A Video of Rural Mexico (Puebla State). What It's Really Like!

I visited Coatzingo in May 2015 for the annual saint's fair. It's a hot place with desert-type terrain and a very traditional, old-Mexico feel. I'm sitting in the back of my in-laws' pick-up truck with my husband and one of my in-laws' employees (who somehow get coerced into coming with us).

 

Five Tips for Dating a Mexican Man


As a Canadian woman who married a Mexican man and stayed in Mexico City for him, I have a lot of opinions about dating Mexican men.

While Mexican men have a reputation for being super macho, this is not always the case. Canadian men are more politically correct on the outside perhaps, but not on the inside. A Mexican man may just up and say what a Canadian (or American or European) man is thinking. Traditional mindsets of inequality between men and women are global, my friends.

That said, here's my advice for non-Mexican women about what to expect.

1. Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Foreign women might be delighted by the effusiveness of Mexican men. While Western men seem unable to utter one romantic word at times, Mexican men have books of them at the ready to fling at you.

This can be all very enjoyable as long as you don’t take it to mean anything. Yes, while a Mexican man may say he loves you, that he’s been waiting to meet someone like you, or that he’ll follow you anywhere, please be very skeptical if this kind of talk occurs within the first month or week of dating.

Be especially skeptical if this follows the first date, especially a date where you didn’t sleep with him. So here we hit the heart of the matter – all these words mean he’s very interested in having sex with you, not spending his life with you. Proceed as you will, but don’t expect him to stick around after the deed is done.

Kind of the same advice you'd hear anywhere.

 2. Actions, Not Words 

Mexican men who are actually interested in pursuing a relationship with you will follow up their effusive words with actions. This could include:
  • Inviting you to meet their family
  • Following up after dates (via text, phone call, whatever) with further plans
  • Not cancelling dates and showing up on time
  • Speaking Spanish with you and not just using you for English practice
  • Asking you about you and not just blathering on about themselves. They should be interested in your family, friends, work, and life at home.
  • Scheduling dates that don’t just start with late drinks and end in your bedroom. This means going to markets mid-afternoon, renting bikes in the morning, and taking day trips out of the city.

3. Beware the Macho Man 

Unless you’re into that kind of thing. Otherwise, I know I said that macho men are universal but Mexican men can be a special type of macho – a more obvious one, if you will.

Be aware that many Mexican men have been raised with macho attitudes – especially if they’re from outside of Mexico City, especially if they’re from the north of the country, especially if they’re from conservative states like Puebla.

Macho men in Mexico believe that:
  • Women cook for men and don’t sit down to eat until the men are finished. Then the women clean up.
  • Women do the laundry, cleaning, and ironing and that is what they are for.
  • Women need to be protected from every kind of danger (they shouldn’t go out alone at night, they shouldn’t take public transport, they shouldn’t go out just with female friends, they shouldn’t leave the house period).
  • Women should not spend time with other men if they are dating someone.
  • Women must accept men’s bad behavior without complaint. This definitely includes bouts of ridiculous drunkenness. The woman tends to the man as if he is a sick baby and waits for him to get sober.
  • Women get married and have children and spend plenty of time with their husband’s family. 
  • Men live with their parents until they get married. Then the wife takes the place of the mother's former role.
Be warned that macho behavior may not manifest itself until much further on in your relationship, such as when you begin to live together. Ask questions ahead of time.

4. Look for Signs of the Female-Friendly Mexican Man

I married a man who had no love of feminism and some engrained machismo. Why? He showed a willingness to learn about my beliefs and adapt to my expectations of an equal partnership. At the very least, you should see the following promising signs:
  • He doesn’t openly ridicule women
  • He has female friends that he regards as equals
  • He treats his sister(s) and mother with respect
  • He fundamentally believes women are equals, even if he still has some macho attitudes
  • He is interested in your beliefs and opinions and while he may challenge you, he doesn’t automatically shut you down
  • He is open to your cultural differences and willing to learn about them
  • He isn’t critical of how you dress and accepts that you have the right to wear what you want.
  • He doesn’t insist that you act a certain way around his family and friends (as long as you’re not being unfairly rude). 
5. Proceed Slowly 

Foreign women may be in Mexico for a short or long time. Have a fling by all means but if you find yourself falling for someone, ask yourself the following questions: Are you willing to stay in Mexico for a man? If so, is this the man worth staying for? 

Proceed slowly and analyze your date for signs of trustworthiness and good character. Looks fade, sweet words fade, but character lasts forever.

Staying in Mexico for someone is a major commitment, as I well know. You have to analyze if being apart from your family and friends and changing or altering your career is worth it. Compromise is inevitable.

Make sure your beloved is willing to compromise as well – you shouldn’t be the only one changing your life. This may mean going to couples therapy to iron out cultural differences etc. Or perhaps your boyfriend needs to pursue therapy of his own, commit to quitting drinking, or otherwise.

Be firm. You have needs too. Talk with him. Does he want a long-term relationship? Is he willing to move in with you, do fifty percent of the housework, pay his half of the bills, and support your dreams? If so my dear, you may have just found true love!

Post your questions and experiences in the comments section below!

By the way, if you're looking for somewhere to stay in Mexico then click this link to go to AirBnB and get $25 USD in travel credit -- my gift to you!

Resources:

How To Rent or Buy a House in Mexico City

These houses in Coyoacan, Mexico City, are probably crazy expensive.
Hi fellow travellers! Another reader question today, this time from Ginnie on finding houses to buy or rent in Mexico City:

Thanks for your frank and humorous posts on living in DF! My husband's being interviewed for a job close to San Mateo Tlaltenango and I'm checking out costs, housing, etc... your link is brilliant for finding rooms, but do you recommend any links for finding a house? I speak reasonable Spanish so not dependent on Craig's List!

Real Estate Websites

My husband just started researching buying rental properties so you're in luck! He provided me with a great list of local websites you can use to find a house to rent or buy in Mexico City.

1. www.metroscubicos.com
A popular website from Mexico that specializes in real estate. You can find houses to buy or rent, as well as other types of properties. Nice layout and functionality.

2. casas.trovit.com.mx
Another popular website from Mexico that's real-estate only.

3. www.inmuebles24.com
Less popular but a viable option.

4. www.mercadolibre.com.mx
This massive website sells just about everything but they have a considerable real estate section too.

5. www.segundamano.mx
Same idea as the above. Very popular Craigslist-like website in Mexico.

6. www.casasinfonavit.com.mx
This website has government properties you can buy with a credit available to Mexican citizens. An option for those of you with Mexican spouses.

What Neighborhoods to Consider:
  1. La Condesa is expat central and perfect for young folks who like to be close to the party and upmarket retail. Leafy and safe with a great running track but potentially loud at night and filled with drunks and crazy valet parking dudes driving like maniacs. Also the rent is expensive but probably still cheaper than you're used to paying at home.
  2. La Roma (Norte and Sur) is close to La Condesa. It also has a youth vibe with plenty of cafes and bars but it's more chill. Central but tranquil. Great access to transit and nice little parks and cheaper than Condesa.
  3. Polanco is for those who want to rent a tony condo and have access to top-notch malls in a safe, tranquil neighborhood. Better for those with a car since transit access is not great and it's a bit north of the center. Also, the traffic is crazy there at rush hour and prices are high.
  4. Escandon or Narvarte. These neighborhoods are different (the former is south of Condesa and the latter is sort of south and east of Roma). Both are cheaper and very tranquil and residential. Good access to transit and close to downtown. Downside is that you won't get a lot of exciting retail or nightlife in either.
  5. Coyoacan is my home and my favorite. It's quite south but has good access to transit. Those who want to be close to the party in Condesa/Roma won't like it as transit in DF closes after midnight and you'll pay quite a bit to get a taxi after that. That said, it has a growing nightlife, beautiful and tranquil colonial streets, lovely cafes and cultural offerings and it's safe. My pick of the litter.
**The above section on location was taken from my blog post on finding an apartment in Mexico City.

Legal Considerations

Mexperience.com has all the legal details and other specifics of buying a house in Mexico.

By the way, if you're looking to stay somewhere in Mexico City while you're looking for a house then click this link to go to AirBnB and get $25 USD in travel credit -- my gift to you!

Resources:

Teaching English in Mexico: Can I Work Under a Tourist Visa?

The canals in Xochimilco. Another benefit of living and working in Mexico City!
Another reader question today. Claire asks:

We understand that its possible to work/find a job under the tourist visa, but some say permits are checked and you may be deported if you fail to present one. I am not sure how accurate this is, but we'd rather not take this chance as we may find we want to settle down permanently in Mexico.

I have NEVER heard of anyone being deported for teaching English with a tourist visa in Mexico. Many private English schools are sensitive to the fact that foreigners often don't have work visas, nor do the schools want to pay for you to get one. Instead, a small tax called recibos may be deducted from your paycheque in lieu of a proper visa.

More formal institutions like high schools and universities will need you to either have a work visa already or will help you get one. If you're confused about this process, contact your local Mexican embassy for information on how to get a work visa.

Or you could simply find private English students through Segundamano and Craigslist who will neither care if you have a visa nor deduct recibos.

Let me say this again: no one is going to be deported for teaching English on a tourist visa in Mexico. You may be deported for engaging in protest activities against the government but not for teaching on a tourist visa.

I've even known people to work in offices and other non-ESL activities on tourist visas with no problem whatsoever.

The moral of this story is that, at least right now, Mexican immigration is pretty lax regarding work permits. As long as you leave every six months on your tourist visa you'll be fine.

If anyone at the border asks what you've been up to, just say either you're backpacking or you work freelance. I've never received blowback from either of those responses. But then again, I'm a young blonde woman and a Canadian. Sadly, this goes a long way towards getting officials off my back.

Check out these resources that helped me when I moved to Mexico City:
Moving to Mexico and need a place to crash? Click here to get $25 USD credit with Air B&B.

Teaching English in Mexico City: What Kind of Qualifications Do I Need?

Finding a teaching position in Mexico City isn't hard
and it allows you to visit beautiful places like Acapulco!
Hi guys! Another reader question today from Molly in the United States:

I am very interested in relocating there and even though I am a hairstylist here, I am also bilingual and I was thinking that teaching ESL in Mexico City might be one way that I could potentially find work when I relocate in a few months, What do you think? I have some college but no teaching certifications, would this even be an option for me? 

The short answer is that if you look and sound foreign you will have an incredibly easy time finding ESL teaching work in Mexico City.

Yes, it can be that easy. Especially if you're from Canada, the United States, South Africa, Britain, Australia or New Zealand.

Now let's get into the nitty gritty.

Do I Need a TESL Certificate to Teach English in Mexico City?

Generally, no. Most English schools don't require it nor will private students. Most ESL employers are desperate for teachers. There's a lot of stigma attached to the city and teachers aren't plentiful because of that. So you will find that employers have fewer requirements.

What About Previous Teaching Experience?

In a word: no. You don't need any experience teaching anything, including English. Some English schools will hire total newbies because what they really want is a native speaker. They figure that they can train you to do the rest. If you have a fairly clear accent and demonstrate that you have a friendly personality and willingness to learn you should be fine.

Do I Need University Education to Teach English in Mexico City?

A bachelor's degree (regardless of subject) will impress potential ESL employers in Mexico City. I have a degree in English Literature and even though that's not really related at all to ESL teaching, bosses and clients seem to like it.

That said, I've known ESL teachers in Mexico City who only have high school or some college education. So it's not impossible. However, teaching English well is more difficult than it seems.

If you only have high school, take a TESL course first or join an ESL school that offers training (and you should be paid for this training or at the very least it should be free).

Teaching English grammar to beginners or business English to executives is tricky without some kind of training. Check out my resources section at the end of this post for courses and books that will help you.

Teaching ESL in Mexico City also gives you access to the amazing food here.
Quesadilla anyone?
OK, But Do I Need a Visa?

For English schools and private clients (students you find online and work with directly) you only need the standard 180 day tourist visa. I'll cover this in detail in a later post.

I'm an ESL Teaching Newbie. Where Should I Start?

Search Craigslist for teaching jobs and try to look for schools that have a dedicated location and training programs. As I said in a previous post, chains like Harmon Hall and Interlingua pay terribly so I'd steer clear of them.

Interact, BE Business English and the English Workshop are better options. Email me and I can get you in touch with their recruiters.

Teaching at a school is great for newbies because they source the clients for you, they provide the lesson plans and training and they (hopefully) provide you with steady work. Reputable schools will also pay you on time. Ask lots of questions about payment method and frequency, training and hours before you accept a position.

As you get more experienced, you can put up an ad on Segundamano advertising your services as a private ESL teacher.

What About Public Elementary/High Schools? Can I Teach There?

You may be able to get an elementary school gig without any qualifications. Private high schools will definitely require university education and possibly even a teaching degree.

However, formal school contracts often require a proper working visa. You can apply for a work visa in your home country or ask the school to sponsor you (good luck with that!). I've never gone down this route because I prefer the flexibility of freelance English teaching.

ESL & TEFL Books:
TEFL Courses:
  • i-to-i Professional TEFL Certificate (120 hours): I haven't taken this course but I did a ton of research when I was thinking about getting certified and this one was highly recommended by a variety of sources.
Related Posts:
Let me know what you think in the comments below or share your own experiences.
  • Have you taught English in Mexico City before? What qualifications did you have?
  • Are you thinking of teaching English in Mexico City?
  • Post questions for me in the comments or email me directly.
Resources:

Teaching English in Mexico City: How Much Will I Earn?

Factor your travel time into your hourly wage. 
Hey folks, it's reader question time. Bethany wrote me and asked:

My biggest question has to do with how much you can earn teaching ESL in Mexico City. 
Is it possible to save money, teaching ESL in D.F.?

The short answer is no, you can't save money teaching English in DF.

You can certainly support yourself and make a decent living but you won't be able to pad your bank account with insane amounts of cash. If that's your goal, countries like Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Oman and the United Arab Emirates provide impressive teacher packages that include healthy salaries and perks.

Mexico City is a better ESL option if you have one of the following goals:
  • You don't want to move far from the United States
  • You don't have a TSL certificate or other qualifications
  • You want to live in a low-cost country with bang for your buck
  • You're interested in easy access to beaches, archeological sites and Central America
  • You want to learn/perfect your Spanish
  • You don't know what to do with your life
OK, so what can I earn?

Chain English Schools

I'm talking about places like Interlingua and Harmon Hall. A few teachers told me that places like this pay as low as 40 pesos an hour. This is truly atrocious. You may end up working six hour days in their office with back-to-back classes which would be really draining. Some places charge you for training while others simply don't pay you at all during that period. For these reasons I wouldn't even bother applying at these places.

I worked at Interact in Polanco and I made between 80 to 100 pesos an hour at their school. It can be hard to get a robust schedule, though. You need to be around for a couple of months to rack up enough classes. They did pay me for training, though. And the payment was in cash and prompt.

It was a good place to learn how to teach since I didn't have a certificate but it definitely wasn't lucrative. And a lot of teachers burned out from the early morning/late night-heavy schedule.

Corporate Classes

Some language schools, such as Interact, have classes at company offices. For this I earned 150 pesos an hour. So, much better but travel time could be a concern.

Contact English Work

You'll find plenty of this type of work on Craigslist: people who find students and then hire teachers to go to their offices or homes to teach them. You're usually paid in cash or via a Mexican bank account (my husband comes in handy here). I've been paid between 180 to 225 pesos an hour. As you can see the pay is much better. You can also get substitute classes and do consultations.

However, you have to be careful about what classes you accept. Several of my bosses tried to send me to impossibly far locations. This would have been a complete waste of time. It can also be hard to get a robust schedule. You may end up juggling a couple of bosses plus some privates on the side.

Private Classes

I charge on a sliding scale. If my student is strapped I charge 200 pesos per hour for two 1.5 hour classes a week. On the higher-end, I charge 225-250 pesos an hour for two 2 hour classes a week.

Privates can be great but students come and go. Seriously, sometimes people just disappear. So this type of work can be really unpredictable.

Factor In The Travel Time

Your hourly rate actually depends on how long it takes you to get to a given class.

Say I make 150 MXN ($11.76 USD) per hour for a 1.5 hour class. I live in the south and the class is in the north. It takes me two hours each way to reach the class (not unrealistic in DF). So my real hourly rate: 56.25 MXN ($4.18 USD). Oh hell no.

Check out these resources that helped me when I moved to Mexico City:
Like this post? Check out my related posts:
Hope this was helpful! Please post your comments or questions below.

Working Abroad: Ghostwriting Fiction (How I Did It and How You Can Too)


For those of you who don't know, I'll be self-publishing my first romance fiction series in April 2015 (sign up for my newsletter to be the first to hear about new releases).

Leading up to the launch I'm producing a series of videos about my journey towards self-publishing.

I decided to include this video here because it tells you all about how I supported myself in Mexico City via ghostwriting romance fiction (in addition to my ESL teaching work).

For those of us who live abroad and don't have work visas or can't find work, finding jobs online can be a lifesaver.

In the above video I tell you all about how I became a fiction ghostwriter and how you can too!

Curious about my segue into self-publishing? Find me in one of these eight billion places:
Interested in learning how to self-publish? I've found these books incredibly helpful:
Questions? Musings? Feminist rants? Post them all in the comments below!

Interested in moving to Mexico? Here are some resources that helped me:

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