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Mexico's coastal communities are a haven for expat pensioners living out their golden years among its tropical beaches, but the country's large cities are a stomping ground for many young working expats.
Mexico City has cultivated lucrative industries that are pulling in young and industrious entrepreneurs and professionals. Over the years, the Mexican industry has been integrated into the economies of the US and Canada and has become a common branch location for large international companies.
Expats working in Mexico will find themselves in a colourful and fast-paced business environment that places high value on interpersonal relationships.
Job market in Mexico
Thanks to cheaper manufacturing and labour costs, many companies that were established in the US have moved and expanded to Mexico. These industries often source management and professionals from other countries, particularly for the high-paying occupations of manufacturing-plant managers and IT managers.
There are job opportunities in Mexico's finance, healthcare, telecommunications, tourism and hospitality industries. English teachers at local private schools and learning centres, needing at least a TEFL certificate, also make up much of the expat workforce in Mexico.
Alternatively, entrepreneurs may set up their own business or find freelance opportunities. There are prospects in IT and consulting services that can be taken advantage of. Being self-employed and running a business can be risky, and we recommend entrepreneurs do their research and seek the guidance of a lawyer or professional with specific knowledge in their field.
Many foreigners are interested in volunteering or finding an internship in Mexico. Volunteering in social, community or environmental projects is a common way of experiencing life in this North American country. This type of work has the bonus of bypassing some complicated work permit paperwork processes for stays shorter than six months, but options are largely unpaid and are done more for the experience than a sustainable work option.
Finding a job in Mexico
Unemployment in Mexico is high and finding work can be challenging. Expats looking for employment in Mexico often end up accepting salaries that are comparatively lower than those in other countries, but the cost of living is also lower too, so this must be considered.
Securing employment before the move is helpful as the hiring company can arrange visas and work permits. Companies must prove that hired expats are not taking jobs that Mexican workers would be able to do. The process seems complicated but the hiring company undertakes much of the paperwork.
Possessing recognised qualifications and being able to speak Spanish are crucial for expats looking for employment in Mexico, and embassies should be contacted to make sure that the qualifications are officially recognised in Mexico.
The best places to look for jobs are Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Juárez and León. Online job listings are incredibly helpful. These include Glassdoor, LinkedIn and CompuTrabajo. Recruitment agencies and relocation companies may be able to provide additional support.
Work culture in Mexico
Mexico offers a dynamic business environment, but expats will need to familiarise themselves with the cultural nuances of the working world.
Business in Mexico is largely built around personal relationships, and networking is central to successful interactions. It’s also important to learn Spanish. Although most executives within large cities will likely be able to speak English, learning the local language will go a long way to integrating into the work environment.
Business hours in Mexico are long: 8am or 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. There is often a two-hour siesta between 2pm and 4pm. Offices in the tourism industry are usually open on Saturdays as well.
►For more on the Mexican work culture, see Doing Business in Mexico
"I know if you are working for an American company they need to have a physical presence somewhere in Mexico. I know expats who have businesses here and there is a lot of red tape. Of course, they want to keep most jobs for the locals." Read our interview with Marcia and Judd to see how they found working in Mexico.
"Holiday resorts and schools are your best bets job-wise. Online job portals for the major hotels all advertise for positions in Cabo." Read some tips on working in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in our interview with Rudi.
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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