The Better Life Index report released by the OECD rated 36 countries on areas such as income, education and health. They were also ranked on work to life balance and overall life satisfaction. Mexico scored rather low on many of these criteria, but still had among the highest scores when it came to life satisfaction. It was just a few paces behind wealthy nations like Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark.
Almost 85 percent of Mexicans reported having more positive experiences than negatives one on any given day.
This is obviously not linked to more income because the average earnings in Mexico are half the OECD yearly average income. There is also great financial inequality and the wages of the top earners are about 13 times higher than the wages of those at the lower end of the scale. When it came to work-life balance, a country like Denmark scored high because it accords its employees a high degree of flexibility of work hours and a good amount of paid vacation days. But in Mexico, levels of life satisfaction can’t be attributed to having more time for themselves because Mexicans put in more hours of work than any other country that was surveyed. Education was another sore spot for Mexico and it scored rather low on reading literacy, science and math test scores, and not all students go on to earn a high school diploma. Apparently, Mexicans don’t live as long either as the report showed that their average life expectancy was at 74 years compared to the OECD average of 80 years.
So why then are Mexicans so satisfied with their lives? This may have something to do with the long-standing Mexican tradition of family, cultural pride and faith.
Mexico is a country with a rich culture and things like family, traditions and religion serve as anchors for most Mexicans. Expats who relocate to Mexico often find that embracing the local customs and traditions leads to a more fulfilling experience in the country. The Mexicans are only too happy to show off their culture to newbies and will go out of their way to help expats adjust. They are also very helpful and are happy to offer a helping hand to someone who is lost or requires assistance. It’s no wonder that Mexico has become a new home for many foreigners over the years.
Mexicans place great value on family and for many, family always comes before work. It’s common for generations of families to live in same home or neighborhood. Even friends are referred to as brothers and sisters affectionately. It is customary for families to engage in religious traditions together and their faith serves as spiritual and social support. Weddings, christenings and even funerals are elaborate religious affairs that bring people together. There are also the special days for the patron saints of different communities, which involve large-scale celebrations.
When Mexicans say they have more positive experiences than negative ones, it also means that they are more attuned to positive experiences. Mexico witnesses a considerable amount of corruption and drug trafficking, but the people have good stress-coping mechanisms in place. Their social relationships act as a buffer for the hard times and the inherent large-heartedness that is often seen in Mexicans goes a long way in boosting their own happiness. The OECD survey brings out an important point that happiness has very little to do with income or material wealth.
One reason why many expats like living in Mexico is the pace of life. The lifestyle is much slower and while this may be a cause for frustration at times, it is also a freeing experience for those who have always lived life by the clock. Another reason for expats to love Mexico is the low price point. Mexico’s cost of living is not the lowest in Latin America; it is significantly lower than all of North America. Housing is available at affordable prices and food and household goods are available cheaply. However there may be variation in costs depending on the location. Rental rates in some of the popular areas in the country can be comparable to the rates in the United States. In rural areas, accommodation costs can be quite inexpensive.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina