Moving to Mexico is a hot topic because people finally realized how great of an opportunity it is. Mexico relocation specialists are popping out everywhere (spoiler: you don’t need them – more on this further down), that’s how popular moving to Mexico has become.
But, moving anywhere with a family requires more preparation and can cause more stress than just moving as a solo traveler. Moving to Mexico with kids requires more preparation, so I’ll give you all my best tips on how to do it and answer your questions about whether it’s something for you… because let’s face it: living in Mexico might not be for everyone.
Who am I to give you advice on moving to Mexico? Fair question, especially in the sea of articles written on the topic. I’ve been living in Mexico on and off for years since 2010.
I spent over 2 years in Mexico City as an expat working various jobs, studied there at a local university. Then I left Mexico and returned to live in Playa del Carmen. I lived in Playa for about 3 years full time and now I live there on and off with the kids and cat.
Is It Hard to Move to Mexico with Kids?
Not at all as long as you’re self-employed or have savings. Mexico gives temporary residency permits to people way easier than other countries do and then you can convert it into a permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
You need to prove your income and savings, make appointments at the consulate, and get approved. Thankfully, it doesn’t involve months or years of waiting like in the US even for family members, so it’s a plausible and affordable option.
If you’re planning on having more kids you’re in luck, because you can just have a baby in Mexico and get permanent residency based on your Mexican child. I had a temporary residency years ago, but then had a baby in Mexico and don’t need to prove much to get my new residency.
What’s the Best Place to Live in Mexico for Families?
I’ll always tell you to first visit and see if you like the place. Then rent for a few months to see if you didn’t just get charmed with the place and the long-term reality looks different. Only then proceed to buy a place.
The best place for you depends on your preferences. If you don’t speak Spanish yet, you’ll be better off in bigger cities more oriented towards expats.
Top places for expats are Mexico City, Merida, Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Guanajuato. It’s also common to see people relocating to Cabo, San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara, Sayulita or Puerto Escondido – although the two last ones are mostly for a younger crowd than families.
Children are encouraged to be themselves, express themselves, and have fun. They aren’t babied like they are in the US though so keep that in mind – eg. having a child in a crib at 3 would be considered insane in Mexico.
Schools in Mexico
There are so many great schooling options in Mexico! If you’re moving to a smaller local town there might not be many international schools, but in bigger cities or towns with expats you’ll find at least one or two.
Most expat parents opt to send their kids to a private school as they have higher standards. The exception is universities are the public ones are more prestigious.
The good news is that schools and childcare are very affordable. On average schools are about $800 a month if you’re looking for a private Montessori, Waldorf, or bilingual education. It could be even less though.
Kids can easily adapt to a new language so don’t worry – they’ll learn Spanish easily!
The only problem is that due to a huge influx of expats lots of schools have waitlists that are quite long and might require you to get a car in order to get there (school buses aren’t really a thing in Mexico, unless you’re in Mexico City and it’s a specific private school).
I get a lot of questions where there is a list of schools or website where you can enroll your kids for a short period of time. Such lists do not exist as Mexico is huge, but if you’re looking at Playa del Carmen I have a list of schools and preschools in my moving to Playa del Carmen post.
Most importantly: without residency, you cannot enroll your kids in a public school so only private ones will be an option and not all schools allow kids to attend only for short periods of time vs full year.
Cost of Living in Mexico with Kids
There’s no straight answer to this question as a lot depends on location, your lifestyle and preferences. I know people who live just fine on $1000 USD a month and others who spend about $4000.
The cost of groceries is around 50% less than in the US. Eating out is cheap. Schools are less pricy than in the US in general and babysitting/daycare is incomparably cheaper.
The real expense is health insurance for Mexico (travel insurance isn’t primary insurance for expats as it doesn’t cover much outside of emergencies).
Also, keep in mind that initial costs are going to be more expensive. For example, every school has an inscription fee that you pay once per semester. Every apartment requires a deposit and you’re probably going to have to purchase some items when you move in.
Moving with Pets
Kids love pets so if you have some naturally you don’t want to leave them behind. Mexico is one of the easiest places to travel and move with a pet.
All you need is to microchip and vaccine your pet and get a health certificate from your vet. Basically, same thing you need for your pet to travel. No quarantine or anything.
Shipping Your Belongings vs Buying
Most places in Mexico will be furnished if you’re renting it. Even if you’re moving long-term there’s no need to ship all your belongings to Mexico as it makes no sense financially.
Most people moving to Mexico, including those with kids, move just with a few suitcases. You can buy absolutely everything in Mexico so don’t stress about it!