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You’ve made your big move; you’ve settled down and found work; now what? Now you look forward to everyday life in Mexico. An average day for an expat does not necessarily have to be exciting. But since you are still relatively new to the country, a trip to the local supermarket may turn into an adventure.
It is entirely normal to have some expectations from the place you’ll soon be calling home. What’s not normal is to have unreal expectations. You can’t expect diamonds and sunshine everywhere; every place has its drawbacks and benefits.
Mexico has so much to offer, but it’s not perfect. Thanks to the internet, you can read and watch others’ experiences of Mexico and learn from them. Below are some of the main aspects of daily life that you’re bound to consider. It will give you some insights regarding them.
Let’s face it; life is easy when you live alone. You don’t have to buy groceries for the whole family, including fussy eaters. Living alone would cost you minimum expenses for food and utilities, but then again, you’ll have to go shopping anyway. It’s an entirely different story with a family.
When it comes to shopping and markets, Mexico has a different culture than the US. You won’t find uber-expensive malls everywhere, but you will see local markets and stalls in almost every part of the city. Bigger cities like Mexico City have international chains of supermarkets like Costco and Walmart[i]. Depending on where you live, you will notice many stores from which to choose.
You will also see a variety of local mini supermarkets in every city. If you expect to find your favorite brand from back home here in Mexico, you might get a little disappointed as some brands don’t even make it to Mexico. But you can always get its Mexican alternatives from local stores.
Pro-tip: If you happen to spot an international brand of anything in the market and it happens to be your favorite too, buy it at once and buy some extra too! Why, you ask? It’s because international brands do not get back in stock as quickly as you think.
You might get all excited and happy to find your favorite brand of beer. You buy a couple of cartons thinking you’ll get more next month only to find them gone and never to see them again. This happens because imported goods in Mexico remain part of the “retail experience.”
But then again, if one specific store does not have something in bigger cities, there’s a high chance that you will find it in another store. Also, the Mexican version of Amazon is an effective way of buying items online.
It is simply not possible to subtract fun from the lives of Mexicans. Mexicans love to dance and party. In urban areas, Fridays and Saturdays are the highlight of the week for youth. They want to hang out with friends in nightclubs and dance the night away. It is also the time of the week when people go out to hook up with like-minded people.
1. Mexico City
Undoubtedly, Mexico City is among the best capitals in the world. It has everything for everyone. It is famous for its colorful nightlife. Want to go on a decent date with your nerdy crush? No problem, visit one of the many museums in the city, and we assure you that your crush will be impressed.
Don’t worry about getting a little wild, either. La Condesa is your place to visit for cocktails in a sophisticated bar, while Zona Rosa serves the gay community with its funky vibes and cheap drinks[ii].
Mexico is super relaxed in terms of sexual preference and gender equality. But the city of Guadalajara is on another level when it comes to the LGBTQ community. This city often gets ignored due to the more popular spots in Puerto Vallarta and Guanajuato, but Guadalajara holds a unique charm on its own. You’ll find rows and rows of gay bars and clubs in the city. Of course, others are welcome as well.
3. Playa Del Carmen
This city is the ultimate destination for partying and vacations over a weekend. It is internationally famous for its beach parties and other water activities.
The place always has tourists, especially from America. You’ll even find some places where American currency is acceptable. If you intend a visit to Playa Del Carmen, make sure to visit during Easter weekend at least once.
A new country has a lot of aspects to offer, but not everything is supposed to be pleasant. One such thing is the weather in that country. Mexico, in general, has a tropical climate. It is neither too hot nor too old, but it may vary from region to region.
The maximum temperature in Mexico may get as high as 95°F and as low as 50°C.
Brace yourself for the humidity, though – the average humidity in most parts of Mexico can be as high as 70%[iii]. This humidity means that you’ll be sweating all year long.
November to April are the dry seasons of Mexico, with mild temperatures in the morning and evening. The afternoons may get warmer, but it’ll be bearable. Plan a visit to Mexico[iv] during these months. Rains start coming down from June till October, which increases the overall humidity in the air.
Spanish, the language spoken most frequently, is spoken by around 93% of the entire population of Mexico. The other 7% is distributed among indigenous and non-indigenous languages.
Mexico is a highly diverse country. While Spanish may be dominant, it still treasures the languages of indigenous people, some of which are internationally recognized as well. Among the most spoken indigenous languages, Nahuatl and Maya are the top ones.
Nahuatl is a beautiful language that’s origin goes back to the 5th century. It is spoken by less than 1,200,000 people of Mexico, from Puebla and Oaxaca. Oaxaca holds cultural value for Nahuatl in its artisan and textile factories[v]. On the other hand, the Mayan language needs no introduction. The Mayan civilization was one of the oldest ones on the Earth, and a handful still speak some form of the language of Mexicans.
Among non-indigenous languages, English is the most spoken one. The reason is obviously due to the expats who frequently visit Mexico or permanently reside there. Italian, French, German, and Dutch are also common among foreigners.
Mexico has many breathtaking sites all across the country. Planning a vacation is not a big deal as you’ll have plenty from which to choose. Thanks to UNESCO World Heritage, the historical sites in Mexico will stand as they are for generations to come. The more modern vacation spots like Cancun are often as popular as the historical ones.
Who can resist the sight of clear, blue water and white beaches? Cancun has a mini world of its own with a plethora of nightclubs, lush green forests, and cheap food. Approximately 5 million people visit this area every year. Regardless of this number, you will hardly ever feel like you’re stuck in the crowd. The beauty of Riviera Maya is seen in the wide beaches that welcome everyone with open arms. It is a perfect place to plan a vacation with friends and family.
2. Copper Canyon
Believe it or not, the Grand Cannon in the US is less deep and extensive than Mexico’s Grand Canyon. Copper Canyon is in the northern state of Chihuahua. It is named this because of the natural copper color found all around the canyon. The amazing structures were formed when six rivers converged in Rio Fuerte before merging into the Gulf of California. Since this area has become an active tourist point, other fun activities like rail trips and horse riding have also started.
Imagine a whole city under the UNESCO World Heritage sites initiative. Guanajuato is a historical city with mesmerizing scenes in every direction. It is a place that demands to be explored on foot and with lots of time at hand. You will enjoy a simple walk in the alleyways more than anything else. In daylight, you’ll behold the sight of colorful houses that has no particular sequence. It is also famous for its many museum and art galleries[vi]. If you are an art enthusiast, make sure you visit this city whenever you have ample time to enjoy it.
Would you believe it if we tell you that Mexico is among the few countries many people visit just for its cuisine? That is hard to believe, but those who enjoy food would do anything to savor a delicious meal.
Mexican cuisine is famous all around the world. Even in your hometown, you must have seen people opening up joints, trying to imitate Mexican food. Everything about Mexican food will make you fall in love with the country even more. It’s spicy, and it’s tangy; you’ll love it for sure.
Following are some of the famous Mexican dishes that you must try. We are sure that you will soon learn to cook them at home, too.
In simple words, it’s what you would call nachos in the US. The chilaquiles are made with triangle-shaped corn chips that are deep-fried. The triangles are then loaded with red or green sauces full of traditional Mexican flavors. The sauces are followed by shredded chicken, beef, chorizo, and boiled or fried eggs. It is a favorite breakfast item in Mexico and is often served with fried beans on the side.
This wholesome soup has strong roots in history. Many believe it was a part of a sacrificial ritual during the pre-classic era. Today, a bowl of pozole is made from chicken, beef, or pork left to cook for hours. It is packed with spices and sauces to make the broth flavorsome. Once the soup is ready to be served, fresh vegetables are cut on top, followed by chili and lime juice[vii].
3. Nogada Pepper
Yet another historical dish, the chiles en nogada, visually represents the colors of the Mexican flag. The dish originated from the city of Pueblo, where it is rumored, it was served first to Don Augustin. Nogado Pepper is made with Poblano peppers stuffed with ground meat, spices, and fruits. The chilies are served with a white walnut-based sauce and garnished with red pomegranate seeds[viii].
Myths about Mexico
By now, we can all agree that Mexico is not that bad of a country. In fact, it might not be bad at all. But the stereotypes and rumors stuck with Mexico will take a long time to be gone, no thanks to Hollywood and mainstream media.
Like any other country, Mexico has seen its fair share of difficulties. It has witnessed wars, changes of regime, wild criminals, and whatnot. And yet, the country still stands proud and tall. It is no longer the crime-stricken country as depicted by most Hollywood movies. It is an emerging country that is improving day by day.
Following are some of the myths about Mexico and what the truth is:
1. Mexico is a Poor Country
Mexico has the biggest economy in Latin America, after Brazil. Almost everyone owns a car and a computer, and the country is not riddled with criminals at large. The country’s middle class is now in better shape, and people are investing increasingly in their children’s education.
2. Spanish is the Official Language
No, Mexico has no official language. Spanish is the most spoken language, and all legal documents must be in Spanish, but it does not have official status. Weird, but that is the truth.
3. Mexico has Poor Education
This fact was true in the past, but today, Mexican universities are rising in international lists. 59 Mexican universities are included in the QS Latin America University Rankings among which, the Universidad de las America Pueblo is ranked in the top 50.
Also, the private schools in Mexico are getting better and more in number so that everyone can get a quality education.
4. Mexico is Nothing but a Desert
That is not true at all, considering there are sky-high buildings in all urban areas of Mexico. But then again, Hollywood loves to portray Mexico as barren, dry land, with Cancun as the only place of leisure. There are around 500 beaches in Mexico[ix] with freshwater lagoons and all kinds of facilities for tourists. Mexico is way more than the “Wild West” concept.
5. Day of the Dead = Halloween?
Dia de Muertos or the Day of the Dead is NOT the Mexican version of Halloween. It’s a three-day occasion that starts on October 31 of every year. Unlike Halloween, the Day of the Dead is celebrated to remember the dead loved ones and pay homage to them. It also expresses thankfulness for one’s existence and to ponder over the meaning of life. Watch Disney’s animated movie, Coco, to get a better idea.
Mexico is a diverse, vibrant country. There could be many reasons for a person to move to Mexico, but if they plan to stay with their whole heart, the country has tons to offer. All you have to do is accept it the way it is. If you keep comparing it with your homeland, you won’t make friends as Mexicans are extremely patriotic towards their country.
The reason behind your big move should be your driving force. Whether it is a part of your retirement plan or for work, no rumors and myths could spoil your stay if you focus on making Mexico your home. Look around, plan exotic vacations, enjoy heavenly food, participate in local even and you are all set to become a Mexican at heart.
[i] “The Art of Shopping in Mexico” (Dec 1st, 2020). Retrieved from https://www.mexperience.com/the-art-of-shopping-in-mexico/
[ii] David M. (Oct 22, 2021), “Best Places to Party in Mexico” Retrieved from https://gobackpacking.com/best-places-party-mexico/
[iii] “Fresh, Tropical Climate in Mexico.” Retrieved from https://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/country-hub/mexico/climate-in-mexico/
[iv] “The climate of Mexico: when to go to Mexico.” Retrieved from https://www.travelguide-en.org/mexico-climate/
[v] Alejandro Allerano (April 16, 2021), “Indigenous Languages that Mexico Conserves.” Retrieved from https://www.visitmexico.com/en/blog/indigenous-languages-that-mexico-conserves
[vi] Bryan Dearsley, Meagen Drillinger (June 23, 2021), ”15 Top Rated Places to Visit in Mexico.” Retrieved from https://www.planetware.com/tourist-attractions/mexico-mex.htm
[vii] Katja Gaskell, “Top 10 foods to try in Mexico.” Retrieved from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/top-10-foods-try-mexico
[viii] Griselda Muno҃z Perez (Jun 3rd, 2021), “Top 30 Most Popular Mexican Foods.” Retrieved from https://www.chefspencil.com/most-popular-mexican-foods/
[ix] Stephanie L. (May 6, 2021), “8 Myths About Mexico Busted.” Retrieved from https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/studying-abroad/8-myths-about-mexico-busted