An expat guide to Mexico

January 23, 2017

Centrally located between the USA and South America, Mexico’s booming economy is an attractive and lucrative lure for expats from across the world.

Ranked 32nd overall out of 45 countries by expats in the 2016 HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, expats rated Mexico in the Top 3 for cultural experience and ease of integration with the local population.

Main languages: Spanish

Population: 120 million

Political system: Federal presidential constitutional republic

Currency: Peso (MXN)

One of the strongest economies in Latin America, the Mexican business environment is booming and is generally considered to be one of the worlds top emerging markets.

With a large and diverse  international community and fast paced business environment, most  expats settle in sprawling Mexico City, an exciting and vibrant place to live and work.

75% of respondents to the Internations Expat Insider survey rated job satisfaction in Mexico favourably, 25% even cited complete satisfaction with their job compared to the global average of 16%. However those working full time in Mexico work slightly more hours than the global average — 45.6 hours per week compared to 44.6.

Mexico has a prime location, strategically positioned between the USA and South America, offering expats easy access to all the major markets in the Northern and Southern American regions.

As Mexico is such a large country, domestic flights are often preferred for travel throughout the country, with numerous budget airlines operating in the region.

In general the public transport system in Mexico is low cost and efficient. Like many major cities, Mexico City suffers from traffic congestion, however a modern Metro service operates in the city making public transport easy.

Overall the cost of living in Mexico is very low, however Mexico City is more expensive than the rest of the country for accommodation.

Example costs*:

McDonalds meal MXN 82.00 (€3.75)
Litre milk MXN 17.00 (€0.75)
Pint of beer MXN 47.00 (€2.15)
Broadband MXN 400.00 per month (€18)
Studio apartment MXN 12,000 per month (€550)
Petrol MXN 14.00 per litre (€0.65)
Public transport (monthly ticket) MXN 450.00 (€20)

In addition to the higher cost of accommodation in Mexico City, the other major expense which expats may face are education and healthcare.

Like most popular expat destinations, Mexico city offers expat families a choice of public, private and international school alternatives.

In some cases public education in Mexico may not be of the same standard to which expat families are accustomed.

Many expat families opt to enrol their children in an international school, which are mostly located in Mexico’s major cities. These schools teach various national curricula, as well as the International Baccalaureate programme. In the best schools, competition for places is high and spaces are limited. As these schools tend to be quite expensive, substantial financial pressure may be placed on expat families who do not have an education allowance built into their expat package.

Generally speaking, healthcare in Mexico is very impressive, and in some cases, excellent. Private healthcare is growing rapidly, driven by increasing disposable income and popular demand for personal choice and ease of access to higher quality services. Healthcare costs are relatively cost-effective compared with its immediate neighbour the USA. The country is self-sufficient and manages all its health care funding requirements from domestic revenue sources.

Most of the healthcare practitioners in Mexico have been trained in western countries. Mid-sized and larger cities in Mexico have at least one first-rate hospital and the cost of healthcare is generally lower than one might expect to pay in the US. This being the case, a lot of North Americans travel to Mexico for simple dental work or minor surgeries. The same applies for prescription drugs. On average, prescription drugs that are manufactured in Mexico are about 50% cheaper compared to similar drugs manufactured in the United States.

The cost of medical care services varies by hospital, by physician, or by the seriousness of one’s condition.

For expats living in Mexico an international health insurance plan can ensure continued access to quality healthcare and avoid expensive medical fees. When assessing health insurance options, expats living in Mexico should consider including a repatriation plan.

For more information on the healthcare system in Mexico click here.

For anyone considering relocating to Mexico  for work or study, advice and the most up date information on visa requirements and regulations can be obtained by visiting the Mexican National Migration Institute here.
*Costs accurate at time of publishing