Similarities between Mexico and the United States
When relocating to Mexico from California, there are plenty of things to do and tasks to take care of, such as checking moving companies to Mexico for their prices and locating schools for your kids. But when one decides to move from California to Mexico, there are also things to expect and enjoy. Here are some of the differences and similarities between California and Mexico.
Mexico and the USA share a long border and both have rich heritages. What are some of the differences between Mexican and American culture you should know about?
Similarities between Mexico and the United States
Each year SDC International Shipping helps moves many clients from the United States to Mexico. The vast majority of them are moving from California to destinations throughout Mexico.
While we move many families retiring to communities like Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, most of our Mexico bound clients are Mexican citizens who are returning there following several years of living in the United States.
The USA and Mexico share a long border. Though this border has seen conflict in the distant past, and currently the USA is trying to close the border mainly to prevent illicit drug traffic and illegal migration, the border is a border of peace, and the two countries are close allies and trade partners. Mexicans are welcome in the USA and Americans are welcome in Mexico, and it is one of the favorite vacation destinations for many Americans.
The United States
Did you know that the real name of America’s southern neighbor isn’t Mexico? Just like the USA, Mexico is a federation of states. It is officially known as Los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, roughly translating into the United States of Mexico.
The USA is composed of 50 states and one federal district, the District of Columbia. Mexico is composed of 31 states and one federal district, Mexico City.
For the most part, you will see very few differences between the way Americans and Mexicans dress. They will use similar attire in work and casual situations. For traditional celebrations expect Mexicans to be more colorful and diverse than Americans, but today there are few real differences between the countries.
Mexico uses the same four time zones as the United States. Most of the country uses the same time as Central Standard Time in the USA.
Bodies of Water
The USA and Mexico both have large coastlines. Both have very long coasts on the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and a smaller Caribbean coast. However, the USA does not have any access to the Gulf of California, even though the Colorado river empties into it, and Mexico does not have a coast with the Atlantic Ocean. If you love the water, Mexico has a huge variety of water, not limited to its extensive coasts, Mexico has many lakes and rivers. Fishing and water sports enthusiasts should find plenty of opportunities in Mexico.
Obviously the biggest difference between Mexico is the language. Though neither country has a legislated official language, everything in Mexico is in Spanish. While English will be easily understood in many locations where there are large expat communities and tourist destinations, expect to speak Spanish in your everyday living. If you are planning on moving to Mexico and don’t yet speak Spanish, we highly recommend it.
However, Spanish isn’t the only language spoken in Mexico. There is a large number of living indigenous languages like Mixteco and Mayan that are spoken throughout Mexico’s rural areas.
Mexicans are Friendly
Typical Mexicans are very nice and welcoming. Expect handshakes or a hug at meetings with people you have met. Feel free to speak with people about their family, work etc., it is considered polite in Mexico to take an interest in these things. Don’t be concerned if they aren’t looking you straight into the eyes when they are speaking with you, as this is a sign of respect.
Even if you are in a business meeting, expect your Mexican counterparts to act in a familiar way and be far less formal than you might expect in a typical American meeting.
Though it might seem odd, even though they are very informal, do not start using people’s first names, just call them Senor or Senora and their last name.
Mexican food is well known and very popular throughout the USA. The American southwestern kitchen is very similar to the Mexican kitchen. With many corn, rice and bean dishes, there is hardly an American unfamiliar with dishes like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. Avocados and squash are commonly used.
Mexico’s native alcoholic beverage is tequila, well known around the world.
Traditional Family Values
Like most of the USA, Mexico has a strong tradition of family and community values. Unlike Europe, the norm is for people to wed, and continue living in the vicinity of their family. Grandchildren grow up knowing their grandparents intimately. Family traditions are passed down at regular family meetings, and festive occasions.
While officially a secular state, Mexicans are mainly Catholics. Until 1992 it was the official state religion. All religions now enjoy equal rights, but the vast majority of the country’s population is Roman Catholics. In the USA, Christmas presents are usually exchanged on December 25. In Mexico, like many other Spanish speaking countries exchange gifts on January 6. This shouldn’t be a surprise to those familiar with the twelve days of Christmas.
Cinco de Mayo
Did you know that Cinco de Mayo is not a major Mexican holiday? Celebrated each year on May 5, the origins of the holiday are the celebration of a victory of the Mexican army over the armies of the invading army of the French Empire. This holiday has become one celebrated primarily in the United States. Just like St. Patrick’s Day which has become a day to celebrate Irish Americans and isn’t really celebrated in Ireland, so has Cinco de Mayo become a day to celebrate the heritage of Mexican Americans.
Día de la Independencia, or Independence Day, is celebrated on September 16 each year to commemorate the day New Spain became Mexico. Just like Americans celebrate July 4 each year, Mexicans celebrate September 16.
Mexico and the USA share many of the same major industries. Both country have extensive natural resources like petroleum and natural gas. Both have cowboys and extensive grazing land for cattle. The countries do differ however in their major crops. Mexico’s tropical mountains are the natural habitat of important crops like chocolate and coffee. If the United States is the world’s bread basket, Mexico is the world’s bean basket, the source of many of the world’s most important beans. Mexico is the birthplace of tomatoes, hot peppers and vanilla.
If you’re from California, you will be right at home in Mexico. The country has much seismic activity and has seen many earthquakes.
Mexico shares many sports with the United States. In both countries baseball and soccer, known as futbol, are popular. But Mexico has some sports that America doesn’t. In the USA you might expect to seem rodeos, in Mexico bullfighting is still alive and strong in many regions.
American Appliances work in Mexico
If you are moving to Mexico the good news is that your electric appliances and electronics will work there. Mexico uses the same voltage, frequency and plugs that are used in the United States. You should be ready to go, just take your appliance and plug it in.
Your mobile phone will also work in Mexico. Check with your mobile phone services provider, you may be able to keep the plan that you already have. If you have an unlocked phone, you can just put in a Mexican SIM card and be ready to go.