While Mexico’s coastal communities are popular destinations for retirees looking to enjoy their golden years, the large cities are increasingly becoming home to many young professionals. Mexico has considerably transformed over the past two decades. Mortality rates are dropping faster than in neighboring countries, followed by crime rates. With a robust economy, booming architecture and engineering industries, low cost of living, and an improved way of life, it’s easy to see why many foreigners are leaving their home countries to find a life here. But before you relocate to Mexico as an expatriate, you need to do your homework and learn everything there is to know about working in Mexico.
What is the average salary in Mexico? Someone working in Mexico will earn an average gross salary of $28,316 a year, $2,360/month, or $13.63 an hour. This amount will obviously drop down after deductions. The highest salaries are found in the cities of Ecatepec de Morelos, Mexico, Puebla, and Guadalajara at $38,662, $38,625, $38,439, and $38,407, respectively.
Thousands of foreigners come to Mexico every year looking for work. From the lowest level of part-time and informal work to the highest level of qualified and executive professionals, many foreigners arrive in this country to peddle their skills. Working in Mexico can help you build your skills and expand your network. You also get to enjoy the tropical beaches and discover the beautiful countryside in your free time. Hunting for a job abroad can be very challenging. That’s why I’ve put together this guide, which covers virtually everything you need to know about the Mexican job market to help you make an informed decision about working here. So, let’s get right into it: Note that the currency used in Mexico is the Mexican peso, which equals 0.051 US dollars as of 13th November 2019.
Average Salary in Mexico
Since average salaries vary by job title, let’s see what you can make per year, working in some of the common professions in Mexico:
- Accountant – $18,477
- Architect – $25,447
- Cashier – $16,495
- Chef – $21,969
- CEO – $63,430
- Civil engineer – $24,409
- Creative director – $27,403
- Developer/programmer – $24,322
- Elementary school teacher – $19,710
- General Manager – $47,761
- Hotel manager – $43,410
- Internal auditor – $28,120
- Nurse – $21,850
- Police officer – $22,316
- Receptionist – $20,360
- Sales representative – $17,848
- Teacher – $22,483
- Travel agent – $22,290
- Waiter/waitress – $17,118
What do you need to start working in Mexico?
Foreigners can work in Mexico provided they have the right permit, which is often issued to:
- People who are sponsored by Mexican companies
- Those sponsored by foreign companies with Mexican subsidiaries and operations
- Those with specific sets of skills required in Mexico
Alternatively, you can obtain a work permit by investing in Mexico, which is usually by setting up your own company. Note that you’ll need to invest an amount equivalent to 40,000 times the daily minimum wage.
You can also enter this country to work for a foreign company so long as you don’t receive any earnings form a Mexican company or its subsidiary.
The job market in Mexico
Mexico’s economy is the second-largest in Latin America after Brazil. The unemployment rate stands at 3.8% as of September 2019. Over the years, Mexican industries have been integrated into the US and Canada’s economies. This has made Mexico a common branch location for large international companies. Also, the cheaper labor and manufacturing costs in Mexico have caused companies that were once established in the US and Canada to move to Mexico. These companies often source professionals and management from other countries.
Mexico’s major industries are tourism, chemicals, food production, tobacco, petroleum, mining, textiles, and consumer goods. The logistics and transportation, infrastructure, and service sectors are also undergoing major growth, so looking at them might be a good idea.
That being said, foreigners interested in working in Mexico will be far more successful in seeking employment in industries where the country typically has to get outside help. This includes fields such as medicine, manufacturing, IT, science, and teaching (particularly TEFL or ESL). There are also a fair number of opportunities for expats in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Apart from corporate work and teaching English, some foreigners arrive in Mexico seeking casual work, while others take on community, social, or religious work. The kind of work you do will depend on your circumstances. Another option would be to move to Mexico to set up a small business or sell consulting services, especially in IT, business development, or the internet-related fields.
Finding a job
There are several places to start the job hunt, including online job portals, recruitment agencies, through networking, and directly contacting Mexican companies. Possessing recognized and relevant academic credits are crucial for foreign nationals seeking employment in Mexico. Some companies may even ask for original copies of your birth certificate, as well as transcripts and other documents from high school and elementary school.
Like most European and Western countries, Mexico requires employers to hire Mexicans before looking past the border for a candidate. They can only hire expats if no Mexican(s) is willing and capable of filling the position.
While the expat life in Mexico has a lot to offer, some choose not to stay in the country. This is especially possible for US citizens. A good number of them commute to work every day or stay working in Mexico for a few days or weeks. In that case, all you’ll need is an entry permit.
Mexico Average Household Income
The annual income per capita in Mexico is currently available from December 2006 to December 2016. In 2016, Mexico’s average annual household income reached $2,718.32. This figure is a significant drop from the previous value of $3,155.323, which was recorded in 2014. It’s also the lowest record. The data reached an all-time high of $4,169.817 in 2008. There’s a significant wage gap between the rich and the poor as the top 10% of the highest earners take home 42.2% of all income, while the bottom 10% earners only make 1.3% of the remaining income.
Minimum Wage in Mexico
Mexico is one of the many countries that have set a statutory minimum wage. The national minimum wage rose from 88.36 Mexican pesos ($4.39) in 2018 to 102.68 pesos ($5.10) a day in 2019. This 16.2% increase is the biggest since 1996, following two hikes of around 10% by the previous government. At the same time, a new minimum wage was set at 176.72 pesos ($8.80) a day along the northern US border. The minimum wage was doubled in the border strip because it’s where the government hopes to boost development by cutting corporate taxes. The states that fall under the border minimum wage include:
- Baja California
- Coahuila de Zaragoza
- Nuevo León
Mexico has recorded an average minimum age of 21.43 MXN/day from 1960 to 2019, with a low of 0.01 MXN/day in 1960 and a high of 102.68 MXN/Day in 2019. The government pledged further rises in the minimum wage with the intention to strengthen the purchasing power of the lowest earners and discourage unnecessary migration to the US. Increasing the minimum wage also ensures that every worker earns sufficiently to satisfy the normal necessities of life.
The debate on the increased minimum wage has been gaining momentum in Mexico and the world at large. Mexico’s Central Bank does not support this trend for fear that it could stroke inflation. Increasing the minimum wage puts pressure on overall wage demands, which could propel inflationary pressures and cause an upward price spiral.
Working conditions in Mexico
In addition to the minimum age, workers in Mexico are entitled to 6 days of paid vacation after a year on the job. The longer you stay with a company, the more vacation days you can earn. The law also mandates a 48-hour workweek, but overtime is pretty common. Female employees are entitled to 84 days of maternity leave, while paternity leave is 5 days.
Average Salary in Mexico City
Mexico City is the capital of Mexico and one of the largest cities in the world. It hosts a population of over 21 million, making it one of the largest metropolitan areas worldwide. With a growing economy and a fast-paced work environment, the city has become a hub for innovation and cutting-edge creations, as well as the financial and political center of Mexico. But how much can you expect to earn this city?
Well, the average gross salary in Mexico City is $38,625 a year, $3,218/month, and $18.58 an hour. Given that these figures include basic pay, housing, transport, and other benefits, take-home pay will be lower. Salaries in this city range between $5,224/year (minimum) to $170,920 a year (maximum), while the median is $38,212/year. These figures are indicators of what a good salary looks like. Generally, if your salary is above both the average and median salaries, then you can afford a decent life and enjoy what Mexico City has to offer.
Since this is simply an overall view, note that salaries differ significantly between professions. It might be a good idea to research the salary of a particular job title in this city before moving.
With more international companies establishing offices in Mexico City, an inter-company transfer is a reality and, probably, a career-advancing option. Of course, you don’t have to be employed in a multinational company as there are several Mexican companies headquartered in the capital.
Foreigners can find plenty of job opportunities in education, engineering, and technical fields. All you need is the right set of skills and good academic credits. But the biggest employer is the services sector, which includes banking, tourism, insurance, telecommunications, public services, etc.
Cost Of Living in Mexico
Understanding the cost of living in another country is essential for a smooth transition. Mexico is generally cheaper to live in, especially compared to other areas of North America. That being said, it’s also a large country with big cities, popular beach towns, lots of tourist destinations, as well as rural areas. This means that where you choose to live will impact the costs as well. So, be sure to research a particular area before moving.
To help you prepare, here’s a look at what common expenses will cost you in this country:
Your housing expenses will vary depending on where you live. Here is an average monthly rental cost in Mexico’s most populated cities:
If you choose to buy a house, you’ll have to factor in mortgage payments, property taxes, and maintenance costs. The US and Canadian citizens can take advantage of cross-border mortgages as they come with lower interest rates than the peso loans.
Mexico has multiple modes of transportation. Public transport is quite reliable, especially in major cities, and affordable. A one-way ticket costs about $0.47, a monthly travel pass is $18.11, while a taxi ride starts at $1.55. If you choose to drive, the average car will cost $15,000, gasoline costs about $1.02/litre, not to mention, you’ll have to budget for car insurance, repairs, and regular maintenance.
Food is relatively cheap in Mexico. This is because a lot of the produce is grown here and don’t need to be imported. Here’s the cost of common groceries:
- 1 liter of regular milk – $0.94
- A dozen eggs – $1.42
- Local cheese (1kg) – $5.12
- Tomatoes (1kg) – $1.06
- A loaf of bread (500g) – $1.49
- 1kg or white rice – $0.99
- 1kg of chicken breasts – $4.63
- Apples (1kg) – $2.02
In addition to these common household expenses, you’ll also have to budget for health insurance, clothing, entertainment, utilities, childcare and education (if you have kids), and much more depending on your needs and lifestyle.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.