Louise, an expatriate in Mexico for more than 6 years, shared her experience with us through a short interview.
Who is she? Louise is a fictional character created from several testimonies in order to make the reading of this article more attractive and fun!
Louise is a young woman in her thirties who has lived all her life in the region of Paris. Wishing to put an end to her routine life, she decided to expatriate to Mexico, a famous Latin American country. She chose this country which has always intrigued her, both in terms of its culture and its spicy gastronomy. Like many, Louise is a big foodie!
Once her project had matured, she did as much research as possible to ensure that her project would go as smoothly as possible. The crucial step for her was to find a job directly on site. After several long-distance interviews, she was finally offered a job at the BNP Paribas bank in Mexico. Her search was rather quick as her proficiency in three different languages (French, English and Spanish) gives her a considerable advantage.
Time to get to the heart of the matter…
What was the most important thing for you before moving to Mexico?
Like many young expatriates, the economic aspect was very important to me. I had to be vigilant and informed about the cost of living in Mexico, which I knew was lower than what I had always known in France, but I didn’t know exactly to what extent.
What type of accommodation for an expatriate in Mexico?
The solution I considered was to take a flat in downtown Mexico City. I was amazed when I saw the prices of renting a flat in Mexico, which are three times cheaper than the ones in France. I was living in a 30 square meter flat with a monthly rent of €250 including charges.
However, I had the opportunity to meet other expatriates who had different experiences living in low or mid-range hotels. They told me that this was also a very economical way for them as the rates are up to 50% lower than hotels in France. I personally had not considered this option as I like to feel “at home” and this is a feeling I don’t get when staying in a hotel.
Living in Mexico: how to get around?
I only used public transportation, especially buses, as it was one of the cheapest ways to get around. The subscription is only €13 per month. I sometimes had to use taxis when I had to go to places that were not very accessible by the bus. This was not a problem as Mexican taxis are three times cheaper than those in France.
What about food; what is it like for an expat in Mexico?
As I said, I am a big foodie and food is an important part of my daily budget.
Compared to France, prices are much lower in Mexico! It’s easy to find a place to eat for less than 5 euros, including food, drink and tip. I have learnt over time that it is better to avoid touristy places as restaurant owners are clever and know that it is possible to offer higher prices to tourists.
I mentioned tipping in the 5-euro package as it is almost compulsory in Mexico and I only found out about it when I got there. I had decided to celebrate my arrival in Mexico City by treating myself at a restaurant without thinking of leaving a tip. The waiter quickly came to claim his due! This practice can be surprising for us Europeans but becomes commonplace with time as we quickly understand that tipping is important for Mexicans and that it constitutes a large fraction of their salary.
I haven’t mentioned water but I would like to warn future expats in Mexico: only drink bottled water! Tap water in Mexico is not drinkable everywhere. Unfortunately, water in Mexico is known to be very expensive, more expensive than coke in some areas and this has proven to be true.
What surprised you most about Mexico?
The cost of health care!
I had an expat friend who got appendicitis during his stay; the cost of that operation was over €4000. Fortunately for him, he had taken out expatriate health insurance in Mexico. Health care in Mexico can be very expensive… It is therefore essential to take out health insurance before leaving.