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Guide for living and working in Mexico
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Political Status Geographical situation
Economy & statistics


Other sectors
Weights, measures and voltages
Main towns


Entry formalities:
Health & medicine


Connections with France
Time differences
Car rental
Hotels & restaurants
Your suitcase
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Cost of Living



Mexico (fr)
Mexique (fr)
Mexique (fr)

City Ville Guide

6 - Other sectors

The most dynamic industries in the service sector are transports and communications and commerce, restaurants and hotels. Telefonos de Mexico took control of compUSA, which is the biggest American distributor of PCs, in January 2000 and is developing alliances with Microsoft or Bell Canada in internet and telephone with sights on the whole of Latin America.

Tourism is a major resource for the country. It is the second biggest source of foreign currency after manufactured products. With a turnover above 8 billion dollars and over 5 million people employed directly or indirectly, the sector is an important asset for the country's developement. Over the last 6 years, international tourism has gone up by 18%. Most of the tourists come from the United States (88%) and Latin America (3.87%), only 3.54% come from Europe. Mexico has a good hotel infrastructure and back up services of an international quality standard.

7 - Population
N° of inhabitants : 95,845,880. The population density is 50 inhabitants per Over half the population is less than 35 years old. The urban population is 74%.
0-14 year olds : 34.12%
15-64 year olds : 61.46%
65 years and over : 4.42%

Level of developement (latest available statistics)
demographic growth 1997-2015 (%) : +1.3
infant mortality (%) : 3.1
energy consumption per capita TOE : 1.52
population without drinking water (% pop) : 15
population without sanitary installations (% pop) : 28
n° of doctors per 1000 inhabitants : 1.3
telephone lines per 1000 inhabitants : 96
mobile telephones per 1000 inhabitants : 18
private cars per 1000 inhabitants : 93
n° of computers per 1000 inhabitants : 37.3
adult illiteracy (%) : 10
secondary schooling/age group (%) : 61
graduates/age group (%) : 16

Ethnic composition :
Mestizos (Amerindians-Spanish) : 60%
Amerindians : 30% (concentrated in the south of the country)
Europeans : 9%

8 - Language
Spanish is the official language in the country. But English is spoken in the tourist centres and near the American border.
There are also 92 native languages spoken.
9 - Religion
There are several religions practised in the country, but the majority of the population are Roman Catholics (approx. 90%)
Protestants : 4.9 %.
Jews : 0.1 %
Others : 2.1 %.

10 - Weights, measures & voltage

Voltage 110V, with Anglo-Saxon standard plugs.

11 - Money
The official currency is the Mexican peso.
1FF = 1.18 pesos approx. (14/6/2001)
1 peso = 0.8 FF
1 euro = 8.1516

The money fluctuates enormously, the exchange rate is very unstable. The best is to take US dollars in travellers cheques and in small banknotes as well as an international credit card.
The most used international card is the Visa card. Be careful there is a lot of fraud with foreign credit cards as the micro chip is not used. You must be very careful when you pay for something in a shop, there is not normally any problem when you take money from a cash dispenser.

Exchange control
There is no exchange control. The value of the peso is fixed by the market. The Central Bank only intervenes if the peso devaluates more than 2% compared to the dollar in the same day.
Main towns
The capital of the country is
Mexico City with a population of 20,000,000 inhabitants.
When you visit its historical centre, the town does not seem to have outgrown itself, the traffic proceeds peacefully, without a single blow of the horn, an army of little green and white Volkwagen beetles drive through the straight avenues which are edged with statues, trees and prestigious monuments. Everything is clean, well-organized and it nearly smells good! The sadly famous pollution is especially bad in winter, from December to February, when the air is very dry, but great progress has been made due to drastic measures that have been taken. Mexico City breathes better and better and it is also getting to be a safer town. You can now stroll at ease through the attractive districts of San Angel and Coyoacan, famous for their village ambiance. Built around squares created in the colonial period, edged with a church and planted with trees under which painters, artisans and candy floss vendors are installed, these districts are peaceful and mainly residential. Behind the high pastel-coloured walls covered with bright red bougainvilleas, are hidden charming houses.
The centre of Mexico City spreads out around the Zocalo, a vast rectangular esplanade surrounded by the cathedral, the town hall and the parliament building. The conquistadors built the town on the ruins of the Aztec capital and dried up the lake which surrounded it. This situation, at over 2000 meters high, between several volcanoes (among which is the famous Popocatepetl, 5,452 m ) is the reason for the instability of the old buildings, which all have a tendency to lean, if not collapse, sometimes also because of the works going on to build the underground lines. The magnificent baroque cathedral, which had to be replastered, has just had its internal scaffolding removed and is once again displaying its beautiful retables. The facade of the church of San Juan de Dios, opposite the Franz Meyer museum, which contains a splendid collection of furniture, objects, sculptures and jewellery from the colonial era, leans distinctly, giving a strange visual contrast with the fountain on the parvis. Nearby, on the edge of the Alameda park, the Beaux-Art palace contains the opera. Its impressive early 20th century architecture, all curves and colonnades, conceals in its hall and its rooms a marvelous Art deco style. Guitars play in the narrow paved streets, the mariachis liven the evenings of the inhabitants who sit on the terraces of the restaurants in the Zona Rosa, another emblematic area.

Monterrey : was elected as the foremost international business town in Latin America by Fortune magazine. Monterrey is the illustration of the dynamism of Nuevo Leon, the leading industrial state in Mexico. The town has one of the best transport systems and particularly high levels of security, health and education. With its 3.3 million inhabitants, Monterrey is the third biggest town in the country, after Mexico City and Guadalajara.

Merida : is situated in the north west of the Yucatan peninsula, at less than a hundred kilometers from the sea. Built in 1542 in place and on the site of the Mayan city of T'ho by the conquistador Francisco de Montejo, the town is designed in squares around the zocalo, the Mayor plaza, shaded by its oleanders. The oldest cathedral in Mexico stands on this square, built from 1562 to 1598 using the stones of a Mayan temple. Opposite, the municipal Palacio (1542) stands next to the Casa de Montejo (1543), the residence of the founder of the town. On Thursday evenings the municipal authorities offer a public serenade made up of trova yucateca, old ballads which you won't hear anywhere else. To see : the Peon Contreras theatre, a masterpiece of neo-classic architecture, and the Paseo de Monejo, built from 1888 to 1906.

Oaxaca, capital of the state of Oaxaca de Juarez. A beautiful town with a mixture of pre-colonial, colonial and modern architecture. To visit : the Santo Domingo church built by the Dominicans, it is baroque and richly decorated with paintings and sculptures of saints and angels, with a very beautiful gold statue of the Virgin.

Other main towns are : Guadalajara, Pueblo de Zaragoza, Leon, Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Acapulco, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta.

13 - Climate
Mexico is situated in a tropical zone. The hottest months are from April to June; the rainy season is from May to October, when it rains in heavy and brief downpours in the late afternoon.

On the high plateaus, in the northern part of the country the heat is unbearable in summer, but the temperatures can drop and be really cool in the winter period, even cold higher up.

In these regions there is not often rain, but when there is, it often comes in violent storms, particularly in July, August and September.

The best time to visit these northern regions of Mexico is during March/April and September/October.
The rest of the country has two clearly defined seasons : a rainy season and a dry season.

The rains start during May in the region of Mexico city, Oaxaca, Palenque or Yucatan, usually in the middle of the afternoon. They get heavier during June and carry on until September. Travelling becomes more and more difficult.

In these regions climatic variations are very frequent. Depending on the altitude you are at, it can be extremely hot or fairly cool.
The sea temperature on the west coast is fairly constant all the year round, between 27 and 29°C.
A little further north, near the Californian Gulf, the sea is even warmer, the ideal time to swim is between May and November.
It is not advisable to visit the country between August and October - there are quite often hurricanes which hit the coast, leaving a lot of destruction behind them.

Temperature averages (max/min)

..............................J ...........F ..........M ...........A ...........M ...........J ..........J .........A ........S ..........O .........N ..........D

Mexico City ....21/4 ......23/6 ......25/7 .......27/9 .......26/10 ....25/11 ...23/11 ..23/11 ..22/11 ....22/9 .....21/6 .....21/5

Acapulco ........31/22 ...31/22 ....31/22 .....31/23 ......32/24 ....32/25 ...32/25 ..33/25 ..32/25 ...32/24 ...32/24 ....31/23

Sea temperature averages : monthly average

........................J ......F .......M ......A .....M ......J ......J ......A .....S .......O .......N ......D

Vera Cruz .....23 ....23 ......24 ......25 ....26 .....27 ....28 ....29 ....28 ......27 ......26 .....24

Acapulco .....27 ....27 ......27 .......28 ...28 .....28 ....28 ....29.....28 ......28 ......28 .....27

14 - Insects & animals
There are certain species of snake which are dangerous in the Mexican countryside and desert. But the risk of meeting one is very limited.
There are also scorpions.
Near the coast where the vegetation is thick and in the swamp regions, there are a lot of mosquitoes and cucarachas.
The howler monkey is threatened with extinction in the tropical forest which is still home to the red ara parrot (or macao), white tailed deer, jaguars, tapir and the spider monkey which moves around with agility swinging from its prehensile tail and its long limbs.
For the Mayas, the jaguar symbolized the night sun which continued its path to rise again in the morning.

Working in the country
Before leaving
You should take Spanish lessons, or improve your level. The quality of job you could aspire to may depend on how well you speak the language.

With a French or international company
If your employer is a French or international company you don't have to worry about formalities. Usually the administrative services deal with all the formalities concerning the expatriate staff. Unless you are the only representative of your company in the country (sales representative, or in charge of a liaising office ...), in this case you will have to deal with the formalities yourself.

Preparing for your departure and looking for a job :
You can start searching for information by writing to French associations established in the country, trade commissions, commercial services of foreign banks in France and French banks abroad.

The French consulate usually has a service dealing with jobs and training, student grants and reinsertion in France, and they can put you in touch with local enterprises who are willing to accept French personnel.
 (See also in the Practical Guide for the Expatriate).

The French Chamber of Commerce also offers information about the job market, the most dynamic sectors of the economy, and edits a bulletin for French companies and local members. You could publish a job application in this bulletin.

The Trade Commission in Mexico or the CFCE in Paris can furnish you with a list of French companies established in Mexico.

Documents about the country are usually available in the cultural service of the Mexican Embassy in Paris.

You can however prepare your trip in a more precise manner by making a personal appointment with the Franco-Mexican Chamber of Commerce in order to complete your information and get professional advice.

While you are hunting for information you could contact companies directly by sending a spontaneous candidacy proposing your services.

The international departments of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry often have information about the country available. Directories and useful dossiers from the country can be helpful in getting information on sectors of activity and the local economic life.

Where to find job offers :
In the French press (Le Monde, Le France Soir, Figaro, Moniteur du Bâtiment,...) for French companies sending people abroad.

In the international press, in nearly all the bigger dailies there exists a page or a selection of job offers (The European, The Guardian, Vacature, Coriere della Sera, The Geneva Tribunal ..)

Leading recruitment bureaus in Europe, and interim companies sometimes offer international jobs.

There are several data banks specializing in job offers abroad on Internet which are easily accessible.

Writing your CV and covering letter :
Your dossier is a determining element towards being recruited, it is the first step towards obtaining an interview.

The CV should be very clear, typewritten, detailled, preferably written in English and it should be accompanied by a handwritten covering letter. Certain countries do not accord much importance to handwriting, but it is advisable to write the letter by hand whichever country it is addressed to.

If the company is French or the subsidiary of a French company, the CV and the covering letter should still be written in the language of the country.

Don't forget to attach a recent photo, preferably one where you are smiling.

Your CV should be detailled, and have the addresses and phone numbers of ex-employers on it so that the company can easily verify the main points of your candidacy. This can save you from sending a pile of photocopies and documents with it. You can always present these documents later during an interview if necessary.

If you are thinking of sending a false CV, you should know that a study from the Florian Mantione Institute shows that 45% of the employers check up on CVs, that 34% of the candidates are eliminated during this verification and that 60% of the verifications are made with the previous employer.
Whatever your reasons for 'adapting' your CV to suit the ad, be warned that it won't help you during the interview and could even cause you prejudice.

The questions to ask yourself before an expatriation :
What exactly is the job?
What is the length of the contract?
Is it for the whole family or with bachelor conditions?
What kind of life will you have locally?
Have you thought about when you get back, how you will manage financially to fit in again?
Do you have the necessaries qualities to be an expatriate?

Qualities you need to succeed :
emotional stability (so you can react quickly in any situation)
autonomy (you can make decisions on your own in any circumstance)
being mobile and being available for your job, being able to relocate quickly
being good at meeting people (don't forget that the expatriate is also an ambassador for his country whether in his professional or his social life.
being adaptable (you can easily adapt to different cultures, climates and life styles. )
being able to accept and understand different cultures and cultural differences
tolerance and respect of other people's way of life and way of living should be a natural part of your character.

Your family and recruiting :
Your partner should have the same ambitions as you. It is often an important factor in choosing an expatriate.
In fact some recruitment bureaus or big firms when they are recruiting, specially for long term projects, insist on having an interview with the wife to check that there are no problems in the couple which could get worse abroad and maybe disturb the mission.
Companies often propose that the whole family goes together so that a good family balance is kept.

During the recruiting :
Punctuality and precision are appreciated everywhere. Be on time for your appointments.

Be well dressed for your interview, whatever kind of job you are trying for. Your appearance will weigh with the interviewer.

First interviews are often very short but can last several hours if your candidacy is interesting, depending on the post offered, and if you have to do any psychotechnical (graphological analysis) or aptitude tests.

Be careful not to appear pretentious about your know-how and don't exaggerate your professional competence.

Don't forget that nowadays the job market is a chronic problem nearly all over the world, so take an interview appointment seriously, jobs are not easy to come by.

Emphasize your real competence, your ease of adaption, your mobility, your ability to work in a team, your readiness to pool your experience.

The company and the expatriate :
A lot of countries abroad like to have, and to show that they have, expatriates on their staff.
International personnel often bring in experience and knowledge which can be very advantageous for a company.

Salaries - Salary requirements :
If the candidate doesn't know the prospective country, it isn't always easy to negotiate a salary, especially if the amount has already been mentionned on the ad.
However, there is nothing to stop you from showing your previous salary and from discussing the salary offered. The recruiting agent or the employer may appreciate knowing what for you is the minimum.
It is often difficult to compare salaries with European ones.
The standard of living that you find abroad is not always similar to the one you know in Europe and sometimes if the salary is much higher you will find that the cost of living is also.
This is one of the reasons, and there are several, including social security conditions, why it is better to go abroad with a European company.
French companies sending people overseas budget for differences in the cost of living. They can reassure the expatriate that his purchasing power will at least be the same as in France.
The 'basic French salary' can be paid either in France or abroad, it is usually a choice, and an allowance is paid for living expenses (accomodation, food,...) This compensation is based on the cost of living in the country.

(see the page in the expatriate guide)
If you are employed locally you will have to pay taxes in the country.
If you have an international contract your salary can be negotiated free of taxes.
In some countries income tax is deducted at source by the company.

Accomodation - company car - other fringe benefits :
It is nearly impossible to negotiate for a company house if you are employed locally. Getting a car depends on your job and your level in the company.
In a local company it will be very difficult to negotiate a paid return ticket to France every year.
There again, if you are an expatriate working for a French company you will get fringe benefits, a house, car, travel allowance, return flights to France ...
Usually international contracts give 15 days leave in France every 3 months.

Working conditions :
These are the local ones with all the attenuating advantages and disadvantages if you are working for a local company.
The expatriate is often considered as an immigrant and has to deal himself with the local formalities.

On the administrative side the expatriate does not have to worry about the formalities concerning the police, customs, immigration, income tax, visa or consular declaration. French or European companies abroad always have an administrative department which completes all the formalities for its personnel and deals with any problems which could arise.

Foreign companies remain subject to the laws of the country in which they are working.

The attitude towards the foreign investor :
The law passed on 27th December 1997 and completed on 8th September 1998 widened the number of sectors open to foreign capital, fixed clear regulations and made administrative procedures easier.
As the federal Labour law has still not been reformed, legal provisions in case of conflict still tend to be in favour of the employee.
Workers are obliged to subscribe to a health and welfare organization to which both the employee and the employer have to contribute.
Pension schemes are managed, since 1997, by private pension funds which can be freely chosen by the worker.

In 1998 Mexico came in 55th place in the listing made by Transparency International. In its Corruption Perception Index 2000 it came 59th out of 90, i.e. the 31st most corrupt country out of the 90 studied. It would appear to be much more corrupt than Salvador or Brazil, but less than Colombia or Venezuela.
French expatriates living in Mexico claim that they suffer from corruption on all levels : from the policeman who insists on his banknote up to the ministry where files can otherwise take an eternity to be dealt with. Not to mention the problems with the customs officers. But everyone who has been a while in the country agrees that it is worth the time lost the first time to resist "you are considered a real nuisance, but the word gets around, and quite quickly you stop being bothered".
(source Le Moci)

16 - Formalities
You need a passport which is valid for at least six months after your return date. A visa is not necessary for a stay which is less than 90 days.

17 - Health
No vaccination is obligatory to enter the country. However we recommend that you get vaccinated against tetanos, polio, diptheria, typhoid and hepatitis A and B.

It is also necessary to follow an anti-malarial treatment before you leave for the country if you are planning to visit the south.
There is a relatively high risk of malaria in the following regions from May to October :
the central valleys, regions under 1000 m altitude, coastal regions on the Mexican Gulf, from Tampico to the Yucatan peninsula. The coastal regions on the Pacific Ocean between Guaymas and the Guatemalan border are risky all the year round.

Never drink tap water, avoid ice cubes, uncooked vegetables and raw fish. Like that you will run little risk of contacting diarrhea, dysentery, giardiase or even cholera.

If you have to be hospitalized, we recommend the following establishments :

- Hospital Espanol, tel 00 52 52 03 38 90/52 03 37 35
- Hospital ABC, tel 00 52 55 16 80 77/52 72 85 00
- Hospital Los Angeles Pedregal; tel 00 52 56 52 69 87/55 68 15 40

Insurance companies covering health risks : Comercial America, GNP, Inbursa.

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