Living in Mexico: A Survival Guide

Over the past couple of months, I have come in contact, and joined a couple of Ex-Pat groups here in Mexico. A lot of people in these groups read my blogs, and from time to time, they send me their articles or blogs they may have written themselves.

The other day I received this blog from another blogger here in Mexico. I had thought of writing a blog like this, but this woman hit the nail on the head, and this article she wrote describes my feelings exactly.

In my experience I have found out that a lot of people who are interested in living or retiring in Mexico, expect to move here and bring the USA with them , instead of embracing Mexico and its culture.

A lot of these people expect to move to Mexico and have the same comforts and all the aspects of life in the USA. In Mexico things are different here, and this article sheds some light on that.

A lot of people from the USA want Mexico to be an extension of their lives in the USA, for a lot less than it costs to live in the USA.

If you are serious about living or retiring to Mexico in the future, you might want to read this article, it describes my feelings exactly, and I could not have written this article any better.

I personally have embraced the life here in Mexico. I work with Mexicans, I live and eat with all the local people in Mahahual, and I shop in local stores. I have done a lot of things that are in this article, and I am a better person for it.

Mexico is not for everyone, but for some people like me, it is where I want to be at this stage of my life.

Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina

Living in Mexico: A Survival Guide

Whatever the reason for you living in Mexico, or thinking about living in Mexico, this guide will work for you. Teenager, retiree, mommy, twenty-something, hippy, construction worker, European, family of a deportee. If you follow these steps to make the most of your experience, it will be one of the most amazing things you ever did for yourself. I am a cultural anthropologist. A writer. A mommy. A teacher. A dreamer. A hapiness-finder and outdoor adventurer. And this is how I survived.


1. I abandoned my materialistic philosophy. Had to. Upon moving here, one of my goals was this exact thing. And the second my foot stepped off the plane I made a vow to abandon this idea that things and people are judged by materialism and to try to erase it from my mind. This was the launch of beginning to see the world in a whole new light and not clouded by a materialistic philosophy. Mexico will never provide the comforts and luxuries that we are used to in the US. And the beautiful thing is that it doesnt claim to, or necessarily ever want to. So do yourself a favor and leave your matierlaism behind because it will get you nowhere here. And if it does happen to get you somewhere, that will not be a place of truth for really ‘living’ here.

2. I kept an open mind. No judgment. Of anything. Even when required 😉 There is lots of wierd shit to see and do here. And its pretty easy to race to a judgment about how those things are crazy, unsafe, unsanitary, or stupid. But do yourself a favor and dont. Because its not fair. And because for every unrefrigerated chicken there is a life lesson to be learned. For every hot dog slice on a pizza and family on a moped, there is a lesson. Spend more time trying to figure out that life lesson than judging like an ignorant American. Keep an open mind.

3. I embraced everything. I tried every food, talked to every person, and embraced the hell out of this opportunity. I never once took it for granted and said ‘i hate mexico,’ ‘if only they had..,’ ‘no. if you wish it was different then go home. If you accept it for what it is and seek out the beauty and freedom and embrace these unique opportunities, then you will survive and thrive father than you can even dream.

4. I worked with Mexicans. I taught at a school as a full-time faculty member. Just like everyone else there. Except I was the only white person. With blonde hair. Sticking out like a sore thumb. But I did it. I challenged myself to learn, grow, adapt, and excel teaching at a spanish Mexican school. This is immersion to the fullest. I mingled everyday and had professional expectations, conferences, and was responsible for rearing future generation Mexicans. A heavy weight for a blonde American 😉 And walking home from school everyday through town I was stared into the ground by tourists not believing I was lucky enough to live here. I mean.. who lives here? Its for vacation. And same with the locals. Not believing that I lived and worked here. The uniform shirt was a dead giveaway and I think it gave me respectable status.

5. I adventured everyday. Every damn day. My daughter and I up at the crack to go conquer some new world, fulfil another dream, and live out another adventure. My adventure bag has been packed since we got here. It never gets a chance to get unpacked. I have it down to a science. Sunscreen, snorkels, masks, water shoes, water bottles, camera, sunglasses. ready for anything. Climbing ancient ruins, jumping and swimming in new cenotes, free diving, snorkeling turtle pathways, kayaking, horse back riding, scuba diving, beachcombing, camping, boating, biking, dreamcatcher shopping, or just plain happy hour drinking. on the beach. while having a sandcastle contest with local policia who should be manning the taxi stand but are instead loving life too much to be bothered and enjoy a faceoff with a 6 year old in a mermaid sandcastle contest. Every day is an adventure, Everyday the sun is shining. And when its not you are thankful for the clouds and rain. Everyday a new adventure awaits, a new country, new people, new places, new food, new random conditions and amazing paradise adventures await. dont sit around on wifi. dont lay around and get high all day or mope about missing Mcdonalds. get off your ass and go adventure mexico.

6. I ate street tacos. I hear many people are scared of these things. what a shame. because herein lies the heartbeat of mexico. like in america, its chevy, a damn car. heartbeat of america. here its the food. tortillas, empanadas, burritos, enchiladas. its all the same thing. tortillas in various form. all greasy and delicious. all local. and all better than the fancy steakhouses lit up brightly for the tourists too scared to venture onto the sidestreet. Do yourself a favor and eat the street tacos. to fulfil a physical need. but also a psychological one as well. eating street tacos is the rite of passage to becoming a legit mexican traveler and more open minded human being. and are an immense part of mexican culture. go ahead, see what they’re all about. promise they wont kill you.

7. I made Mexican friends. Yes. Mainly from work. And then all of my daughter’s friends. And my best friend here too. They showed us a different way of life. Different culture, activities, and perspective on the world. I got the inside scoop. If you dont do this you dont really live in Mexico. Because the people are the life. Open your mind. Open your heart. Open your tortilla. and fill it all with some amazing Mexican friends who will turn your value system upside down and show you a different life that exists a country away.

8. I took advantage of the freedom. Mexico offers a level of freedom that hardly even exists in the US even behind the scenes. I wear flip flops and a bikini everyday. Never a bra. Never heels or makeup. I can walk down the street with a beer. I can ride public transportation barefoot. I can grocery shop in a bikini and I can even swim at the beach naked if I so choose. I could ride an ATV down the street with traffic, sleep on the side of the road, and bring drinks from the gas station into a restaurant with me. Everything is chill. Mexicans choose their battles. And does it really matter? Its deeper than just rules. It is the beauty of self regulation. And right choices. The freedom to think, and believe, and do, and achieve, whatever you want, without being herded and molded and restricted, that is so liberating. DO yourself a favor and feel this freedom too. Lick it, love it. It empowers the mind, body, and soul. And you will never forget that time you lived actually how you wanted. Walking through town barefoot, with a beer, no bra, no makeup, and no one to tell you you are wrong. but with everyone to tell you that you are beautiful.

9. I learned the language. Not fluently. Not even great. Or perfect likemy 6 year old daughter (jealous….)! But I was open to learning what I could and ended up being able to communicate with everyone. I didnt hold up a wall to learning and adapting to the ways of life here. And when you understand the concepts of the local language, you thereby understand so much more about the culture. And you earn respect as well. Even if the product isnt great. But for caring, respecting, and trying. If you’re living in Mexico, you need to speak Spanish.

10. I stayed positive. Through all the trials and turbulations, which there were. I always stayed positive. My horchata was always half full.

11. I stayed strong. Similar to #10 yet different. I not only stayed strong in Mexico, but I grew strong here. This place takes strong to a whole new level. And I survived. I sort of feel that I have stood the test of time with this one. SOmetimes I was not sure I would make it out of the pen, but I always did. And as an offset, things in my life here have been more amazing than I ever could have imagined. Its not all glory. some guts. but looking back i am proud of those guts i suffered to get to this mexican glory. this is an amazing place that has the ability to humble you to the basement and watch how you crawl, all with the mastermind plan that the process will place gratitude and humility into your heart like never before, where it will stay for the rest of your life. the hard is hard, but the lessons and the good is far beyond excellent.

12. I sought out life lessons. Everyday I made sure to live consciously in order to gain the necessary life lessons that I was supposed to learn that day. Every good, every bad. Every challenge, every palm leaf, bikeride, bead of sweat, cockroach, magical cenote, beach cabana, coconut, sun ray, rain drop, grain of sand, sunrise, sunset, new friendship, and old memory. It all happened for a reason. Every day was a life lesson. Which I wrote about and shared. Thankful to be out on this road living this life having these lessons so that I can send them all home. And maybe change your home. or neighborhood, or town, or family too. Because life lessons arent just found in Mexico. Sometimes it takes Mexico to show us that lessons lie in everyday life. In the beauty of flowers and children and tears. But, even though they exist, most of us dont tap into these lessons because we are too busy. or too tired. or just dont care. well this year and a half I cared. and I came to live these lessons and see for myself. and if you have been reading along with me, thank you, and I hope you have learned something alongside me.

So when I use the word ‘survive’ I actually mean ‘how did I survive before Mexico?’ Because living here for this year and a half has been the best gift I ever gave myself. I not only survived, but I thrived and thrived and thrived. If you follow all of these steps, I promise you will survive Mexico just fine too. Its not that bad really. Its amazing. And I will miss it terribly. Thank you, Mexico.

2 thoughts on “Living in Mexico: A Survival Guide

  1. “Survive” is probably too strong word, though I suppose it depends on the amount of effort required to adapt. The fact of the matter is, with the right outlook, being open to new possibilities, new friends, and new experiences, living in Mexico is exciting, enjoyable, and, well, just not that hard to do.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s