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Wannabe an Expatriate?

Advice on Relocating to Mexico

By Doug Bower

Expatriate wannabes often ask us how we managed our expatriation to Guanajuato. If I had to narrow it down to the most important factor in the quest to expatriate to Mexico, it would be the following: Research thoroughly and make exploratory visits to the city or cities of your choice. Take all the time you need. Read everything you can get your hands on about the regions in which you might be interested, and visit as many as you can afford.

This exploratory phase intimidates many with whom we’ve spoken about their expatriating dreams. If you aren’t well traveled and fluent in the language, the thought of relocation is a little overwhelming. We felt the same way when we reached the point of research overload and it was time to go and have a look around. We were scared but determined.

We decided to go to language school. This is the perfect way to experience the culture, learn some of the language, and see what the country is really like in a safe and controlled environment. Attending a language school and staying with a local family provides the following advantages: 1) You will stay with a family carefully screened by most reputable schools, who know the city from the inside out. 2) You will have the support of the local family and school in case you get into a jam. 3) You will be able to experience Mexican living in a worry-free environment.

If you are thinking of expatriating to Mexico, what better situation than to be in the care of a Mexican family who knows the city—where to find a place to live, how to set up your utilities, which banks are the best, all the bus routes, moving services, handymen, doctors, etc.

We made our exploratory trip to Guanajuato in February. The school we attended arranged for a homestay with a local family. All our meals were provided, so we didn’t have to worry about finding restaurants, though we did have the option of eating out whenever we wanted. Most schools arrange to have you picked up at the airport. This is reassuring if, like us, you have little to no travel abroad experience.

The head of our host family was an influential lawyer in Guanajuato who knew everyone and anything you could conceive of needing to expatriate. Even if you are not this fortunate, networking with the locals will smooth your way.

To choose a school, write some former students, listed on the school’s web site, to hear about their experiences. Get a consensus if you can. We were surprised that some former students were willing to mention deficiencies.

Check out the web site www.spanish-language.org/spanish_in_mexico.htm to get you started. A good search-engine term to use to find additional sites is “Spanish schools Mexico.”

Web Editor's Note: You may also wish to visit our section on Language Schools in Mexico for more information and first-hand experiences.

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