Expat Interview With Susannah - British Expat In Mexico

Published: 9 Oct at 9 AM
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Filed: Interviews,Mexico
Susannah was born and raised in London, England. Before she had even set foot on Mexican soil, she was deeply in love with the country. Learning about the Aztecs at age 10, she decided that she needed to visit their homeland and it felt like her home as soon as she arrived. Susannah lives in Oaxaca in Southern Mexico and travels back and forth to Mexico City where her partner lives. After some years working with various non-profits in communications and project development roles, she now dedicates her time to writing. She runs her expat blog Mexico Retold (see listing here).

Here's the interview with Susannah...

Where are you originally from?
London, England

In which country and city are you living now?
Oaxaca, Southern Mexico

How long have you lived here and how long are you planning to stay?
I have lived here full-time since early 2011 but on and off since 2010. I have no idea how long I will stay. I always find this a tricky question because when I lived in England no one asked me how long I planned to stay! I guess I go day-by-day and I am extremely happy living in Mexico. I am considering a move to the mega metropolis of Mexico City though.

Why did you move and what do you do?
I travelled in Mexico in 2005, fell in love with the country and spent the next 5 years yearning to come back. Eventually, I just gave everything up, packed my life into boxes, packed a suitacse and bought a flight. At first I volunteered with a non-profit and then I worked with two other non-profits, before, deciding it was time to pursue a career in writing.

Did you bring family with you?
No, I came alone.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
The first time I arrived I didn’t have a job or a plan and that was quite tough for the first few weeks, but also hugely liberating as I could have gone anywhere or done anything. When I returned again in 2011, I came for a job and that made the transition far easier because I had more of a set routine and a whole office of people to befriend.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people
Yes, I think that when you are away from your home environment you are extremely open to making friends. I find that I meet a lot of people here that I have a very special bond with. I have friends from all over the world and all over Mexico.

What do you enjoy most about living here?
Waking up to sunshine nearly every day. Being excited when I get to wear a sweater. Food shopping in the local market. Being inspired every day. Learning something new all the time. Being surrounded by endless possibilities of places to explore. The sky, day and night- it has to be seen to be believed!

How does the cost of living compare to home?
Generally the cost of living in Mexico is much cheaper than in England, especially in Oaxaca. My rent costs me approximately one 5th of what I was paying in London and I live right in the centre. I shop at the local market, spending roughly $20 (USD) per week on food. Some things can be very expensive though, especially when earning a local wage.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
Oaxaca is quite difficult to get to from abroad, because flights from here only go to two destinations (Mexico City and Houston) and they can be very expensive. There are times when I wish I were just a quick flight away from my family rather than a 17-hour journey.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Be open-minded. Things often work differently in Mexico. For example, being on time can mean turning up 30 minutes to an hour late and that was really hard for me to adapt to. It helps to be open to experiencing little cultural sifts. I have found that adapting to them has made me far more relaxed and happy.

What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
Missing my friends and family back home and missing out on important occasions, like weddings and births etc. And I also miss a good Indian takeaway, although I was absolutely delighted to find one recently in Mexico City (Tandoor in Colonia Anzures) that makes the grade!

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
1) Do it! If you hate it you can always go home
2) Save up enough money to last you 6 months- it will give you time to adjust, make friends and find work
3) Email around your friends and contacts to find connections in the country you are going to, it is always nice to have someone to meet for coffee when you first arrive
4) Learn the language
5) Be open minded to experiences a different way of living. Don’t try to live how you did at home; it will just be a struggle.

Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
My blog was developed out of a desire to tell the other side of the story about Mexico. Mexico is a country dealing with some serious and complex problems, but that is not what defines Mexico for me. There is so much magic and beauty in this country and I wanted that story to be told.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
Via my blog or via the Facebook page (see below).

Susannah writes her own expat blog called Mexico Retold http://www.mexicoretold.com, so please pay it a visit soon! She can be found on Twitter @mexicoretold and her Facebook page. If you appreciate Susannah's efforts, she would appreciate a nice comment or two over at her listing here at ExpatsBlog.com
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Comments » There are 3 comments

Adele wrote 10 years ago:

great article.. mirrors the experiences of many Expats. Love what she said about cultural shifts.

Susannah wrote 10 years ago:

Thank you so much for taking the time to write such kind comments Adele. I'm glad that you could relate! Saludos from Oaxaca

Julia Cynthia Kent wrote 10 years ago:

Very nice article, but I do not think, Sussannah, personally has lived here long enough...only a couple of years. I was born in Bristol, lived in many foreign countries, and retired here over ten years ago. The first time I saw the white beach and the acqua marine water,the warm wonderful friendly people, I knew I wanted to retire here, and I did, and have never regretted it. I came alone too, with a dog, but older than Sussannah. My true international love story is out in paperback it is called The Red Silk Robe, which goes from Bristol to Beirut to Mexico...It is on Amazon.com, Createspace, and Kindle I could also do a block on people of retirment age moving here???? All of you have a great holiday, Julia

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