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What I Learned about Working Abroad in Mexico
I might work from Mexico this summer, and here’s how
My husband and I are dreaming of summer vacations. We want to go somewhere warm and fun but somewhere we can enjoy isolated activities if we choose (gotta keep that tiny baby well).
One of the possibilities we discussed is Mexico. Mexico’s a great place to vacay, and the more I think about it, it’s also a great place to workcay. Why not bring my laptop along and save some of my PTO?
And hey, you should consider it, too. The more the merrier!
Why I want to work in Mexico
Here are some hot takes on why working in Mexico appeals to me and might appeal to you:
- It’s right there. If you’re in the US (as Google Analytics assures me that most of you are), Mexico’s so dang close you can practically taste it. Closer than Hawaii! Closer than Alaska. In some cases, even closer than other continental states.
- It’s gorgeous. Lay on the sandy beaches and hike the lush, tropical jungles when you aren’t working.
- It’s delicious. Enjoy the most spectacular Taco Tuesdays of your life in Mexico! Plus the mangoes and the seafood are uber fresh, and where else can you try corn mousse with caramel ice cream for dessert? Yes, that’s a real treat I’ve had at a Mexican resort. Yum!
Mexico is definitely worth considering. But how to go about it?
Questions to answer before working remotely in Mexico
Remote work outside of your home country takes a little leg work. Here’s what to consider if you’d like to follow my lead in trying some Mexican remote work.
Are you eligible?
US folk like me can work in Mexico just fine for a bit. We don’t even need passport books if we drive in. Just a passport card will suffice. (But make sure to have your up-to-date car registration on hand. Otherwise, you can lose your vehicle at the border.)
For flying, a passport book is required. You’ll also fill out a little customs form before you land, just to declare your intentions (like where you’ll visit and how long you’ll be there).
As always, you’ll need to communicate with your employer to confirm they can legally have an employee in Mexico (and for how long).
If you plan to stay in the country more permanently, you’ll need to apply for a visa.
When will you go?
In Mexico, hurricane season runs from June to November. That’s not to say you can’t visit during those times! Landfalling hurricanes come around only occasionally, so you’re probably safe. But you never know! I got caught in the first hurricane to hit Cancún in 15 years.
If the thought makes you hyper-nervous, avoid visiting in September and October, the peak hurricane months.
Where will you stay?
There are lots of great locations to stay in Mexico. Here are some of my suggestions (as culled from my trips + friends’ and families’ vacations):
- Acapulco: the “Riviera of Mexico”
- Cabo San Lucas: beach city convenient for travel from Cali (I haven’t made it here yet, but I’ve eyed a few Disney cruises that stop in the area)
- Cancún: part of the Yucatán peninsula that was famously home to the Maya (this is where I’ve spent most of my Mexico vacay time in the past, and I highly recommend it)
- Mexico City: metro built on top of Aztec City Tenochtitlán
- Playa del Carmen: near Cancún but not so crowded
Once you know where you’re going, you need a place to stay, and I have a few ideas for my upcoming trip.
Mexico’s known for fabulous all-inclusive resorts. If you’re feeling lavish, I recommend staying in one of these!
I once stayed at 5-star resort Xcaret (not on my own dime—I wish I could afford that!), and it was sublime: an aesthetic curated to match a Mayan temple right down to the lobby scent, a humongous jet tub in each room, and oodles of included food. If I went back there to work, I’d lounge with my laptop and a virgin piña colada by the pool or use the free room service to have all my meals delivered directly to my workstation.
Xcaret room service, courtesy of author
But since the all-inclusive route can be $$, a standard hotel is also a nice way to go. Some are still quite pricey, like the JW Marriott, but some are more reasonable.
You can also look at rentals on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other rental sites.
Pro tip: rentals or regular hotels are easiest to find in Mexico City, while all-inclusive resorts are abundant in the touristy beach areas.
What gear will I need to work?
When working remotely, I always bring my laptop and my phone! Many US phone companies offer free service in Mexico as a courtesy, so I’m covered there (and you should be too).
You won’t need an adaptor in Mexico (yay North America), but you’ll need a good Wi-Fi connection. Look at the reviews of your resort/hotel/rental to ensure you’re getting stable internet. Airbnb even offers internet verification!
As always, I suggest a mobile hotspot when working abroad, just to be safe.
If you haven't spent much time in Mexico, you're a winner of a terrible lottery: the likelihood of contracting a food poisoning-like ailment while there. There are various reasons for this, but one of the main ones is a stomach that isn't used to Mexican fare.
I suggest bringing Immodium and Pedialyte with you. Or you might be able to buy it where you're staying.
What will you do when you're not working?
What won’t you do! Mexico has tons of fun activities for everyone. Off the top of my head, you can try:
- Swimming (with or without dolphins)
- Lounging on a beach or poolside cabana (remember the tropical drinks!)
- New and familiar cuisine
- Spa treatments (it seems like every resort in Mexico has an amazing spa)
My very favorite activity in Mexico is theme parks. Xcaret has some wild ones that anyone can visit, even if you aren’t staying at an Xcaret hotel. I especially recommend Xenses, which is themed around optical illusions and sensory experiences. (Mud bath, anyone? It’s way more relaxing than it sounds!)
Uphill optical illusion at Xenses, courtesy of author
Sound like a dream come true? Then don’t wait another second! Join me and start planning your remote work trip to Mexico RN.
And if working remotely outside the US seems daunting, you can try a domestic location first. You can even check out Phoenix, Austin, or Houston—they’re all close to the Mexican-US border, making them excellent training wheels before taking an international trip.
And if Mexico isn't far enough, check out my article about working abroad in Ireland.