A view from our house now

11 Things Americans Should STOP Doing Before Moving to Mexico

As an American there are a handful of things you should STOP doing before you move to Mexico. 

driving on a street near downtown Ensenada

Stop driving so aggressively.

If someone wants to pass you on the road, let them. They're driving faster, move over. Maybe they have to poop. Maybe they have an emergency situation. You never know what is going on in someone else's life, just move over and let them go on their way.

Moving to Mexico offers an opportunity to not only change your address but also to reassess and adapt certain habits, including driving. In the United States, driving can often be fast-paced, aggressive, and governed by unspoken rules of assertiveness. However, in Mexico, the approach to driving, much like the approach to life, is generally more relaxed and patient.

Understanding Local Driving Etiquette

  • Patience is Key: In many parts of Mexico, especially in smaller towns or rural areas, the pace of life is slower, and this reflects in driving habits. It's common for drivers to be more laid back, taking their time and not rushing.
  • Courtesy on the Road: Unlike the competitive nature of driving in many U.S. cities, in Mexico, it’s more about cooperation. If someone is driving faster and wants to pass, it's customary to let them. This isn’t just about road safety; it’s about respecting each other's journey and reasons for traveling.
    We move over to the right even on to the shoulder to make sure other people who are driving faster have room to pass.
  • The Art of Yielding: In Mexico, drivers often use the left lane for passing and the right lane for cruising. If you're in the left lane and someone is approaching faster from behind, it's polite (and often expected) to move to the right lane and allow them to pass. If you don't then don't be surprised if you get passed on the right.

    Driving here is very different, so much so, we wrote an entire post about the Quirky Things About Driving In Mexico.

Adapting to a Different Pace

  • Embracing a Slower Pace: This change in driving style can be part of a larger lifestyle shift towards embracing the ‘mañana' culture, where things are taken one day at a time, and there’s less rush to get everywhere.
  • Safety First: Remember, less aggressive driving also means safer driving. Roads in Mexico can vary in quality and may have unexpected obstacles, like homemade speed bumps, which makes cautious driving a necessity. We are talking animals wandering into the street, and potholes the size of your bedroom.

Cultural Integration Through Driving

Ensenada sign with Kevin and sadie standing to the left of the sign
Slow down and enjoy the view
  • Respecting Local Norms: By adapting your driving style, you're not just conforming to road rules; you're showing respect for the local culture and way of life. Relax and enjoy the scenery it is very beautiful if you take the time to slow down and enjoy it.
  • Learning from Observation: Pay attention to how locals drive. This can give you insights into unspoken rules and customs that govern road behavior in different parts of Mexico. There are 4 way stops with no stop signs and speed bumps in the middle of nowhere. Being aware is paramount.

you driving style is a reflection of you

  • A Reflection of Lifestyle: How you drive can be a reflection of how you live. By adopting a more relaxed and courteous driving style, you may find yourself more in tune with the Mexican way of life.
  • A Chance to Reflect: Use your time on the road to observe, reflect, and appreciate the scenery and the rhythm of life around you. It’s not just about reaching your destination; it’s about enjoying the journey.
party at a house in Ensenada

Stop policing everyone's lives.

If someone's having a party til 1am on Saturday, go join them or pop in some noise canceling headphones!

One of the most enriching aspects of moving to a new country is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture. In Mexico, there's a vibrant, communal, and often celebratory way of life that might be quite different from what many people in the states are used to.

Embracing the Community-Oriented Culture

  1. Community Celebrations: In Mexico, social gatherings, fiestas, and neighborhood parties are commonplace. These events are often characterized by music, dance, and a sense of togetherness. They can sometimes last until the early hours of the morning, especially on weekends or during festivals.
  2. Understanding Different Norms: It’s essential to understand and respect that these celebrations are a vital part of the culture. They are expressions of joy, community bonding, and cultural traditions. While it might be different from what you're used to, it’s a beautiful aspect of Mexican life.
  3. Joining in the Fun: Instead of being bothered by the noise or the late hours, consider joining the celebration. This can be a great way to meet neighbors, make new friends, and truly integrate into the local community. It’s about sharing moments and building relationships.

Adapting to Mexican Lifestyles

  1. Noise Tolerance: If joining isn’t your style or you need your rest, invest in some noise-canceling headphones or earplugs. It's a small adaptation that can make a big difference in your comfort while respecting the local customs.
  2. Flexibility and Openness: Being flexible and open to different ways of living can enhance your experience in Mexico. It’s about shifting perspective from seeing these events as disturbances to viewing them as lively expressions of a culture that values community and celebration.
  3. Respect the culture and the way of life. If you truly want to learn, what better way than to immerse yourself and enjoy the moments, You might even find a family and not just neighbors and friends.
  4. The culture here is very different and we have found a family here, people who will do anything for us and we will for them as well. True friendship.
    You can find people who will only be there when you have money to give them or when they are in need but people who will be there for you as well.

Cultural Sensitivity and Integration

  1. Respecting Local Customs: By respecting these customs, you're showing a willingness to understand and appreciate the local way of life. It’s a sign of cultural sensitivity and openness. Don't just come for the beaches, the food, or the wine, embrace all of what Mexico has to offer.

    Be open minded and willing to step outside of your comfort zone and you will find an entire coiuntry of welcoming people who just want to make sure you have a good time.
  2. Building Community Ties: By showing acceptance and even participation in local customs, you show your new neighbors that you’re not there to impose your ways but to learn and become part of their community.

    Leave the U.S. up there and come on down and enjoy Mexico. Learn new ways of doing things and accept the culture as it is. Don't come with the attitude of changing things to make them more like the U.S. Instead soak up the diversity and enjoy the differences.

Learn Mexican Culture

  • Cultural Exchange: Remember, living in a new country is a two-way street. It's not just about what you bring to the community, but also what you can learn and absorb from it.
  • Personal Growth: Embracing these new experiences can lead to significant personal growth. It's an opportunity to see the world from a different viewpoint, to learn tolerance, patience, and the value of community.
Kevin and Sadie on the beach Near Ensenada
Laid Back Life. Who needs a haircut?

Stop taking everything so seriously.

If you see me out here wearing a Sombrero and Baja jacket, don't come for me about cultural appropriation. Nobody cares about that shit here.

Stop Taking Everything So Seriously: Cultural Appreciation vs. Appropriation

Moving to Mexico presents an incredible opportunity to engage with and appreciate a rich, and diverse cultural heritage. We are going to focus on understanding the fine line between appreciating and participating in the local culture, and inadvertently appropriating it.

Understanding Cultural Appreciation

  1. Respecting Cultural Significance: Learn about the history and cultural significance of Mexican attire and traditions. For example, the Sombrero has historical roots and is not just a fashion item. Similarly, the Baja jacket (or Baja hoodie) has its own unique story and significance in Mexican culture.
  2. Engage with Sensitivity and Respect: When choosing to wear traditional Mexican attire or participate in customs, do so with respect for their origins and meanings. It's not just about wearing a piece of clothing; it's about understanding and honoring the culture it represents.
  3. Participation in Cultural Events: Take part in local festivals and traditions. These are perfect opportunities to immerse yourself in Mexican culture. Participation is welcomed, but it's important to do so with respect and an understanding of the event's significance.

We don't care what you choose to do it is your life, but don't come at us with your opinions because of something we are wearing or doing. Most likely we have done the research and have been invited to partake in the custom, ritual, or culture. We have traveled to many countries an have been welcomed to share in the customs and cultures.

We love sharing our adventures and will continue to do so as it brings us joy and joy to our followers. If you see something you don't like ask yourself why you don't like waht you saw us doing. Share with us your thoughts but share with an open mind so when we share wy we did such and such you can better understand.

Don't come here with negativity and blame as that is not the Smiley way and we will not allow that type of negativity in our lives or on our blog. We approach life with positive nurturing thoughts and we are more than happy to share our experiences and knowledge with you.

We will continue to enjoy everywhere we visit and we will continue to learn and grow. We will also continue to help people become better through whatever means we deem appropriate at the time.
The Smiley approach to life it to share knowledge and make wherever we are better.

Navigating Cultural Appropriation

  • Avoiding Stereotypes: Be wary of reducing cultural elements to stereotypes. It’s crucial to avoid trivializing or misrepresenting cultural symbols and practices.
  • Listening to Local Perspectives: Pay attention to the voices of locals. They can provide valuable insights into what is considered respectful and what might be seen as appropriation. Their perspectives are key in understanding how to engage with their culture appropriately.
  • Continuous Learning: Cultural appreciation is an ongoing process. Keep educating yourself about the nuances of Mexican culture, and be open to learning from any mistakes.

Celebrating Diversity and Inclusivity

  • Embracing Multiculturalism: Mexico is a country with a rich tapestry of indigenous and global influences. Celebrating this diversity means acknowledging and respecting the variety of cultural expressions.
  • Promoting Cultural Exchange: Engage in conversations with locals about their traditions and share your own cultural background. This exchange can foster mutual understanding and respect.
  • Reflecting on Intentions: Always reflect on your intentions when engaging with cultural elements. Are you honoring the culture, or is there a risk of misrepresentation or disrespect?
  • Impact Matters: Remember, it’s not just about how you perceive your actions, but also about how they impact the local community and their cultural sentiments.

Stop being racist.

a picture of 2 cops pointing thier guns at a black man while a white kid (Kyle) walks in the other direction

Mexicans love everyone and so should you.

Embrace Cultural Diversity: 

Mexico's history is a tapestry of various cultures, including Indigenous groups, African influences as well as Spanish colonial influences, creating a unique cultural landscape. Recognizing and respecting this diversity is crucial for a harmonious living experience.

Avoid Stereotypes and Generalizations: 

We repeat this on purpose: Stereotypes can lead to misunderstandings and disrespect. It's important to see individuals as unique, with their own experiences and backgrounds, rather than viewing them through the lens of generalized notions. Or what you see on TV!

Learn and Participate: 

Actively learn about Mexican culture, traditions, and history. Participation in cultural events and festivals is a great way to understand and appreciate the richness of Mexican heritage.

Show Respect and Openness: 

Kevin and a friend in Ensenada

Demonstrating respect for people's customs, language, and traditions shows a willingness to integrate and appreciate the new environment. This attitude fosters mutual respect and understanding.

Acknowledge and Challenge Personal Biases: 

Be aware of any unconscious biases and challenge them. This self-awareness is key to overcoming prejudiced attitudes and behaviors. Look inward and work on your own biases, learn to become a better person.

Everything you read or hear on the news is not always the truth and is most often skewed. As adults we can and should use deductive reasoning and critical thinking to evaluate each interaction we have. We do not have to believe everything we hear.

Stop shooting people.

national guard in mexico. 3 guradsmen riding in the back of a pickup truck on a street in Ensenada

Mexico doesn't allow guns as freely as the U.S. does, and the storm troopers will take you out real fast if you try shooting up ANY place.

Leave your guns at home come here and have a good time. Don't come here with the idea that you will need to use your gun. You won't as long as you are just here to have fun. Don't break the law and be friendly and you will not have to worry about much.

Cultural Attitudes Towards Guns:

The cultural perspective on gun ownership and use in Mexico is vastly different from that in the U.S. In Mexico, guns are not as ingrained in the culture or as readily accepted as a means of self-defense or as a symbol of individual rights.

Necessity of Respecting Local Laws:

For Americans moving to Mexico, it's crucial to respect and adhere to the local laws and perspectives. Understanding and complying with Mexican gun laws is not only a matter of legal necessity but also a sign of respect for the country's cultural norms and safety concerns. 

Stop worrying so much.

Nobody is going to shoot you just because they woke up in a bad mood, unlike in the U.S. People here are just living their lives. You don't have to worry about being shot or stabbed at the grocery store, movie theater, church, school, or anywhere else for that matter. Don't believe all the hype on the news. There are safe places to visit here just like there are safe places in the U.S.

I know it's going to feel weird, but it's okay to just breathe.

Understanding the Realities vs. Stereotypes

While Mexico does face security challenges, it is crucial that you do not to generalize the entire country based on isolated incidents. The situation varies greatly across different regions and cities.

Local Context is Key

Safety can vary greatly from one area to another. It's important for you to do your research and understand the specific safety context of the region you plan to visit or reside in. Use common sense and treat this trip like any other time you would be going to a new place.

Balanced Perspective on Safety

While being cautious is sensible, it's also important not to let exaggerated fears overshadow the experience of living in, or visiting Mexico. Many areas in Mexico are known for their hospitality and vibrant culture. Most of the areas that you see on the news are border towns or areas that have a higher crime rate than the rest of the country. That is why they are news worthy. You don't hear about the amazing festivals and neghborhood gatherings on the news because that is not what makes money and gets peoples attention.

That being said it is still safer here in most cities in Mexico than in most big cities in the U.S. Do your research and find a place you want to visit. Obtain the appropriate paperwork and enjoy yourself.

Sensible Safety Precautions

Just like in any other country, adopting sensible safety precautions is advisable. This includes being aware of your surroundings, avoiding risky areas, and following local advice on safety. We have not had any problems here with sagety and generally feel safe in every situation.

There are a few rules we follow that keep us safe. These are rules we followed even in the U.S.

  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Don't carry large sums of cash
  • Don't drive at night unless you have to
  • Use Life360

Learning from Local and International Residents

Engaging with both local residents and international expatriates can provide a more nuanced understanding of safety in different parts of Mexico. These firsthand experiences can offer valuable insights beyond what is often portrayed in the media.

Stop worrying about your weight.

Memem with Maury Popovich that says "Stop eating out. Cook at home and you'll lose weight"
"Quarantine determined that was a lie"

In the States I was judged daily for my weight. Nobody treats me poorly for being fat here. And the best part? I've seen half a dozen doctors and NONE of them tried to blame my health problems on my weight. I know, I can't believe it either.

Less Judgment Based on Physical Appearance

Unlike some parts of the U.S., there is generally less judgment in Mexico based on physical appearance. The emphasis here tends to be more on overall health and well-being rather than just weight. They take a holistic approach to health care here and it is refreshing to know that the doctors care about your overall well being and they help you to figure out the best course of action.

Healthcare System's Holistic Approach

The Mexican healthcare system often focuses on overall well-being rather than solely on weight. This encompasses a broader perspective of health, including the physical, mental, and emotional aspects. So much better than the States where all of our problems have been attributed to weight in one form or the other.

Awareness of Obesity and Health

There is awareness in Mexico regarding the challenges of obesity, but the approach to managing it involves understanding personal barriers and promoting long-term healthy habits. Imagine your health care provider actually caring about your health as a whole not just one aspect of it, and making suggestions to effect your overall health.

Now imagine your healthcare provider checking up on you and making sure you are actually getting the care you need and the desired results. Without you having to reach out to them, beause they actually care about you as a person.

Viva la Mexico!!!

Cultural Attitudes towards Body Image

Cultural attitudes towards body weight and health in Mexico are complex and evolving, with a growing understanding that health and well-being are multi-faceted and not solely defined by weight.

hospital Velmar in Ensenada
Private Hospital in Ensenada

Stop avoiding the doctor.

The healthcare system in Mexico is known for being much more affordable than in the U.S. Expatriates can access high-quality medical care at a fraction of the cost they might expect to pay in the United States. Costs are estimated to be 25 to 50% lower compared to other countries. 

Public and Private Healthcare Choices

Expats in Mexico can choose between public healthcare through the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and private healthcare options.

The IMSS offers very affordable coverage, approximately $500 per year for residents, which includes access to a broad network of hospitals and clinics.

Private healthcare here is what we have used and we could not be more happier. The speed of being seen by a specialist and the quality of care is amazing. You can afford private health care here, it is much cheaper vs healthcare in the U.S. and all of the doctors we have encountered went to school in the States or in Europe. Some are leaders in their fields here in Mexico and are leading studies working with doctors fom around the world.

I don't know about you but this is a doctor I want on my care team. Somone who is staying current with the changes in healthcare and leading or working with leaders in their respective fields of study.

Sadie at Hospital Velmar Ensenada Mexico

High Quality of Care

The healthcare system in Mexico is often praised for its quality. Many doctors and medical staff are trained in the U.S. or Europe, ensuring high standards of medical practice and care. Most doctors we have encounterd also speak english which is a huge plus.

Our experience with the medical care here has been nothing less than phenomenal. We go to Hospital Velmar and the doctors and staff have been amazing we have not had a long wait time for anything. We have even had same day appointments for specialists. We have the specialists cell phone number and can message him anytime to get advice or update him on Sadie's situation.

Ease of Access

Healthcare services in Mexico are generally more accessible. Waiting times are typically shorter, and appointments are easier to schedule compared to the U.S. system. We really have had better health care here than we have in the States.

Faster and more focused health care. We feel like the doctor genuinely cares about us as people, they don't look at us as just a number or a paycheck. The doctors follow up with us to make sure we are doing well. They called us a week later and 2 weeks later just to make sure, it was amazing.

Health Insurance for Expats

You have the option to compare and purchase health insurance plans tailored to your needs, ensuring you can find coverage that suits your specific situation.

Stop saying you're stuck and broke.

You are not a tree. You can move. You can afford your bills AND healthcare here!

Sadie Smiley

Lower Cost of Living

One of the most notable benefits of living in Mexico is the lower cost of living. This includes more affordable housing, food, healthcare, and general services. The reduced expenses allow for a comfortable lifestyle that may not be as easily attained in the U.S. due to cost of living.

Our first house on the beach

When we moved here in 2019 we paid $1500 USD a month to live on the beach in a smallish 3 bedroom house.
We now pay $750 to live in a 3500+ sq ft. house with an amazing view of the ocean and the estuary. This house is not located on the beach nor does it have beach access. It is in a “mexican neighborhood” on a dirt road but it is the most amazing place we have stayed since we moved here.

A view from our house in mexico You can see the estuary the mexico flag and the ocean in the background
A view from our house now

This is just one example of the lifestyle you can have if you just take your time to find the perfect place for you and your stuation and realize that you may get here and your perfect place may change.

Enhanced Quality of Life

The lower cost of living in Mexico can translate into an improved quality of life. Sadie and I can enjoy more leisure activities, dine out more often, and generally live a lifestyle that would be cost-prohibitive in the U.S. with our current income.

We encourage you to take a look a different countries and the lifestyle you want to live and then decide where you want to live and the lifestyle you can afford once you get there.

Healthcare Affordability

As mentioned earlier, healthcare in Mexico is both high-quality and affordable, which can be a significant change from the U.S. healthcare system. This aspect alone can make a substantial difference in your financial situation.

Opportunities for Entrepreneurs and Remote Workers

 Mexico's growing economy and development in certain sectors provide opportunities for entrepreneurs. They have fiber optic wifi which is a must for digital nomads. Additionally, the rise in remote work allows you to live in Mexico while earning a salary in the U.S. this can further enhance your financial well-being.

Cultural Richness and Lower Stress

The affordable cost of living is complemented by Mexico's rich cultural experiences and a generally less stressful lifestyle, can contribute to your overall happiness and well-being.

By shifting your mindset to recognize these financial and lifestyle benefits, you can embrace the opportunities living in Mexico offers, breaking free from the constraints you might feel in more expensive regions of the world.

Living in Baja California is not as inexpensive as it used to be, but if you are willing to live more like a local you can enjoy all of what Mexico has to offer at a fraction of the cost of living in the U.S..

In Baja California where we live we have seen the price of housing sky rocket as more and more expats move here. More influx of money means higher prices. Do not let this deter you.

It is still less than the cost of living in California, you may be able to find less expensive places in the US to live but not on the beach or with the atmosphere you get here. When you add up all the benefits they tend to outweigh the risks.

Your quality of life will improve once you embrace the Mexican way of living.

Stop thinking you have to do everything yourself.

Birthday party in Estaban Cantu Ensenada Mexico
Our Family

It takes a village, and Mexicans understand that. Our friends became family really fast and we all take care of each other.

Sadie Smiley

Community-Oriented Culture

Mexico is known for its strong community bonds. Here, the concept of ‘vecindad' (neighborliness) is deeply ingrained, where neighbors often develop close, family-like relationships. This sense of community is evident in daily interactions, shared celebrations, and mutual support in times of need.

We love the family we have here and would not change it for the world. We have made some amazing friends who we love and now consider family.

Importance of Mutual Support

In Mexican culture, there's a significant emphasis on helping each other. This extends beyond simple neighborly gestures; it's about being there for each other, whether it's for childcare, sharing meals, or helping with household tasks.

Collaboration in Daily Life

Collaboration is not just a necessity but a way of life. It's common for neighbors to pool resources for community events or to assist each other in times of financial or personal hardship. This spirit of cooperation significantly reduces the feeling of having to manage everything alone.

This is a type of collaboration we don't see as much in the States. It is amazing the things we can accomplish when we work together.

Cultural Events and Gatherings

Mexican culture is rich in communal events and gatherings, from local fiestas to religious celebrations. These events are often community-driven, with everyone playing a role, further strengthening the bond among neighbors. This is why we said earlier stop policing other peoples lives and live yours.

These events happen almost every week in our neighborhood and we enjoy the music and sense of belonging. We enjoy immersing ourselves in this amazing culture and learning everything we can.

Another view from our house

Learning from the Community

Newcomers, including expatriates, can learn a great deal from this communal approach. Engaging with the community can lead to new friendships, deeper cultural understanding, and a more fulfilling life in Mexico. Ask us how we know.

We have found a place we can truly call home and we hope you will take the time to learn from the people around you and stop thinking you are an island.

Adapting to Community Life

For those of us who are used to doing everything independently, adapting to this communal way of life can be a refreshing change. It encourages a balance between self-reliance and the understanding that it's okay to rely on others.

Stop making excuses to stay in or near the US.

Leave and never look back. You're truly free now. It's okay. Now you can heal from the indoctrination, racism, gun violence, medical system's pill pushing, and more.

Embracing a New Culture

Immersing yourself in Mexican culture presents an opportunity to learn, grow, and experience life from a different perspective. This cultural immersion will lead you to have a broader worldview and a deeper appreciation for diverse ways of living.

Personal Growth Opportunities

Moving to a new country inherently pushes you out of your comfort zone, which is a catalyst for personal growth. Learning a new language, adapting to different customs, and navigating a new environment all contribute to developing resilience, adaptability, and empathy.

Healing from Past Traumas

A change of environment can be therapeutic for many people. The slower pace of life, the emphasis on community, and the rich cultural experiences available in Mexico can provide a nurturing environment for healing and self-reflection.

New Professional and Creative Avenue

Mexico offers a variety of opportunities for professional growth and creative exploration. The thriving arts scene, entrepreneurial opportunities, and remote work possibilities allow you to pursue your passions in a supportive environment.

Affordable Cost of Living

The lower cost of living in Mexico compared to many parts of the U.S. allows for a more relaxed lifestyle with less financial stress, contributing to overall well-being and happiness. We are happier and healthier now that we are here living in Mexico.

Building New Relationships

Sadie and Carmen
Fernando and Kevin

Establishing new friendships and community connections in Mexico can lead to a sense of belonging and support that is invaluable for anyone looking to start anew.

Everyone around us is willing to help each other succeed and thrive. It is amazing the amount of community and collaboration that exists here. We are continually amazed at the amount of help we get we need it.

By moving to Mexico, you are not just changing your location; you are opening yourself up to a journey of self-discovery, cultural enrichment, and personal fulfillment.

Leave all your preconceive notions in the States and come enjoy all of what Mexico has to offer.

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