Moving to Mexico City

May 10, 2023 1.4M Views 6.3K Comments

Many Americans & Canadians are moving south to Mexico City to live out their dreams. Join me and a few of these expats to learn about what brought them to Mexico and why living in Mexico City provides a better life for them.


Graeme’s gallery:

► Tacos:

► Video edited by: Natalia Santenello

Good morning, guys.
Here in Mexico City.
A city where many Americans
have been migrating to for a long time
but there’s been a massive influx
in the last two to three years.
Some have told me they’re here
because of economic reasons.
Others because of
political policies at home.
So today we’re gonna meet up
with one of these guys.
His name’s Ross.
He’s been here six months.
From Austin, Texas.
Says his quality of life
is way better down here than at home.
We’re gonna get the inside scoop from Ross
and see what’s so great
about living here in Mexico City.
Let’s do this.
♪ upbeat jazz ♪
ROSS: This is beautiful Polanco.
We’re in Parque Uruguay.
PETER: So you moved here
six months ago from Austin, right?
-That’s right, I’ve always loved
living outside the US.
I was in the military.
So I lived in Japan, Korea.
-Oh, nice. Okay.
-I’ve been… traveled all over the world.
So it’s always been part of my plan
to live outside of the US.
PETER: I first came here, like,
roughly 10 years ago
and I would tell
American friends at home,
I’d say, “Hey, this is a great city.”
I get it, it’s got a bad reputation
for being dangerous
and it was more dangerous back then,
but I think that…
I don’t know if you’d call it a secret,
is sort of done.
-Like, there are a lot of
Americans here now, right?
-Oh, yeah. A lot. Tons.
And especially COVID, people came here
when their jobs went remote.
-So, you know,
cost of living goes down a little bit.
In my opinion quality of life goes way up.
-Hello, sir.
ROSS: When people ask me
I don’t even mention the cost
’cause really it’s like
weather is a really big one.
People, friendly people here.
-Great food.
I love the lifestyle.
Like not having to own a car.
In Austin you have to have a car.
-And Ubers here are ridiculously cheap.
-Yeah , yeah.
-Like, I spent $3.00 coming over.
ROSS: Este es mi amigo.
PETER: Hola.
ROSS: Marco…
PETER: Marco?
PETER: So you have
your own security guard now?
-Yeah, yeah.
ROSS: One of the biggest problems,
like natural disaster-wise
is earthquakes in Mexico City
and we had an earthquake the other day.
-Wow, nice place.
-Yeah, thank you.
PETER: Hello, Sophie.
Nice to meet you.
ROSS: Beautiful sunset here.
I’m sure you’ve been to Chapultepec Park.
It’s, like, right there.
Oh yeah, right over there.
-From the other side of the condo
we can see Castillo de Chapultepec.
The Chapultepec Castle.
PETER: This is amazing.
So okay, what would this cost
in Austin do you think?
-Oh, [scoffs]
might be close to five digits.
Like, maybe $8,000 a month or something
if you had, like, the view and the space.
It’s cheaper for this
than our studio apartment in Austin.
For $2,000 a month…
And then this is, like,
way more space, way nicer…
…for less.
-Oh, wow.
This is very cool.
-This is the office.
Guest bedroom.
And you offered me this,
so thank you for that.
Exactly, yeah.
-Very cool of you guys.
-Coulda been your room.
PETER: And a lot of people
don’t think of Mexico City
as having those modern skyscrapers, right?
-And there’s a part of town
up there, Santa Fe, right?
Where all the…
like, the new business district is.
All the highrises?
-Yeah, Santa Fe is super modern.
It feels like you’re in
a US city, Dallas or…
That was a Best Buy before the pandemic.
They had to close down.
And then we got a Walmart.
So it’s like…
You know, it’s like we’re in the US.
ROSS: This is the master bedroom.
PETER: Oh, nice.
-We also have a housekeeper
that comes twice a week.
-And that’s normal here though, right?
-Yeah, yeah.
Products will be,
like, around the same price.
Like if you want to buy
a cell phone or a computer
it’s gonna be, like, about the same.
Even produce, surprisingly,
isn’t that much cheaper than in the US.
But labor is where
things are a lot cheaper here.
PETER: Sophie, how do you feel
with safety here in this neighborhood?
‘Cause everyone hears
Mexico City is super dangerous.
-Yeah, people say that
if they’ve never been to Mexico.
Obviously Polanco is very fancy,
Beverly Hills of Mexico.
So it’s pretty safe.
I can walk around after even like 8:00 PM.
It’s pretty safe here
but if you go to Capito…
Which is kind of, um…
It’s like a slum town.
-It’s got a reputation as a dangerous spot.
-Probably you gotta be careful
with your belongings and everything.
PETER: Are you from Austin?
-Born and raised in South Korea.
-Yeah, moved to the States ’cause of him.
Yeah, like three years ago.
Two or three years ago.
-What a love story.
-We met when I was stationed in Korea.
-How do you speak so well in three years?
-She’s been studying longer.
She studied in Ireland and New Jersey.
-Okay, okay.
-And, like, part-time job as translator,
English, Korean.
-Oh, that’s amazing.
-I’m gonna study
veterinary medicine in Mexico.
-Okay, why here?
-Why? That’s a really good question.
So first, tuitions.
How much cheaper here than the US?
-Like 10% or something.
-It’s significant.
I mean 10% of the cost.
-It’s, like significantly cheaper.
-Oh, so 90% cheaper here?
-For example there’s UNAM.
-Which is Harvard.
Harvard of Mexico.
-And it’s almost free.
You pay only 50 pesos.
Which is like $3.00.
ROSS: Per semester or…
SOPHIE: No, throughout the four years.
ROSS: Wow.
SOPHIE: For or five years.
PETER: Three dollars for four years?
SOPHIE: Yeah, that’s what I heard.
ROSS: I think it was completely free
and then they added that.
-And then it just changed.
PETER: We’re gonna go to, what you said,
the Rodeo Drive of Mexico.
-That’s right, Masaryk.
Avenida Masaryk, which is, like,
you see Tesla dealer,
and Gucci, and Rolex,
and all the fancy stuff.
PETER: You were talking about
how your lifestyle is much better here,
your costs are down, have you noticed
any resentment or friction
in that from the locals?
Because to sort of have a winning…
…winning outcome there has to be
a losing outcome, let’s say.
-It’s hard to tell.
Like it might be a lot of they give you…
‘Cause Mexicans are famous
for being passive, I guess it the word.
They won’t say no to you.
They won’t tell you how they really feel,
kind of thing.
Because to my face they’ve only ever been
very welcoming, and polite, and nice.
-Okay, okay.
-But I hear about it from other expats.
Like, “Oh, we’re coming in
and gentrifying this and…”
PETER: You know it’s interesting, I did
a video here yesterday with a local here.
He lives in Condesa.
-He’s a Mexican guy.
He’s lived abroad, very cool guy.
He enjoys it
because he likes the international vibe.
-He wants to meet people
from around the world.
And for him it’s a net benefit
even if the prices have gone up a bit.
-But he said
some of the old-timers in Condesa,
where their living costs have gone up a lot
but their income hasn’t,
there’s a problem with them.
So it really depends who you ask.
What I’ve noticed.
-Right, yeah.
-And I did the same thing in Ukraine
when I lived there.
It was 1/4 the cost of San Francisco.
I just failed a startup, I had
another business that was paying my bills.
-Barely to live in San Francisco
but I could go to Ukraine
and spend 1/4 the money,
and pursue my dream.
Which was video-making.
Which didn’t make any money
in the beginning.
-And so by going there
and leveraging costs…
-Give yourself a longer range…
-I could actually create
the life I wanted to create.
So I fully get it.
I did the same thing, you know?
-The Mexicans that I have met
tend to be through…
In, like, Roma, Condesa area.
-And they’re the same way.
Like, they’re glad to have us here.
PETER: At an energetic level,
as kooky as this might sound,
this place is way better off…
I’ll say this neighborhood…
…than a lot of US cities right now.
-Oh, yeah.
-‘Cause you don’t have a ton of
mentally unstable people walking around.
-Yeah, I don’t know, again, societally,
like, why that happens in the US,
but it’s not an issue around here.
In this neighborhood.
In this neighborhood, yeah.
PETER: To the audience,
I want to make this very clear.
We’re in a neighborhood in a massive city,
obviously the whole city’s not like this.
There are slums, favelas.
You’re a part of the bubble
you’re living in, let’s say,
and you guys are in a bubble here, right?
-Yeah, pretty much. Yeah.
-Which is probably taking up 3%
of the city or something like that, right?
-Yeah, yeah, if that.
It’s a huge footprint, the city.
-Massive footprint.
So you can have this story here
or you could’ve moved to Mexico City
and moved to a completely other…
you know, a different neighborhood.
-And your reality and your experience
is totally different story.
Those are the stories
that are gonna make the news obviously.
-Dogs in a park… Designer dogs in a park,
that’s not happening.
[Ross chuckles]
Afghan hounds…
-Is that what that is?
-Yeah, those are pretty common here
actually, we see a lot of ’em.
-Afghan hound?
I’ve never seen one of these.
PETER: We’re making videos
on Americans living here.
MAN: Yeah?
-You’re Canadian?
-How do you guys like it?
-We want to live here.
-So colorful, cultural, lively,
everyone’s so happy.
-Yep, love the prices.
-Happier than home you think?
-[both] Yeah.
-Weird eh? But it’s the truth.
PETER: Why is that do you think?
PETER: Really?
PETER: But here they’re not living simp…
I mean they’re living
pretty well here, right?
MAN: Right.
PETER: But you think overall?
PETER: Guys, thank you.
Gracias, Senior.
♪ upbeat jazz ♪
ROSS: So one of our
favorite things in Mexico City
is this is Reforma, like the main road.
-Yeah, sure.
-And it closes on Sunday to cars.
-So you can just bike down it,
walk down it, it’s awesome.
PETER: Okay, Ross, as a guy that spent
a lot of time abroad,
and now living here, what do you think
the US could learn from Mexico?
-The Mexican family
is very important here for sure.
And I’ve seen a lot of the, you know,
street interviews on YouTube.
Where they ask Mexicans,
“What do you not understand about the US?”
and they always say, “I don’t understand
how when they’re 18…”
“…they leave the house
and never see their parents again.”
-It’s like family is not really a big deal.
-Well that might have changed.
I think a lot of guys are…
A lot of kids are staying home now
because of economics.
-Oh, true. Yeah, yeah.
PETER: All right, guys, it’s hard to fully
show here on camera, or to put into words
but this city does have an energy.
A magnetic energy, and a vibe,
and happiness to it.
Of course there’s
every story under the sun.
And not everyone is living their best life
but I gotta say walking these streets,
it’s a very pleasurable thing to do.
PETER: Okay, what do we have here, Ross?
-We got dos tacos el pastor.
Which is like a pork
that’s grilled on a spit,
and then we got two chicharron.
PETER: Here we have a quesadilla.
Basically the same thing
just in different forms.
So we have all these salsas here.
What’s the hot one? This one?
The green one.
SOPHIE: I think this is the hottest one.
PETER: Here we go, quesadilla.
That’s fantastic.
So this is almost like
a local Mexican diner?
Fair to say?
Something like that?
-Yeah, it’s like a chain.
They got a bunch of locations.
PETER: Would these be
considered cheap eats?
I wouldn’t say so.
Like, the taco puesto, the taco stands,
we get tacos for eight pesos.
-Eight pesos?
-These are like 28.
So they’re actually kind of expensive.
-So 28 pesos is $1.50.
-And that’s an expensive one?
PETER: Where are you guys taking us?
ROSS: We’re heading to Art Works.
The independent coworking space
here in Mexico City.
And they also have an art gallery.
So there’s local and foreign artists
can come here and sell their artwork.
MAN: I’ve run a gallery in Toronto
called Hashtag Gallery
for the past 10 years.
-I wanted to reopen it
in the space here as well,
this building kind of let us do that.
PETER: So where are you from?
MAN: Toronto.
-How long have you been down here?
-About a year and a half.
GRAEME: January, 2021,
I came with just to remotely work…
…and make art for three weeks.
-Uh, and the COVID obviously
messed a lot of those plans up,
and there was a COVID hotel
that was put in place for Canada.
So if you came back to the country
it cost $2,000 for three days in a hotel.
While you were waiting
for your COVID results and the…
-Wait, wait, $2,000
for three days in a hotel?
-If you were abroad?
Is that how that works?
-If you were outside of Canada, yeah.
You were coming back to the country
after a certain date
you had to get
your COVID test at the airport.
So you had to put yourself up
in a hotel for three days
from a list of certain hotels
and the estimated cost was about $2,000.
Which for me it was cheaper to stay here
for four months than it was to go home.
I figured if I was gonna
be stuck somewhere,
I might as well be stuck somewhere warm,
not somewhere cold and miserable, so…
I stuck around Mexico
and then stopped here on my way home,
and decided to come back and live here.
-Why did they gouge you guys so hard?
-Um, I have a feeling it was probably
the premier of the province
and the friends that he has
that own hotels.
I think probably.
-Okay, okay.
The people that were lobbying.
PETER: Let’s stick the foreigners
or those coming back home.
-Yeah, I think it was to discourage
people from actually taking joyrides
or trips out of the country for fun
for two weeks or whatever, so…
PETER: This is very cool.
So it’s an old building obviously.
Turn of the century?
GRAEME: Yeah, I was told 1923.
-Okay, ’23?
-So 100 years old, 1923 is what they said.
So the downstairs is the art studio space.
This floor is the reincarnation
of Hashtag Gallery but in Mexico.
We’ve set it up in a way
so it’s kind of a lounge area back here.
So it’s part art gallery, part lounge.
Down here is part of the courtyard
that we have access to
through the art studio section.
-Very cool.
How has this been received here?
Like, do you have mostly Americans,
Canadians here or are you getting…
-It’s a mixture of both.
-Mixture of both?
Like I have a fairly large WhatsApp group
that’s just like a beer and fun one.
So people that do stuff.
-There’s about 700 people in the group
and I’d say it’s about a third foreigners,
a third locals, and a third people
who were here and aren’t anymore…
…but want to be part of the fun.
-Um, so we do have a good mix.
-This is very cool.
So these are our coworking space.
-We have two cowork rooms here.
We offer free tea, free coffee, free beers.
-How would you compare the culture here
versus the culture in Toronto?
I like the vibe on the streets,
the people you interact with.
I would say in Toronto
the main thing is that
people are focused on work.
-It’s literally, like,
you get into a conversation,
I find the first thing people ask is,
“What do you do?”.
You know, I’ve had the gallery for 10 years
but I also worked as a cook part-time
’cause doing emerging artists
and emerging art stuff,
you’re selling paintings
for like 500 bucks, right?
-You gotta sell a lot of $500 paintings
to pay $5,000 rent.
-‘Cause usually it’s a 50/50 split
with the artist in general for art.
So the…
Yeah, I just felt the main focus there
was just too much on,
“How much money do you make?”
“What do you do?”
“Who do you know?”
and that kind of thing as opposed to…
I guess it was like a living to work
rather than working to live.
-Right, I lived abroad for many years,
and it’s freeing in the sense that
the culture you’re in,
you’re not really totally connected with.
Their problems
aren’t necessarily your problems.
-And what’s happening at home
seems far away when you’re living here
and you’re not really
connected with it either.
-Yeah, unless I’m on Twitter
actually trying to follow stuff
on like, trending topics in Ontario,
like, I barely even pay attention anymore.
-You know, which is kind of nice.
-It’s freeing isn’t it?
-‘Cause you’re not bombarded
by the newspapers every day
being like, you know,
“The premier did this stupid thing.”
or, “The premier did this.” or whatever.
-Right, right.
-If it’s really big news you’ll see it in
the headlines of the international stuff.
-I lived in Taiwan
about 10 years ago as well for a year.
-And I noticed the exact same thing,
it was like a lot of those problems that
you think are problems kind of go away.
I came back and my laptop was just,
[phwip] off the front desk, so…
-It was stolen from here?
-I was asking, “What are the challenges?”,
that’s one of them,
thievery can happen obviously.
-Yeah, I mean the biggest… the thing is
you just gotta remember
you’re not in your home country anymore.
It’s like… Like, I don’t trust the cops
back home either
but, like, I trust them even less here.
If I see them…
-How are the cops here?
Your experience so far?
-Uh, during the day I haven’t noticed
too much but at night it’s like
they’ll shake you down, they’ll take
everything out of your pockets.
-They’ll take your phone and money?
-They’ll try, yeah. Yeah.
-On the main streets here?
-In certain areas.
There’s certain areas they’ll kind of
do laps and they look for victims,
and usually if you’re, like,
talking back or fight with them,
yeah, they’ll shake you down.
-So in these nice…
We’re in Condesa right now, right?
-Yeah, they know most of the money here.
Most of the foreigners are here.
So it’s targets for them to do.
-That’s a common practice?
-Especially with drunk, if you’re drunk,
or people are drunk,
or high, or something like that.
Usually… they know certain bars
that people go to.
-And as you’re coming out
they’ll just [snaps]
nab you outside as soon as you get out.
The times that I’ve been pulled over
and shaken down,
I’ve not been doing anything.
I’ve just been walking.
-And shaken down, like how so?
-Oh, they’ll just run at you
saying, “[Spanish]” “Where’s the drugs?”
and then they take
everything out of your pockets.
They take money off of you
and then they’ll just…
Or I’ve had other friends
that have got taken to the bank machines.
Cops will take them to the bank machine.
-No way.
-Empty money out of the machine,
take them up to their apartment,
take money out of the apartment.
-In the capital?
-I would think that would happen
in the provinces around where…
-Oh, this was like…
The one that got taken to his apartment
was literally on Amsterdam in Condesa.
-He was smoking a cigarette
outside his house.
They told him it was “Not a cigarette.”
and they said,
“We’re coming in your house,
you’re giving us some sh*t.”
-Daytime, it’s not gonna be a problem?
-I mean who knows?
-Who knows?
-Who knows?
I don’t trust them enough that I wouldn’t
try it in the day either but, you know?
-Any other challenges here?
-We’ve just been talking about
how great it is all day long.
-How great it is?
-Yeah, how everything’s amazing.
-My biggest challenge honestly is
I live in Condesa in a place
that doesn’t have a door man or anything.
So in order for us to
take the garbage out,
or get gas, or to get water,
like off the street,
you gotta wait ’til the guy’s yelling,
or ringing the bell, or whatever.
You gotta be at home at the right time.
-The bell going for the garbage can…
You might have garbage
in your house for four days
if you forget to take it out for a week
and you’re like, “Okay.”
-What if you’re at work?
-Well that’s the problem.
I got a roommate here,
we just rented a two bedroom apartment,
but, like, unless he’s at home
when the garbage guy comes by
we’re probably not gonna get
the garbage taken out, so…
And it’s not like it’s
a set time every day.
Sometimes it’s random.
Little weird things like that
but, like, you know?
-Okay, so despite those challenges,
it’s still worth it being here?
-I think so. I find it more relaxed,
more comfortable to be here.
The people are very friendly.
PETER: So foreigners, Mexicans, whomever,
you want them here?
-Of course.
Everybody’s welcome.
Link’s down below,
very cool place you got here.
-Appreciate it.
-Appreciate it.
[dogs barking]
-All right, guys.
ROSS: All right.
PETER: What did we learn today?
We learned you can have a great life here
coming from the States.
-That’s right.
-We learned that
the cops are not your friends.
-Um, but no.
Really appreciate it, you guys.
And I also want to drop
your YouTube channel for your business,
but also you’re gonna be doing videos,
you said, about Mexico City.
-That’s right.
Yeah, so my handle’s just @RossSager.
-That’s down below.
-Yeah, down below.
And I’ll start one
about Mexico City very soon.
-Okay, awesome.
Thank you, guys, for coming along.
This is just one look into Mexico City.
Check out my other video
I did on Mexico City
with a local Mexican,
we went to all different neighborhoods.
But many beautiful stories
in this massive metropolis.
All right, until the next one.
♪ upbeat jazz ♪

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