01 Jun Why Is Mexico Such a Popular Expat Destination?
Mexico is amazing. When I moved here I had no intention of staying, but I fell in love with the cultural riches and natural beauty of this amazing country. I guess I’m not the only one who thinks this though; expats are making Mexico one of their number one destinations. Still, people I meet back home have no idea. They think Mexico is either Cancun or a war-torn battle field. It’s not either. But rather than dispute what it’s not, I’m going to tell you why is Mexico such a popular expat destination.
1. Slower pace of life
Things don’t move as quickly in many places in Mexico as they do in the United States, for the good and the bad. Generally that means people are more relaxed, take their time and don’t rush. Sometimes it can mean that a transaction takes longer or a job takes longer to be completed. The general attitude is that something takes as long as it takes, and people don’t quibble about it. Instead people tend to be more patient, kinder and friendlier. People aren’t as stressed and don’t feel as much pressure regarding deadlines. They make time to rest and take breaks. If someone shows up tardy, it often isn’t even noticed. Of course, this is at the expense of efficiency.
Naturally, Mexico’s largest cities certainly have a fast-paced tempo with more pressure and stress.
2. Varied topography
As the fifth largest country in the Americas, Mexico is home to many different types of topography – for high mountain deserts to pine forests, low-lying jungles to swamps, and many gorgeous beaches. It has a wide variety of climates and elevations, each location with a different feel from the next. In a nutshell, it has something for everyone.
3. Cultural diversity
Apart from being a large and geographically diverse area, Mexico is divided into 31 states (and additional indigenous groups who don’t always fit nicely into the divisions), each with its own customs, vestments, music and culinary specialties. Unique and beautiful traditions hail from many different regions of Mexico, making it an incredible country to explore. After 7 years, I still have so much that I want to see! Mexican people are famously warm and welcoming, happy to share their cultural traditions with a visitor.
4. Sense of community
The traditional value system in Mexico reveres family. They take time to be with their families and place that above other commitments. In that same vein, they take care of their communities, neighbors and friends. Children play in the streets and you’re likely to know all the people on your block. Strangers say hello on the street. It’s this friendly and respectful ambiance that draws many to stay.
Mexico is largely First-World country, with modern highways, large international airports, and relatively high-speed telecommunications. Many American products are sold in supermarkets and shopping malls, and you’ll experience most of the comforts of home. It’s not the most extreme change, which is why so many expats feel comfortable doing it. There are great doctors and dentists at a fraction of the cost; many people come here to have healthcare procedures or dental work done. Mexico is full of good private hospitals as well, meaning one is never more than a few hours away.
6. Lower cost of living
There is a significantly lower cost of living in Mexico. Everything is less expensive, from real estate to groceries, so your quality of life improves. You get more for your money which means you can eat healthier, exercise more, participate in things that interest you and spend more time with people you love. From fresh fruit and veggies farmed locally to artisanal goods, from household bills to entertainment costs, everything is less …except gas for the car. We’re still paying serious bucks at the pump.
But Why Is the American Media So Down on Mexico?
In a nutshell, the reason is to keep dollars in the country. Over 150,000 Americans safely visit Mexico every day. They encourage domestic travel and spending by sensationalizing stories of violence in Mexico. Mexico, meanwhile, is safer than many major U.S. cities, including Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington D.C, or Atlanta though we feel comfortable visiting these places. Travelers worldwide visit these interesting destinations in relative safety, but each of them are, statistically speaking, more dangerous than Mexico.
Mexico has been described as a casualty of American politics, since the immigration reform has become such a hot topic. Using scare tactics to get attention and sway voters, acts of violence are sensationalized at best and just plain made up at worst. It’s not to say that there is no violence in Mexico. Rather every city has dangerous places worth avoiding and safe places worth visiting. It’s common sense.
I’m a Louisiana girl and was devastated to see the hit New Orleans took from Katrina. I’m not the only one who loves New Orleans; in fact it’s one of the hottest tourist destinations in the United States, hailed for its resilience, culture, music and food. I couldn’t agree more. Though the FBI shows a decline in the murder rate in the famed “murder capital” of America, it’s still 4 times higher than the entire country of Mexico and 5 times higher than Mexico City.
I’m not trying to hate on New Orleans – it’s an inspirational city well worth the media hype. But, it’s all about perspective. These two amazing places, New Orleans and Mexico, are treated quite differently in American media… “never set foot in immensely dangerous Mexico” versus “go have a party weekend in the Big Easy”.
So, no, Mexico isn’t terrifying and you shouldn’t stay away. Every city and country has parts that are safe and parts that are dangerous. And just like we’d avoid the 9th ward of New Orleans because it’s more likely to be dangerous than the French Quarter, there are spots I avoid in Mexico too. Just because some parts of a city or country are dangerous doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the safe spots.
What do you think about travel to and through Mexico? Why is Mexico Such a Popular Expat Destination in your opinion?