At CHOOSING MEXICO we hope to demystify the Mexico living experience. For many Americans and Canadians, we’ve come to know and love Mexico as “turistas”. This land of swim-up bars, smiling waiters, and sunny days at the beach can sometimes lead us to believe that Mexico exists to serve and satisfy the wants of foreign vacationers. Mexico’s tourism industry is a huge success, with over 40 million annual foreign tourists (pre-COVID) flocking to its shores, generating millions of jobs and billions in revenue.
CHOOSING MEXICO hopes to show you Mexico (warts and all) as more than a postcard vacation in Mecca. Unless you plan to spend your living time in Mexico encased within the holiday bubble, then you’ll need to embrace (and sometimes endure) the unique features of your new home across this land of mountains, deserts, forests, and as well as seashores are desolate open spaces, charming towns, world-class cities, and chaotic urban sprawl.
Contrasts in settings often belie the cultural consistencies that converge to create a unique Mexican experience. Nowhere in the Americas does such a singular national identity exist. Why does this matter to me as a retiree or part-time resident? Well, if you choose a master-planned community surrounded by other English-speaking foreigners, then understanding Mexico is less of a necessity.
However, you’ve probably come to this point (investing time and money to learn about Mexico) because you sense the need to EXPAND (no limit) your Mexico horizons. For this to happen, the full panorama of living, lifestyle, and landscape options should be explored and understood. Love Mexico or hate it, it’s a country that, despite occasional bandito branding, is one of the most complex nations on earth.
This is hard for most Americans to grasp, especially after a weekend across the border for some cheap dental work or a night of margaritas. Dig a little deeper and Mexico just might captivate your senses and rejuvenate your retirement horizons.
Wandering to Mexico
For decades Americans and Canadians (Europeans too!) have been wandering to Mexico to become residents. In places like Cuernavaca, Lake Chapala, Guadalajara, Mazatlán, Mérida, and northern Baja there are generations of Mexicans whose parents and grandparents moved to Mexico from distant lands.
Not unlike the Spaniards who intermarried with local inhabitants half a millennium ago, many expatriates found love and planted generational roots that today sprout last names like O’Farrill, Kelly, Boone, Weingarten, Michel, Hamilton, Betancourt, McKinley, Cole, State, Haas, Gerber, and hundreds of others.
So, the trail was blazed generations ago, and now a new wave of migrants is turning its attention south. Why?
Most of us are drawn to Mexico for the same reasons we explored as tourists. You know, proximity, sunny weather, foreign culture, and friendly hosts. But there’s more, much more, about what’s drawing (and pushing) today’s migration south.
Just a generation ago moving to Mexico entailed some significant hardship and sacrifice (“I’ll get my phone connected WHEN??” or “what… no peanut butter??”).
Today’s migrants encounter an entirely different set of circumstances and a Mexico setting far more accommodating to the foreign resident. How so?
Stereotypes about Mexico
Let’s first dispel some persistent stereotypes about Mexico. If you view Mexico as “backward” or “third world” or “all the same” in character or lifestyle options, it will make your studies and adoption process more difficult.
For example, did you know…
- Mexico produces more corn than India, more beer than Australia, more steel than Sweden, more glass than Austria, and more oil than the United Arab Emirates
- Mexico has 35 UNESCO World Heritage Sites — more than any country in the Americas
- The largest private employer in Mexico is Walmart
- The oldest winery in the Americas is in Mexico
- More than half of Mexico is above 5,000 ft altitude
- Mexico is the world’s sixth-largest oil producer, its eighth-largest oil exporter, and the third-largest supplier of oil to the U.S
- Mexico’s economy ranks 13th in the world, while per capita income ranks 65th
- Mexico has five mountains over 15,000 feet
- 30% of Mexico’s population is Amerindian, speaking over 60 indigenous languages (only India has more languages)
- Two-thirds of Mexicans don’t have a bank account
- Mexico has over 29,000 archaeological sites
70% of Mexicans live in urban areas
- Mexico is the world’s 3rd most bio-diverse nation
- The Global Retirement Index just voted Mexico as the world’s #1 retirement destination