When people start to consider moving to Mexico they often ask themselves, and others, just how important it is to speak Spanish when you live there. The truth is this; you can get by not speaking Spanish if you live in certain parts of Mexico, but you won’t get the most out of your new life there. Here’s how important it is to speak Spanish when you live in Mexico as a foreigner.
It depends on where you are going to live in Mexico
The truth is this; if you want to live in Mexico without learning to speak Spanish you can, but it will limit where you can live, realistically speaking. Of course Mexico is one of the top Latin American countries in which you could choose to stay if you do not speak Spanish, but there are still many places in Mexico in which a lack of Spanish will make it impossible to live comfortably.
Of course if you choose to live in tourist hot spots like Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Maya, Cancun, Baja California, Los Cabos, or Acapulco you can be sure that many people will speak English as well as Spanish… this doesn’t mean, however, that everyone speaks English! Of course, even those who have limited English skills will probably speak more English than you do Spanish (at least when you first arrive)… so if you don’t know Spanish and you don’t want to learn, be prepared to struggle a little when you live in Mexico.
Do you want to survive or thrive in your new home?
One way to think of it is this: do you want to get by, or really thrive when you live in Mexico? If you are content to merely “get by”, then speaking only English will suffice, but if you want to really thrive then you will need to have at least a conversational understanding of Spanish. There is no doubt that many places in Mexico (especially the places mentioned above) are expat friendly, but you will still struggle to really thrive if you don’t speak Spanish when you live in Mexico. Most professional occupations will require this, and if you run a small business it will be essential!
Do you want to live the expat lifestyle or have an authentic Mexican experience?
If you are happy to create a little America in your new home then you don’t need to learn Spanish, but if you really want to experience Mexico you will need to learn Spanish to a certain degree. If you want to be privy to local culture and news, if you want to feel a part of your new neighborhood and culture you need to put some effort into learning the local language.
What is your native tongue?
As you have surely gathered from the above. You can certainly get by speaking English when you live in Mexico, but you may struggle greatly if you speak no Spanish and your first language is not English. Certainly, some Mexicans will speak other languages, particularly French and German, but even the most touristic of areas will evade your full understanding if you speak no Spanish.
Are you planning on taking up employment in Mexico?
If your plans include working in Mexico, we would highly recommend that you learn Spanish; this will open many doors to you. Certainly the better paid jobs in the area will expect that you have a grasp of both Spanish and English.