Moving to Mexico and Making Friends

Published: 16 Jun at 10 AM
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Filed: Meeting Expats,Mexico
The older I become, the more difficult I find it to meet new people. I'm a little terrified of strangers even though I know that strangers are friends you just haven't met yet.

Moving to Mexico and making friends was challenging for me. In the past, I worked outside of the home. Having a job gave me instant access to an assortment of friends and acquaintances. Without a job, I reasoned that I could make friends one of two ways: meeting people at my son's school or by encountering other dog owners.

I enthusiastically set out for school on my little boy's first day. To my disappointment, maids, drivers and (gasp!) school buses brought almost all of the children to school. The only person I met on the first day of school was the teacher. To my disappointment, drop-off and helicopter parenting is apparently a very American behavior. Unfortunately for me, I didn't immediately meet other parents and make friends at school on that first day.

Strike one!

Dismayed, I set off to visit a large, dog-friendly park. Unfortunately, the park was a similar experience. With goods and services so cheaply available, most Mexicans in our neighborhood hire dedicated dog walkers. No friends to be found at the dog park.

Strike two!

Determined to make some friends, I decided to reset the playbook. I realized that the things that I might do in America to find and make friends weren't going to work in Mexico. I began to place myself in situations where other expats were and changed my approach. Once I started operating outside of my comfort zone and acknowledging the nuances of my new culture, things began to improve. I started to find friends and I even became something of a connector for others. Following are the things that worked for me:

1. Join A Club + Attend Its Meetings And Events!

You aren't going to make a single friend staying in the house! Moving to a new place, embracing a new culture and learning a new language is tough. Many counties have dedicated expat organizations or "newcomer's clubs" that provide social outlets, support and a safe environment to interact with other transplants. In Mexico, we have a wonderful English speaking organization called the Newcomer's Club. It's made up of both expats and foreign nationals and is very active.

The Newcomer's Club provides information and resources to expats and their families. They also host social events and facilitate a variety of activities--everything from volunteering with Mexican charities, sponsorship of cultural tours to facilitation of Spanish language learning groups. With something for everyone, the Newcomer's Club is a great way to get to know other people in a gigantic city! Many veteran expats have spoken of similar organizations in Asia and South America. These veterans seek out such organizations prior to their arrival to ask questions and ease their acclimation. Once you're in the market, attending the events is a great way to meet other people who are in a similar situation.

2. Open your home!

Shortly after we arrived, my husband insisted that we host an American Thanksgiving party. He wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with other Americans and share our culture with our new friends from other nations. The party was a success and he decided to throw another party a few months later. The second party was themed "drinks around the world" and featured popular food and drinks from each continent. This party was a success because it celebrated something special from some of our new friends favorite countries.

Hosting a party can be successful for you and your guests. Everyone struggles to meet people. In reality, sometimes half the battle is finding people to become friends with! Hosting a party is a great way to celebrate the people you've met and facilitate new friendships for the friends you've made.

3. Find a place to worship!

Most cities host church services in several different languages. Finding an English speaking service is a great way to make friends and satisfy your spiritual needs. Joining a church can be safe and comforting. The great thing about churches is that they can help you to create a routine in your new community and give you a consistent and stable place to go weekly. In addition to being spiritually rewarding, the community that find when you join at church can also provide you with a place to go when the going gets tough or an emergency arises.

4. Learn something new.

Before moving to Mexico I didn't work out very much. I simply never had the time. Once I moved to Mexico I began to make more time for me and started to try new things.

One thing that I had always wanted to do was learn to box.

I began taking boxing lessons and met new people who had either seen or heard about my interest in "athletics". While I'm not very sporty, I have enjoyed meeting other women who are also trying new things and pushing their personal boundaries. We've signed up for races and share healthy recipes with each other. It's great to attempt something new and meet new friends who are supportive and excited to see you succeed in your new endeavors.

Had I not challenged myself to try something new, I never would have made the friends I did. Web sites like have running clubs and other special interest groups. Check them out or consider starting one to find people with interests similar to your own.

5. Leverage online resources!

Technology makes the world smaller and easier to navigate. There are a lot of great online communities that connect you to bloggers and local expats who are already living in country. is a great global resource as it aggregates news, blogs and has forums. Connecting with people you can ask questions to provides a level of comfort and also helps you prepare as much as possible for the experience ahead. Preparation is essential to easing any transition. Leveraging people who are passionate about their adopted home can make a world of difference.

Each transition is different. In the end it's what you do that makes your move a success or a failure. Finding friends can make any experience awesome--you just need to invest a little time and energy to find relationships that are fulfilling!

About the author

Expat Blog ListingKim Sundy is an American expat living in Mexico. Blog description: A first time expat, I am loving every minute of my experience. I blog about food, travel and family adventures. Thank you for following me on my amazing Mexican adventure!
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