Moving to Mexico? Better Get WhatsApp

Before we moved to Mexico, neither of us had ever heard of the messenger application called WhatsApp. That’s probably because the app is relatively unpopular in the U.S. and is only being used by about 8% of the mobile Internet users there.

I suspect that the people who belong to the 8% are using it to communicate with people abroad. The program is extremely popular in many countries across the globe, including Mexico. According to one statistic, WhatsApp is used by almost 70% of mobile Internet users in Mexico.

What it Does

WhatsApp is a free application that you download to your cell phone which allows you to make voice calls, video calls and send texts through an Internet or wi-fi connection. It does not use the minutes on your phone, so you can call anywhere in the world for free — provided that the person that you are calling has also downloaded the app. For more information, click HERE.

Although we have free unlimited calling to the U.S. from our cell phones, we use WhatsApp to call friends when we are at home because the cell signal isn’t very strong inside the condo. Since WhatsApp uses the wi-fi connection, the call quality is much better and we don’t have to keep asking, “Can you hear me now?”

Why It’s Useful in Mexico

Mexico is a very social country and relationship building is important. From the time we arrived, people that we met — whether socially or professionally — would ask if we had Whatsapp and were quick to exchange personal cell phone numbers. This seemed a little odd to me at first.

Back in the U.S., the only numbers in my cell phone were family members, friends, and a few coworkers. I never exchanged cell phone numbers with waiters, hotel managers, mechanics, store owners, cab drivers or doctors. Yep, you read that last one correctly — doctors.

I was surprised the first time that a medical doctor gave us his personal cell phone number and told us to contact him via WhatsApp with any questions or issues. Since then, we have added a couple more doctors to our list of contacts and here is the amazing part: when we text one of them — they respond.

We use WhatsApp on a regular basis to communicate with a wide range of contacts that we have now. For example, if we want to know if one of our favorite restaurants has fresh lobster that day, we ask the owner or a waiter directly via WhatsApp.  Can you imagine if the restaurants in the U.S. worked this way? It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

I would like to share one relevant experience that we had on Christmas Eve last year. One of our air conditioners went out and although all of the businesses were closed, we were able to contact a technician directly through WhatsApp. He came to the house about an hour later and made the necessary repairs.

By the way, the service call on Christmas Eve cost us $200 pesos or about $10.30 USD. This is reason #1,752 to move to Mexico.

Let’s Wrap This Up

The social aspect of the Mexican culture is one of the things that we love most about this country. People are friendly, helpful, caring and quick to lend a helping hand. This free app will help you stay in touch with all of the wonderful people that you will be meeting on a daily basis.

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About the Author

Qroo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico ( to share their experiences as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

24 Comments on "Moving to Mexico? Better Get WhatsApp"

  1. Kaylyn Burford | September 30, 2016 at 10:17 am |

    Does WhatsApp work on a simple cell phone or must it be a modern, fancy cell phone?
    Where can we buy the AT&T plan you speak of where calls to/from USA, Mexico and Canada are unlimited for 2 years for US $200 ? We have only been to Manzanillo twicd but have not seen an AT&T outlet.
    Your posts are very helpful even though we are elderly and not very computer savvy.

    • Hi Kaylyn. WhatsApp will work on any smart phone (not a flip phone).

      Until recently, the deal was through IUSACELL but they were bought by AT&T fairly recently. You may not have seen any AT&T stores because they hadn’t changed the name over yet.

  2. Timothy Parker | September 30, 2016 at 10:34 am |

    We are thinking of moving to Mexico in about 5 years. Articles like this one just make us want to move there that much sooner. Thanks for the info and keep up the excellent articles.

  3. I use this app mostly for business here in Canada. It is so easy to create a group chat! We also used it, along with the free app called, in Panama last year. We are going to be in Mexico for the winter this year, hopefully finding a place to move to (!). We will have unlimited US, Canada and Mexico phone calls from the landline in our rented condo. Good to know we can use Whatsapp wherever we have wifi. We are assuming that other than at home, there will now be a few wifi hotspots around town.

  4. We use WhatsApp in a group chat with family to make arrangements for dinner and such but had no idea it is so popular in Mx. Also the social aspect of this form of communication I find very interesting!
    Can one use vision ( camera like Skype) to talk ?
    Thanks Paul, your posts are very very informative. Have a great day!

  5. I love, love, love your blog. I just wish I could become an expat now. But with elderly parents and a terminally ill son here, I can’t. But you can bet as soon as things change, although they will be tragic, I will be moving there to a happier place. A long-needed place.

  6. I use Whatsapp all the time in Playa but rarely in the US…unless I’m calling Mexico. Before Whatsapp and cell phones most people in Playa didn’t use phones because a house phone was prohibitively expensive and most homes were not wired. And there was almost no such things as phone books. Whatsapp has amazingly changed the world and even in Playa del Carmen as locals can talk to anyone from any country.

  7. Every time one of your posts comes through to my inbox, I eagerly read it, knowing there will be nuggets of great information for me and my Los O’Gradys in Mexico readers. I love that you did this one on WhatsApp.
    80 percent of my pre & post spinal surgery arrangements were made via WhatsApp with both my neurosurgeon and pain specialist, no joking!
    Talk about convenience!

  8. AT&T are fairly new in Mexico and we got a month to month plan for 150 peso, unlimited calling to USA, Canada and Mexico plus 600 mb data.That’s $10 Canadian or about $7.50 per month USD very cheap just reload on the date at Walmart.

  9. Whatsapp does have video chat – I have been using it for ~ 3 years with friends in Mexico and Peru.

  10. Roberta Strand | May 6, 2017 at 10:19 am |

    Why would you need air conditioning on Christmas Eve. I am on the west coast and it is the best time of the year here. Is it ALWAYS so hot you need a/c on the east coast of Mexico.

  11. With the recent legislation about Healthcare in the States…could you share some of your experiences with health care in Mexico?

  12. Gary Brennan | May 6, 2017 at 2:53 pm |

    Roberta, we all can’t live in PV. It would be too crowded.

  13. Larry England | May 7, 2017 at 7:33 am |

    We enjoy your blog very much. We own property in Playa and my wife has Permanent Residency. I do not. What are the benefits other than cap gains savings upon selling property?

  14. Now I remember why I don’t use that app, it’s owned by Facebook

  15. Hector Lopez | May 30, 2017 at 4:19 am |

    I really like your blogs. We are studying Mexico pretty close as a possible retirement location Saludos!

Comments are closed.