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Our Relocation Series consists of the most popular destination choices for expatriates to relocate to. We will include all the details on what you need to know on each country and factors to determine if it would be the perfect fit for you!
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A comprehensive guide for moving to and living in Mexico City
The common languages are Spanish, Nahuatl, Maya, and Mixtec. English is also becoming more widely spoken.
The Mexican Peso (MXN) is used. Credit cards are widely accepted and the country has an extensive network of ATMs.
Mexico has an overall medium risk regarding safety. Stay in the tourist zones to avoid trouble. There is a high pickpocket risk in Mexico City and crowded streets and the subway are prime locations to get your belongings stolen. Always take extra safety precautions and be aware of your surroundings.
Dial 066 in case of an emergency—it allows you to contact the police, ambulance, and firemen.
The Social Security Institute in Mexico provides the population with access to health care through three different schemes (public, private, and independent workers) after a one-month waiting period. Spouses and children also benefit from this system. Workers who earn the minimum wage have free access to this healthcare system. For all other employees, the cost is 10 per cent of their salary. Private insurance is highly recommended to expats, especially for treatments in private institutions. Some doctors work directly in pharmacies and consulting them can be very cheap. It is recommended to see a private doctor, which costs around $50 and would be reimbursed by a private insurance plan. If you have private insurance, you will be able to consult a specialist directly without seeing a general doctor first. Most medications in Mexico are delivered without prescriptions and are more affordable than in the US and Canada. Private hospitals have more resources and the service provided is very similar to that in US institutions.
Because of its high elevation of over 2,240 metres above sea level and its tropical location, Mexico City has a subtropical highland climate. Winters in this city are mild and have an average temperature that ranges between 20 and 24°C while the summer is around 28°C. Mexico City has two seasons: the dry season that occurs from October until May and the wet season which lasts from June to September.
All visitors to Mexico will be issued a traveller’s permit upon arrival costing about $15 USD. Those who do not fall under the visa exemption can refer to the following visas:
1) Visitor visa – for a visitor without a permit for paid employment, valid for 180 days.
2) Work visa – a contract or job offer from a Mexico-based company is an essential requirement when applying for a work permit.
3) Student visa – valid for one year and the cost of application ranges from $17–30 USD.
4) Spouse & dependent visa – once the foreign assignee’s work permit has been granted, the spouse/dependents can also apply for visas to enter Mexico City legally.
Mexico City is an Alpha Global City because of its role as one of the most robust financial centres in Latin America. This capital is the country’s centre for industry, services, finance, and media. The secondary sector includes transportation, food industries, electronics, textiles, and pharmaceuticals. Other thriving employment opportunities are in banking, finance, telecommunications, insurance, and tourism. Working hours are not regulated by law which means that each company or sector has different schedules. Taxation of resident expats in Mexico City is based on their worldwide income. Personal income tax for non-residents is levied from 0–30 per cent. The business culture is strongly influenced by personal relationships and most locals trust foreigners who they can relate to.
The structure of education is composed of several levels and it is mandatory for children between the ages of 6 and 14 to go to school. Though there are many equally competitive local schools, international institutions are still the top option since they use curricula that allow the students to continue with the educational background they had in their home country.
Cost of living & housing
Mexico City has 16 boroughs that are divided into many hundreds of neighbourhoods. To decide where to live, you should consider the areas that can provide safety, proximity to work or school, access to transportation, and sources of necessities. The top neighbourhoods recommended are the multicultural La Condesa, Polanca (closer to the business district), the culturally rich Coyoacan, the newly built and modern Santa Fe, or the family-friendly Napoles. Foreigners are permitted to purchase a property without any restrictions. The average price of a newly built 2-bedroom house with 1 bath is around $300,000 USD. Apartments in the city centre are priced around $220 USD per square foot or $134 USD per square foot in suburban areas. Most rentals have a minimum term of 6–12 months, but there are some accommodations that can be rented on a weekly basis. Expats must ensure they have a written contract that specifies their lease term and conditions to avoid future problems with the landlord. The price range is around $495 USD per month for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city centre and $310 USD per month outside of the city centre. The cost of utilities is not included in rental pay and the average monthly bill for water, electricity, and gas is $33 USD per month.
You will arrive at the Mexico City International Airport (Benito Juarez International Airport, MEX). There will be lots of drivers waiting outside the airport but the ones authorized by MEX are those wearing white collared shirts with a navy blue tie and dark blue pants. There is no fixed payment but an amount of up to 25 Mexican pesos is enough for their service. Subways, buses, taxis, and bikes are available for transportation around Mexico City. The traffic is extremely heavy in Mexico City and the road structure can seem complicated. During rush hour, it takes 2–4 hours to travel from one side of the city to another. You need an International Driving Permit if you drive 300 miles or more into Mexico. Even if you are not going this far into the country, the IDP is a recognized form of identification abroad that can be useful to have on hand.
Mexico City has one of the most developed and reliable telephone networks in Latin America. Companies offer a wide range of services such as fixed lines, wireless, and high-speed Internet. Wi-Fi hotspots are widely available in Mexico.
The country’s national food is enchiladas. This dish dates back to Mayan times when they would eat corn tortillas wrapped around small fish. Nowadays, enchiladas are filled with meat, cheese, seafood, beans, vegetables, and more. Tacos, quesadillas, pozole, carne adobada, gorditas, guacamole, ceviche, salsa, and tostadas are some of the most popular foods in Mexico. To be safe, avoid food served from street vendors or food served at room temperature.
Things to do
This city used to be the centre of the entire Aztec Empire, which is the reason why most of its famous attractions showcase well-preserved Aztec ruins. It is referred to as the “Manhattan” of Latin America because of its elegant boulevards filled with historical monuments and luxury hotels. Mexico is also famous for its beaches, which are about a 4- to 5-hour drive from Mexico City. The historic centre has museums, temples and cathedrals full of history. The borough of Xochimilco is known for its floating gardens. There is so much more to explore in this historical and culturally rich country, and Mexico City is an excellent base for discovering everything that Mexico has to offer.
Remember to shake hands or give a slight bow when being introduced to someone for the first time. It is considered rude when someone stands with their hands on their hips or inside their pockets. Mexicans are conservative so avoid showing too much skin in the office.
To get International Medical Insurance for expatriates or to find out more information on how you can protect yourself in the process of relocating, CLICK HERE!