So, you’ve been asked to relocate to Mexico for your company. It’s a great opportunity, so you definitely want to say yes.
But they say the move could be for up to five years. Whoa! That’s a whole lot to think about.
In 2008, I, too, was offered a job in Mexico. And I took it! Today, I’m back in the States. But, because of my job, I have lots of opportunities to share what I learned about Mexico with other U.S. professionals who are moving there. Today I want to pass along the same advice I give our clients at Fluency Corp.
What’s an RMC, and How can it Help You?
First, I bet you have a head start on me in preparing for your move to Mexico. When I moved, I was not set up with a relocation management company (RMC) that would help me figure out all the details.
These days, a large percentage of companies will offer an RMC that will help you with a destination service provider (DSP).
Under the RMC umbrella, you’ll have help like:
- Real estate agents to help you buy or rent a home in Mexico.
- Assistance with a school search in Mexico, so you can find the right neighborhood school (if you want to live like a local) or international English school for your children (if you want to live like an expat).
- A company to ship your pet safely to your home in Mexico.
- A job search coach to help your spouse find work in Mexico.
- A language coach to help you with communication in Spanish and so much more.
10 Things I Learned from Living in Mexico
But there are some things about living in Mexico that even the best relocation pros won’t know to tell you. That’s where talking to an experienced expat like me comes in.
Here is what I learned my first year working and living in Mexico:
- It’s easy for people to use your debit card if you lose it, so be very careful with it. Granted, my bad experience was back in 2008. But, still, make sure you have your money secure or ask about how secure it is, and do not assume if someone uses your card, that the bank will automatically give you your money back like they do in the USA.
- If you’re set up with housing beforehand, make sure to ask about the plumbing and the AC/heating (if you’re not in a condo building). It works quite differently in Mexico! I had to learn how to do a few things I had never done before to make sure I had hot water for my shower each day. Maybe some of you have relit the hot water heater light before, but I, for one, had not. I learned, though. Quickly. Because I like hot showers.
- Learn early about trash pickup in Mexico, as you do not want to miss it for a few weeks and have it pile up. Especially if you are in a hot part of the country like I was (Yucatan Peninsula! Ew!). It gets gross, fast!
- Make friends with a plumber and various other handypersons. It can take longer to get things fixed in Mexico (depending on the part of the country you’re in and the speed of life there). So make sure you get recommendations from your neighbors within the first few months of moving in. Repair people will save your life at some point. I know they saved mine.
- Don’t just hang around other people who speak English. What a waste! I remember one coworker, who, after 1.5 years of living in Mexico, still could not have a very basic conversation. Of course, you don’t have to, but it really will change your life if you do!
- On that note, get a private Spanish language tutor, and spend just two hours a week doing conversation classes. It will be very cheap, and it will change the way you see and hear the world around you. You will actually enjoy your life there much more if you learn the language and get to know the people. You don’t want to feel like a stranger in your new country for years! No excuses. Just do it. Also, your colleagues (or neighbors if you are a spouse that is not working while abroad) will really respect the fact that you’re learning more about their beautiful country. Collaboration will be transformed. Ask your company to pay for Spanish language training before you shell out the cash. Believe me, they’ll benefit greatly. Then, you’ll be a bilingual asset to the company upon return and be a part of the Cool Kids Club that learned a 2nd language as an adult – the club is small!
- Take advantage of laundry and cleaning services. I don’t know about you, but this was the only time I was able to afford weekly laundry service. All washed. All folded and ironed. Incredible.
- Go out to a bar or other local spot to watch soccer (futbol) games. I have a friend who works in Japan teaching English, so all day he speaks English. After a few years he had gotten to an intermediate level in Japanese without any formal questions. When asked how, he said, “I go to bars and try to talk with the people next to me.” At Fluency Corp, that is exactly what we know works, which is why our classes focus on talking.
- Find a Meetup group where people practice their Spanish and English conversation skills. Typically, they will spend 30 minutes on each language at each event. This will help you make friends who are already very open minded and interested in learning more about your language, country and culture.
- Try the corn ice cream from the guy pedaling around the neighborhood. Seriously, it’s really good. He sells brooms too, but I only ever bought the sweets.