How To Move To Mexico
The complete guide!

Find A Job

Mexico is an interesting choice for expats seeking employment and it is possible to find work here, although you will need to go through some legal procedures; it is not legal to work in Mexico without the proper permit. The country’s economy is booming, however, and expected to continue doing so, in a wide range of sectors.

Oil and gas remain a major contender, along with tourism, hospitality, telecommunications and finance. There are a number of big international companies with branches in the region, mainly in Mexico City, although it is possible to find work in the provinces and on the coast, particularly in the hospitality industry. It will be helpful if you speak Spanish.

You will need a job offer in order to apply for a FM2 or FM 3 working visa (you will be able to enter the country on a tourist visa but this will not entitle you to work). Your prospective employer will then need to apply to the Instituto Nacional de Migración and they will issue you with the relevant permit, which you will need to take to your local Embassy or consulate for ratification.

Once your local office has put a stamp in your passport, you have 30 days on arrival in Mexico to have this exchanged for a more formal permit in the form of a plastic card.

You will need to supply:

• your passport
• a completed application form
• 1 x passport-sized photograph (taken in the last month)
• a letter from your employer covering your agreed salary and your relevant technical ability (you may also need a photocopy of an official ID of the person whose signature is on the letter)
• originals and copies of your qualifications
• originals and copies of your pay slips/stubs from the last six months
• proof of payment of consular fees (the cost of this may vary depending on your local consulate)

If you are self employed, or seeking a working holiday permit, it is best to speak to your local consulate about requirements. Mexico has a short term business visitor visa, which may apply in your particular case, and also may be able to provide you with a working holiday visa.

It is predicted that Mexico will be facing a shortage of qualified workers by 2030, particularly in the financial and corporate sectors. If you are highly qualified in these areas, speak Spanish and have good digital skills, you should not find it too difficult to locate a suitable post.

Teaching English as a foreign language remains in demand, although ideally you will need a university degree as well as a TEFL certificate. You can expect to earn in the region of US$500 – 1K per month: salaries in Mexico tend not to be high but the cost of living is comparatively low.

The maximum working hours per week are 48 hours spread over a 6 day working week. Typical working hours in Mexico vary but usually run from 8 a.m. to between 5 and 7 p.m, but you may find yourself working either a night shift or a split shift. You are entitled to a 30 minute break during each shift period.

You can take overtime, which is usually paid at a double rate for the first 9 hours and then a triple rate after this. Wages are calculated daily but generally paid weekly – this may vary, however, if you work for an international company.

You will be entitled to 6 days’ annual leave if you have worked for your employer for a year. There are 8 public holidays and a further 6 holidays which you may also be granted, depending on your employer.

Mexico’s government has recently raised its minimum wage to 123.22 pesos (US$6.36) (this is more in the north, where it has gone up to 185.56 pesos (US$9.37).

If you are having a baby, you will be entitled to maternity leave: 6 weeks of paid leave prior to the birth of a child, and 6 weeks after delivery. You can transfer 4 of the 6 weeks of the prenatal leave for use following childbirth to the period after delivery.

Your spouse will be able to work if they apply for a work permit separately. If they wish to work part time, and you are going to be in the country for a limited period, they may wish to consult the local consulate about the best visa for their circumstances.

 

Job Vacancies

You can make speculative applications to local companies. Since you need to get your work permit stamped by your consulate in your country of origin, you may prefer to set up a job before you fly, rather than travelling out on a tourist visa, looking for work once on the ground, and then having to return home to get the paperwork sorted out.

There are a number of job boards covering Latin America and you may also be able to go through a recruitment agency, depending on the sector in which you are working. The local press will also run adverts for vacancies. You might also consider if your current employer has a base in Mexico as international corporations work throughout the region, in which case you can apply for secondment.

 

Applying For A Job

A standard one page format for your CV/resume will be sufficient, but it might be a good idea to have headings translated into Spanish.

You are protected under Mexican law against discrimination on the grounds of: race, nationality, sexual preference, immigration status, religion, civil status, social condition, age, gender, and/or disability. Be aware of your rights before going into interview.

 

Qualifications And Training

You may wish to have any diplomas or certificates apostilled and salient details translated into Spanish.

 

Apply For A Visa/Permit

Mexico is a popular destination, with a booming tourism and hospitality industry. Many expats seek employment there, not only in the hospitality sector, but also in telecommunications, oil and gas, and more. Whether you are coming to Mexico for tourism or employment purposes, you may require a visa, which you can read more about below.

 

Visas

If you are a permanent resident of the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom or a country in the Schengen Area, you will not require a visa to enter Mexico as a tourist, or for transit or business purposes. So, for example, if you are travelling from the UK and are visiting Mexico as a tourist, you will not need a visa. You will, however, need to complete an immigration form and have this with you when you enter and leave Mexico.

The British government website notes that there have been reports of bogus immigration officers operating within international airports. It is therefore suggested that you always refuse offers of help and instead head directly to the immigration office.

As a tourist, you will not be allowed to undertake any voluntary work or activity, or any form of paid employment. This includes volunteer work in human rights. You will need to get the correct visa from the Mexican embassy before you travel, and you will not be able to switch immigration status once you are in the country.

You may need a visa to undertake certain adventure or eco-tourism activities, like caving, potholing or entomology, particularly if they involve any scientific or technological research.

If you are a British citizen, you can get an immigration form either when you arrive in the country – from border crossings posts or on-board flights to Mexico – or online from the National Institute of Immigration website. Note that due to the requirements of the online system, the advance option is only possible if your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to enter Mexico.

If you are British and entering Mexico from the US, there will not be an immigration officer at the port of entry, but the authorities say that you will need to identify the nearest immigration office and clear your immigration status before you continue your journey into Mexico. The immigration office can usually be found close to the border area, and you can ask customs officials for an exact location. It can be a more complicated process to clear immigration once you have left the border area.

You may need to show immigration officials proof of accommodation and onward travel. If you have been invited to stay in someone’s home, immigration officials may also ask for a letter of invitation from the person you are visiting. This should include as much information as possible, including the full names and contact details of both you and your host, as well as your address while you are in Mexico and the reason for your visit.

You will need an immigration form to leave the country.

Forma Migratoria Múltiple

If you are a US or Canadian citizen, and are planning to be in the country for longer than 72 hours and for up to 180 days, you may need a Forma Migratoria Múltiple. This is issued to US and Canadian citizens, as well as those of other nationalities, for vacation purposes, and it is often referred to as a tourist visa, despite not technically being an actual visa.

Long-stay visa

To apply for a long-stay Mexican visa, known as an FM3, once you are in Mexico, you will need:

• A cover letter (in Spanish) requesting the FM3 – this must include your name, address, and a formal request to change your immigration status from tourist to FM3
• Your FFM
• Your original passport and copies of every page
• Five passport-standard photos
• A utility bill with your address
• Proof of sufficient monetary funds (usually the equivalent of US $1250 per person per month and an additional 50% of that amount for each dependant) – you will need your last three monthly statements
• Your marriage certificate, if applicable

Immigration visa / FM2

If you want to apply for Mexican permanent residency status or citizenship, you will need to apply for an immigration visa, known as an FM2. You do not have to hold an FM3 to apply for an FM2, but will be eligible after five years of temporary residence.

An FFM will be immediate, but an FM3 can take up to a month. Whichever type of visa you are applying for, make sure you leave plenty of time before your trip.

A Forma Migratoria Múltiple costs $575 Pesos (appx U.S. $30) per person, but will be free if the trip is seven days or less and you cross by land.

An FM3 will cost in the region of $60.

 

Work Permits

You will need a job offer in order to apply for an FM2 or an FM3 working visa. As noted above, you will be able to enter the country on a tourist visa, but this will not entitle you to work. Your prospective employer will then need to apply to the Instituto Nacional de Migración, and they will issue you with the relevant permit, which you will need to take to your local embassy or consulate for ratification. Once your local office has put a stamp in your passport, you will have 30 days from the day you arrive in Mexico to have this exchanged for a more formal permit, which will be in the form of a plastic card.

You will need to supply:

• Your passport
• A completed application form
• One passport-size photograph (taken within the last month)
• An employer letter covering your agreed salary and your relevant technical ability – you may also need a photocopy of the official ID of the person whose signature is on the letter
• Original qualification certificates and copies
• Originals and copies of your last six months’ pay slips/stubs
• Proof of payment of consular fees (the cost of this may vary depending on your local consulate)

If you are self-employed, or are seeking a working holiday permit, it is best to speak to your local consulate about the requirements. Mexico can offer a short-term business visitor visa, which may suit your particular case, and also a working holiday visa.

 

Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property

 

Renting Property

Renting property in Mexico is a relatively straightforward process. You will typically find both furnished and unfurnished accommodation available throughout the country. However, what they consider to be “unfurnished” in Mexico may differ slightly from the definition you are accustomed to back home. For example, in many countries, an unfurnished property still has things like refrigerators and ovens. In Mexico, this is most often not the case. An unfurnished property in Mexico can be the bare bones of a property and nothing else. Furnished properties can range from having a few simple fixtures to including full suites of furniture.

As a tenant in Mexico, you have rights that are legally protected. However, each state has its own civil laws, so the exact intricacies of these will depend on where in the country you plan to live. Contracts can vary depending on the landlord or agent, and can often be negotiated to a certain degree.

As a general rule of thumb, notice periods, if not specified, are one month. Deposits are typically equivalent to one month’s rent, and are usually paid at the same time as your one month’s rent in advance. This should almost always be done via bank transfer, and you should be very weary of agreements that push for cash in hand payments.

As far as rental agreements go, these are largely unregulated in Mexico, and there is not really a standard contract form. It is perfectly possible that your landlord may simply get a template of a tenancy agreement off Google. To protect your interests, you should make sure that both you and your landlord sign a contract that covers a few key points, such as the terms of agreement (rental price, bills, etc.), tenant responsibilities, and any specific rules or restrictions.

In general, to be considered an eligible tenant, you will need to present proof of your residency status, identity and earnings (or savings) – these must show that you can cover the cost of the rent.

You can often find properties to rent online or through local estate agents. Alternatively, if you spot a ‘to let’ sign outside of a desirable property, you can easily make further enquiries, either using the contact details provided, or by popping in and asking.

Most estate agents in Mexico work on a local level, and often have personal relationships with the local landlords in the area. Agents can offer invaluable advice about which neighbourhoods to choose and which to avoid, and can help you to navigate the process quickly and efficiently. If you are not proficient in speaking Spanish, your easiest option would probably be to find a bilingual agent.

If you go down the agent route, it may be worth doing some background checks, before you commit to anyone. You can check agent credentials on the National Association of Realtors website here.

This varies broadly depending on region. For example, in Mexico City, the average price for a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre is approximately US$463 per month, whereas the same sized apartment outside of the city centre might cost you only US$300. A similar property in Tijuana might cost you US$250, while in Ecatepec, a one-bedroom city-centre apartment will only set you back about US$160. Typically, the further from the main cities you get, the more you will get for your money.

You should make sure you know exactly what state the property is in, before you begin your tenancy. This is because you will typically be financially responsible for minor repairs during your tenancy, except for a reasonable amount of wear and tear. It is worth checking your contract carefully, in case you get a particularly unsavoury landlord who stipulates that the property must be left in “perfect condition” upon the contract ending – usually you must return it in the same condition as you found it.

Before signing your tenancy contract, you should check a few things. For example, you should look over the landlord’s ID and the property deed specifying ownership. Alternatively, your landlord may provide proof that they have power of attorney to legally let the property to you on the owner’s behalf.

In certain places, especially in Mexico City, some landlords will ask for a fiador. This is similar to a guarantor. It is someone who will co-sign your lease to offer financial assurance. This often causes a headache for expatriates, as a fiador must live in the same city and own an unmortgaged property. You may be able to work around this by getting your employer to act as your fiador, or you may be able to negotiate so that you pay a higher security deposit instead.

 

Buying Property

For an expat living in Mexico, it is simple and straightforward to buy property. However, you need to be diligent, and hiring a real estate professional is a must.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be a Mexican citizen in order to purchase property in the country. However, if you are a Mexican citizen, you will be able to buy land without any real barriers at all. If not, then there are a few restrictions. Foreign buyers who are looking to purchase residential property that’s 31 miles or less from the coastline, or 62 miles from a border, will need to make the purchase via a trust through a Mexican bank.

The first step is to make an official offer, and it is important to keep in mind that Mexican law recognises verbal agreements.

The documentation required by the buyer during the process is minimal. Essentially, you will just need a copy of your passport and your driver’s license. You may also be required to show a recent utility bill that shows your name and home address. Corporation documentation will only be required if applicable. Present these to a notary and file them at the public registry.

Once you make the deposit, the promissory agreement (contrato de promesa) will be drawn up. This binds you and the seller into a time frame in which the buying contract must be executed. Under Mexican law, both parties are bound by the terms of the promissory agreement. If all the terms and conditions are met to execute the purchase contract, neither party can back out of the sale.

If you are purchasing via a bank, then, once the promissory agreement has been signed, the seller will contact your bank to start the trust application. Your attorney will then order a trust permit from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Online property listings are still not hugely popular in Mexico. There are a few reputable websites that can be used, such as Realtor.com, Point 2 Homes and Viviun. Usually, however, properties for sale are found through agencies or independent agents.

Perhaps the biggest threats to expatriate buyers are property scams. There are several things you can do to protect yourself from these, including the following:

Mexican estate agents are not actually required by law to be licensed or trained. Therefore, it may be a good idea to join expat forums and groups, or to speak to people you know, in order to get a referral.

Meet the seller in person. Working through an agent is fine, but it’s important to meet and talk to the seller too, so you know they are in fact selling their property, and they have the right to sell it. You can request to see the deeds or power of attorney if necessary.

It’s a good idea to have the property checked over for things like pests and mold, as well as for other potential problems. Do not hire a surveyor that is recommended by either the seller or your estate agent, as this may be part of a scam.

Never mail money, and don’t give any portion of the deposit, or any other fees, in cash.

Surprisingly, you do not need to be a Mexican resident, or even to have a visa, in order to buy property in Mexico, and you can go to any major Mexican bank to apply for a mortgage. Many of the larger international banks in Mexico will help you get a trust (fideicomiso), if this is necessary for your purchase.

 

Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: Mexico health insurance

In addition to the Seguro Popular, the government’s health initiative, the Institute of Social Security also runs a health insurance policy for employees. This is known as the Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS), and both employees and employers pay monthly contributions into the system.

Your employer should register you with the IMSS. Some expats and retirees choose voluntary registration with the IMSS, which you can do at your local office. You will need:

• passport
• FM3 or FM2 visa
• birth certificate (translated into Spanish by a certified translator)
• your CURP (Unique Population Registration Number)
• proof of your legal address
• marriage certificate (if applicable)
• 4 (2.5×3 cm) black and white photos

Check that the local office is English-speaking. You can pay the registration fee by bank transfer; check, too, that your bank is a participant in the scheme and has the relevant account details. You will then receive a carnet and an appointment with your local GP within the next month. You will need to take your documentation to your first appointment at your GP’s surgery, and you will then be issued with an ADIMSS card.

If you are registered with the Seguro Popular you will be issued with a family healthcard, which you must take with you to all appointments.

 

Open A Bank Account

In Mexico, the retail banking process is fairly straightforward, even for expats. There are numerous financial institutions across the country catering to local and foreign customers. The banking system offers a wide range of services to individuals as well as commercial entities. However, many of their services can only be utilized by residents. For many foreigners, interaction with a Mexican bank is limited to the use of an ATM.

Like in most other countries, banks in Mexico offer current accounts, saving accounts, investment accounts, debit cards, direct debits, credit services, personal loans, and overdraft facilities. The local banks will also accept payments for utility bills as well as taxes (local, state, and federal).

Foreign residents in this country can choose to hold one of these three account types:

Peso denominated checking account: Investors of all nationalities are offered a wide range of interest-bearing and regular accounts, which allow them to manage their money and earn an income. The minimum opening deposit for these accounts could range anywhere between US$500 and US$1,000 depending upon the account type.

US Dollar checking account:These accounts are usually only offered to American and Canadian nationals as well as corporations. The interest rates for these accounts are much lower to the US. The minimum opening balance for these checking accounts varies.

Certificate of deposit:Such accounts are regarded as instruments that give the investor the best returns in the market and are guaranteed by the issuing bank. These are offered only in Pesos. The minimum opening deposit for these accounts is higher.

There is a considerable difference in the fees and services for each of these accounts. Expats should therefore look at all possible options before deciding on which account to open.

While the dollar checking account is only for Americans and Canadians, expats of all nationalities can access the money in their overseas accounts through a Mexican ATM as long as they have an international debit card. The downside is that there is an additional fee levied on all withdrawals from these accounts. Expats who plan to use their accounts for daily transactions should therefore open a checking account that uses only pesos.

In order to open a local bank account, an individual must provide:

• Residence visa
• Identification
• Address proof (local)
• Two references
• The minimum deposit

For years now, the banks in Mexico have been infamous for three things: excessively high (not to mention complex) charges, high borrowing rates coupled with low rates on deposits, and poor customer service. Fortunately, this is undergoing a change as international banks have come into the picture.

The largest and most popular local banks in Mexico include Banamex, Banco Santander, Banorte, and Bancomer. International banking organizations like Barclays, HSBC, and Scotia have also gained popularity, especially with the expat population.

Banamex
Tel: 1 800 021 2345 / 1 226 26391
URL: www.banamex.com

Banco Santander
URL: www.santander.com.mx

Banorte
URL: www.banorte.com

BBVA Bancomer
Tel: 1 800 1122 9990
URL: www.bancomer.com

HSBC Mexico
Tel: 1 800 712 4825
URL: www.hsbc.com.mx

Scotia Bank
Tel: 1800 704 5900
URL: www.scotiabank.com.mx/

Details about their services and contact information are mentioned on their websites. For a detailed list of all the banks affiliated with the Mexican Banking Association, click here. The websites are usually bilingual, though not all customer service representatives are fluent in English. The paperwork is in Spanish too, but foreigners can get the forms translated.

All the larger establishments accept major credit and debit cards. The small stores, however, only accept cash. In Mexico, interest on credit cards is very high, around 30% to 40% per annum. In most cases, an expat can only obtain a credit card from a bank in which he or she already has an account. If the applicant cannot provide proof of good credit history, the bank will require a deposit to secure credit card payments. Mexico has a good network of ATMs in all towns and cities.

All the major banks have internet and mobile banking services, though it may take a while for an individual to get the account up and running online. People of all ages are gradually moving to online banking for maintaining accounts and paying bills as this saves them a lot of time and effort.

 

Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

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Learn The Language

If you are planning to move to Mexico to live and work, you may have questions about the language. Will you need to learn Spanish – and if so, what variant of the language? Can you get by in English alone? We will answer some of your questions below.

Most Mexicans speak Spanish, although this is not the nation’s official language under law. The Mexican government recognizes 68 national languages: 63 of these are indigenous, including around 350 dialects. Most of these languages were spoken by the ancient peoples of Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish and colonial times and includes languages such as Bajo, Zoque, Nahuatl and Mixtec. Many of these languages are rare and some of them are endangered.

The Law of Linguistic Rights of 2003 establishes Spanish as one of the national languages, along with 63 distinct indigenous tongues. This law requires the state to offer all of its services to its indigenous citizens in their mother tongues, but this is not yet the case in practice.

In addition to Spanish and the indigenous languages, the following languages are widely spoken in Mexico:

• Arabic
• Chinese
• English
• German
• Japanese

If you are going to work in Mexico, it is a good idea to learn at least some Spanish before you go, and consider taking language classes when you are there. Many of the Mexican population speak English to some degree – their border with the USA entails that English language media and English-speaking visitors are common. You will find a greater fluency the closer you come to the border with the USA.

There are class differences, too: middle and upper class Mexicans who can afford private education, and who may have sent their children abroad to be educated, are likely to be more fluent in English. Some companies will not hire local people unless they can demonstrate a level of English and some universities require a minimal TEFL score before students can graduate.

However, English may not be widely spoken in rural areas and although English is often a lingua franca in the commercial and business world, you may not wish to count on it: everyday life will be easier if you speak at least a little Spanish.

You will find many opportunities in different settings to learn Spanish when you are in Mexico, from conversation classes to in-house corporate teaching. Bear in mind that Mexican Spanish is not the same as the Castillian Spanish that you will hear in Spain: vocabulary and pronunciation are different. Mexicans also have a reputation for speaking quickly. However, if you are learning in an immersive lingustic environment, you should get to grips with this reasonably easily.

Choose the learning environment that is right for you: for example, whether you want to learn Spanish for business, or simply to brush up some of the basics and learn about the culture at the same time. You may also be able to enrol for language classes at your local university. Many language schools offer classes in the morning if you are fully enrolled, giving you the opportunity to explore the vicinity and practice your Spanish at the same time. A number of schools offer business Spanish courses or you may be able to sign up with these through your workplace.

TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) remains in demand in Mexico. You can expect to earn in the region of US$500 – 1K per month: salaries in Mexico tend not to be high but the cost of living is comparatively low.

It is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).

It is also preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA. You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality, or in summer schools.

It will also be helpful to have at least a Bachelor’s degree although most language schools in Mexico do not have this as a formal requirement: basically, the rule of thumb is that the more qualifications you have, both in TEFL and in academic subjects, the easier you will find it to get work.

You will need a job offer in order to apply for a FM2 or FM3 working visa. You will be able to enter the country on a tourist visa, but this will not entitle you to work.

If you are intending to work as a translator or interpreter, your Spanish must be of a high standard and relevant to a Mexican context (you should be familiar with Mexican slang, for instance). You will also need the relevant qualifications.

 

Choose A School

The Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) governs the Mexican educational system and this is administered by 32 individual states. Education in the country faces a number of challenges, particularly in rural or poorer areas, and the quality of education across Mexico is thus patchy, with the best outcomes inevitably featuring in the private sector.

The OECD ranks it as having a relatively low standard of education globally, although it has been noted that Mexico is nonetheless expected to be one of the world’s top 20 countries in terms of the highest number of students in tertiary education by 2035.

Public education in the country is organised into a staged system and from ages 6-18 is compulsory:

Basic Education (Educación Basica)

• early childhood education (Educación Preescolar): Ages 3–6
• elementary education (Educación Primaria): Grades 1–6
• lower-secondary education (Educación Secundaria): Grades 7–9

Upper Secondary Education (Educación Média Superior): typically grades 10–12

• general academic (Bachillerato General)
• technological education (Bachillerato Tecnológico)
• vocational and technical education (Profesional Técnico)

Higher Education (Educación Superior)

• post-secondary/associate/diploma (Técnico Superior)
• undergraduate and first professional degrees (Licenciatura)
• graduate/postgraduate education (Postgrado)

The core national curriculum includes Spanish, mathematics, social studies, natural sciences, civics, arts, and physical education. English was recently made a compulsory subject. Every class has one teacher instructing all subjects, which will change on a yearly basis.

National exams are held at the end of every school year and students must attain a 60% pass in order to move onto the next stage. On completion of grade six, pupils will be awarded the Certificate of Primary Education (Certificado de Educación Primaria) but there are no final graduation examinations.Technical and vocational training is also available: students will attain a bachillerato certificate (essentially a high school diploma) at the end of their education in these establishments before entering the workforce.

However, if you are an expat in the country, you may choose not to enrol your child in the public system. Schools are often underfunded and underresourced, especially in rural areas. Corruption in the public school system is said to be high. The language of instruction in public schools is Spanish, which your child may not initially speak, although some schools are bilingual: for example using one language in the morning and another for afternoon classes. This may be in English and Spanish, or in Spanish with a Mexican language such as Tzotzil or Tzeltal.

Thus many expats select private education for their children during their time in Mexico, perhaps in an English-speaking establishment. There are a number of international schools in the country, which may focus on particular overseas curricula: English, American, Japanese, French and German are some options. Most of these will be in cities such as Mexico City and Guadaljara. You will need to make sure that any potential school is accredited with the SEP. You can contact The Association of American Schools in Mexico, ASOMEX, which has details of a range of affiliated schools across the country. Bilingual/bicultural schools usually have to combine elements of the Mexican national curriculum.

You may wish to start with pre-school or nursery (guardería) provision for your child and you will find a range of options, including alternative educational systems such as Montessori.

Other schooling is available at secondary level, for instance at The American School Foundation, which follows an American curriculum model. School fees are in the region of US$900 – 1100 per month depending on the stage of education, with an initial fee of US$7K. The Edron Academy has over 1,000 students, aged 2-18 years, and focuses on the English National Curriculum (including EYFS, Cambridge IGCSE courses and the International Baccalaureate Diploma), studied alongside key parts of the Mexican National Curriculum (you will need to contact them directly for fees).

Check fees carefully to see what is and what is not included and make sure that you read the small print: will you need to buy textbooks, for instance, and are there annual maintenance charges for the institution in question?

The school year runs from August – June. Some schools may only take students up to a particular grade, so depending on whether you want your child to be educated straight through from pre-school to university age, you may want to select your school on this basis.

Homeschooling is an option in Mexico and expats may choose to go down this route: for instance, public schooling their children for half the day and homeschooling them for the remainder. You can also hire private tutors, but this will come with a cost. You may also find a number of teaching resources online.