I get asked about living in Mexico now and again. It’s nice to know that, despite all the bad press, the country has been receiving, some people still have a big enough sense of adventure to see the appeal in moving to the Distrito Federal. It’s an adventure I couldn’t recommend highly enough. The latest enquiry asked the right sort of questions. The sort of answers you’d get from people familiar with Mexico City will differ according to experience. But here are mine..
I’m planning to go in mid-September, fly to Cancun and find work in DF. How likely am I to find something well-paying this time of year? I’m CELTA qualified with around 3 years experience.
It depends what sort of work you’re looking for. I think most schools usually have their positions filled by end of August. But you might well be able to pick something up. Teaching Business English is pretty easy to get into though, and is my personal preference. It’s something you can get into at any time of year. I suggest checking out Dave’s ESL Cafe and chatting to some people in there. Network with expats in the city when you arrive. There are often ‘Teacher Get Togethers’. Hand out flyers outside international companies to staff on their way in to work. Once you’ve got your first few classes, more tend to come along through word of mouth pretty quickly. You can also get hours, albeit at low pay, from language schools. It’s all good practise will you find something better. And you’re plenty qualified enough…
Is the country as dangerous as Western media makes out? I have reservations about simple things like taking my laptop due to the scaremongering of the British press and the stereotype that Mexico has cast upon my family – none of who understand why the hell I have to do this.
The western media should be sued by Mexico for libel! Although the really negative reports are mostly from northern areas of the country, not Mexico City, the media have been tending to portray the entire country as being in a state of virtual war. Of course DF has crime. All big cities do. But it’s really perfectly safe. I always felt safer there than I do in the UK. I took my laptop and had no problem, although I did have a home to go to. I also used to wander all over the city with nice cameras and my iPod touch without any problem.
What is a good amount to take out there? I expect to have around 4K in savings to fall back on should work be hard to find/organise. How long can I expect that to last?
Four thousand pounds is a lot. That’s about 80,000 pesos. I could survive comfortably, although not extravagantly, on 10,000 pesos a month. 15,000 is very comfortable. This includes rent, food, bills and beer money. I am assuming you’ll be looking to get a room in a shared apartment to start with. But even a nice departamento can be had for less than 5,000 pesos a month. Again, get chatting to people who are in Mexico. There’s often someone who knows someone who’s looking for someone for some place.
What drew you (and away from) Mexico? Did you manage to really hone your Spanish?
My turning up in Mexico was, originally, really random. I was fed up with my job in the UK and looking for a cheap place to take a TEFL course, and a link to a school in Mexico turned up in the Google results. I knew next to nothing about Mexico. A quick bit of research suggested it’d be a interesting experience. And seeing as I’d always turned left out of Heathrow on previous trips abroad, I thought I’d take a right turn for a change. I booked the course and the plane ticket. That was in 2003, and although I didn’t ever get around to taking the course and ended up back in the UK, I had the Mexico bug.
What made me come back to the UK? I really can’t remember. I must have been mad. All I know is, I will be going back. Not this year. Maybe next year. If not, then surely the year after. And it will be for keeps. My bones will be buried in Mexican soil, and I won’t in all honesty be that upset if I never set foot on English soil again. I’m currently working on getting my Spanish up to scratch for the citizenship test. This really tells you all you need to know. Your folks might think you’re mad for going. I’ll think you’re a bit mad if you ever come back….