Digital nomads from all over the world are settling in Mexico after the country became a hotspot for location-independent workers during the pandemic. It was one of the few countries welcoming tourists all throughout the height of the COVID-19 crisis from 2020-2021. So it’s no wonder that this North American paradise is a staple for nomads to base themselves for remote work.
If you are planning to follow their lead, then it’s your lucky day as we have compiled a comprehensive guide for you!
We’ll break down all you need to know about remote work in Mexico, including:
- Time zone
- Cost of living
- Quality of life
- Visas and residence permits
- Mexican food and food quality
- Noise level
As a remote worker, it’s essential to have a stable and productive work environment. Mexico offers that, plus the added benefits of a great climate, delicious food and affordable prices.
Remote work in Mexico: all you need to know
Mexico is well known among established digital nomads, as well as remote working newbies. Cities like Playa Del Carmen, Tulum and Mexico City have even become digital nomad hubs over the years. Therefore, the infrastructure for remote work is particularly well-developed in those locations.
Furthermore, with COVID-19 variants still being a factor for traveling, we expect that many location-independent professionals from the US, Canada and other countries will look to Mexico for their next move.
The Benefits of Working Remotely in Mexico
#1 Location and proximity
Thanks to Mexico’s ideal geographic location, the country is easily accessible for US and Canadian citizens. People coming from Europe also don’t have ultra long flight times to reach the country.
Therefore, when working remotely from Mexico, you will be a short flight away from your friends and family.
Flights from Canada or the USA take around 2-4 hours depending on your departure city, and 10-11 hours from Europe. Usually, you will fly to Cancun and then either take a one-hour bus or taxi to Playa del Carmen. Tulum is another popular destination and it can also be reached by bus or taxi from Playa del Carmen or Cancun.
In terms of accessibility and distance, Mexico is the most low-cost digital nomad destination to get to from North America.
#2 Time zone
Mexico’s time zone is another advantage of working remotely there. It’s perfect if you are working US working hours, and even European hours aren’t that far apart. The capital of Mexico City is just one hour behind Washington DC and six hours behind London.
When you wake up in Mexico, it’s noon in London. Hence, remote workers from Europe have a six or seven hour time difference.
However, if you have a day job in the UK or Europe, that can be harder to manage. You would need to wake up in the middle of the night to start a UK shift.
There’s not really much more to say other than it’s perfect! On the popular Yucatan Caribbean side of the country, temperatures stay between 25-26°C from the end of November through to December, and it goes up to 29°C in the afternoons.
If you are from Europe or North America, Mexico is a perfect place to escape the cold months, which starts from November and lasts until April.
When going to Mexico, you also need to keep a location in mind. Some parts of Mexico get chilly at that time of the year. Mexico City and the surrounding areas are some of those colder places. It can get as low as 9°C degrees in the morning, however it does get warmer during the day.
Consequently, Tulum and Playa del Carmen are some of the best destinations in Mexico in terms of weather during the winter months.
#4 The cost of living
Digital nomads and remote workers need to be aware that the cost of living in Mexico isn’t the lowest you can get in Latin America.
Some of those even cheaper destinations in the region are Colombia, Argentina and Brazil. Mexico’s prices are a bit higher due to an abundance of expats and remote workers who are happy to pay higher prices as most of them earn American wages.
Nonetheless, living like a local in Mexico is still cheap. You will spend $5 US dollars for a bottle of kombucha or $6 US dollars for a salad. At the same time, eating like a local is cheaper by at least half.
Furthermore, as a digital nomad coming to Mexico on a short-term basis, you can expect higher prices on most items. But if you stay for longer, it becomes less expensive.
When talking in more detail about the cost of living in Mexico, you can live a basic life on around $1,000 a month. The average cost of living for expats, digital nomads and remote workers varies from $600 to $2,000 depending on one’s lifestyle choices and location. In more touristy places like Playa Del Carmen or Mexico City, you can easily spend $1,500 to $2,000 if you’re not keeping an eye on expenses.
Some of the cheapest places to live as a digital nomad in Mexico include:
- San Miguel de Allende
- Puerto Escondido
- San Cristóbal de las Casas
- Santiago de Querétaro
- Puerto Vallarta
The most expensive places are:
- Playa del Carmen
- Mexico City
How much money do you need to live in Mexico?
As a starting point for those on a limited budget, you cam aim to spend $1,000 per month while living and working remotely in Mexico.
A reliable and stable internet connection is like bread and butter for remote workers and digital nomads. In Mexico, you can easily get a 4G sim card at almost any convenience store. For about $25 US dollars, you can buy 6 GB of data. This can be used for a mobile hotspot when there is no internet connection.
In one study from March 31st 2021, Mexico was rated 80th out of 177 countries in the world for fixed broadband speed, and 69th for mobile broadband speed.
The global broadband average speed is 98.67, while Mexico barely reaches 46.77 Mbps. If you want the fastest internet in Mexico, head to the north.
The main internet providers in Yucatan (close to Cancun) are Telcel, Telmex and AiTel. Telmex is the largest provider and has the best service.
Overall, your experience with the internet in Mexico can vary from very good to very bad. Many Airbnbs will have a fiber connection with a speed of around 80 Mbps for downloads and uploads. We strongly recommend doing your research when booking accommodations, asking your landlord and reading reviews.
In any case, buy a backup internet package that you can have on your phone and use it as a hotspot. Also, everyone needs to familiarize themselves with how to
top up mobile data online.
So what’s our final verdict regarding the internet for remote workers in Mexico? We give the country a score of five out of ten.
#6 Quality of life
No doubt, Mexico doesn’t have the same developments and socioeconomic advances as the USA, however a less developed country isn’t synonymous with a lower quality of life.
Of course you can pay higher prices for luxury retreats and high-end restaurants in Mexico. But living by the beach on a budget is pretty enjoyable for many people as well.
Culture is another big draw for those who move to Mexico as a remote worker. Mexican culture is vibrant, rich, colorful and cheerful. Its historic music, festivals, dancing and food are essential elements of local life.
In addition, Mexican people are very friendly and open. They by no means dislike foreigners or have anything against them.
Mexico’s main language is Spanish, which is known for being an easy language to pick up. You can quickly learn some basic vocabulary words. Moreover, there are a lot of mutual words between English and Spanish, as well as some other European languages. Mexican people are also not judgmental if your Spanish is bad, so long as you are at least trying to communicate.
#9 Visas and residence permits
Visa regulations is another place where Mexico shines. It’s the only country in the world that allows you 180 days stamped in your passport upon arrival. This is referred to as the Mexican Tourist Card. US citizens, along with many others, can stay in the country for up to 180 days without a visa. However, a Mexican Tourist Card cannot be extended or renewed.
Generally speaking, citizens of the US, European Union, EFTA, Canada and Australia can visit Mexico visa-free. Other nationalities will be required to apply for a Mexican visa before they travel. You can see the exact list here.
There are many exemptions to Mexican visa regulations, so check here to see if you qualify for that. Nationals who need a Mexican visa need to apply before entering the country.
Disadvantages of living and working remotely in Mexico
Safety isn’t the strongest aspect of Mexico. It is considered to be a relatively dangerous country in terms of scams, pickpocketing, robberies and other crimes. For example, foreigners might experience scams in convenience stores when receiving change from the cashier. But it’s a minor issue. There are also many gangs and even cartel violence that occurs from time to time. However, serious incidents are rare, especially those involving foreigners or tourists.
While living in Mexico as a foreigner, you simply need to be cautious of your surroundings. If you are staying in predominantly tourist locations, such as Playa Del Carmen or Tulum, you shouldn’t worry much about your safety. Some of the most dangerous places in Mexico don’t see too much tourist action.
#2 Mexican food and food quality
Although Mexican cuisine is one of the best in the world, you might be a bit disappointed by its quality. In comparison to places like Europe or Southeast Asia, Mexican food scores quite poorly.
For instance, in Europe, you will have much fewer pesticides. Furthermore, if you are really paying attention to the food and prefer organic products, it might be hard or even impossible to find them in Mexico.
The last drawback of living in Mexico is the level of noise.
Digital nomads can expect all types of noise in Mexico: fireworks, barking dogs, casual motorbikes on the street and construction work. Even in small Mexican towns, you will have to deal with it.
Automotive noise is also on another level in Mexico. Depending on a location, there is a constant flow of cars, trucks, motorbikes and buses. Plus, it’s not uncommon to see trucks announcing something from megaphones on their roofs. Thus, the noise level can be quite overwhelming.
Working for a US company from Mexico
Another benefit of living and working from Mexico is the ability to work for a US employer if you are employed by one. In fact, this is the most common way to reside in Mexico and make a living there.
The best thing about working for a US company in Mexico is that you don’t have to pay taxes to Mexico. As a US or other national, you will continue to pay your taxes to your country as usual.
Overall, working for a US company and living in Mexico is easy as you also don’t have to deal with banking issues with Mexican authorities if you receive all work-related payments through a US banking account.
Residency and work permits in Mexico
If you plan to stay longer than 180 days, you need to consider obtaining residency and a Mexican work permit. Currently, Mexico doesn’t have an official digital nomad visa, so if you want to stay longer, you can apply for other residence permit options available for remote workers.
Fortunately, if your job or company is located outside of Mexico, and you receive income from a non-Mexican banking account, you are not required to have a work visa to work remotely in the country. These rules apply to most remote workers nowadays.
Officially, after your six months runs out, you need to leave the country. Despite this fact, some people just do border runs to Guatemala or the USA and extend their stay in Mexico by exiting and reentering the country.
Also, no work permit is required when working for a non-Mexican company. However, a work permit will be necessary under the following conditions:
- Performing some paid activity for a Mexican company.
- Registering as self-employed in Mexico.
- Maintaining Mexican clients.
- Getting paid in Mexico with a paycheck drawn from a Mexican bank.
To stay longer, you could apply for a temporary resident visa intended for people who wish to stay as long as six months to four years. This type of visa is renewable and gives you a temporary residency status for at least one year. After five years of temporary residency, foreigners can apply for naturalization and citizenship.
With a residence permit, you are also entitled to have a Mexican bank account, driver’s license, and many similar benefits that a Mexican national has. The residence permit is preferred by expats, remote workers and digital nomads alike.
When applying for a residence permit, the Mexican government wants to see funds or recurring income in your bank account. The country also wants to make sure that you’re able to support yourself without seeking local employment.
Hence if you are working for a remote company or have your own business, it shouldn’t be a problem. Foreign employees can do this by showing their payslips from their current employer.
Income sources can range from:
- passive income, etc.
Mexico’s official website states this as:
- a regular monthly income
- cash savings or investment fund balance
- an officially assessed value of a home you own in Mexico
- a minimum level of capital investment in Mexico
The main requirement of a Mexican temporary resident visa for digital nomads is:
- To have a monthly income of $2,237 USD or a minimum savings of $37,289 USD per year.
Keep in mind that you’re not allowed to seek employment from any Mexican company to obtain a temporary resident visa. You can, however, earn income from businesses based overseas. With a few exceptions, the temporary residence visa cannot be issued in Mexico. You must apply at a Mexican consulate or embassy outside of the country.
How to get a remote job and work from Mexico?
If you want to work remotely from Mexico but don’t have a suitable job, apply for one with us! Here at Support Adventure, we hire talented people from around the world and allow them to work from anywhere.
Support Adventure is known as the expat outsourcing company as we hire people from around the world who want to work online from anywhere. We mostly have positions open for help desk IT support, so if you have experience or an interest in IT, don’t wait and apply for a remote job with us here!