Mexico Living Lifestyle

Moving to Mexico from the US: Tips for a Smooth Transition

moving to Mexico from the us
Written by Efrain

Moving to Mexico from the US? Our essential checklist covers everything from documentation to safety and transportation. Ensure a smooth transition now!

You’re thinking that it is time to make a lifestyle change because you are tired of the way of life in the US, or you simply are looking to make a change in your life, so you’re thinking of moving to Mexico from the US. There are a few things you should consider to ensure a smooth transition to your new place as an ex-pat. From visas to healthcare to language barriers, these numerous factors need to be kept in mind when making an international move. 

Moving to Mexico from the US:

Here we share with you a checklist with essential tips on some of the most important factors to take into account when moving to Mexico from the US and experiencing a less stressful move for you and your family.

Visas and Documentation for Short and Long-Term Stays

Naturally, before you move to Mexico, you will need to obtain the appropriate visas and documentation. There are several types of visas available, but these 3 (three) seem to be the most important to look at when relocating: the tourist visa, temporary residency visa, and permanent residency visa. The visa you choose will depend on the length and purpose of your stay. For instance, if you’re planning to move to Mexico for the long term and stay there for more than 180 days, you’ll need a temporary or permanent residency visa.

To apply for a visa, you’ll need to gather several documents, including your passport, proof of financial stability, a police clearance certificate, and a health certificate. You’ll also need to fill out an application form and pay the relevant fees. Make sure to research which visa is best for your situation and apply well in advance of your move date, as the visa application process can take several weeks or even months.

Once you arrive in Mexico, you’ll need to register your visa with the National Institute of Migration (INM) within 30 days. This process involves filling out a form and providing several documents, such as your passport and visa. Make sure to keep your visa and other important documents in a safe and secure place at all times.

Spanish Language Skills Needed For Community Integration

While many Mexicans speak English, we strongly believe that it is very important to polish your language skills, so we highly recommend learning some Spanish before moving to Mexico. Knowing Spanish, the local language in Mexico, will not only help you communicate better with locals but also allow you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture. Often when moving to Mexico from the US, people tend to continue to live their way of life by living in local expat communities where they feel better connected because they can communicate. 

If you’re not fluent in Spanish, there are several options available for language learning. You can enroll in a Spanish language course in your home country or online, or take classes in Mexico once you arrive. Additionally, there are numerous language learning apps and resources available online where you can learn Spanish on the go and at your own pace such as Duolingo, Rosetta Stone, and Babbel.

Learning Spanish isn’t just about being able to communicate effectively; it’s also about understanding the nuances of Mexican culture and way of life. For instance, Mexican culture values politeness and respect, so it’s important to learn the appropriate phrases and social norms to use in different situations.

If you’re moving to Mexico with children, we highly recommend finding a small local private school to enroll them, where of course Spanish is the language of instruction, but also the quality of the schools is higher than the local public schools. Moreover, enrolling them in a Spanish language program or after-school activity where they can interact with other local kids will help them tremendously to integrate into the local community and make friends easily and pronto.

All in all, learning Spanish is a valuable investment for anyone moving to Mexico. It will not only help you navigate your new surroundings more easily but also deepen your understanding and appreciation of Mexican culture.

Housing in Mexico

Finding a place to live is a crucial step when moving to Mexico. Before you start your search, it’s important to determine what type of housing you’re looking for and what your budget is. Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, there are a variety of options available, from apartments and condos to houses and villas. MetrosCubicos is one spot you can look for rentals in Mexico.

One important point to consider when searching for a place to live in Mexico is of course the location where you want to reside. Mexico is a very diverse country with many different regions and cities to choose from, each with its own unique culture and lifestyle. Often, people move to a location they so long for only to find out that living there is very different from vacationing there.

Some popular destinations for expats include Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Querétaro, San Miguel de Allende, and lately Merida, but there are many other great options to consider as well.

When searching for a place to live, it’s important to take into account factors such as safety, access to public transportation, proximity to amenities like grocery stores and hospitals, and the overall quality of the neighborhood.

Depending on your budget, it is also a good idea to work with a real estate agent who can help you navigate the local housing market and find a property that meets your needs.

Healthcare System Accessibility 

Access to quality healthcare is another important consideration when relocating to Mexico. While the quality of healthcare in Mexico is generally good, it’s important to research the options available in your area and make sure you have insurance coverage.

There are several options for healthcare in Mexico, including public healthcare, private healthcare, and international health insurance. 

The public healthcare in Mexico is called IMSS (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social)  and is available to all Mexican citizens and legal residents, however, the quality of care can vary depending on the location. It’s always better in large metro areas. 

Private healthcare is of a higher quality and may be more convenient, but it can also be more expensive. This does not mean it is costly, like in the USA, it simply means that you’ll pay more than public healthcare which is practically free.

International health insurance is another option for expats in Mexico, and many plans offer coverage for both routine care and emergencies. It’s important to research different plans and providers to find the one that best meets your needs and budget.

When moving to Mexico from the US, people often think that is the same and as easy as calling 911, but it is not. Mexico’s emergency system is not fast or reliable, hence it is important to know where your local hospitals and clinics are, their contact information, and how to get there in case of an emergency. Always have a plan and transportation options readily available. 

Once you make the move you can get lots of information and recommendations from other ex-pats or locals residing in your area.


Before moving to Mexico, it’s important to take stock of your finances and make a plan for how you will manage them once you’re in your new country. Take a look at everything needed to live your life there from a financial point of view, including opening a local bank account or setting up a system to withdraw money from your USA bank at a Mexico ATM or bank branch… Understand the implications and know your local currency (pesos in Mexico) and the approximate cost of living monthly and yearly for your needs.

One important consideration is the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Mexican peso. While the exchange rate can fluctuate, it’s generally a good idea to have a basic understanding of the rate and how it can affect your budget.

It’s also important to know where to exchange your money for the best rates and to keep an eye on any fees associated with exchanging currency.

Opening a local Mexican bank account is another important step for managing your finances in Mexico. This will allow you to deposit and withdraw money in the local currency, this can help you make your life easier in certain aspects, especially when Mexico to this day is a very cash-driven economy, more so outside of the big capital and metro cities. Additionally,  it also helps a lot in avoiding some costly fees associated with using a foreign debit or credit card. 

When it comes to the cost of living, Mexico is absolutely more affordable than the US, but the exact cost will vary depending on your location and lifestyle. Thus, it is important to research the cost of housing, transportation, food, and other living expenses in your desired location to ensure that you have a realistic budget. 

Also equally important is to consider long-term financial planning. After you figure out your daily cost of living and daily finances, you have to think about managing your bigger finances like retirement savings, investments, and estate planning.

It’s a good idea to work with a financial planner who has experience working with expats to make sure that you have a solid financial plan in place to live a worry-free life in your new location.


Transportation in Mexico

If bringing your car to Mexico, researching the permit needs and other regulations related to driving a foreign vehicle in Mexico is essential. Alternatively, you can import your own vehicle into Mexico if you choose so, given that such a vehicle qualifies for such a transaction. Also, you can purchase a vehicle locally, and lastly, you can just get by using public transportation.

Getting around in Mexico can be different than what you’re used to in the US, so it’s important to be prepared and understand your options for moving around and living the life you want in Mexico.

Do know that in Mexico public transit, which includes buses, trains, micros, combis, and subways is widely available in larger cities and metro areas, but not so much in smaller towns, especially those towns in coastal areas or difficult-to-access areas that are not greatly populated. 

Public transit can be affordable and convenient, especially in larger cities, but the other side of the coin is that you’ll share transportation with hundreds of other people and that comes with its own set of inconveniences, particularly safety concerns… Petty crime is notorious in Mexico, so take precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.

So, your other option for transportation, and frankly a more reliable option is to move around in Mexico by driving your own car. This way you decide your timeline and you will not be constrained by the public transport schedules that can be unreliable in Mexico.  

It’s also important to have adequate insurance coverage, as Mexican liability insurance is required by law and US insurance policies may not provide coverage in Mexico when you’ve driven beyond 25-30 miles from the border.

If you don’t plan to bring a car with you to Mexico, there are several options for renting temporarily while you get settled and then buying a car once you’re settled. However, it’s important to research the options and understand the costs involved, as car rentals can be more expensive in Mexico than in the US, while car purchases are manageable. 

Biking and walking are also popular forms of transportation in Mexico, especially in smaller towns and cities. However, it’s important to be aware of safety concerns and take precautions to protect yourself, such as wearing a helmet while biking, because biking is usually done out of necessity and not as a sport or exercise in Mexico, 

Finally, it’s important to understand the cultural norms around transportation in Mexico. For example, it’s common for taxis to pick up multiple passengers along a route, so don’t be surprised if your taxi ride takes longer than expected while being cramped up with smelly odors… 

Oh and let’s not forget that taxi drivers completely disregard the safety and passenger capacity load while driving and providing such service.  It’s also important to be aware of the local driving customs, which can include honking the horn as a way of signaling to other drivers or for whatever reason they feel like it. Often, some drivers honk the horn just to say Hi! to friends they see while driving.

It takes time to get used to driving in Mexico and to move around places with unreliable public transportation schedules, but understanding your options for transportation in Mexico and taking precautions to protect yourself can help you navigate the country safely and efficiently as well as adapt as soon as possible.


Mexico has a reputation for being a dangerous country, but the reality is more nuanced. Of course, this is not to be taken lightly, and while certain areas of Mexico have higher crime than others, many parts of the country are safe for expats and tourists.

It’s important to research your destination and understand the local safety concerns before you arrive. Some common safety issues in Mexico include theft, fraud, and violent crime, particularly in tourist areas and along the US-Mexico border. However, there are steps you can take to minimize your risk, such as avoiding walking alone at night, staying in well-lit areas, and keeping your valuables secure.

If you’re planning to travel or live in Mexico for an extended period of time, it’s also a good idea to register with your country’s embassy or consulate. This will ensure that you receive important updates and alerts about safety concerns in the area.

Overall, with careful planning and precautions, it’s possible to have a safe and enjoyable experience living or traveling in Mexico. Always be aware and watch your surroundings.

Cultural Differences

Moving to a new country can be a significant adjustment, so it’s important to be aware of cultural differences and norms, but this is a given. We can’t expect our lives to be the same or expect the same outcome in our way of life while moving to a different country with totally different traditions. Thus, learning about Mexican culture and customs allows you to be respectful and avoid cultural misunderstandings that could cause friction with the population and in turn will allow you to enjoy and adjust much faster to your new living area.


Moving to Mexico from the US can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it’s important to be prepared and understand the unique challenges and opportunities that come with living in a new country. By following this checklist of important things such as:

  • Obtaining the necessary visa documentation
  • Understanding the cultural differences
  • Taking precautions for safety and transportation
  • Healthcare
  • Finding a place to live
  • Finances
  • Updating your languages skills

You can set yourself up for a successful and smooth transition. Making some detailed planning and having an open mind, moving to Mexico can be an adventure that you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

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