There are more American expats in Mexico than any other country in the world. Mexico and Mérida have long been vacation destinations for visitors from near and far. What makes Mérida so special? Warm weather, delicious food, friendly people, gorgeous beaches, and an inexpensive cost of living are just a few of the reasons people return time after time. You may be wondering what it would be like to move to Mérida. After living here, I created this article of 27 Ways to Know if Being Expats in Mérida is Right for You.
This article was updated in March of 2023.
27 Ways to Know if Being Expats in Mérida is Right for You
More than likely, you’ve traveled to Mexico at least once. In addition to that, you’ve probably visited multiple cities including Mérida.
Fact is –
You’ve fallen in love with Merida and are considering making it your home. By now you’ll have realized being expats in Mérida is a possibility.
So let’s take a closer look and I’ll walk you through the whole process.
#1 Living as expats in Mérida Mexico is a reality
You’ve become familiar with the layout of the city, weather changes, tourists, and the availability of goods and services you need.
More importantly, you’ve tested the waters and can visualize yourself living as expats in Mérida. Subsequently, you feel comfortable, safe, and secure at all times of the day and night.
Beyond that, you understand that living in Mérida is undoubtedly different from where you currently live and are seriously considering a location change.
#2 Learning Spanish sounds like fun
Like everything else, you may be starting from scratch or you know some basics.
Let me say this straight, please, please do not fall into the trap of solely relying on English. It will prohibit you from truly learning and integrating into this beautiful culture.
To begin with, the most important things are the alphabet, pronunciation of simple words, and how to use masculine and feminine for nouns.
In addition to watching TV shows (soap operas are always good) and Spanish movies with English subtitles, download an app like Duolingo or visit a local Spanish school for more information.
Above all, you recognize there will be a few challenges with the difference in languages.
#3 Cultural differences are part of the process
Moving to another country means adapting to a new culture and a new way of life.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, a new culture can mean difficulties and challenges. Service expectations, follow up, responsiveness, and conflict resolution will be different.
Cultural differences between Mexico and other parts of the world can be quite vast. Needless to say, life moves at a much slower pace; thinking pre-internet will give you a good frame of reference.
My best advice to adapt to the culture?
Be patient with yourself and others, observe first before reacting, and learn the nuances and adjust as best you can.
#4 Improving quality of life is a primary focus
Make no mistake –
Quality of life improves when you slow down.
Remarkably, almost nothing happens in a hurry in Mérida. Well, maybe the exception of local buses that move through the city with lightning speed and take corners on two wheels.
You will come to understand that when someone tells you they will do something “mañana” it may not actually mean tomorrow.
Because the cost of living is lower, you can afford household services such as a maid, a cook, a pool cleaner and a gardener. This frees up valuable time to read, explore, volunteer, golf, and relax.
#5 Expat communities intrigue you
For what it’s worth, take some time to study the expat community both online and in-person and interact or watch to your heart’s content.
- Do you know what the expat community is like in Mérida?
- How many expats live here both full-time and part-time?
- Where are they from?
- What is the age bracket?
- Are there expat events and activities offered that are of interest to you?
- What part of the city do they live in and why?
- Do you want to know about expats in Mérida?
- Do you want to be a part of the expat community?
On Facebook, search for “expats in Mérida”. You’ll have several options to choose from.
#6 Communication with loved ones will be different (and maybe even better)
Like everything else staying in touch with loved ones and friends will be critically important for you and for them when you move out of the country.
A feeling of familiarity and connection helps homesickness and culture shock if it happens. Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger are some great choices with a good internet connection.
Most cellular companies offer international phone plans but if you use one of the above options, all you need is an internet connection and to download the app on your phone. You may also want to schedule regular times to make video calls.
Look at it this way –
There is something soothing about being able to see who we are talking to when we are thousands of miles away.
In terms of local communication, almost everyone in Mérida uses Whatsapp. Once you begin using it, you will enjoy how easy it is to use.
#7 Homesickness may happen no matter where you move
New life and location, different culture and community, foreign language: all of these can contribute to feeling homesick.
What this means –
It’s helpful to prepare for some lonely moments and keep some sentimental items. Choose a small box for things such as photos, cards, fridge magnets, handwritten notes, and artwork. A special blanket, sweater, or cap will help on those days when you feel lonely.
And guess what –
Things will go wrong no matter where you are.
The key is to prepare for the moment that it does go wrong with a few items that will comfort and soothe you.
#8 Reducing your expenses is necessary
Between housing, medical care, food, and utilities, most expats in Mérida report they save between 50% to 65% over expenses in the U.S. This is determined by the area you choose as well as your lifestyle choices.
From my experience living in the Centro area of Mérida, I’ve found this is true. My monthly rent is $1,000 for a 2 bedrooom/2 bathroom and includes weekly housecleaning. This is a little less than half of what I was paying in Dallas.
Do research ahead of time to see how expenses look in the area of Mérida you are considering.
Let’s not forget –
Facebook expat groups are a great resource.
#9 More cost-effective healthcare is essential and necessary
Excellent healthcare is one of the biggest benefits of expats in Mérida.
In fact, a brand new state of the art hospital recently opened with a focus on the expat community.
Currently, Mexico is engaging a new healthcare system to provide improved care for all which includes major benefits for those with permanent residency status.
In other words, become familiar with medical services and hospitals in the area you are considering living.
- What type of doctors practice there?
- Do they take your insurance?
- What is the policy for ambulance or emergency services?
Additionally, schedule time for a tour during one of your research trips.
#10 Prescriptions or similar medications are available and convenient to obtain
The most important advice I can give you is this –
Make sure your current prescriptions are filled so you have enough to last until you find the location which has your medication.
You may request prescriptions written so that you can present it to the Mexican pharmacy when you arrive. Depending on the drug, you may not need a prescription for it.
Keep in mind, not all pharmacies are the same. The medication you need may only be available at one brand of pharmacy or location.
It’s easier than you think when you locate a pharmacy in a high traffic area. These tend to carry a larger variety of medications with a doctor on-site to write a prescription if needed.
#11 Retirement or semi-retirement is on the horizon
Mexico has an excellent and simple application process for temporary resident visas. Retirement visas are easy to obtain by applying at the Mexican consulate in your city.
But stay with me –
There are financial requirements you must meet however they are nominal when you consider what you will need to live on.
Expats in Mérida Mexico provides many, many benefits. There is no shortage of things to do here.
Without a doubt, social groups and clubs, volunteer activities, and more will help you integrate and engage when you are retired or semi-retired.
#12 Job flexibility allows you to be a digital nomad
We’ve all heard the term digital nomad. For some of us, that’s exactly what we are.
What this means is we have the ability to use technology to our advantage and have a portable business.
Similarly, some employers are in the process of permitting employees exclusive online access because it stimulates higher productivity and engagement.
If you have the ability to be a digital nomad, you may discuss with your employer what that might look like.
It’s interesting to note –
Technology now gives us the ability with video conferencing to remain connected while in a different location.
#13 Have you heard of a retirement alternative?
Whether you are a small business owner, employed by a company, or between jobs, planning for retirement can be challenging.
Not surprisingly, baby boomers are the fastest-growing category in the workforce. Cost of living, medical and health care, health issues, and other factors cause baby boomers to stay in the workforce longer.
What is the solution?
Move NOW to reduce your cost of living. Moving out of the country into a location that is more cost-effective supports the concept of retirement alternative. This way you are reducing your expenses, saving money, and able to put more money back for retirement.
What better way than to be expats in Mérida Mexico?
And don’t forget to put together a comprehensive plan to compare what your life would look like now, in 2 years and in 5 years.
Think about it – How much money could you save if you move sooner rather than later?
#14 Spend time locating your must-haves
You want to have your creature comforts.
- Can you find them in Mérida or are they available on Amazon Mexico?
- Will you have to bring certain things back with you when you visit “home”?
The trick is to spend time locating items on your “must-have” and “would like to have” list.
Notably, these might include linens and towels, personal items like shampoo, lotion or perfume, and small kitchen appliances.
The point is to compare what it would cost to purchase the same quality of item here vs. bringing it with you. Electronics, sheets, and towels are a good example.
Be warned –
Don’t assume if a product is available at your home Wal-mart it will be available at the local Wal-mart in Mérida.
Let’s face it, product availability on Amazon can be a game-changer.
#15 Selling your home and moving to Mérida permanently is a possibility
The cool thing is you have some options when considering your move.
- Do you want to be in Mérida full-time or part-time?
- Will you maintain a home in your current city or sell it and move permanently?
You may be considering a permanent move however want to keep your options open. It might be best to start by moving for 6 months out of the year.
The fact of the matter, you may discover gradually increasing your time as expats in Mérida Mexico gives you a safety net in the event moving doesn’t work out.
Once you are more confident, selling your home might be the best decision. Consider what will make the most sense and provide the most security and comfort.
#16 You’re exploring housing options for expats in Mérida
Mérida has a wonderful variety of neighborhoods; each with a unique personality. Different parts of the city offer different perspectives.
The vast majority of people who have relocated to another country will recommend renting before buying. You may even rent short term through Airbnb or VRBO to become familiar with multiple areas you’re interested in.
It’s incredibly helpful to spend at least a year exploring, researching, and integrating into a new location, especially another country, language, and culture.
You may decide to live on a busy street or close to a busy tourist area is not right for you. Alternatively, you may want to be close to the action and the hum of the city.
Mérida has a variety of styles to choose from including colonial, modern, and art deco. If having a car is an option, explore what parking and driving are like.
Do you want to live in a house, an apartment, or a high rise?
The fact of the matter –
Create a list of what you are looking for and keep it close at hand for quick reference.
#17 You’ve researched how you will get your things to you; including starting over.
Depending on your housing needs, there are many furnished and turnkey options.
Consider this, the following items are typically included with housing rentals in Mérida; especially if the house is marketed for long-term stays:
- Small appliances
- Kitchen items like dishes, silverware, pots, and pans
- Bedding and linens
- And other household items
However, you may find you would like to bring some personal items. Maybe you have favorite pillows or beach towels, a small kitchen appliance that you love, or a special blanket.
Check with FedEx or other services about shipping items to Merida. You may find it is more cost-effective to load up a suitcase or two with your favorite things and bring them on the plane with you.
For larger items like furniture, art, and other accessories, most find this prohibitively expensive but will vary from person to person and item to item. The majority of people sell everything, pack suitcases, and then make further decisions once they arrive.
If you are experiencing some doubt, rent a storage unit until you know for sure. This will help your peace of mind; just in case
#18 What are the options if you have a pet?
Are you bringing them with you? Find out what they’ll need to cross the border and any useful vaccinations they’ll need.
Get current information for any quarantine measures in the event your pet becomes ill during the trip. Ensure you have all the originals and copies you need to transport them.
If you are not bringing them with you, have you found another home for them? Take time to integrate them into their new environment by setting up a visitation schedule over the course of a few weeks. This will help both of you with the transition.
#19 You’re considering not having a car…at least for a while
With public transportation, taxis, Ubers, and the ability to walk depending upon where you live, a car may not be a necessity. The layout of Mérida is quite unique so you can get to where you are going pretty quickly.
Some people spend their first few months deciding how they want to move about the city and what kind of transportation is necessary. Not dealing with driving, parking, insurance, and maintenance? Definitely at the top of my list of reasons to give up my car! What a stress reliever!
Once you have a few months under your belt, purchasing a car in Mérida is quite easy and can be cheaper than importing your car.
#20 You recognize talking yourself “off the ledge” is normal.
Moving anywhere is a challenge. Subsequently, things will happen whether you are moving locally, nationally, or internationally. It’s impossible to plan for, prepare for, and anticipate everything that could happen.
- Be patient with yourself and take it slow.
- Pay attention to details that are seemingly commonplace.
- Be aware of items with a tendency to get lost such as keys, phone, wallet, passport, or laptop.
In the first week, I lost a pair of glasses, my phone, and my laptop. A few weeks later, I lost another pair of glasses. These things could have happened anywhere but because I was not paying careful and close attention, I misplaced and left them behind. Fortunately, the phone and laptop were returned; I had a backup plan for the glasses.
My best advice?
Tell yourself what a great job you are doing. Compliment yourself on your ability to move to another country with a different culture and language. Continue on a positive note and keep the conversation with yourself going.
#21 You have your personal papers in order.
When you’re a foreigner, birth, marriage, and divorce certificates are required for many things. If they are set to expire soon, update or renew passport and driver’s licenses. Make copies to keep in a safe place. Leave a copy with a relative or trusted friend in your home country.
Take the time to educate yourself on international tax laws. You may need a different or alternative CPA if your current provider isn’t up to date on current laws. Once you make the decision to relocate, update any important documents you have such as:
- Current Will
- Health Directive
- Power of Attorney
Most importantly –
Sometimes these documents are not valid in Mexico event when translated into Spanish and stamped by a Notario. Ensure you have an end of life plan and have researched your options.
Notify banks, financial institutions, and credit card companies about your plans to possibly be out of the country indefinitely. Ask for their advice on what to do going forward with your accounts, notifications, and other pertinent information. Determine what documents you will have to take originals and what you can scan.
#22 Recognize there will be some things you will absolutely not be able to find.
We are all used to our creature comforts. The availability of goods and services in other parts of the world can be numerous. Choices, selections, options, possibilities, alternatives, solutions…all can be overwhelming.
One of the best things about being expats in Mérida? Amazon ships here.
You may also find better replacements for some products or items you use. Take some time, explore, ask around, and find the best solutions for you whether local or via shipping.
Indeed . . .
Adaptability, patience, and understanding are the keys to integrating into a new way of life.
#23 You’ve shared your desire to move with friends and family.
This can be a bit tricky. Some will encourage and support you. Others will question why you want to move and may try to talk you out of it.
Don’t worry, there’s a solution –
Have all your facts close at hand to answer any and all questions.
When I announced I was moving to Mérida, some of the feedback I received was quite interesting, to say the least. Other than close friends and family, I kept my plans close to the vest until I had everything finalized. I didn’t want to feel emotionally pulled or challenged when I was making critical decisions.
At times, it is hard for people to understand why a change is necessary, especially when it is a change in location. Some may feel a bit jealous that you are doing something they’ve wanted to do but have been unable to pull the trigger.
Regardless of the reaction, it’s necessary to share your desire.
#24 You’re okay with people looking at you frequently.
The truth about expats in Mérida as a foreigner?
Above, all people are naturally curious about you. Everything about you is out of the ordinary; skin color, hair color, clothing, accent, and even the way you walk.
Be aware –
Locals may even stare at you. It’s not to be rude, it’s because you are different. Some would like to talk to you and ask about why you are here. The fact is it’s possible you’ll become the center of attention in some places, especially walking down the street in a local area.
There’s a way for you to be courteous and when you see someone staring at you. Clearly, greet them in their language for the appropriate time of day. If you can’t remember, just wave and smile. A smile goes a long way for a foreigner in a different country.
#25 You’re comfortable with the police presence.
The military and police presence here is very common. In fact, Mérida takes the safety of its residents and visitors very, very seriously.
Mérida was voted the safest place in Latin America, the second safest place in North America, and ranked twenty-first in the world, after all.
The police are out and about patrolling constantly to ensure laws are being obeyed and offenders are dealt with swiftly. Many find it surprising while others find it provides a sense of security.
Honestly, I don’t think Mérida would have ranked as high in the safety categories without the large presence of police. During different times of the year, you will see an increase in the force; typically, high tourist seasons and the summer.
#26 You’re prepared to stay out of judgment.
Rest assured, you can count on seeing things that you haven’t seen before or are not ready to see. Remember, this is not YOUR country. Please don’t judge how people live and operate here.
For example, Mérida is a big city and is dirty, just like any other big city. However, finding a little (or a lot in some areas) of trash on the street can be commonplace. Caring about the environment can be secondary to trying to earn or find enough money to have a meal.
The truth is . . .
You’ll find poverty here too.
Locals are fully aware of the many problems facing the city. Keep in mind, this is THEIR city and, reasonably, don’t appreciate foreigners prescribing solutions to all their issues. It’s a wonderful thing to want to help, just tread lightly.
#27 You’re able to appreciate the cultural differences.
Let’s face it, certain lifestyles are centered around working and earning money. In Mexico, there is a different aesthetic of living. For instance, the family is revered and given the utmost importance. The afternoon siesta is still common due to the hot weather. Some establishments close after lunch and then open again before dinner.
You will learn patience. In general, people are warm and helpful. You’ll be greeted by strangers with Buenos Dias, Buenas Tardes and Buenas Noches.
This is the point where you’ll find value in the Mexican culture in Mérida. That’s how appreciation for the little things, having meals together, enjoying free time, and not stressing too much, will become engaging and enjoyable.
Be Honest With Yourself Before Committing To Move To Mérida
Consider these final questions:
- First, do heat and humidity bother you?
- Second, are you prepared to live in a place where English is not the first language?
- Third, will you commit to learning a bit of Spanish?
- Fourth, will you be able to adapt to a different culture?
- Finally, are you ready for a change?
Chances are you are ready to enjoy a more relaxed, affordable lifestyle as expats in Mérida.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it also sounds like the perfect place for you; just like it is for me.
For more information visit here: 21 Surprising Things to Have on Your Mérida Mexico Itinerary