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