Mexico is the second largest economy in Latin America, after Brazil. The country has an export-oriented economy with more than 90% of trade under free trade agreements.
In recent years, exports of manufactured products have been expanding more than 10% per year, mostly due to the increase in car production.Due to new laws, Mexico has changed its regulations regarding oil and telecommunications, opening the market to foreign investors, with the oil industry growing particularly in the southeast states of Campeche, Veracruz and Tabasco.
Mexico’s housing market and economy are still recovering somewhat from the economic slump, which resulted from the US downturn. However there are many developers building new homes, which keeps prices at a reasonable level, and interest rates are relatively low in the social sectors due to subsidies. Low interest rates, salary and employment growth, longer payment terms and a recovery in consumer confidence are also expected to drive housing demand.
The real estate market is not well regulated in Mexico and properties rent very quickly. Landlords are requesting monthly rent payments in cash as many banks are now required to regulate recurring payments and report to the government for tax purposes.
The market has been fairly stable, therefore, housing costs have not changed that much over the past year. However, we are keeping a close eye on the market due to the depreciation of the Mexican Peso. For employees and companies with budgets in USD, the variation on the exchange rate does not affect them since they are paying the same amount in USD. When an assignee has a budget in USD, but receives an allowance in MXN, this allows for negotiation with the landlord as everything is done in MXN.
There are a lot of educational options in Mexico; however, availability at International schools can sometimes be difficult die to the volume of applicants. Among the private and international schools, parents might choose a school based on the location and proximity to home, tuition level, whether a religious education is desirable, the type of curriculum/secondary diploma that the family is seeking and the language of instruction sought. Many private and international schools offer bilingual programs, thereby allowing the student to become fluent in Spanish.
Mexico City is enormous, both in population and geography. Yet there are few options for international families wanting a school where the scholastic program is delivered in 100% English and the student population is multi-national. Only two schools, American School Foundation (ASF) and Greengates School fulfill the two requirements. ASF is a large school of 2500 students offering Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12, and running the US, IB and Mexican curriculum (required for Mexican nationals.) Greengates offers the British and IB curricula for students in Reception through Year 13. The school is half the size of ASF with 1200 students. Greengates is the only school where expatriate students are in the majority.
There is a lot of competition for these schools, from both expat and Mexican families. Finding seats can be challenging, especially when relocating after admissions deadlines. Further, expats circulating around LATAM may face misalignment of academic calendars between Southern and Northern Hemispheres. They will usually seek Northern Hemisphere calendar schools for continuity which creates additional pressure on ASF and Greengates.
The Mexico City schools market offers bilingual options, including Westhill, Edron, Eton, Peterson and Lomas Altas schools. Schools coming new to the market include Kipling Esmeralda and the Wingate School, running the International Primary Curriculum.
Most of the neighborhoods where assignees live have a lot of security and expats typically rent in secure, gated communities. However, one should take the normal precautions they would when moving to any large city. Mexico has been struggling with drug cartels, especially in the northern part of the country, requiring tighter security in states like Monterrey, Tamaulipas, Sonora and Sinaloa.
Most expats use the private health care system and have health insurance provided by the company once they are hired in Mexico.
According to the CDC, Local mosquito transmission of Zika virus infection (Zika) has been reported in Mexico. Due to the high elevation of Mexico City which does not allow the mosquito to survive, the SSP (Secretaria de Salud Pública) said that México City would not be affected. Since the disease primarily affects infants and is also believed to be sexually transmitted, Mexico, along with other countries in central and South America, has recommended that all people engage in protected sex and that women not get pregnant until 2017-2018.
Some of the other health-related recommendations are for assignees to:
Weichert Workforce Mobility thanks Premier Destination Services, School Choice and Mary DeVeau, Director of our Global Network, for their contributions to this post.