Written With Help From Roger D.- A Great Writer Who Is Currently Retired in Huatulco, Oaxaca
When you move to Mexico you’ll be getting to know not just a new culture, but two!
The local Mexicans AND the local expats. Unless you have a very good understanding of Spanish, it’s likely you will meet many more expats at first. These are the people who will help you get around, and answer your many questions.
You will certainly have the opportunity to know many Mexicans as time goes on, but meeting English speaking people is very helpful in the beginning. Most of us, not all, will wind up in a mixed community.
I have often found this community to be more diverse than the Mexican community. For example in Huatulco, Mexicans as tourists outnumber all others by probably ten to one.
Who Is Actually An Expat?
It is estimated that there are about 1,000 year-round expats. Thousands of snowbirds arrive annually October-February for a few months, and then leave when the weather up north gets nicer. Usually around March. In the small community of Huatulco, snowbirds are not regarded as “expats”. They come, they go, many to a different location each year.
I think it’s the idea of permanence. Expats, immigrants, foreigners or whichever term you’d like to use, tend to be more involved with and in the local Mexican community. Many snowbirds are on an extended vacation. As such, they have different needs and have different activities.
Living in Huatulco Is A Melting Pot of People From All Backgrounds
I want to point out here, that this is NOT, a “how to” or a “this is the way it is in Mexico.” article.
Rather, it’s a story of OUR experience, OUR perceptions, of living in OUR current town, and OUR decades long travels in Mexico. It’s not a judgement piece. You will find plenty of variety in the cultural make up of Mexican towns. We have had a unique personal experience, and we are unique individuals. That is as much a factor in our current happiness, as any other aspect of having moved to Mexico.
Our “expat” community consists of: mostly Western Canadians, then the U.S.. And a variety of people from France, Italy, Belgium, Spain, New Zealand, Israel, Lebanon, Argentina, Brazil.
Previous careers include: dentist, auto mechanic, truck drivers, department store manager, pet store owner, lawyer, and on and on. We have golfers and fishermen, and bird watchers. Three months in Mexico “newbies”, and 5 decades long veterans.
Most of us are 50+ and retired, couples. We have families with teenage and younger children. Single people. LGBTQ. Nudists, various religions, or none. Variety on top of variety. If they took us all, put us together for a photo, we would make a very interesting ZOO.
An Amazing Opportunity to Make New Friends!
This unique gathering represents an amazing opportunity to make friends!!!!
Despite previously unmentioned differences in politics, lifestyles, economics, etc., we are all essentially “strangers in a strange land”. I believe that this is what binds us, allows a certain amount of baggage and personal history to be left behind, (if we so choose), and opens the doors to make new friendships, which help to make our transition into a new country, (with even broader cultural differences), an easier process.
Does this sound great to you?
Have you researched where you want to be? Gotten through the legal complexities? Organized? Planned? Re-organized? So much to do! Fantastic, So come on down and we’ll be waiting for you at the local meetup or next event.
Because finding and making friends is just another part of the process. One that yet again takes time and a pro-active effort. For me, this was the most fun and rewarding part of our journey to becoming Mexican residents. As I tell you about what we did and discovered, please remember that every town/city will have different things going on. As expats in Huatulco, we are only about 1 out of 100. In some parts of Mexico we are just harder to find.
Where Can You Find New Friends?
Search for tennis, hiking, diving biking on the hundreds of local Facebook groups. There are so many groups with specific activities and interests, that you’ll be sure to find your tribe!
Looking for a unique hobby or activity? Ask.
You never know what you will find. Are there morning coffee hangouts? Live music events? A group of guys working on cars? Got mechanic skills? Maybe you can join them. There are weekly Spanish classes. Photography class. Cooking class. Surfing lessons.
Or maybe you want to volunteer? This list can be immensely long, and info won’t all be in the same place, same time.
And just because an event isn’t taking place this week, doesn’t mean what you are looking for isn’t available.
Talk to people at restaurants. “That’s a great looking dinner. What is it?”
At the supermarket. “I’m looking for liverwurst. Have you seen any?” On the street. “Do you know where El Patio Restaurant is?” Or “Where do I get a taxi?”
You will find that most of your questions get answered and that people will often engage in a conversation with you while they help you. Yes, this is true. I don’t know why, but most locals are likely to chat with you more than they ever did north of the border.
Speaking Spanish Will Open Other Doors
If you know some Spanish, more opportunities will come.
Taxi drivers know where, and often when, bands are playing at restaurants. Where the pickleball courts are. They know about beach clubs, fishing spots, where to rent bikes and much more.
I learned from a driver about the one and only indoor gym in town, where they play basketball once a week. That came from a conversation we started in the cab. I never asked about it, just came up as we were talking about sports.
Be creative, don’t be shy, be respectful. Put yourself out there!
Our lives since moving to Mexico are richer. They are more fun and more social than ever before. We have many new friends! Some that are interested in the same activities, some we see at social meetings, and several that have and are becoming close.
We go out to dinners, have them over for a dinner, play cards, shop, help out on projects, see movies, talk about personal issues, families, health, concerns. They have become important people in our lives, and we in theirs.
This has been the best part of our living in Mexico. We plan on staying here, making more friends, having more fun, and at least another decade of getting old “well”. If none of the above is your style? Buy a few rounds of tequila for everyone, and you’ll instantly become everyone’s friend.
But most importantly don’t be afraid to start up a conversation and get to know the people around you. You’ll be surprised at how your experience being “the new guy in Mexico”, improves.