My wife and I had vacationed in Mexico over 30 times before we finally ended up moving here full time in 2015.
Although we were very familiar with the Riviera Maya — at least from a tourist’s point of view — visiting a place and living there are two very different things. Moving to a new country is a huge adjustment and there is definitely a substantial learning curve to work through.
For those of you who are pondering making the move, I’m going to share some insight in to what you might expect if you move down.
The First Six Months
The first six months will likely be the most exciting, and at times frustrating period of your transition.
You’ll undoubtedly arrive eager to get established quickly (everyone does) and that’s where enthusiasm can easily turn into frustration. You’ll become aware that your timeline to get established (e.g. obtain visas, buy furniture, get bank accounts) is not realistic and everything is going to take much longer than you anticipated.
You’ll soon learn that when someone tells you that they will do it mañana it doesn’t mean tomorrow, it means someday. Don’t get frustrated…..just be patient and things will eventually get done.
If you don’t speak Spanish, that will only slow the process further and you’ll find yourself communicating through Google Translate and sign language. One friend of ours who had only been here for a week said that she felt like an infant because she didn’t know how to do anything and she couldn’t talk to anyone.
Depending where you move to, you might feel a little lonely and isolated. That didn’t happen to us because we moved to an area with a substantial English-speaking expat population. Once we met one or two of them, they introduced us to dozens of other expats.
During this time, it’s not unusual for people to get a little discouraged and question their decision to move to Mexico. The important thing is to remember that this transition period is only temporary and that it will get better — much better, in fact.
The Second Six Months
By this point, you’ll be getting into the swing of things and you have several tasks marked off of your to-do list. You’ll stop questioning why the milk and eggs are not refrigerated at the grocery store and you’ll be more comfortable in your new surroundings.
You’ll have more time to explore and find cool places outside of the tourist areas. You’ll be more relaxed in your surroundings and spend more time enjoying yourself.
After the First Year
Once you have a year under your belt, you should be well established in your new home, have several friends, and be receiving locals discounts at your favorite hangouts. You’ll probably have several local contacts on your Whatsapp list, including your doctor, and be offering advice to newly arrived expats.
This is when Mexico truly feels like home and you no longer question if moving to Mexico was the right decision.
Personally speaking, our second year was 100% better than our first — and the first one was pretty awesome. We’re now working on our third, and so far, it’s a best year yet!
Let’s Wrap This Up
When Linda and I moved to Mexico, we promised to give it one year before making the decision whether or not to stay forever. Of course, it didn’t take that long but that doesn’t mean that it was a seamless transition. We worked through the phases described above and it was all 100% worth it.
If you’re planning on moving to Mexico from another country, it’s important to come with an open mind, patience and a positive attitude toward change — because you will encounter a lot of it.