Thinking about living in Mexico as a digital nomad?
We totally get why! There are so many reasons to choose Mexico (and also many reasons to not choose it).
Let’s just get this out of the way:
This is not your grandma’s Mexico.
It seems like whenever Mexico is brought up in conversation, whether it’s about the tantalizing food or the safety issues – everyone has an opinion about this country. But here’s the thing:
Living in Mexico as a digital nomad is a completely different experience than just going to Mexico for vacation. There’s a lot more to think about in terms of lifestyle, culture, coworking, community and so much more.
We spent collectively around 7 months living in Mexico in 3 different cities as digital nomads and here are 9 things we wish we knew before arriving that very first day in Cancun airport.
9x Things To Know Before Living In Mexico As A Digital Nomad
The beautiful country is full of deep history, rich culture, and drool-worthy food – it’s hard not to fall in love. Living in Mexico is unlike any other experience as digital nomads.
Our first visit to Mexico was in 2020 and we had no idea what to expect. Plenty of people gave their opinions about Mexico but we wanted to see it and experience it for ourselves.
When we were living in Mexico, we chose to stay in 3 different cities: Playa del Carmen, San Cristobal de las Casas and Merida. All of these Mexican cities were very different experiences and we love the way we traveled because we got the best of both worlds.
Without further ado, here are 9 things we wish we knew about living in Mexico as digital nomads.
1. Mexico Is Safer Than Your Family Makes It Seem
Living in Mexico isn’t as scary as your friends and family might make it seem. The news is definitely another source of fear preventing people from visiting Mexico.
Here’s the thing:
Mexico is as dangerous and as safe as anywhere else in the world. It’s not like Mexico’s the only country with crime. Certain cities are full of tourists and expats where the safety has definitely increased over the years.
Don’t get me wrong:
There are some seriously dangerous parts of Mexico – to the point you shouldn’t go to certain areas ever. When you’re living in Mexico, you need to be careful, vigilant and watch your surroundings. But that’s just common sense no matter where you are in the world.
In our personal experience, we felt safe during the entire time we were living in Mexico. We did stay at some of the safest places in Mexico which helps give you peace of mind.
2. The Food Is As Good As You Imagine
You name it – the food in Mexico is just drool-worthy!
This was honestly one of the main reasons we wanted to visit Mexico. We were always told that Mexican food outside of Mexico is actually pretty different from ‘real Mexican food’. They were right!
The flavors are rich, the guacamole is creamy and there’s always pico de gallo! Some of the best tacos in Playa del Carmen blew our taste buds away. You will enjoy eating at the smallest street taco stands and you can also bougie it up at some of the fanciest Mexican restaurants.
The waist might not thank you but your taste buds certainly will! One of the best parts about living in Mexico is definitely the food and the fact that you have so many options!
3. Rent Isn’t As Cheap As You Think
We paid less than $700 USD for our Airbnb in Playa del Carmen a month before we arrived and snagged an insane deal. We got a 1-bedroom apartment with a huge TV, rooftop pool, gym, workspace and more. Little did we know…
Rental prices in Mexico can get SUPER expensive (like NYC-level prices).
In Playa del Carmen (which is a rising digital nomad hotspot), the prices have increased dramatically since we were there in 2020. Now, you can expect to pay around at least $1,500+ USD for a decent 1-bedroom apartment close to the city center. In fact, I think our old apartment has gone from $700 USD to $2,100 USD. Isn’t that crazy?!
You can still get cheap rentals but it depends on where you decide to live in Mexico. For popular tourist destinations like Tulum, Playa del Carmen or Puerto Vallarta – you can expect to pay much higher. The best way to get low prices for rent is to do it locally which means you might have to deal with some bureaucracy. You might also have to be an expat and stay longer to get the best prices.
For digital nomads who will only be living in Mexico for a couple of months at a time – the easiest way to get an apartment is to just book via Airbnb. It’s more expensive than doing it on the ground and finding a place locally but you pay for the convenience and peace of mind that Airbnb offers.
4. Mexico Has A Little Bit Of Everything
Want a beach day? Go ahead!
Want to hike through some jungles? Yes you can!
Want to swim in waterfalls? Why not?!
Want to go scuba diving? Let’s go!
Want to discover old Mayan ruins? They’re open!
Mexico is one of the most diverse countries with so much natural beauty than we have ever been visited before. You have cold weather and you have warm weather. You can go and live in San Cristobal de las Casas which is a mountainous area with deep Spanish roots. You can go whale-spotting from a viewpoint in Puerto Vallarta. You can visit Mayan ruins that are hundreds of years old and swim in cenotes.
There’s no boundary to the kind of experiences you can have while living in Mexico. That’s what makes it so great! Whether you want to live by the beach or be surrounded by mountains – there are plenty of Mexican cities to choose from!
5. The Visa Situation Is Kind Of Tricky
The visa situation is a little complicated in Mexico. It used to be pretty simple but in recent years, it’s become a bit of a mixed bag. Why?
If you have a passport that makes you eligible to get their 180-day visa, it should be pretty straight forward right? Well no…
Some people arrive in Mexico thinking they automatically give each tourist 180 days. That’s not the case! The number of days you get in Mexico is entirely up to the immigration officer. That’s why you MUST check the FMM card before you leave the airport.
In recent times, people have gotten as little as 10 days as opposed to 180 days and only check when they are about to leave the country – which can get you in a lot of trouble.
A temporary residency visa is a pretty popular choice for expats. The best, most comprehensive guide I’ve seen on how to apply for it is by Hippie in Heels here.
6. Mexicans Are Friendly And Helpful
Here’s the thing: Not every Mexican is trying to haggle you and take advantage of you.
When you’re living in Mexico, try to set aside those assumptions people have about Mexicans. Start your time there with a fresh perspective and an open mind.
You see…Mexican people are some of the nicest, most caring and most welcoming people. When you’re living in Mexico, try to make an effort to make friends with some locals. Some of them are English speakers which is great when you’re just trying to learn Spanish still.
Our personal experience has been great. Our Spanish teacher was really nice and helpful. A lot of the locals we met were very patient with our little level of Spanish which is great when you’re trying hard to connect with others.
7. Wifi Isn’t As Fast As You Wish
Some of the best places to live in Mexico cater to digital nomads very well. There are coworking spaces, digital nomad communities that offer a great standard of living. However…
…unless you’re working remotely from a coworking space, the wifi isn’t going to be the fastest. The Playa del Carmen coworking spaces offered around 30-80+ Mbps whereas it’s a bit less for coworking in San Cristobal de las Casas (around 20-40 Mbps). In our new and modern apartment in the middle of Playa del Carmen, we only got speeds of 15-20 Mbps. In our San Cristobal de las Casas apartment, we only got speeds of 3 Mbps which was pretty annoying.
When we were Thailand digital nomads, we got used to getting speeds of 100-300+ Mbps! In terms of wifi, I feel Mexico can definitely improve on its wifi speeds. This is something to keep in mind if you’re thinking of living in Mexico for a while.
8. Mexico Will Quickly Feel Like Home
It’s easy to feel homesick whether you’re a digital nomad traveling full-time or an expat that has relocated abroad. For US citizens, living in Mexico can be pretty similar in certain ways.
I was absolutely shocked when we were walking around Playa del Carmen and stumbled on a Walmart! The store was just as big as they are in the States and then the next thing I saw was Sam’s Club! I couldn’t believe it.
You can even use your US SIM card in Playa del Carmen and there were more similarities than I expected (like being able to buy Kraft Mac & Cheese). Not to mention, it’s such a short flight from certain States which makes the time zone differences easy. If you’re scared of moving abroad and you don’t want to feel like you are moving halfway across the world – living in Mexico is a great option!
That’s probably why 1 million expats have decided they are going to be living in Mexico for the foreseeable future.
9. Mexico Will Exceed Your Expectations At Every Turn
Living in Mexico will surprise you in the best possible ways.
You will fall in love with the culture.
You will fall in love with the natural beauty.
You will fall in love with the beaches.
You will fall in love with the food.
You will fall in love with the people.
We arrived in Mexico with an open mind and did our best to put our ‘fears’ behind us to be able to soak up what this country had to offer. If you’re wanting to move somewhere in Latin America, Mexico is honestly a top option for a lot of people. It has also been named as a top destination for remote workers.
Last Thing About Living in Mexico: You Won’t Want To Leave
To this day, we still talk about our time living in Mexico. Sometimes I feel like we are always planning our return just to get some delicious tacos, hang out on the beach or practice our Spanish.
When you’re living in Mexico, there are pros and cons. We feel that the pros definitely outweigh the cons of moving to Mexico. We would visit again in a heartbeat and even considered the temporary residency at one point. That’s how much we loved living in Mexico!
We know you will love living in Mexico, too!