Eight Tips for Living in Mexico Like a Local

Eight Tips to Living in Mexico

One of the most interesting aspects about living in Mexico full time is learning about and adapting to the differences in society between the US and Mexico. Once you cross the border into Mexico, you will immediately begin to experience and participate in these changes. Some changes may be subtle and you will hardly notice them at all, while others very different than what you were accustomed to in the U.S.

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1. Timing is Everything

Okay, forget everything you know about meal schedules. In Mexico, lunch is the main deal, happening between 2-4 pm. It’s like their power hour, especially here in Playa del Carmen. And get this, dinner doesn’t kick in until around 9 pm. So, if you’re a taco lover looking for a midday fix, you’ll have to wait until after 5 pm. Tacos here are like the late-night stars—best enjoyed after dark in a bustling joint.

2. Doc in a Box

Healthcare in Mexico is a game-changer. No more waiting for weeks to see a doctor. Just stroll into any pharmacy with a Consultorio, and for about 50 pesos (roughly $2.50), you can consult a local licensed doctor for minor issues. They might even write you a prescription, which you can conveniently fill next door. Plus, most prescription drugs won’t burn a hole in your wallet.

A consultorio or doctor's office in the pharmacy in Mexico.

3. Eat Like a Local on a Budget

Tlayuda is a flat open tortilla filled with beans, cheese, veggies, and meat.

Around 8 pm is prime time to dive into the local food scene in Centro. From tacos to tlayudas, churros, marquesitas, and more, you’re in for a treat—all for about $5 USD or less. It’s a food fest, and you don’t want to miss it.

4. Full-Service Pit Stops

Say goodbye to self-service at gas stations. In Mexico, they’re all about the full package—they pump your gas, clean your windows, check your tire pressure, and even top up your fluids. Just remember to tip them between 10 and 20 pesos. Oh, and watch out for pump scams, but don’t worry, our guide has your back on that.

5. Grandma’s Helping Hand

At the supermarket, you’ll find seniors, aka “cerillos,” volunteering to bag your groceries. They’re not employees; they’re part of a government program for seniors over 60. Tipping them 10-20 pesos is the norm, but if they’ve loaded up your pantry for the month, a little extra love won’t hurt.


6.  ¡Hola, Hablo Español!

Language is a big deal here. Not everyone outside tourist spots speaks English, so learning a bit of Spanish goes a long way. Learning some basic phrases like “Buenos días” and learning when to use the formal and familiar forms will go a long way. It’s not just about words; it’s about embracing the culture.

7. Mexican Time, Anyone?

We are not talking time zones! Ha!  😁

Forget American Time. “Ahorita” is the magic word in Mexico, and it means anything from now to tomorrow or even never. Set a specific time when someone throws “ahorita” your way to avoid confusion. It’s a laid-back culture; embrace it, don’t fight it.

The universal sign for ahorita in Mexico is to make a pinching motion while you bring your hand up to your face


8. Cash is Still King

Plastic might rule back home, but in Mexico, it’s all about pesos. Many places, especially outside tourist areas, deal only in cash. So, get comfortable with those colorful bills and coins. Oh, and avoid banks on the 1st and 15th—trust us on that one.

Ready to dive into the Mexican lifestyle? Grab the FREE Living in Mexico Guide for Expats—it’s free and loaded with everything you need to know. ¡Vamos! 🌮🇲🇽


Find out if living in Mexico is right for you- Get instant access to the Living in Mexico Guide for Expats- 2022 Edition

Mariana Lange
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