Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Mexico?
July 25, 2014 11:26 PM   Subscribe

I want to move to make a permanent move to Mexico. How do I make this happen?

I would like to move to Mexico within the next year- ideally by mid-2015, but at the latest end of 2015.

I've looked up visa requirements and while they are pretty straightforward, but speaking to people, I've heard that the reality on the ground is a bit more complicated.

I am a freelance writer, but I simply don't have enough capital saved up to move over there as an entrepreneur, so my best bet is to get a job that will sponsor me to move there. However, that seems easier said than done. It's not easy to find companies that recruit for Mexico online, and the ones that I have found have websites that are entirely in Spanish. (I have every intention of learning Spanish when I get there, but I've discovered that immersion is really the only way for me to learn a language, so I haven't taken any steps to learn how to speak Spanish yet.)

My main skills are in research, writing and editing. I write reports, grant applications, articles, blog posts, web copy, etc. for all kinds of clients- from individuals to corporations to NGO's, and I have an MA in international politics and security studies.

I have the following:

A Masters degree from a university in England
Excellent research, writing, and editing skills (in English)
Journalism experience (not formally trained, but I've sort of fallen into the profession by default)
Upper intermediate French
Several years' experience living and working internationally

My question boils down to what can I do to build a life in Mexico? How do I find a job that can sponsor me to live in Mexico on a decent salary (I'm pretty flexible on this- depending on the job and if it's full-time or not, I would be willing to go as low as $30k/year, but am realistically thinking $65k) that I will at least somewhat enjoy? Is there a market for English language materials? What can I offer companies or organizations in Mexico without knowing Spanish yet?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely, teaching ESL! Or even possibly journalism at a university, since you have a Master's.

Many of these jobs will also pay for your flight and apartment.

Searching ' teach esl in Mexico' should give you plenty of links from which to choose.
posted by bearette at 3:44 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

You won't need any Spanish to teach ESL.
posted by bearette at 3:45 AM on July 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mod note: From the OP:
Thank you for the suggestions so far. I just want to add one more detail I should have put in the original post: I am unwilling to teach English.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:12 AM on July 26, 2014

Immigrating to a country without knowing the language is a HUGE disadvantage. You might be able to spend a year on a student-visa studying something at a university in Mexico while you learn the language, and then you can be in the position to apply for jobs where fluency is required.

If your country has an embassy in Mexico, perhaps you can get a job there. The English language press in Mexico is struggling as it is all over the world and one presumes that being bi-lingual would be a prerequisite for that job.

Re-frame your question, rather than asking "What can Mexico do for me," ask yourself, "What can I do for Mexico?" What skills and talents do you bring to the country? Remember, you are asking not only for a living in Mexico, but you realize that any job you take, you take from a Mexican citizen. So you need to be able to really offer something special to the country.

It takes a bit of hubris to want to move to a country, not know the language and insist that the one skill you possess is the one you refuse to do.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:38 AM on July 26, 2014 [22 favorites]

I am a freelance writer, but I simply don't have enough capital saved up to move over there as an entrepreneur,

I'm not advocating for you to break any laws, but I've met a lot of people in your situation who just went there on a tourist visa and did their freelance thing. The last couple of tourist visas I had were for six months, which means you have to leave Mexico (in any direction) for a day twice a year to renew the visa. That lets you check it out, learn some Spanish, and if you are liking it explore the possibility of regularizing your status.

The Anglos I met who had regular, salaried jobs (who weren't teaching) all spoke at least some Spanish and were in technical or upper business roles. Sponsoring someone for immigration is a significant endeavor and not one that companies take on lightly.

I would be willing to go as low as $30k/year, but am realistically thinking $65k

That sounds like about the range for a research/writing position in the US. Are you sure that is realistic in Mexico?
posted by Dip Flash at 5:56 AM on July 26, 2014 [5 favorites]

Arrange several long-ish trips to one or more places in Mexico that you think you might be interested in living. If you can seriously afford to move there, you can afford to do this. During these trips, you aren't just scouting for work opportunities, you're learning Spanish in as aggressive a way as you can possibly find, and then you're going to keep it up when you get back home. At that point, you will both have a better idea about whether you really seriously want to live in Mexico (and where) and what you might want to do there, but you will actually be able to say that you speak Spanish and you will be able to navigate the job search without looking like a dumb foreigner who is itching to be taken advantage of.

I am Mexican-American and have lived in border areas and visited Mexico but have not lived in Mexico proper. Based on that, my secondary suggestion: is it easier for you to find work in somewhere like San Diego or El Paso? Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez have their problems but could potentially be a good entry point and border areas would probably have a lot more call for someone with very good English writing skills and those areas, even on the US side of the border, would give many opportunities for learning the language. But if you're going to have a hard time getting a visa for the US, too, then I'd stand on the "visit first, learn the language, meet real people in person" plan. If you can't afford that, having had family and friends get into serious trouble while down there, you don't really have enough reserves to be making an international move.

This would be true of any country, but Mexico's the only one where I do literally know someone who had a family member get kidnapped for purely monetary reasons, so. Be careful. Even if you CAN get a job that doesn't mean it's a good idea to move there without being able to effectively communicate in an emergency.
posted by Sequence at 6:11 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

You can check out some language programs, go on a student visa, and freelance while you study.

If you have upper intermediate French, you should be able to learn Spanish pretty quickly, especially since you will be in Mexico. After you have learned the language it may be easier to get jobs ( that are not English teaching)
posted by bearette at 6:12 AM on July 26, 2014

I'd seriously reconsider your plan not to learn any Spanish before going. Nobody in Mexico owes you a job, and it's hard to see why they would employ you if you don't speak their language.

Think about it logically - if you don't speak any Spanish, you're at the back of the queue for desirability to an employer behind every single Mexican, many of whom don't have jobs themselves, including I'm sure some native Spanish-speaking grant writers, journalists etc.

I was going to suggest that the one exception might be teaching English, but on preview, you've ruled that out - can you explain why? As Ruthless Bunny says, that would seem to be the only area where your current language abilities would make you more employable than the rest of the population of Mexico, rather than less.
posted by penguin pie at 6:24 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Even $30K a year is an upper-middle class salary in Mexico, and the idea that you are going to find somebody to sponsor your visa and pay you that when you don't speak Spanish is intensely unrealistic, particularly given how language-dependent your skills are.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:25 AM on July 26, 2014 [4 favorites]

A good book to read would be On Mexican Time and its sequel.
posted by Melismata at 6:38 AM on July 26, 2014

Instead of looking for jobs with Mexican companies, can you look for a position with a U.S. company that is located in Mexico? That seems to me to be the only way around some of the, ahem, difficulties you present.
posted by joycehealy at 8:36 AM on July 26, 2014

I grew up in Tijuana and I second looking for positions with a US company. Border towns in general will be more forgiving of the language issue while you learn, but you may not get the full benefits of immersion.

I also urge you to take a more realistic look at the wages you are hoping to earn. Lots of Mexicans fluent in English do not earn as much as your lowest estimate.
posted by cobain_angel at 10:40 AM on July 26, 2014

Mexico is a big country - do you have a sense of where you want to go? You'll find very different opportunities in Mexico City than you might in San José del Cabo.

Your skills are language specific and you expect a high salary. I can't vouch for the research methodology of either of these sites, but here are two: Salary Explorer Mexico and World Salaries Mexico. I think your salary expectations are out of line, but your cost of living expectations may be also.

My mother-in-law lives in Mexico part of the year (legitimately meeting the visa requirements) and I have some 2nd-hand experience with living there as a foreign national. Especially on the Baja and Pacific Coast, you'll find tons of foreigners living there for months during the season. In my travels in Mexico, in any moderately touristy area you'll find many, many bilingual speakers. Even places without tourism finding someone who can converse in English is pretty easy. English skills - if you don't want to teach - aren't marketable. Maybe as a stringer for an English news organization, but that would be difficult without functional Spanish.

If you toss out English as your employable skill, then what else do you have going for you?

It's a beautiful country and (despite its often-reported troubles) I love it.
posted by 26.2 at 12:23 PM on July 26, 2014

Have you looked into Belize? It has a lot of what Mexico has to offer in terms of climate, culture, etc, but English is its official language. Might be something to consider.
posted by wats at 1:05 PM on July 26, 2014

$30K is probably achievable in Mexico. You'll be very lucky to get anywhere near $65K.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:48 PM on July 26, 2014

Is there some reason you cannot simply move to Mexico but continue to work remotely as a writer for US clients? The pay will be far higher than anything you could get in Mexico. As far as I know this is legal to do even on a tourist visa. I also recommend you go to Mexico for 6 months as a trial to learn the language, network, and see what areas you might be interesting in moving to more permanently.

As far as cost of living goes...I lived in Mexico, on Cozumel, and my total cost for a huge one bedroom furnished apartment with wifi and my rented motorcycle was $280 a month. I split it with a friend, so it was only half that each. Add some food and gas to that, and between the two of us we barely spent over $350 a month. Not saying that's a standard price for all of Mexico, but if you are not living in a big city, prices for housing go down. WAY down. I'm not sure if your salary requirement is based on wanting to live in a city, but without a strong grasp of the language you are going to have a really hard time find a job.

I would suggest if you are really set on not learning the language yet that you move to a place with a lot of English-speaking tourists (not hard, there a ton of them, especially on the coasts) and see if you can get a job dealing with English speaking tourists, or working for one of the cruise ship companies. They employ English speakers to sell people on timeshares, give guided tours, or sell vacation and spa packages.
posted by ananci at 3:15 AM on July 27, 2014

English skills - if you don't want to teach - aren't marketable.

I disagree with this. There is a growing industry of call centers that cater to US & Canadian customers. Call center jobs pay well (for Mexico ~ US$800 - 1000 + benefits) and hire native English speakers.

I agree that 30K would already be a high salary for Mexico, let alone 65K.
posted by travelwithcats at 2:14 PM on July 27, 2014

Actually, call centers pay about 5 bucks and hour or 10K a year if you can work full time. Well below to $30K the OP was looking to earn.

Here's the deal - call centers in Mexico are staffed in part by people who are deported from the US. There's no shortage of native English speakers in Mexico. Call centers recruit deportees specifically.
posted by 26.2 at 5:35 PM on July 27, 2014

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