If you’re seriously considering moving from the USA to Mexico, as many Americans are, you’re probably sick of being told that you’ll face a “culture shock” when you arrive. You’ve most likely done your research; you know where you want to go, what the job opportunities are, what the cost of living is, maybe even what activities and amenities are around you. You might even have vacationed nearby, but believe us when we say that this is nothing compared to actually experiencing Mexico in all its glory.
If you really want to understand what it is like for the people who live and work in Mexico day to day you need to ask some more humdrum questions, and think like a local. Here are some things that we think you should know about day to day life in Mexico before you move:
Slower Pace of Life
The pace of life is so much gentler and slower here in Mexico, with a few exceptions of course, and for those who’re looking for a simpler, calmer way of life this makes Mexico perfect. Retirees and families, in particular, will find the change refreshing, but those who like the more hurried pace of life in the big cities of America may find this more frustrating and stressful than relaxing. Be prepared to take things slow when you move to Mexico.
It will not necessarily be surprising to learn, then, that punctuality is less of priority in Mexico, at least when it comes to social arrangements. You will still be expected to be on time to work and medical appointments, obviously, but social gatherings operate a less stringent policy on timekeeping. If you make dinner plans with locals you can fully expect some of the party to turn up as much as an hour or two late, so be ready for this. If you’re the kind of person who finds this stressful, you should work on coping mechanisms. It’s not just social gatherings, either, if you contract construction work or hire a handyman you can expect the same rules to apply. This isn’t due to a lack of respect, though, it’s just the way life is here; it’s all a bit less stressful and harried.
Funnily enough, this laid back attitude is compensated for by an unusual work-life balance; most Mexican residents work 6 days a week. This is, in fact, the average working week for people in Mexico, and while this seems like cruel and unusual punishment to those of us who are used to a longer week end, it does little to stunt their social lives. Mexican people love their lives and don’t let a silly thing like work get in the way of having fun, so while you might work longer hours here, if you follow the locals in merrymaking your social life may actually benefit.
Transportation can be somewhat of a wild ride when you live in Mexico; public transport can get very, very busy at peak times so expect some jostling and cramming. There are some unusual characters around, too; you might find street performers, beggars, or even animals on board public buses in Mexico (though the animals are subject to driver discretion).
Driving is just as much of an adventure as the road traffic laws are less stringently enforced here. As a result many drivers, especially experienced drivers, make up their own rules; from overtaking anyone who’s “going too slow” to going the wrong way down a one-way street, Mexican drivers set the bar for fearlessness. We would recommend that you stay alert and cautious until you’re used to the roads around you.
If you keep all this in mind you’ll settle in just fine.