Lately, I’ve noticed in Facebook comments people are asking what it’s like being an expat in India compared to Mexico and if I can share a little bit about it. It’s really hard to compare two countries and I haven’t been living in Mexico that long but I want to write about this since you’re asking – so I’m giving it my best shot! I hope that this will give some insight into how my life has changed since moving from Goa to Merida and if you’re living in Goa considering the same, it will help you make a plan.
Being an Expat in India Compared to Mexico
Weather in Merida compared to Goa
Goa has a rainy season from June to September. Merida does as well! But, Goa’s monsoon is WAY more intense than the springtime rains that come to Merida. Unless you live on the coast in Progreso, you won’t really be bothered by the rains at all. It doesn’t rain for long and it passes quite fast.
I’m told May and the rainy season is “unbearable heat and humidity” but haven’t found that to be the case. It’s less hot than Goa’s April/May although hotter than Goa’s monsoon. I find it much less humid here compared to Goa.
In the season time which is October to March, it is clear sunny days every day in both places. Evenings get cool in December/Jan but overall it’s hot year round. Basically, the weather is quite similar with Goa being much more intense.
Below: Merida nearby beaches on the left, and Goa on the right.
Immigration in Merida compared to Goa
India immigration is a pain – requiring a lot of visa paperwork and to stay long-term, an employer to invite you. Even then, you have to do visa runs every six months. India makes it difficult to stay long-term unless you are part Indian. Now, they are making it even harder – some saying they will ask if you are paying taxes if you stay for six months on a business visa. Tourist visas for over 60 days are a long process to get, requiring you to mail your passport and fill in a lot of paperwork, they are expensive.
Mexico allows for tourists to come for six months for free. You can exit and re-enter after that. You can apply for residency so that you don’t have to exit even if you don’t work for a Mexican company and are instead self-employed or retired. Tourists can buy land here but not in India. Residents can get health care and other benefits in Mexico but not in India.
Food in Merida compared to Goa
Both Mexican food and Indian food are spicy. I find the Habenero a bit spicier than what I eat in India. The food isn’t really comparable – they are so different – but they both have their homecooked specialties and in the same way when you go to any local restaurant in Goa and they have the same 10 things on the menu (xacuti, prawn curry rice, rava fry), Merida restaurants have their 10 things (kibi, panucho, salbutes, tacos…)
Below: Mexican food left, Indian food right
Prices in Merida compared to Goa
You do get bang for your buck here in Merida. We paid the same price for rent in both places and in both places we had amazing houses that were on the highest rent scale. You can get a house rental here for just $150 a month if you really try, same as Goa although it’s rare and most people pay around $300-500 per month. You could pay over $1,000.
Housekeeping, groundskeepers, pool cleaners, etc are more expensive here. In Goa, you might pay $75 for someone to come a few hours every day for a month or to live with you for around $250 while in Merida, you’ll pay someone to come to your house and clean about $15 for a full day (once a week, comes to about $60 for the month) or maybe someone to live with you to help for around $500 a month. Pool cleaners seem to be around $5 per clean and groundskeepers about the same depending on how big your yard is.
Local food here at markets is as cheap as the food in Goa’s markets and local restaurants. Chain restaurants and cafes are comparable to Goa’s normal dinner places like Sakana or Baba Au Rhum. Merida has some luxury restaurants that are much more expensive than anything you’d find in Goa like a $100 steak.
For travelers, you can get a hostel in Merida for $7 while in Goa you can get one for as low as $4 but usually closer to $10. So it’s about the same.
Petrol seems to be about the same. Buses are a little more expensive. Groceries and such are about the same. Keep in mind, Goa is more expensive than other areas of India. If you live a western life in Goa with imported food and such, then you’ll find Merida very comparable.
Driving in Merida compared to Goa
The roads here are the other side of the road (right side). Cars are a mix of manual and automatic, while Goa is just manual. Roads here use proper rules with stop signs, stop lights, police directing traffic, and roundabouts where people follow the rules. In Goa, it’s much more relaxed, no stop signs, and people just kind of honk and go. Here, you have to follow the rules and you cannot speed.
There are police checkpoints in both places where you can be breathalized and searched for drugs or other illegal things and we have been multiple times in both places.
Religion in Merida compared to Goa
Funnily enough, they are both mostly Catholic!
above: Merida left, Goa right
Things to do in Merida compared to Goa
In Goa, mostly it is beaches and partying – maybe a little go-karting and going to the markets. Here in Merida, it’s beaches, cantinas, and markets. But, there is more to do in Merida since it’s a big city like city events, baseball games, tons of nearby tourist attractions, several malls and movie theatres, ballet, museums, shows, the symphony, etc.
Shopping/Western Stuff in Merida compared to Goa
Goa did end up getting a mall a couple of years ago with a Marks and Spencers and McDonald’s but mostly shopping consisted of VERY local markets of foreigners making clothes in upscale boutique shops. Mostly, I had to buy things in the USA I wanted to have in India, and bring them. For Merida, I can get it all here – literally every grocery item I want so far except grape jelly.
In Merida, there are 10 or so big malls with places like Zara, H&M, Starbucks, you name it – they really have everything. There are also shopping centers like Home Depot, OfficeMax, Sears, and all the big stores. I think I’ll do a whole post on this later and kind of sum them up.
For Western food, Goa had Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, and Subway as the big Western places. Merida has everything from Carl’s Jr to Texas Roadhouse.
Merida also has many boutique places similar to Goa that are cute curated shops, however when it comes to cute boutique hand-made clothing and homewares Goa definitely beats Merida.
Journey connections in Merida compared to Goa
Merida is an international airport with cheap flights to the USA and Latin America. You can take a $35 5-hour bus to Cancun and catch cheap flights all over like a $500 round-trip flight to London.
Goa does have some international flights but only through Doha, and charter flights to Russia. Mostly, you have to fly to Mumbai then catch an international flight which adds a lot of time to your travels waiting in airports for layovers. I would say Merida is more connected, however, if you want to get to Asia for Merida or Latin America from Goa, they are equally as challenging and long journeys.
Rent/home buying in Merida compared to Goa
As I mentioned, tourists can buy land in Mexico by setting up a trust with a bank here. It’s supposedly painless and you just hire a lawyer to help you out. In India, there is no way for a tourist to do this legally.
Tourists cannot legally buy a car and register it to their name in either country as a tourist. In Mexico, you can BUY the car but you cannot register it.
Renting in Goa and Merida have been similar for me: signing a lease with a notary or lawyer present.
In Goa, you cannot pay bills online as a foreigner with a foreign bank card. In Merida, you can. Actually you can take your lease to the electricity office in Merida as a tourist and get the bill changed to your name which allows you to prove your residence for other things you might want to do here like buying a new car.
Amenities in Merida compared to Goa
Many people have the same situation in both places where they hire people to help at their home to clean or do gardening.
There are people in both places that will help you with parking, pumping your gas, and other tasks – in India they are paid to do that and no one tips but in Merida you are meant to tip 5-10 pesos for this. Speaking of tips, Merida is a bigger tipping culture by far and when you pay on a card, it’s like the USA where you can choose what percent you want to give. In Goa, when you give 10% it’s really the max anyone would give and mostly just Americans who leave that. Many locals will not tip.
Healthcare & gym in Merida compared to Goa
Goa has loads of yoga classes and a few other ones like kick-boxing and Pilates. There are gyms as well – although many do not have A/C and are crowded.
In Merida, I would imagine the yoga is not as good but there are many gyms where you can get a private trainer very inexpensively. I am taking private pilates classes here on the reformer for the same price I took group classes in Goa on a mat.
There are country clubs here where you can join and do swimming or tennis and there is even a polo club. There are also random classes here like Zumba and Barre.
I found a fantastic masseuse to come to my house in Merida that is AMAZING but is $30 for an hour while in Goa I paid about $8.
Safety in Merida compared to Goa
Merida is said to be so safe that you can walk around any area at 4 am alone and not have a problem. I have found it to be incredibly safe so far and the locals have been nothing but friendly.
In Goa, I would not recommend going out drinking alone as a solo female traveler for SO many reasons which I’ve covered in this article about safety in Goa.
For Merida, I will never have to write such an article, as there just aren’t these kinds of issues.
I also find that the police in Merida are friendly and not out to “get you” whereas in Goa, they definitely were and were constantly taking bribes for no reason. In Merida, if you have a flat tire, you can expect the police to help you and of course, not take any money from you.
While Mexico has it’s own safety issues, they are cartel related and totally different from the issues in India, so impossible to compare. Merida and the state of Yucatan thankfully don’t have the cartel issues and this is a safe city and state.
People in Merida compared to Goa
I’ve always found people in Goa to be incredibly friendly. So far, that is the same here in Merida. I will say that Indians can be a little blunt – which I’ve shared about in stories in my This is India series before. Mexicans seem to be more polite and bubbly. Either way, they are really nice in both places. It’s too soon to compare. In Goa, of course, I encountered bad times with some people but I was there for 5 years. I haven’t been here long enough to have a bad encounter I don’t think.
Making friends in Merida compared to Goa
It took me a long time in Goa to find a group of girlfriends (who are now my best friends!). I don’t know if I’ll find that in Merida. Overall, Goa is FULL of young people and if you put yourself out there and party and go out, you’re going to make loads of friends. Merida is more digital nomads working online or retirees. There are meet-ups here for expats and it’s a very different vibe than in Goa. Let’s see how it goes!
Overall quality of Life in Merida compared to Goa
I guess it seems like I’m saying Merida is better – but I’m not. I’ve never said Goa was perfect or the best place to live but the lack of Western amenities and safe roads was always made up for with STUNNING sea views, amazing people and vibes, and just that “Goa Life” you can’t really imagine. Merida is a city, and of course has more “real life” vibes. I go to coffee shops to work. It’s just a totally different life – yet, there are empty stunning beaches here, too, and it’s a similar price point for most things here compared to Goa. I am loving living in Merida so far. It’s not that “hippie vibe” at all but it’s something new and I’m really enjoying be back in the real world for now. Of course, I miss Goa, and I think it’s going to be somewhere I go on long vacations every winter for probably the rest of my life!
For more India expat information, check out my This Is India series.
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