To help you make the most of this whirlwind adventure, we are sharing our own 10 “How to” Secrets of Successful Expats in Mexico!
1. Tough Love = Expat Success
The only way we know how to help expat-hopefuls is to be as real as possible. That means sharing 3 “tough love” truths to be understood and practiced as an expat living in Mexico.
If you can master these, you’ll find all of the life-enriching goodness you want in this beautiful country:
- You are the minority.
- Things are not done the same way as in your home country.
- Practicing patience will go a LONG way in helping you become a happy expat living in Mexico.
If you think these are do-able, then read on as the rest of our “Successful Expat” secrets will be a piece of cake!
Knowing even a little of what we call “survival Spanish” will open up a whole new world for you. You’ll be able to move more freely within your community. Here are some of our favorite “learn Spanish” suggestions:
- Take a course at the local language school.
- Hire a tutor.
- Read books, newspapers and magazines in Spanish.
- Practice along with programs such as Rosetta Stone.
- Listen to Spanish music. Lyrics have repetitive melodies which reinforce new vocabulary and syntax.
- Watch Mexican novellas (soap operas). The actors speak slowly and annunciate their words.
- Play Spanish board, number and memory games.
- Label the objects in your home, office or classroom using their Spanish names.
- Watch a movie or DVD in Spanish.
- Study restaurant menus. Identify ingredients such as pollo (chicken), leche (milk), queso (cheese), arroz (rice) and verduras (vegetables).
- Ask other nationals and expats in Mexico to help you with certain words and phrases. Jot these tidbits into a pocket-friendly notebook for quick reference.
It will take some time to learn Spanish so be patient with yourself. Have fun and before you know it, you’ll be speaking (and dreaming) in Spanish. Buena suerte! (Good luck!)
3. Learn the Lay of the Land
As an expat living in Mexico, get familiar with the geography of your immediate location. Familiarize yourself with streets, back roads and water ways. Then expand outward. Learn about the environment, how to get to certain landmarks and where the states are located.
4. Dive into Local Culture
Become a part of the community by understanding the local culture. This means knowing the history of your village or city, recognizing nuances in behavior and knowing social etiquette. There are a million ways to dive into the local culture. Below are some of our favorites:
- Go to museums.
- Take in local shows.
- Watch a parade.
- Join in a nonprofit organization.
- Attend religious events.
- Take public transportation.
- Head to the beach for an afternoon of people-watching.
- Read books and watch documentaries on Mexican culture.
- Frequent ma-n-pop establishments.
- Invite a neighbor for dinner.
- Take a Genuine Interest in Others
Take the time to get to know your neighbors. These include the people living in your residential area as well as local business people, educators, artisans, tour guides, restaurateurs, etc.
Get to know their names. Ask them how they’re doing. Inquire about their family (which is always a great question as Mexicans are very family-oriented). Accept their invitations to events and be generous with invitations of your own.
Gradually the locals start to trust you, and who knows, you may just make some of the best friends you’ve ever had!
6. Keep a Journal
Living in a different country will afford you all sorts of experiences. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget these life-changing moments.
One way to fix this is to keep a journal. We guarantee that in 10 years, you’ll have volumes of amazing stories to share with others.
7. Get in Tight with the Expat Community
We’re not going to lie. There will be times when you’ll want to bang your head on the wall, frustrated that something or someone isn’t complying with “what we did back home”!
We get it. And that’s why we’re sharing the same tidbit we received upon arrival in Huatulco Mexico: get in tight with the expat community.
Get to know other expats who have “been there, done that.” They will help you in these ways:
- You won’t feel so alone.
- You have someone with whom you can vent.
- You’ll have someone who can point you in the direction of a solution.
- You can reciprocate the good deed by helping them out when a need arises.
Communities both large and small have groups for expat writers, singles, business owners and volunteers. And if there isn’t a group you’d like to join, start your own!
From your circle of friends, find someone who could slip into the role of mentorship. This person will guide you on your expat path, offering how-to tips regarding the best – and worst – places to shop, eat, sightsee and seek legal and medical assistance.
9. Give ‘Em the Biz
Mexico is a great place to start a business. Most communities welcome savvy business owners who can blend with the local culture. As you would in any location, look for the need. What product or service could the Mexican and expat community need? Can you provide that product or service? If so, be sure your solution is something you can handle with well-established know-how.
10. Take Time to Hit “Reset”
With all of these life-enhancing tips, there will be days when you need a rest. Take time to kick up your feet, do what you like to do and hit reset. Connect with friends from home, invite them to visit or even take a trip to remind you of why you moved to Mexico in the first place. And when you’re ready, you can jump back into embracing your big adventure living in Mexico.
Adjusting to a new lifestyle in a new setting isn’t for the faint of heart. And here you are! If you’re like us, we can say it’s well worth the adjustment. We love Mexico and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
If you’re an expat living successfully in Mexico, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or one of your secrets of successful expat living in Mexico.
Don’t forget to contact us if you’re looking for Huatulco Mexico real estate investment opportunities. We are happy to give you all of the information you need to start living the dream as a successful expat living in Mexico.