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Thoughts of warm weather and a relaxed atmosphere are what attract droves of foreigners to Mexico's shores every year, particularly retired expats moving to stretch out their pensions and unfold their sun loungers. Mexico has seen such a large influx of foreign pensioners that retired communities have sprouted up and down the coastline, some integrating into Mexican towns and their culture, whereas others resemble small pockets of America.
That said, Mexico isn't only a recipient of relocated wealth: the robust industry and thriving manufacturing centres in its large cities attract working expats. As a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the industry in Mexico is both competitive and prevalent in both the USA and Canada, and relaxed visa regulations mean businesses and employees often transcend borders.
As a developing country, there are a few concerns for expats moving to Mexico, and sometimes headlines of health scares and violence have overshadowed Mexico's usual international status as a tourist oasis.
The real Mexico, new arrivals will find, lies somewhere in the middle of these two polarities of the ideal and the problem-ridden. Expats shouldn't expect the infrastructure and gears of bureaucracy to run as smoothly as in their home countries.
That said, expats can often afford a quality of life not usually attainable at home. While poor sanitation and health crises are unfortunately common, private healthcare in Mexico is cheap and first-rate, attracting hordes of foreigners not content with medical care in their own country.
As one of the world's largest countries, Mexico's culture and history run as deep as the country is broad. Home to the famous Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations and Maya and Aztec ruins, Mexico affords countless colourful and musical experiences filled with traditional food in diverse environments for expats to appreciate.
Families with children, young adults and retirees are enticed by diverse landscapes, from alluring canyons, waterfalls and coastlines to humid rainforests and protected national parks such as the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in Chiapas.
We believe that perspective is everything: in the face of culture shock, expats can isolate themselves or see language barriers as an opportunity and embrace their new life. All in all, a welcoming government, warm weather, cheap beach-side property and a favourable exchange rate and cost of living, ensure a luxurious lifestyle for many expats, and a dream emigration destination for others.
Population: About 129 million
Capital city: Mexico City
Neighbouring countries: Mexico is bordered by the USA to the north and Guatemala and Belize to the southeast.
Geography: Mexico is a large country sitting at the bottom of the North American continent. It has an extremely varied geography from coastal low lands to a high plateau in central Mexico. Two large mountain ranges run north to south, the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Madre Occidental. The country also consists of many islands spanning out into the Pacific Ocean.
Political system: Federal presidential constitutional republic
Major religions: Christianity and Roman Catholicism. Other religions are tolerated and freely practised.
Main language: Spanish is the main language, though there are over 60 indigenous and minority languages.
Money: The official currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN), which is divided into 100 centavos. It is relatively easy for an expat to open a bank account in Mexico, despite the considerable amount of paperwork. There are many universal ATMs throughout the country.
Time: GMT -5 to -7 with daylight savings. The state of Sonora is GMT -7 year-round.
Electricity: 127 Volts, 60Hz. Standard plugs in Mexico are two- or three-pin, flat-blade attachments.
Internet domain: .mx
International dialling code: +52
Emergency numbers: 911 for all emergencies. For roadside assistance from the Angeles Verdes, call 078.
Transport and driving: Mexico has an extensive and affordable public transport system. Cars in Mexico drive on the right side of the road.
►See our essential guide to securing Accommodation in Mexico
"This is an unhurried, patient culture. Leave your hurry and anxiety behind. Cultivate patience. It´s useful to suspend logic at times, too." Read some personal insights on living in Mexico from our interview with Susan.
Are you an expat living in Mexico?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Mexico. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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