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Tips for Building a New Friends Network in Mexico  

Victoria Ryan at her hotel in Patzcuaro, Mexico
Victoria Ryan

I want to tell you why I think it’s extremely important to make new friends or build a network as soon as you can when you move to Mexico. And don’t worry this applies to anyone, even if you are socially-gifted. In this article, I share tips for building a new friends network in Mexico to help you get started.

But before I share these tips with you, here is a little background on who is moving to Mexico. Did you know there are a significant amount of single people moving to Mexico, especially women? This can be good news for a variety of reasons. The most obvious is if there are singles with singles, it’s the chance to make new friendships. Possibly new relationships, too.

Being single in Mexico gives you the flexibility to move to another city or another part of town if you wish.

But there are also a lot of couples moving to Mexico that may not find their footing right away. And might not be so eager to make new friends or connections with their local community because they have each other.

A Community of People You Can Trust

Expats in Puebla, Mexico
Expats in Puebla, Mexico

The time has finally come. You’ve rented a place you like in Mexico, shipped your household goods and soon you will be getting settled into your new life abroad. This is a great opportunity for you to reinvent yourself, take up a new hobby or meet new people.

And while I’m on the topic of meeting new people, I want to stress the importance of building a community.

When we think of community, we might think of volunteering, donating to a good cause or other types of community outreach. These are all good commendable deeds but won’t help you in a personal crisis.

Make It A Priority to Make New Friends

American Legion at Lake Chapala, Mexico
American Legion at Lake Chapala

The type of community, tribe or network I am referring to is more personal.

All too often you’ll read stories of expats falling ill or becoming incapacitated while either vacationing long term or living as residents here in Mexico.

For every expat who has done their due diligence and researched living in Mexico, secured health insurance and developed a network of friends who can assist them in the daily ins-and-outs of living in a foreign country there are just as many foreigners who. for no fault of their own or lack of planning, do not have this community in place.

This can be for a variety of reasons. It may be that they’re more of an introvert, or might not have a lot of extra money to go out and meet others. Or perhaps they have had health issues or mobility issues. Maybe they don’t know enough Spanish to meet some of the locals. Or it’s one of those things that many of us just don’t think about.

But for whatever reasons they are basically alone. And in a stressful situation, having an emergency can become a bigger issue.

Here are a few examples:

  • A handicapped individual living alone without private transportation requires medications, visits to their doctor, assistance with shopping and has no community ties to even ask for assistance. To make matters worse, they don’t know enough Spanish and this breaks their confidence in finding resources that can help them.
  • An Individual living alone in Mexico suddenly has a heart attack, but has a pet or a dependent child and has no family or friends in town.
  • You want to get medical attention, open a bank account, buy or register a car, pay your bills, or a myriad of other things but don’t know how to go about it.

People You Should Connect With ASAP

Of course, everyone’s first thought is why did they come to Mexico in the first place without thinking of the good and the bad?

Everyone has their own personal reasons for relocating, whether it be for financial reasons, climate, work or other reasons, but inevitably they fail to think of the day-to-day living experiences they will encounter. It’s a very innocent mistake.

That’s why I want to tell you about these realities. Especially if you plan to move to Mexico alone.

In the above examples, all of these people got themselves to Mexico. No problem.
But a lot of expats, especially retirees, tend to forget the importance of making a few friends right away. Or at the very least, establishing a relationship with a medical provider in the local area. Someone you can call in case of an emergency.

Absolutely no one plans for worst-case scenarios. Back home you would not think twice about how to get a bank account or other service. but remember, this is not the U.S. Procedures are different and nothing happens as fast as you would like. Just calling 911 in Mexico can be a daunting experience, as well as navigating the various government agencies, especially if you don’t speak the language.

Nurses, doctors, police, paramedics, roadside Assistance and other providers are just a few examples of services you may need to deal with in an emergency, and they may or may not speak English.

Tips to Build A Local Network in Mexico

Expats in Mexico
Expats in Mexico

So, let’s go through a few basic things that can mean the difference between a good outcome in an emergency situation in Mexico and even more pleasant quality of life experience living your dream.

Join Facebook Expat Groups for that local area. These groups are excellent sources of first-hand knowledge from experienced members who are more than willing to assist you.

Learn Spanish. This is a game-changer. At a minimum learn some basic phrases. The more consistent you get at practicing, the better speaker you become. And life becomes much less complicated, trust me. Even just a few words go a long way!

Meet your neighbors. Whether they are local people or expats, they are a wealth of information. Don’t be afraid of the language barrier. Mexicans are very gracious people and welcoming. Undoubtedly, your neighbors will be your first contact in a crisis.

Attend social events with other Expats. Get out and meet others like yourselves. Socialize, and share experiences. Whether it’s at a restaurant, trivia night, game night or club. Facebook is full of groups for families and individuals looking to interact and almost every city and town has a specific group tailored to specific or general needs. Most of the meetups are 100 percent free, you just pay for what you consume.

Go on a relocation tour with one of our recommended private tour guides. Our recommended tour guides are people who live in a local area. They know other people and they can easily connect you with some of them so you can quickly start building your network. Going on a relocation tour is like visiting a city with a friend. Someone who can show you the ropes and help you meet others. Find out more about a relocation tour.

Pro tip: There are expat emergency translation services in Mexico where you call a number and they have a 24/7 operator who speaks English and Spanish who can dispatch an ambulance to your home, talk to police, paramedics or others in an emergency. This can be especially helpful at the beginning when you don’t know anyone. If you want our recommendations for these services, check out our COMPLETE MEXICO RELOCATION GUIDE.

What Happens in An Emergency?

Hospital Faro de Mayab
Hospital Faro de Mayab

All of the tips I just listed are there to help you become more social and are relatively easy to do. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to be a social butterfly to implement some of these. You can attend as many events as you want or go only once a month until you find your people.

But let’s talk about the lesser known realities of life and how you can make sure you get help when you really need it far from home.

If you have very introverted neighbors or a neighbor living alone check in on them from time-to-time. If you are nervous about being alone in a foreign country, ask them to do the same for you.
Some of the most important things you can do are:

  • Note emergency numbers for Fire, Health, Police, Ambulance, Doctor and Pharmacy for your city. Post them on your refrigerator and your phone to access them quickly if needed.
  • Prepare a list of emergency contacts and vital information. Family, friends and persons to notify should you become incapacitated. Include insurance policies, banks and passwords with instructions on what to do in specific cases, especially when children are involved. Above all, make sure someone knows where to locate this information.
  • Write down your doctor’s number. Or better yet, save it on your phone.
  • If your doctor only uses WhatsApp, get familiar with the app. You don’t want to try to figure it out at the time you absolutely need it. Here’s a quick video showing you how to use WhatsApp. 
  • Install apps on your phone for your local pharmacy and supermarket. The beauty of Mexico is you can have almost all the necessities of life delivered for free or at a minimal cost.
  • Prepare a short version of the above information, place it in a sealed envelope and give it to a friend or neighbor you can rely on to make calls and start things happening. None of this important info will be of any benefit to you in an emergency situation if only you know where to find it and no one knows how to make a critical notification.

In summary, moving to Mexico can be a rewarding experience, the culmination of all of your hopes and dreams for a carefree life abroad. But it can also become a nightmare if you are not properly prepared. Share this article with someone you care about if they are considering moving to Mexico and help them be prepared.

You can also read Mariana’s article, “Why You Need a Scouting Trip to Mexico.”