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Mexico Fast Facts

Aerial view of coastal town chetumal mexico

Population: 131,618,417
Capital City: Mexico City
Climate: Varied

Zocalo Square and Mexico City Cathedral, Mexico

Language: Spanish
International Dialing Code: +52
President: Andrés Manuel López Obrador

Reviewed by Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen is the Live and Invest Overseas Founding Publisher. She has more than 30 years of hands-on experience traveling, living, and buying property around the world.

Mexico: Accessible, Affordable, And Familiar… Why Go Farther?

Mexico is the most accessible country in the region from the United States and Canada.

Also, Mexico offers lots of options and opportunity for the expat. This is a big, extraordinarily diverse country that offers two long coasts, mountains, and colonial cities… not to mention Mayan ruins, jungle, rain forest, rivers, and lakes.

Being in North America, this country is home to many American franchises, from McDonalds to Pet Depot and Walmart to Starbucks.

Almost anything you buy in the States is also available in Mexico, though ease of availability depends on your location (rural and remote areas would offer fewer franchises and order fewer imports).

For all these reasons Mexico is home to the biggest established population of American expats in the world.

Ajijic and Chapala are two of the world’s biggest established communities of North American retirees overseas (though these aren’t our top recommendations in the country).

Puerto Vallarta is of the most affordable turnkey retirement on the Pacific Ocean, here, you could enjoy all the comforts of home at a fraction of the cost (despite the well-established expat community).

The silver mines in Mexico’s central highlands provided the incredible wealth that impelled Spain to world prominence in the 16th century and created Guanajuato, the crown jewel of Mexico’s colonial cities.

Along with Guanajuato and Puerto Vallarta and we recommend the Bahia de Navidad and San Miguel de Allende.

What Is The Weather Like In Mexico?

Playa del Carmen beach in Riviera Maya
Adobe Stock/Evgeni

Mexico is, perhaps, your best choice if you seek an adventure overseas with all the comforts of home.

The temperature in all areas of Mexico typically ranges between 50°F and 90°F throughout the year.

Mountainous regions and any area above sea level get cooler temperatures and lower humidity.

​The rainy season lasts from May through October. However, Mexico receives the most annual rainfall during rainy season, most regions receive about 40 inches of rain per year.

Tips For Living In Mexico

Some things you learn or, you get the scoop from insiders who already live in a place.

Here is a little guide:

Health Care In Mexico

Mexico provides excellent and reasonably priced medical care that is accessible to residents. There are two national care plans that individuals can choose from, which are either entirely free or almost free, depending on their circumstances.

In large cities, many doctors speak English as their second language. And, the majority of pharmaceutical products do not require a doctor’s prescription, with the exception of narcotics and some powerful antibiotics. Simply walk into a pharmacy and request what you need, as the cost is significantly lower than in the United States.

Depending on the specialty area, a typical doctor’s visit can cost US$15 up to US$40. Due to the low costs, many individuals choose to pay for medical expenses out of their own pocket.

Paying The Bills In Mexico

A map of Mexico with the most important regions of the country.Cash is king when it comes to paying your household bills in Mexico. So, this will require you to pay in person. You can do that at the company offices (some have kiosks with electronic scanners). Or, you can also pay at supermarkets and other retail outlets that serve as payment centers.

Let’s Talk About Time

Mexico has three different time zones: Central Standard Time, Mountain Time, and Pacific Time.

South, Central, and Eastern Mexico follow Central Standard Time, which is GMT -6. However, from the first Sunday in April to the Saturday before the last Sunday in October, it changes to GMT -5.

Nayarit, Sonora, Sinaloa, and Baja California Sur follow Mountain Time, which is GMT -7. But, during daylight saving time, it changes to GMT -6.

Lastly, Baja California Norte follows Pacific Time, which is GMT -8. Nevertheless, during daylight saving time, it changes to GMT -7.

Tipping Is Being Polite

When dining at a restaurant, it is customary to tip between 10% to 15%. Taxi drivers generally don’t expect a tip, but rounding up the fare and telling them to keep the change can make your life easier and keep them happy.

At hotels, it is recommended to tip the bellboy at least 10 pesos per bag. Waiters receive tips ranging from 10% to 20% based on the level of service provided. Chambermaids usually receive around $2 per day.

In grocery stores, it is polite to tip young boys and girls who assist with bagging groceries and men in the parking lot who help with parking.

Understanding Mexican Culture: A Guide For Expats

Guanajuato, scenic city lookout near Pipila
Adobe Stock/ eskystudio

I’m seeing my Spanish tutor, Camila, later today. We sit opposite each other in the kitchen of my Mexican home and discuss the subtleties of advanced grammar, along with anything else that comes up.

My class is the highlight of my day, and I can hardly wait.

Since my husband, Barry, and I bought an old home in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Guanajuato 17 years ago, I’ve had seven tutors, and each has not only taught me Spanish but also offered a window into Mexican culture.

In my experience, a tutor provides more benefits than just language. They help me get beyond the stereotypes to understand the real culture. Here are eight cultural insights I’ve learned from my different tutors…

#1. The Importance Of Courtesy In Mexico

When Camila WhatsApps me, she always starts with buenos días or a similar greeting. I’ve learned to use similar courtesies, in speaking and writing, rather than the American way of just getting to the point.

Courtesy is highly valued in Mexican culture. When I approach a stranger to ask directions or enter a small shop to greet the proprietor, I now know to first say buenos días or buenas tardes.

One Mexican custom is not only polite but charming. When people leave a restaurant, they say to the remaining diners, buen provecho or “bon appétit.”

An American expat married to a Mexicana told me that when his mother-in-law orders a pizza, she spends five minutes on the phone: 30 seconds ordering the pizza and four and a half minutes greeting and offering courtesies.

#2. Indirect Communication

Even among Latino cultures, Mexicans tend to take longer to get to their point. For example, in the yoga class I take, one member coordinates a monthly breakfast.

A few weeks ago, I was tickled when I read the long, effusive message she wrote to the group. She took 160 words to basically say, “We need to decide where to have our breakfast this month.”

It was very different from my more direct, minimalist English style.

#3. Ahorita And Other Diminutives

Mexicans add –ito and -ita to many words as a way of being warm and personal. Un ratito means “a little while.” Similarly, the word ahorita means “pretty soon,” but beware of taking these literally—either of them could mean hours.

When our neighbor visits, she likes to have a palomita (tequila and Fresca). People refer to their grandparents as their abuelitos. Camila wished me a fun time at la playita (the beach).

In Mexico, you might hear someone referred to as llenito or gordito, meaning on the chubby side, and calling someone this is much less of a taboo in Mexico than it is in the States.

#4. Personal Space And Body Language In Mexico

I’ve observed that Mexicans typically stand and mingle much closer to each other while talking than do Americans. As a gringa, I find their jostlingunsettling. I also observe many more crowds in Mexico than in the States.

A 25-year-old Spanish tutor who Barry had a few years ago told him that her sister was getting married, so she would have a room to herself for the first time in her life.

Being British, he could think of nothing better. “Isn’t that wonderful?” he asked. “Oh, no,” she said. “I’ll be lonely.” Their respective reactions reflected very different cultural values.

Mexicans are affectionate, and you see people touching and hugging frequently in public. You also see adolescents entwined and making out on benches, in squares, and public parks, enjoying a degree of freedom, at least in smaller cities, that I don’t see in the States.

On Friday evenings it’s common for students in the secundaria (middle school) to converge on the main square, having fun with each other unsupervised by adults.

#5. Women Marrying Later, If At All

One of Barry’s and my former Spanish teachers is now a law professor in Mexico City in her 40s, still unmarried.
Another former tutor, a single mom with two grown sons, got back together with her high school sweetheart and now lives with him in the city of Querétaro.

Camila just turned 32 and has a boyfriend but is in no hurry to marry.

This is completely different from when we first studied Spanish in Mexico in the 90s.

#6. Spoiled Sons

I was surprised to learn that even modern, contemporary mothers spoil their sons. Camila explained that this is partly because the mothers are counting on their sons to financially subsidize them when they’re old and widowed.

Unfortunately, spoiled Mexican sons sometimes grow up to be entitled husbands. Mexican wives are not as financially dependent on their husbands and don’t have to put up with it, so there are a lot of divorces.

The number of divorces in Mexico has increased in recent years and separations even more so.

#7. Make-Up

Mexican women wear a lot of make-up and see no problem putting it on in public—for example, on the Mexico City metro, buses, and other public transit.

It’s funny to me, because the whole point of make-up is to create an illusion, but Mexican women don’t mind dispelling that illusion.

#8. Close Family Ties

Mexicans have strong family ties, with a national tradition of an intergenerational comida every Sunday. However, Camila says that family unity is fraying somewhat.

According to my teachers, the downside of family unity is that parents place a lot of pressure and a strong sense of obligation on their adult children.

For example, one of our first teachers was teaching Spanish part-time while simultaneously going to university. Although tuition in Mexico is free, extras (like the actual título or diploma) are not.

Because our tutor came from a poor family, we offered to pay for the diploma. Later we learned that her mother demanded that she let her use the money to repair the bathroom in the family home, which badly needed it. Our teacher felt she couldn’t say no to her mom.

I’m more than twice as old as Camila, but age is irrelevant; over Spanish, we share our lives, I consult with her when I face tricky cultural situations, and she helps me decode Mexican culture.

As my paid friend, informant, and cultural expert, she’s worth every peso I invest.

By Louisa Rogers
Mexico Insider

Mexico FAQs

What Is Mexico Known For?

Mexico is known for its vibrant culture and delicious Mexican dishes and food. Some of its most popular exports including chocolate and hot peppers.

When Is The Best Time To Travel To Mexico?

The best time to visit Mexico is between December to April when it is the dry season.

What Documents Do North Americans Need To Enter Mexico?

US citizens need a valid passport, plus an entry permit (Forma Migratoria Multiple or FMM) issued by Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM).

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