tank.

In many standalone houses in Puebla, there’s no way to check the gas level from downstairs, or anywhere in the house, aside from the mostly-inaccessible roof. So, you don’t know you’re low until your water heater shuts off or your stovetop won’t light up to wilt your spinach in the morning.

In Puerto Vallarta, there was a city-wide (and state-wide) gas shortage for over a month. People were driving hours to get cylinders filled up, and it was nearly impossible in many cases to get gas delivery to your house; all the gas was going to hotels.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Internet instability.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Internet Problems

We pay a pretty penny (for Mexico) for reliable high speed internet. Actually, that needs quotes. “Reliable” high speed internet.

We’d been having a pretty healthy no-problem streak with our internet (HALLELUJAH, one utility that isn’t a complete headache), when we jinxed it by commenting how awesome it is not to have to deal with that, too.

And then the internet just stopped.

We spent hours on the phone with technicians, who eventually told us they’d send someone to take a look…

In FIVE business days (which worked out to be a little over a week, with a holiday that Monday).

It didn’t matter that he explained I work from home, that we don’t want to pay for over a week of service that we’re not getting (yep, we’d be expected to continue paying the full price for a full month, when we wouldn’t be receiving at least 1/4th of that), that over a week without Netflix is basically torture (hehe that one’s a bit dramatic). The customer service rep plead basic business bureaucracy, a 5 business day wait is the policy for broken internet, deal with it. A few more pointless phone calls later, and we’d given up and resigned ourselves to getting our projects done at a nearby coffee shop…

when lo and behold, a real Sabbath miracle: the internet popped back on.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Opening a bank account is a full-day ordeal.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Bank Bureaucracy

It took us almost 5 hours to open a bank account. That’s also the supposed fast track, for a “luxury” bank account at a place called Santander Select.

5 hours from the time we arrived at the bank and started the process, until we left the building. (I was HANGRY by the time we left)

And that’s arriving with all the proper paperwork prepared, all the correct visas and documents and whatever other bullshit they might need. What they actually needed: proof of the current working position, immigration information (visa, etc), passport, and current banking information in Mexico.

Bring a book. I can’t complain, because while it requires 5 extremely unnecessary hours of bullshit, with that bank account they give you a Priority Pass (cue angels singing and a shaft of light descending from heaven), which has revolutionized my flying experience.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Delivery dates are… suggestions at best.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Delivery Issues

When you move into a big empty house, the first thing you want to do is get furniture. So you can, ya know, sit and eat and sleep and feel like a human being again after moving your whole life from one city to a new one.

Furnishing our house in Puebla, we planned ahead, knowing Mexico by then, and bought our furniture weeks before our move-in date. We had all of the purchase orders include the delivery date in writing. All of the store salesmen PROMISED that the furniture would arrive on or before that date.

Not one thing arrived on time.

Not. One.

Not the fridge, the couch, the bed, on and on and on. We didn’t get our bed until my husband started protesting in person at Sears, and even that didn’t help until he donned a shirt that proclaimed Sears as providing the worst service in the world. The bed arrived just two days later.

My Husband Wearing a Sears Has the Worst Service in the World Shirt

Sears, Liverpool, and Palacio de Hierro delivery were the worst. For some reason, lower-end Dico was the ONLY furniture place to ever eventually show up on time.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Traffic is insane.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Traffic

Somehow, we’ve chosen 3 of the most traffic-heavy cities to live in, one right after another (Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City). While Mexico City is in a league of its own, you’ll still encounter intense traffic in any of the bigger cities during rush hour (and also sometimes Saturday afternoon, at least in Puebla. No idea why). It’s not all predictable, though. Random roads will be shut at random times, or 3 lane highways will be taken down to one so that a bit of painting can get done… during one of the busiest times of the week. We were once stuck on the road from Mexico City to Puebla (which usually takes an hour and a half) for five hours. In the middle of the night. No rhyme or reason to it. That’s nothing, though, as my friend spent twelve hours going the same length.

While the traffic is somewhat unpredictable, we still plan any and all outings to avoid traffic-heavy time periods, because we don’t exactly enjoy sitting in stand-still traffic for hours on end, breathing in fumes and burning up fossil fuel.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Crime happens.

Downside of Expat Life in Mexico: Crime

But it happens EVERYWHERE in the world.

If I had a dollar for every time someone responded to learning I live in Mexico with, “Mexico is dangerous” or “Mexico is not safe”, like they’re the utmost authority on Mexico when they spent a week in Cabo twelve years ago… I’d be a millionaire in a big ol’ penthouse overlooking Puerto Vallarta.

There’s way less violent crime – especially against foreigners and people uninvolved in drugs – than the media would like you to believe, thought it still exists.

For the most part it’s just a bunch of petty crime. There’s pickpocketing and stealing. If you leave your car parked in the street in some cities (even sweet Puebla), chances are you’ll come back to it in the morning and be unable to drive off because someone has snatched your tires. Seriously.

Something that has been life-changing for me has been investing in security cameras. It gives me peace of mind coming back late at night and living alone. I use Arlo (specifically the Arlo Pro system, which is waterproof, rechargeable, has two way audio, night vision, a remote-triggered alarm, and a bunch more perks all that connect to your phone via an app), but there are a ton of equally inexpensive, easy-to-use, and awesome options.

Pin it for Later

10 Expat Annoyances: The Downsides of Living in Mexico

What annoys you about where you live?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

Find me on: Web | Instagram | Facebook



  1. June 13, 2017 / 2:25 pm

    Yep… I’m French, formerly living in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico and now on Holbox island, Quintana Roo. Same, same… and not different, unfortunately (except for traffic jams, there are no cars on the island! 😉
    I smile reading your post, at least that’s that, but obvisouly don’t when everything you said happens… It really is something to get used to to stop being bothered by it and at the same time, I truly don’t want to get used to it because it is SO annoying that they should try and change it for the best.
    But, hey, you’re in Mexico, they say…


    • Steph
      June 15, 2017 / 8:19 am

      I think there are pros and cons to every possible home location in the world… but so rarely do I read the negative side of expat life in Mexico, which is why I wanted to share. Some things are very annoying and very easily fixed (gas meters not on the roof, for example).

      I agree completely, it is SO annoying and they should try and change it for the better. Many parts of Mexico are VERY modern, yet some strange aspects lag so far behind.

    • Laura
      November 9, 2017 / 6:03 pm

      Hey! Seriously considering Merida as my retirement landing zone. What were your thoughts and opinions of the place? Thanks!

      • Steph
        November 10, 2017 / 7:55 am

        Hi Laura! I’ve actually never been to Merida. In Mexico, I’ve lived in Mexico City and Puebla, and visited Puerto Vallarta, Oaxaca, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, and Chetumal only so far. Unfortunately, I’ve traveled much more internationally than domestically since living here, something I hope to change in 2018!

        • DEBORAH A HART
          June 20, 2019 / 8:53 am

          how long did you spend in each of these places?

          • JoyAndJourney
            June 22, 2019 / 10:42 am

            I lived for a year in Mexico City, a bit over a year in Puebla, a bit over a year in Puerto Vallarta. For the places I’ve visited, it’s been about a week each.

      • Cassandra Londono
        July 24, 2018 / 12:09 pm

        I used to live in Merida- it is absolutely lovely and I highly recommend the city- if you can stay in the historical district

        • Steph
          July 24, 2018 / 3:16 pm

          I went to Merida in April and loved it! We stayed in the Santiago neighborhood… I would love to go back!

      • March 7, 2019 / 4:55 am

        What info needed re merida.

        • Steph
          March 7, 2019 / 10:35 am

          Hi Wesley, I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question. Are you looking for information on Merida? You can read what I’ve written about it by clicking here, but I only spent a week there so I’m by no means an expert.

  2. July 1, 2017 / 4:05 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to this South American enlightenment. I am a black guy from the Uk here. I am considering relocating to any south American country. Any candid advice would be very help, i have listed my criteria below ;
    Hospitality, friendship, safety and job…
    Nothing is 100% in life.. If i can get 65%, i am good to go.
    Thanks in anticipation.

    • Steph
      July 3, 2017 / 8:11 am

      Hi Dale!
      I think one of the most essential aspects of any South American move would be learning the language. Are you down for that? While Rio de Janeiro wasn’t for me (especially as a very foreign-looking woman), I think it’s a great place to live for a single guy (my husband agrees). Fun, friendly people and of course those gorgeous beaches.
      I’ve written about the downsides of South American living here, and the upsides of Rio de Janeiro here.
      The best advice I can give you is to of course visit first. Everyone’s opinions and priorities are different. In Rio, you will NEED to learn Portuguese, but in almost any South American city you’d need to learn Spanish. Wages tend to be lower in South America (even compared to the lower cost of living), so maybe finding a job (or a few jobs) would be step 1, helping you narrow down potential locations.

      Best of luck and please let me know if I can help in any way!

    • Anonymous
      December 4, 2018 / 2:16 pm

      Dale, go to Medellin.

  3. Rhonda
    October 9, 2017 / 1:01 pm

    This was helpful. Thank you.

    • Steph
      October 10, 2017 / 8:08 pm

      You’re so welcome! 🙂 Glad I could help!

  4. Scott
    December 22, 2017 / 3:06 pm

    Amazon has recently opened a million square foot distribution center in Mexico. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been buying taps, TV’s, bedding, etc. and most of it gets here to Cancun promptly and at great price (ie: 2 – 3 days after I opened a prime account). THIS is a real game changer! No more going shopping ALL DAY and going to 8 stores to find something.

    • Steph
      December 26, 2017 / 8:16 am

      I have been LOVING (I also opted for prime), and wish I would have utilized it more for Christmas. We had to visit 10 places before finding Christmas lights (apparently they sell out at least a week before Christmas). I’ll def be using it more.

  5. Lesley Nunn Diaz
    March 8, 2018 / 10:11 pm

    Love this!! We have moved to Playa Del Carmen and have been here for about a month. I met my husband in the US, but he is originally from Chiapas, MX. We came here because he no longer had legal status to live in the US, and of course we didn’t want to live separately. It’s definitely been interesting getting used to some of the differences. I love hearing others stories and experiences! Thanks for the laugh!

  6. Curtis Bailey
    March 23, 2018 / 1:56 pm

    Great to hear the things you don’t want to hear. From what I can tell it is normal human behavior. Usually, in any neighborhood there are people (loud music) and local bureaucracy (utilities & traffic) that is annoying and takes one out of their comfort zone. I live in Tustin, CA and was online one night and the internet went down, but a 5 day wait time is interesting it was back up in 30 minutes. Southern California traffic is no joke. I do not like getting on the roads between 7AM-10PM because of the traffic. I always sleep and walk around the apartment with ear plugs and my wireless headphones to block unwanted noise. It was a good piece to read, again most people do not share the things you do not want to hear.

  7. Bryan
    April 14, 2018 / 9:12 am

    You say “We pay a pretty penny (for Mexico) for reliable, high speed internet.”
    What would I expect to pay for that in Isla Mujeres?

    • Steph
      April 17, 2018 / 11:38 am

      I haven’t lived in Isla Mujeres so I have no clue, sorry – contacting your local internet service provider should get you the answer immediately. Or if you’re concerned about the quality of the actual package, check with others living on Isla Mujeres (I’ve found the local expat Facebook page to be really helpful, wherever I’m living in Mexico).

  8. giles
    April 17, 2018 / 1:29 am

    usa is real trouble and mexico is like italy but closer. Latins are LOUD. No noise laws are enforced. Peasants are peasants. Capiche?

    • Steph
      April 17, 2018 / 9:27 am

      That’s offensive and untrue. And noise enforcement depends on where you live – which is your choice and you can only blame yourself.

      We chose the neighborhood in Puebla I mentioned above based on the very enforceable noise regulations. The vast majority of the people living in my neighborhood were Mexican (actually there was only 1 other foreign couple), and they created the noise regulations, and yes, they do enforce them with strict fines, as stated.

      I think it’s important to be respectful and understanding of the culture you live in – including with noise – but there are still options. For us, who value our peace and quiet, we choose to pay extra and live in neighborhoods with noise ordinances, in Puebla then and in Puerto Vallarta now, and have been relatively happy with it. Big noisy interruptions only happen a few times a year, which is the same as it’d be in the US or anywhere else.

      • Linda Brown
        November 15, 2018 / 10:36 am

        Hi Steph,

        We are going to be visiting Puerto Vallarta in January. How do you like living there? Can I ask what neighborhood you are in?



        • Steph
          November 17, 2018 / 12:54 pm

          Hi Linda!
          I love living here SO much, mainly because of the incredible community.
          I live in Fluvial, which is my #1 choice for living here in terms of neighborhood, mainly because it is quiet (no cannons or fireworks in the middle of the night), green, houses versus condos/apartments, and more “bang for your buck”. For visiting, though, I’d recommend Zona Romantica or 5 de Diciembre, as they are right where all the “action” happens and where most restaurants and activities are located.

  9. June 1, 2018 / 8:38 am

    Nice post. I have been living between Thailand.. Chiang Mai and Mexico.. San Miguel de Allende /Mexico city… Since 2015.

    IF you had to chose a between Mexico and Thailand, which would you chose and why.?

    • Steph
      June 2, 2018 / 10:38 am

      The places I like to visit are usually different than the places I’d like to live. For example, I love visiting Koh Tao (Thailand) and Isla Mujeres (Mexico) and the Galapagos, but I wouldn’t want to live permanently in any of those places. I’m a city girl 🙂

      Based on living… I think both have their pros and cons, but Bangkok is my favorite city in the world to live in, with Mexico City second, for similar reasons. Low cost of living and high quality of life, high variety and quality of restaurants, “VIP” cinemas, ease of access (a quick flight) to beaches for weekends or vacations, and diversity. Bangkok wins out because of its incredible public transport (I love the SkyTrain!) and easy access to various areas of the city, and I feel safer there than I do anywhere else in the world.

  10. katie
    June 13, 2018 / 9:16 am

    Love your post. Any Idea on the hoops one needs to jump through to work in Healthcare in Mexico? I am from the UK.I am guessing that if one lived a bit more rurally it would be peaceful but perhaps the infrastructure and delivery issue would be worse??

    • Steph
      June 13, 2018 / 9:30 am

      Hi Katie!

      I’d really recommend consulting a lawyer to help you through the legalities of transferring your profession to Mexico, but here’s my understanding of the steps:
      You’ll need to get your license verified/authenticated at your local Mexican embassy (be sure that your qualification is recognized in Mexico, otherwise you’re out of luck, unfortunately). This may include showing certified, apostilled copies of your transcripts and any professional licensure documents. Save these documents as you’ll need to show them again when you apply for your work permit.

      I don’t have any experience living in rural areas, only driven through, and my experience is that the infrastructure would be considerably worse, and that a VERY high level of Spanish would be necessary to survive. I’d also imagine it’d be quite hard to find any kind of job for a foreigner out there.

      • Anna
        December 27, 2018 / 11:35 am

        I’ve lived a few different places in Mexico as a single American woman. I too prefer to live more rurally. It isn’t that hard, you don’t need to be fluent in Spanish, and it’s quite lovely. I think if you focus on living 30-45 minutes outside of areas that are populated with a moderate expat population, you’ll be fine and still have access to some comforts you’re used to. The two places I have familiarity with are the south side of Lake Chapala and the Nayarit coast north of Puerto Vallarta. There are a lot of other options.

        • Steph
          January 9, 2019 / 3:21 pm

          Thanks for sharing your perspective, Anna!

  11. evy
    August 3, 2018 / 8:20 pm

    I’ve lived in over a dozen cities (some big, some smaller) in America and cops don’t do shit either … unless the victim is very important/influential…. so I’m already used to that! And I guess CA has a lot of brown/blackouts, but not in the states I’ve lived in at least

    Still i appreciate you mentioning these, hope ur not berated by any more grumpy men sister.

    • Steph
      August 7, 2018 / 5:54 pm

      I lived in small and mid-size cities in the US (no big ones) and the cops in the places I lived were always quite responsive, especially to noise complaints (I was young and usually involved on the partying end of things at that time in my life haha so I wasn’t really pleased with that).

      Overall, these complaints of mine are super minor but I like to give a full picture (the positives and the negatives) of any place I live. Luckily the grumpy men have been keeping their opinions to themselves 🙂

  12. Gwen
    August 13, 2018 / 4:53 pm

    I am planning on moving to Mexico and have already booked a trip to find out about the country. I saw a post here about Amazon Prime MX. I’m trying to find out about Amazon Mexican prime, I signed up for an account but everything is in Spanish and as of yet I do not speak or read Spanish. I am planning an extended stay there so I figured that I would have things delivered as needed. So how does an English-speaking American use Amazon prime MX when they can’t speak the language? I was on the phone over five hours with different Amazon reps who could not give me an answer since the Amazon Mexican prime website does not offer the option to switch to the English language like the American Amazon website does.

    • Steph
      August 14, 2018 / 10:02 am

      Hi Gwen!

      For English-language Amazon purchases with shipping to Mexico, the only option is (USA), which also ships to Mexico for some items, though shipping can get pricy depending on the item.

      There’s no option for English on Amazon Mexico, it functions under the assumption that the people using it are located in Mexico and speak Spanish. There’s also no option for any of Mexico’s recognized indigenous languages, unfortunately.

      For Spanish-speakers using Amazon in the US, they have the same issue, as only provides an English version, with the ES version a translation and not guaranteed accurate.

      The only option I can think of for someone wanting to use Amazon Mexico who doesn’t speak any Spanish would be to use Amazon Prime MX with the Google Chrome browser, and use the automatic translate feature from Spanish to English. This isn’t going to be perfect, and if you need to return an item or have any issues with an item, you’ll have to use google translate to communicate with the seller, which isn’t ideal. Also, deliveries require a Mexican phone number, and the driver will call you upon arrival (they don’t just leave packages at the door like in the US) to confirm, so a bit of Spanish will be needed then as well.

      Best of luck!

      • Anonymous
        August 14, 2018 / 1:06 pm

        Thank you so much for responding. I really appreciate it.

        • Steph
          August 14, 2018 / 2:39 pm

          Happy to help! 🙂 I hope it works out! The Chrome browser’s translate feature works on any website, so that might be a helpful installation regardless of the Amazon website you choose to use, especially if you plan to use other Mexican websites (like for the grocery stores or Home Depot, which also have delivery).

  13. Serge
    September 16, 2018 / 11:01 am

    Great article. Also I can add that customer rights laws suck. If you buy some clothing, electronics in even big chain store you have to understand that you will never have your money back in this country.
    For instance, I bought New Balance a at their official shop in Mexico City, one week later they have broken. I went to that store with ticket and box – they just said that I broken them by myself, without any expertise. So, I thought that I have rights and I have created a claim in Profeco, vía their CARE program (protecting customers rights for foreigners) – I sent 10-20 emails, have spent 3 months, New Balance Mexico NEVER responded to Profeco, so… Profeco just charged (fine) them 1000 pesos for Profeco (not for me!). End of the story.

  14. isabelle marcq
    October 7, 2018 / 9:48 am

    Hola Steph,

    I really appreciate you share your experiences, I stopped doing that in Costa Rica for the bad comments I received. I am here because I am planning a trip in November, december, January to see for myself if Mexico is a country that would suit my needs. I am 50, European and multilingual, animal and plant behaviourist who has just spent 2 years in Costa Rica, (short period also in Panama and Nicaragua), volunteering in my field of expertise, and I could have described the same annoyance over Costa Rica. I could add greenwash! Life there is expensive due to the tax system, housing, bad road infrastructure. The main reasons I gave up is the weather (only 4 months of blue sky in almost 2 years, lots of rains with no real dry season) and the impossibility to get a resident permit and work permit unless you spend 200000 euros. I was thinking to travel to Yelapa, next to where you live, and then see Tulum, Veracruz. Can you get more than 6 months of sunny days? I am asking because there was a huge difference between what I read in a travel guide and the reality in Costa Rica and Panama. I am not an urban, thus I am looking for a quiet place where I could open a botanical garden. Jungle and rainforest is a must but need reliable internet. I would like to hear from you how are the Mexican people? Ticos are lovely and reliable friends, but when it comes to business, they never say no, even when they don’t have a cue. They always try to offer solutions that unfortunately are not legal, and in the long run, I didn’t know if some of them were offering for their own benefit. Many professionals don’t have a good level (at least in my field biology, entomology, botany, ecology). There is no in-depth knowledge. Do you have any idea of websites I could consult how Mexico deals with ecology? Any other places I should visit? Maybe Mexico is not the right place for me? Any other suggestion?

    • Steph
      October 31, 2018 / 11:44 am

      Hi Isabelle! Where I live, in Puerto Vallarta, most days are sunny. It’s the sunniest place I’ve ever lived. It also has a wonderful botanical garden.

      I avoid making stereotypes, as I think there are “good” and “bad” people in every country (including my own home country of the US), but I have listed my observations of what I don’t particularly enjoy in this article that you’ve commented on.

      I’m sorry, I don’t have any knowledge of ecology. For me, Puerto Vallarta is the best place in Mexico to live, followed by Mexico City (but that is, of course, quite urban), and the only one I could recommend, though I think my preferences are quite different to yours (I do like urban).

      Best of luck!

      • Olivia
        April 17, 2019 / 2:21 pm

        Im 63 and i plan to visit Vallarta and look for a nice cute home inland away from the water in a nice clean manicured community. You can get a nice small home unfurnished near the College for less than $90,000 USA dollars. I have lived in Guanajuato before and i did not like that area. I need to be closer to the ocean and my fellow Expats. Being single you need to be safe and careful. The area of Mexico and city where you want to live plays a big part in your conveniences. Young people want to be in a city and with all the “noise” at my age i like quiet. I will visit the noise and come home to peace and quiet.
        At my age i dont want to be “inconvenienced” I dont want to struggle with anything. Vallarta has over 5,000 Canadian and American Expats. Everyone speaks English. All the Real Estate Agents are talking to you months before you arrive so you see what will work for you in a property. Near the Ocean or inland anything i see will have the property set up like I live back here in California. Because of so many Expats and the way we are, when we order a refrigerator or need a handy man we get it right away.

        • Steph
          April 18, 2019 / 7:28 am

          I’ve lived in many cities in Mexico and tend to live in modern neighborhoods – all of this advice is written from that perspective. I’m a “young person” but I still like quiet. I currently live in Vallarta – which college has houses nearby for less than $90,000? I have never seen anything nice in a good neighborhood for less than $150,000.
          I disagree – most people in PV do not speak English, refrigerators/any other furniture delivery takes weeks to arrive in most cases (and are frequently delayed), and until you find an unusually punctual handyman, you’ll also hear “ahorita” constantly.
          Best of luck!

      • Brenda Jackson-Banks
        July 25, 2019 / 6:48 am

        Hi Steph. I just found your blog and I’m glad I did. My husband and I are planning a move to PV in the distant future ( 4-5 yrs) and your info was very helpful. We’ve planned a vacation to PV in Oct 2019 and we’ll be staying in a Airbnb in Nueva Vallarta. Where are “specific” expat areas we should check out while we’re there ?? We like peace and quiet but not far from the action. Thanks again for your candor.

        • Steph
          July 25, 2019 / 12:30 pm

          Hi! I don’t know anything about Nuevo, I’m sorry! But some of the more popular expat areas in PV are of course the Romantic Zone, Amapas, Gringo Gulch, 5 de Diciembre, Conchas Chinas, Versalles, Fluvial, and the Marina. The last 4 are the most quiet, first 4 not so much.

  15. Eva Ganderton
    November 15, 2018 / 1:34 pm

    Have you ever tried to get an appliance repaired in Mexico that requires a part replacement? Good luck with that! Either the part is no longer in stock or a part can be built to replace the broken part on the appliance at a great cost. Why does it cost in excess of $5000 pesos to replace the oven knob on a Mabe stove. I can buy a new stove for that price.

    • Steph
      November 17, 2018 / 12:55 pm

      Mabe is a nightmare 🙁 Our stove is Mabe as well, because we had a very specific size requirement, but we try to avoid it as much as possible.

  16. D
    November 23, 2018 / 11:49 pm

    Almost can’t believe you didn’t mention the annoying jingles, bike horns, and pre-recorded announcements every day as people roll thru the neighborhood selling their wares. I woke up every day to “zeta zeta zeta gas” and was stuck humming it for hours.

    Agree that is a game changer. We usually have it shipped to a DHL office next to walmart so we can pick it up at our leisure not having to wait for the delivery guy. Dog food, a gas grill, whatever. Love!

    People burn trash in less urban areas which would be ok I guess for yard waste but they happily chuck their coke bottles in the fire too.

    Worst.municiple.roads.ever. Could build a castle in some of tbe potholes I’ve seen.

    Good luck getting a replacement lightbulb for your mabe fridge. Ended up getting in the States (again Amazon for the win) and bringing it back with me after searching for weeks in every ferreteria I came across.

    Still. I love it here.

  17. Dan
    December 27, 2018 / 9:13 pm

    Thank you for your downside of living in Mexico. it is good to know. You state you are moving or now living in Puerto Vallerta. Could you comment on living there versus the Riviera Maya?

    • Steph
      January 9, 2019 / 3:25 pm

      I’ve never lived in Riviera Maya, so I can’t really compare the two, sorry! We chose PV versus Playa del Carmen or Cancun because of the vibe and less organized crime influence.

  18. Erik
    January 17, 2019 / 10:44 am

    I read your article in its entirety. As someone who is interested in the idea of moving to Mexico permanently, I was interested in your opinion. Some of your points are good; others seem petty and judgmental. You might consider leaving out all of the assumptions about how people will respond to your article and just let it speak for itself. You are a good writer, but you sound pretentious. If it makes you feel better, you can add me to your list of grumpy old misogynistic men.

    It seems, as you say, the good outweighs the bad. Though I have heard (often) about a very bad side where family members are threatened (or even taken) while individuals are ransomed out of their retirement money for the sake of peaceful living. Most of what I’ve seen is hearsay and anecdotal. I’m glad that hasn’t been your experience, but it could also be that it depends heavily on location. Having not taken the leap, I’m mostly ignorant on the topic, but there are a number of expat sites that toss out these kinds of warnings. I’m curious if you’ve ever crossed paths with anyone with that experience.

    By the way, I’m in my 40s and have immense respect for women; especially women that are capable of self-reflecting before they impose their own stereotypes onto an entire group of people (even if they are men).

    • Steph
      January 18, 2019 / 8:12 am

      If you think the “grumpy old misogynistic” male qualifier applies to you, then it probably does! Thanks for sharing your opinion, and this is exactly why I provide the disclaimer. What you think is “petty and judgmental” could be a bigger deal to someone else (who, in the same manner, could think what you felt was “good” was minor). 3 years in to living in Mexico, these are all still things that annoy me.

      I’ve never, ever met an expat who was actually ransomed, or even heard of an actual occurrence. I’ve heard of plenty who fell for scam-artists who made very false threats (this is a common scam in Mexico right now, unfortunately, especially targeting older people).

      I also have a lot of respect for men (I’m married to one! I’m a sister to one! I’m a daughter to one! I’m a friend to many!), especially those that are capable of understanding the difference between imposing a stereotype onto an entire group of people, and categorizing the type of people that leave self-important, condescending comments and emails.

  19. Barry
    January 20, 2019 / 8:38 am

    I have only been in Mexico less than a week and I’m shocked upon seeing an external water heater installations. As a former industrial and commercial gas engineer I would never permit any appliance to be installed without a flue extending above roof height… I have already seen sevaral heaters installed near to opannable windows and doorways Carbon monoxide is referred to as the silent killer for a good reason. Look at where your appliance is venting these fumes. Please remember you cannot smell CO but it can kill you.

  20. Regina Le Borg
    March 14, 2019 / 4:44 pm

    Hi Steph,
    You seem to be a darling, and adventurous young woman. Although Ive considered living out the rest of my life (now 70) in Lake Chapala, Ive never been there, and really only researched the weather, and real estate costs; the two things that I think affect me most. So if you were talking to your grandmother who has never lived outside the US, who is used to good roads, silent nights, constant water from the tap, gas from the stove, etc, etc., would you think she could make a radical change in culture all for the sake of cost efficiency?

    • Steph
      March 15, 2019 / 7:57 am

      Hi Regina!
      Aw, thanks so much for the compliment!
      Actually, my aunt and uncle have retired to spend half the year in Puerto Vallarta, and I’m thrilled. I would tell her, YES DEFINITELY (actually, I would love it if my grandmother had retired in PV near me). BUT: My absolutely essential piece of advice would be that you MUST visit first. Not only to see whether you like it, but to see in which area of a city (and which city in general) that you’d want to live, and whether you’d want to buy or rent.
      Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any more questions! 🙂

  21. Pamela Emerson
    March 20, 2019 / 10:57 pm

    Your political views add absolutely nothing of value to this writing.

    • Steph
      March 21, 2019 / 9:18 am

      This is a blog (*my* blog) and I will continue sharing my views — including political views, where relevant — as that what a blog is. Thanks for sharing your opinion as well!

  22. Dina
    May 5, 2019 / 11:35 pm

    We are thinking about living in Mexico
    I know we need to visit a few times before making a decision. Our friends
    live in TJ they love it there I am not sure
    we will be going there for 5 days in June
    If you have any information for me or tips that would help. Thank you

    • Steph
      May 8, 2019 / 2:32 pm

      Hi Dina! I’ve never been to TJ. I would definitely recommend visiting a few times, and staying longer-term (at least a few weeks, preferably a few months) in the place you’d like to live, so you can see it in a variety of different ways, including weekends and weekdays, etc.
      I’ve got a variety of articles I’ve written about living in Mexico, or if you’d like to discuss questions and concerns specific to your situation, I do offer expat consulting and coaching at very affordable rates, and a free initial consultation that you can set up here.

  23. Jimmy D.
    May 13, 2019 / 2:51 pm

    Generally: absolutely awesome. I’d choose to live here over the USA any day of the week (especially after the most recent election). I agree! President Obrador is the man for making the changes to end corruption. Where I live we have memorable experiences to share. There is so much to share and learn.

    Life is pleasant here in Ensenada Baja Norte de California Mexico. Come and visit me in Punta Estero Baja Beach Cove and I’ll show you paradise and take you on a wine tour of over 90 wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe. ….Jimmy “D” 646-154.2626 – Great Retirement community, lots of expats and many giving back to our community, via charity giving…supporting schools kids, adults, animal shelter, etc.

    Most important, safe and we all get along with the local Mexican neighbors. There are Many nationalities here and again, safe and you can live well for those that can retire for under $1,000 a month here. You can rent furnished homes and/or buy. We have local restaurants owned and mange by Americans, great bands and lost of blues players. What? You still trying to figure it all out? Its perfect weather here, not to hot and not to cold. No high humility like the rest of Mexico. Yikes!

    The downtown offers major events and cultural enrichment activities to enjoy all year round. (dancing, beer festivals, seafood festival, wine festivals, and the Baja 500 race, bike or 10 K races or rides, ATV rentals, horses, hiking, kayaking, etc.) Many expats do not want to return to the U.S. except to shop for items at Trader Joe’s or for Pot, etc. We have COSTCO, Walmart, etc., stores here so why are still trying to figure it out? Duh. Life is too short, let’s hook up. I’m a past director of a large business association and giving foundation. I live with ethics and code of standards. But I am fun and not boring. And you?

    • Steph
      May 14, 2019 / 9:06 am

      Hi Jimmy, I’m not sure why you repetitively ask “You still trying to figure it out?”. Is that rhetorical? Are you asking me directly? If it’s not rhetorical, I guess my answer would be: I’m still trying to figure everything out. In the (translated) words of Lao Tzu, “Not-knowing is true knowledge. Presuming to know is a disease.”
      I obviously love Mexico (and state that in the article), however no place is perfect, and those that paint a completely 100% positive image of any place (or anything, for that matter) are either deluding themselves or others.
      I’m very glad that you love Baja so much, I also am absolutely in love with Puerto Vallarta.

      • Tim
        May 19, 2019 / 8:36 am

        My wife & I live in Progreso, MX, which is the port for Yucatan. Merida is a great city, and is close-by. But hot in the summer. Progreso stays about 7 degrees cooler, normally with a breeze, which makes it comfortable. It cools down at night which makes air-conditioning unnecessary for us. And the days here in May and June range from 95-100 F. The hot months. I read a lot about Amazon.Mx on your blog. When I buy something substantial, I check Mercado Libre, Amazon.Mx and Amazon US. Many things are not available here on Amazon.MX that are available in the States. And many items in the States will not ship to Mexico.

        I read about the delays of shipping from Sears. Whatever they tell you, add 2 weeks. I found that Chapur to be very reliable.

        I have to smile about the parties. The only thing that really drives me nuts is the bad karaoke singers. Which most of them are.

        An ex-pat can certainly get by without speaking Spanish. This is a big tourist area. Basically for Canadians during the winter. But life is so much more rewarding if you take a stab at Spanish. When we were rebuilding our house, I tried to learn all the construction terms that I possibly could. This helped a lot. I would suggest that anyone with a hobby or project to do the same. Many times if you only recognize one word in a sentence, you will understand the meaning.

  24. Skip Essick
    July 4, 2019 / 10:29 am

    I would love to have you come and speak to our rotary club in San Miguel De Allende. I am the president elect and program chairman of the Mid Day Club which is a mostly US and Canadian ExPat group. I think the information presented in this article would be an excellent and compelling presentation. Please let me know if you’re interested and what we would need to do to get you to come and speak to us.

    Kindest Regards
    Skip Essick

    • Steph
      July 10, 2019 / 4:24 pm

      Hi Skip! I’ve emailed you.

  25. Paul
    July 13, 2019 / 6:27 pm

    Hi Steph. Love your blog. One of the most thorough blogs I have read about Mx. I lived in Puebla many years ago and loved it. Have lived most of my single life in Mx & Guatemala. I am fluent in Spanish. Just retired after 40 years in the US due to health issues. My wife & I are interested in moving to Mx due to cost of living issues. Can a couple live frugally in Mexico and even in PV on $1500 per month?

    • Steph
      July 15, 2019 / 11:29 am

      Hi Paul! Thanks so much for the kind comments!
      I think if you lived a ways out of the city (to have cheaper rent), you could live frugally for $1500 per month. It would likely be tight, but lots of local people live on much less. My expenses run about $2000USD a month (not including “one-off” expenses like flights and vacations), but I spend much more than I should on a house I love ($1000USD a month for rent), and I live alone.

  26. Cynthia Brownsmith
    July 20, 2019 / 9:39 pm

    Hi Steph, I just stumbled across your website. I have visited Ajijic twice since February and was set to move there but I am also interested in the possibility of Puerto Vallarta. You mentioned providing some coaching. I would like to explore the reasons you have chosen to stay in PV, the costs of housing, the expat communities, etc. Do you have articles about PV? You said you do some individual coaching. I am not sure what that means.
    I love Ajijic because of the very welcoming expats and locals, the lake, the many cultural events including a great little jazz club. I am concerned that it is already overrun, which I think could be said about PV and I am concerned that it is mostly made up of considerably older expats without much diversity of age or ethnic origin. I don’t want to move to Ajijic to die. I have a lot of intellectual, cultural interests but I do want a lively place to live. The climate in Ajijic and all the highlands is so desirable and I am not sure the heat and humidity are bearable in PV. Can you provide any references, books, coaching, etc. about the differences and possibly resettling in PV? Muchas Bracias

    • Steph
      July 22, 2019 / 9:32 am

      Hi Cynthia! All of the pieces I’ve written about PV are here. I also do individual coaching and consulting, which means that I answer questions from personal experience and work with clients collaboratively about topics relating to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and expat life in general in a one-on-one environment (usually via Skype or FaceTime). I have more information on that here or you can also email me
      I will say that the common refrain I hear among retirees in Puerto Vallarta is that “people go to Florida to die, people come to Puerto Vallarta to live.” I find PV to be quite diverse, though there’s a misconception (that even I held once!) that PV is all North American retirees. In fact, I have quite a large, diverse, and social group of friends who are all 25-35 (not sure the age range you are looking for). There’s a big community of independent business owners and remote workers.
      Always, though, the best advice in deciding to move is to visit for yourself.

    August 5, 2019 / 4:59 am

    Health Insurance is an essential factor while you travel to Mexico.

    • Steph
      September 8, 2019 / 1:01 pm


  28. Gail Dresner
    September 1, 2019 / 3:37 pm

    Hola! I am planning to move to Mexico in the near future and am actively looking for long term rentals (6 mos to 1 yr plus) in Matzatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Manzanillo, Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa. I will be in Mexico Sept 7-21 to locate, view, and reserve a place to live. I will self-move any time after Jan 2020.

    I am a single woman, senior, healthy, very active, quiet, responsible, on social security, have excellent credit, references, pets. I love gardening, cooking, beach, social activities, swimming, walking, crafts, historic/cultural/arts locations/activities. I have been to Mexico many, many times since I was a child and can communicate in passable Spanish. I am not looking to live in an ex-pat community. I do not need anything fancy with latest appliances, upgrades, décor, etc. My ideal place would have the following but I am also realistic :

    1. located in a Mexican neighborhood
    2. house, apt, condo
    3. prefer above ground floor
    4. all utilities included
    5. TV cable connection
    6. 2 bedrooms
    7. 1 bathroom
    8. private garden/patio area/balcony
    9. AC, fans
    10. pool access
    11. gated
    12. window bars
    13. walk to beach
    14. pets allowed
    15. secure garage/parking
    16. walk to gro/mkt
    17. older house
    18. full-size refrigerator
    19. semi-furnished – only need furniture, I have everything else
    20. quiet, not near church, bar
    21. good elec, outlets+
    22. good neighbors
    23. view
    24. housekeeping
    25. hot water, good pressure
    26. good bed
    27. safe neighborhood
    28. no leaks
    29. storage, closets
    30. window screens
    31. W/D
    32. 2 outside doors
    33. fenced

    If you are aware of any properties that mostly fit these criteria, please let me know so we can arrange to meet and check it out! I am so excited about moving to my favorite country in the world (& I have been to many countries)! Thank you for your attention and consideration of my request.

    Gail Dresner

    • Steph
      September 8, 2019 / 1:00 pm

      Hello Gail! For these kinds of in-depth, specific, personalized questions requiring fairly extensive research I offer expat consulting. Feel free to sign up for a free 15-minute consultation to hear what I have to offer.

  29. February 8, 2020 / 12:03 pm

    Would you be interested in sharing links with Feria Maestros del Arte, Chapala, Jalisco? Our website is (Spanish) or (English). In our 19th year, we are considered by many to be the best Mexican folk art show anywhere. A non-profit org, we work to bring attention to the fanishing Mexican folk art and to give quality artisans a venue to sell free of charge. Gracias

    • Steph
      February 17, 2020 / 12:40 pm

      Sure, I’d be interested to learn more.

    March 4, 2020 / 4:11 pm

    Thanks for your blog–very informative. Not a bad idea is to give people who offer comments the choice of making public their e-mail addresses which wold further enrich any probe into the subject. Andrew

  31. August 30, 2023 / 6:58 pm

    Though I do appreciate the very important information you provided in this post, I found your snarky comments unnecessary and in facts, unwelcome. You are graciously welcomed into a foreign country. While I agree that there are certain aspects of the culture that are shocking to our sensibilities, there are others that are simply a matter of monetary constraints for a business owner attempting to make ends meet. You are placing your privileged bespectacled glasses on when making such statements.

    • Steph
      August 31, 2023 / 9:32 am

      Hi Lily!
      Thanks for your feedback.
      If you’re referring to the “monetary constraints” of the big box businesses with enormous profit margins I mentioned (specifically: Sears, Palacio de Hierro, Liverpool… largely foreign-owned, anyways) failing to deliver pre-purchased products by the agreed-upon and contracted delivery date, we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t consider honesty to be limited to the “privileged”, but rather basic human decency. I stand by my earlier statements: enormous companies taking a payment and not delivering the product is theft, they are certainly not struggling to “make ends meet”. Same as what I mentioned about huge telecom companies taking money and not delivering services.
      I’d prefer to frequent small business owners (building a relationship AND receiving better service), but this was written years ago before I knew better. If you want to continue giving a pass to huge corporations who can and should do better – that’s your choice, of course.

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