Moving to Mexico: Expectations vs. Reality (Community and Friendships)

Source: Q-Roo Paul

Prior to moving to Mexico in 2015, Linda and I had both formed certain expectations about what our lives would be like south of the border. As everyone knows, things rarely turn out as planned in life and our case was no exception. The good news is that the realities of living in Mexico have normally exceeded our loftiest expectations in virtually every category.

This is the third article in my Expectations vs. Reality series that I started back in September. Today I will be focusing on the topic of community and friendships.

If you missed the first two articles in the series, here are the links: Housing and Food.

Expectations

Since we didn’t plan on hanging around with tourists all day, we expected that the vast majority of the people we would be meeting would be Mexican. Based on our experiences traveling to Mexico, we figured that people would be welcoming, friendly and helpful.

We didn’t expect to have many American friends. We weren’t sure how many Americans lived in the area, but even if there were a lot – what would be the odds that we would actually meet them? We figured it would be remote. After all, we didn’t even know the names of most of our neighbors and we lived in the same house for over 10 years.

Reality

I’m going to divide this category into two sections: locals and expats

Locals

This is one of the rare occasions when the reality closely matched our expectations. Once the locals knew that we had moved to the area, people went out of their way to help us and to give us advice to ease our transition.

This is when I discovered the importance of downloading WhatsApp to my phone. From the moment we arrived, virtually everyone we met wanted to exchange cell phone numbers so we could stay in touch. Those contacts have proven invaluable on several occasions.

Expats

I realize that many of the readers are unfamiliar with the term expat or expatriate. It is probably one of the most common questions that we get since the word appears in the name of the blog.

An expat or expatriate is a person temporarily or permanently residing, as an immigrant, in a country other than that of their citizenship. Most of the Americans and Canadians that we know that reside in Mexico refer to themselves as expats. The word has an exotic and adventurous sound to it – hence the appeal.

Now that we have the terminology out of the way, let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Once we transitioned from being tourists to being residents, we discovered that there was a tight-knit community made up of a substantial number of expats from the United States and Canada. The group was very friendly and welcomed new members with open arms.

Actually, to say they were “friendly” is an understatement. People in the expat community go way out of their way to help each other here on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter if you need help with translation or getting your car registered, there is usually an expat willing and able to assist. This built-in support group made our transition to life here in Mexico much easier than I ever thought possible.

Let’s Wrap This Up

When we lived in the U.S., we had a very small circle of friends and we rarely interacted with our neighbors apart from a quick wave if we happened to make eye contact while checking our respective mailboxes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — that’s just the way it was.

All of that changed when we moved to Mexico. The lifestyle here is far different and a lot more social.

Even if your intention is to go out and eat a quick meal alone here, you may end up running into friends and spending the next four hours drinking and laughing. So if you have something important to watch on television that night, it might be safer to get something delivered to your house or invest in a DVR.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years and retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He moved to Mexico with his wife six days later to enjoy a laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle on a tight budget. In 2016, Paul started a blog to share information with other people who may be thinking of making the move to Mexico. The blog, Two Expats Living in Mexico (qroo.us), has been viewed over a million times and Paul's articles appear in periodicals across Mexico.

23 Comments on "Moving to Mexico: Expectations vs. Reality (Community and Friendships)"

  1. So much fun to read your blog… and so great to get to know you and Linda! Tha ks for welcoming us with open arms and giving us tips for travel in the area! Deb and Joe

  2. Great article again. Thank you.

  3. Same in Oaxaca City re help and support from expats. There are those, of course who choose to hang with only Mecicans, but by not limiting yourself to only one group you double your pleasure, double your fun.

  4. Hola, hola dear Paul.
    I wonder what happened to your “BLOG” about the allowable level of alcohol consumption for drivers in Mexico. ‘Tis the Season for Enhanced DUI Enforcement in Mexico—???
    At the time I commented on it, contradicting your statement, by clearly saying as far as I have been told, IT IS ZERO TOLERANCE !!! NOTHING AT ALL PERIOD. I lived for the last 3 winters, for 6 to 7 month in MERIDA Yucatan, and rented a car every year and was told NO ALCOHOL, Not even ONE BEER, or GLASS OF WINE.
    Your “BLOG” and my comments have disappeared, what happened here —???
    Your comment would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you Werner.

  5. Hi Paul
    This blog has heightened my enthusiasm. Community is important to me. Ill be visiting the TAO residences between Christmas and New Years. Any ex-pat hangouts that you can recommend would be appreciated. Thanks!!

  6. How true, guys! I have found the same, what a great kinship and spirit that exists with this entire population!!

  7. Virginia Dykes | December 11, 2016 at 3:18 am | Reply

    We enjoy your friendship and look forward to seeing you on our sporadic trips. It all seems to be working our nicely for us all! TKS for your comments and lines of support.

  8. My wife and enjoy your blogs Paul. We are in the planning stages of moving to San Miguel de Allende next year and this information is invaluable. Thanks! And Feliz Navidad

  9. Great expat community here in Huatulco as well. A huge plus is the friendliness of the locals, once they discover that you are not just here for the day on a cruise ship! Btw, we love talking to the cruise ship passengers…they are always eager to talk to someone that actually lives here. (Cruise ships are here on average of about once a week….so we are not over run with the day trippers on their way to or coming from the Panama Canal)

  10. Maria niederegger | December 13, 2016 at 6:45 am | Reply

    Hi Paul,we both a PH in TAO,I would like to know can we get a health insurance when you over 75?

  11. Hi Paul and Linda, We met briefly last January at a Turtle Bay get-together. I should be revisiting soon. Reading your articles keep me thoroughly engaged. Thank you very much! Bob

  12. Very reassuring, I think I have been taught all my life to fear Mexico. Now it seems like a bit of heaven to me.

  13. Absolutely Love your post Thankyou so much!!

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