5 Expats Tips for a Healthy Family Living in Mexico
Moving to a different country can be difficult, even more so if you have children. To reduce these concerns, this article suggests practical advice, tips and guidance to make the move as smooth as possible. From thrilling activities to healthy local food, it provides helpful information to help families have a healthy lifestyle in Mexico.
Who wouldn’t want to move to a country that has it all: amazing weather, beautiful beaches, a fascinating history, and mouth-watering food. Rich in culture, and a vibrancy that’s hard to match, it’s not a surprise Mexico was the 3rd most attractive expat destination in 2017, according to Expat Insider. It’s also one of the few digital nomad hotspots across the world.
However, visiting Cancun for a two-week break and spending your days swimming in the Caribbean Sea is rather different to taking a job in Mexico City. Especially if you’re taking your family along for the adventure.
It’s important to do your research before relocating, especially when bringing others with you. Here are five things to bear in mind for healthy living in Mexico and if you want to make your move to Mexico an amazing chapter in your family’s lives.
1. Stay Safe
If you’re considering moving to Mexico, it’s likely you’ll have had some concerns about staying safe. Sadly, poverty and crime are issues for the country, but if you’re sensible hopefully you’ll stay safe. According to The Economist, out of 60 worldwide cities, Mexico City is the 39th safest.
Mexicans often take self-defence classes, or learn martial arts (Taekwondo is extremely popular). Although these are great forms of exercise, they’re often learnt as a form of self-protection. Women should avoid going into saloon bars as these are for men only. Tourist spots, such as ruins or volcanoes, can also be hot-spots for eager-eyed thieves.
As well as staying safe against the threat of crime, it’s worth thinking about protecting yourself in case of any health issues you may face while living in Mexico. You’re probably on the case already, but try to get international health insurance in place before you move. Peace of mind is invaluable when you live abroad.
2. Embrace the Open Air
If you’re emigrating from colder climes, you may not need your jumper collection. Most of the year, Mexico is warm or hot (or very hot.) This means you can embrace the outdoors in a way you may never have before. Outside living will become the norm, except for during the rainy season from May to November. Then, you may wish you had your rain mac.
Although many locals don’t walk or cycle, the trend of hiring bikes is growing in popularity and is a wonderful way to explore. On Sundays, streets are closed in Mexico City, so people can safely cycle or skate around without the threat or smog created by traffic.
Popping to your local swimming pool isn’t just a case of paying an entrance fee. Public swimming pools require you to go through a registration process which includes a medical certificate and proof of vaccinations such as tetanus. While this is good for peace of mind, you may find it easier sticking to trips to the beach.
Gym membership can also be pricey in Mexico. So, it’s worth finding out where your local parks are. Parque Mexico and Bosque de Chapultepec in Mexico City, or Orizaba in Pueblo, are some of Mexico’s best parks. There are also plenty of parks and nature reserves that are popular destinations to visit, like Bosque de Tlalpan near Mexico City or Ria Lagartos in Yucatan. Merida with its quaint old centre is another lovely Mexican town to visit or consider moving to.
3. A Feast of Fiestas
Mexican living is all about the fiestas (parties). Whether it’s enjoying lunch (comida), which is a daily two-hour event, or one of the many celebration days, such as Diez y Seis (Independence Day) or the Day of the Dead.
The calendar is stacked with year-round festivals from February’s Son Jarocho Festival in Veracruz, a three-day folk fusion festival, to Guadalajara.
Children are very much a welcome part of Mexican life, so the whole family can have a great time and get to know the locals at these events – very soon you’ll start feeling at home.
4. Watch Out for the Sugar Overload
Mexicans love their sugar and even foods that are low-sugar in other countries are likely to be higher here. Children will be offered sweets frequently and parties will always include a sugar-stocked piñata no matter how young the guests! Desserts tend to be smothered in mole (chocolate) like the famous churros.
Healthy eating isn’t such a ‘thing’ as it is in other countries, and you’ll have to really search for restaurants or cafes that offer a more varied selection on the menu. Although Mexicans mainly stick to traditional foods, you’ll still be able to find chicken nuggets and chips or sincronizadas (wheat tortillas with ham and cheese) on the children’s menus. Babies often have plates of avocado and cheese. Most restaurants have children’s areas and some offer small plates of the adult options. Children are impressed by how their food is decorated in many Mexican restaurants.
You may find branching out for other alternatives, such as Japanese cuisine, is an option – and of course, there’s plenty of fresh, cheap and local produce on the markets for cooking at home. The stalls outside the actual markets can be cheaper than in the market themselves. If in Mexico City, Xochimilco market is a must.
As well as having limited healthy options, the same is true for vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free choices. There is a much better offering in large cities like Puebla, Queretaro, Cancun and Mexico City, and things are slowly changing elsewhere. Supermarkets are beginning to stock more gluten-free options, and vegetarians are being catered for more than before.
Check out our guide to the 10 Things You Must Eat in Mexico City Besides Tacos.
5. Your Creature Comforts Will be Catered For
If the thought of never eating your favourite toast topper or walking into your regular supermarket again makes you miss home more than anything else, stop right there. Mexico has a growing offering of westernised shops and products available from your motherland. Every city has a shopping mall with stores including Walmart, H&M, Sears, The Home Store, The Sunglasses Hut and a wide range of the designer stores like Dolce and Gabbana. This should help you to settle until Mexico feels like home.
Whether you want to ‘make like a Mexican’ or hold on to your homeland while staying healthy, it’s not only possible but an amazing experience too.
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