Join now
Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Despite Feeling Unsafe, Expats Love Life in Mexico

Mexico boasts a friendly attitude towards expats, an unrivaled climate, and a noticeably low cost of living. Unfortunately, this may not be enough for expatriates who hold safety and security in high regard.
  • Friendly locals help to push Mexico into the top spot for ease of settling in.
  • Expat parents still fear for their children’s safety, despite being satisfied with childcare and education.
  • Mexico ranks #3 for personal happiness in general, in spite of ranking #54 for safety and security.
  • 77% of expats say moving abroad has made them happier (vs. 61% globally).

Friendly Locals Boost Ease of Settling In

Mexico is unbeaten by 63 competitors, ranking first in the Ease of Settling In Index and placing in the top 10 for all of its four subcategories. Expats seem particularly happy with the generally friendly attitude of the local residents: exactly four in five respondents (80%) are satisfied with the ease of making local friends (vs. 42% globally), while almost the same share (77%) are happy with the ease of making new friends in general (vs. 54% globally).

I really like the openness of the locals.

These positive results are unsurprising, considering Mexico also comes first for the general friendliness of the population, with 92% rating this factor positively (vs. 68% globally). Perhaps the welcoming nature of the local residents is the reason why 59% of all respondents in Mexico say they felt at home within one year of living there (vs. 42% globally). In fact, the country ranks first in regard to the ease of feeling at home in the local culture. One female expat recalls the “openness of the locals” as something she really likes about life in Mexico.

Affordable Childcare in Abundance — But Is It Safe for Children?

Mexico has climbed up to 16th place (out of 36) for family life, compared to a mediocre 29th (out of 50) in 2018. This increase might be due to an improvement in childcare options: Mexico ranks eleventh for the availability and ease of getting childcare, while over three in five expat parents (63%) agree it is easy to afford (vs. 43% globally). Moreover, the overall quality of education has improved 28 places, jumping from 41st in 2018 to 13th in 2019: 61% rated this factor positively in 2018 (vs. 69% globally), compared to 79% in 2019 (vs. 69% globally).

However, Mexico does not fare so well for general family well-being: expats rank the country 27th overall for this subcategory. Although 91% of expat parents in Mexico describe the overall attitude towards families as friendly (vs. 81% globally), they rank Mexico just 34th (out of 36 destinations) for children’s safety. In fact, only 11% rate children’s safety as very good (vs. 45% globally).

Safety and Security Still Don’t Dent Expat Happiness

Mexico ranks an average 30th (out of 64) in the Quality of Life Index, showing mixed results across the board. Mexico does worst when it comes to safety and security, coming in a very poor 54th place. For example, 27% rate their personal safety negatively, compared to 9% globally. Moreover, 51% of expats state they felt concerned about safety and security in Mexico when considering a move there. One German expat thinks that “if the factor of safety and security wasn't an issue here, then Mexico would be one of the best places to live in”. It isn’t just personal safety that seems to be an issue, though: only 59% of respondents rate the peacefulness of Mexico positively (vs. 78% globally), while just 44% are happy with the political stability (vs. 61% globally).

If the factor of safety and security wasn't an issue here, then Mexico would be one of the best places to live in.

In spite of these issues, expats do not seem unhappy. In fact, 90% of respondents say they are happy with their life in Mexico in general (vs. 74% globally), with 77% stating that moving abroad has made them happier (vs. 61% globally). One reason for the high levels of personal happiness in Mexico could be due to the fact that Mexico ranks third for available leisure activities, with 87% of expats rating this factor positively (vs. 75% globally). Among the many expats who are happy with their new life in Mexico, 43% also state that the easy availability of socializing options is one reason for their happiness (vs. 29% globally).

The fact that Mexico ranks in the top 10 for climate and weather might be another potential reason for the positive results regarding leisure options, as well as the extremely positive results for personal happiness in general. “The weather is about the best anyone could ask for!” comments one expat from the USA, a view echoed by the 89% of expats who rate this factor highly (vs. 61% globally).

The weather is about the best anyone could ask for!

Work Hard, Play Hard

Much like the quality of life, working abroad in Mexico seems to evoke mixed feelings among expats. Overall job satisfaction and work-life balance are two factors that boost Mexico’s result in the Working Abroad Index, with the destination ranking 4th out of 64 countries for both: over seven in ten expats (71%) are satisfied with their job in general (vs. 64% globally), while 72% are happy with their work-life balance, compared to 60% worldwide. Mexico has seen a 21-rank increase since 2018 in regards to working hours (36th place in 2018, 15th place in 2019); almost seven in ten expats working in Mexico (68%) rate their working hours positively (vs. 62% globally), with 33% even stating they are completely satisfied (vs. 24% globally).

However, the state of the economy seems to pull the rankings back down. Mexico ranks a below-average 41st place for this factor, with just 53% rating the current state of the local economy positively (vs. 63% globally), and just 9% saying it couldn’t be any better, compared to 24% globally. Despite the low satisfaction with the Mexican economy, this does not seem to have a negative effect on the opinions about cost of living or personal finance. Over three-quarters of respondents (78%) report being satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally), while 64% agree that their disposable income is more than enough to cover the daily costs of life in Mexico (vs. 49% globally).

Further Reading