The economy has rapidly picked up in 2017, notably due to stronger exports. As a member of the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA), Mexico has become one of the largest trade partners of the U.S., exporting mainly manufactured and industrial goods as well as automobiles. Significantly, Mexico exports more than the rest of Latin America combined. Contributing to its economic development are the young population, who benefit from the top quality higher education available. Mexico boasts some of the most highly recognized universities in Latin America, including the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the oldest university in North America founded in 1551. The Mexican government’s increased investment in education, health and food over the past two decades has reduced the country’s economic inequality. Notably, the government program Seguro Popular currently provides free healthcare for over 55 million unemployed people.
“Mexico City is by far the most active and rapidly growing startup hub in the Spanish-speaking world” – Cesar Salazar, a partner at Mexico’s 500 Startups. The country’s startup scene notably began to flourish after the Mexico Web 2.0 conference in 2008, driving the “tequila valley” movement of entrepreneurs and the set-up of Mexican V.C., the accelerator for software startups, acquired by 500 Startups in 2012. Mexico City is now home to the accelerator StartupMexico, the alimentation startup Centraal, the social-learning ImpactHub, and the co-working platform WeWork, which has seven locations just in the city. Significantly, half the Mexican population is under 27 years old and therefore technologically-savvy by nature. Building on Latin America’s leading position worldwide regarding smartphone adoption, the number of internet users throughout the region is set to reach 387 million in 2019.
The family-oriented culture of Mexico translates directly to the professional environment, where personal relationships can be important when doing business. Inviting a mutual contact to a high-ranking business meeting, who can introduce you to the prospective client or partner, will help you gain their trust and lead to a more successful outcome. Despite this personable aspect, Mexico maintains a formal and conservative approach to business, structured around hierarchies. By contrast, startups have a more relaxed culture. Eager to constantly improve and obtain the best results, Mexicans are diligent and work long hours. As opposed to their U.S. neighbors, Mexican professionals prefer less direct communication. Although they operate with a more flexible approach to punctuality, like the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, executives and clients will still expect it. Expats and foreign inputs are highly valued in Mexican business environments, where English is also widely spoken.
In such a vast city, citizens usually live close to their work, cleverly avoiding the traffic during rush hour. Residents of Mexico City benefit from the low cost of living and the extensive transport system which runs through the city, including the metro, buses, minibuses called colectivos, taxis and the global transportation company Uber. Public transport is very affordable, with a single journey on the metro costing just 3 MXN (the equivalent of $0.16). In such a populous city, unemployment levels are quite high and crime exists, so expats in particular are advised to stay in the safer boroughs where they can always guarantee personal security. The growing population contributes to the high levels of pollution, an issue increasingly addressed by the government through programs such as Hoy No Circula, which reduces the number of cars entering the city. Mexico provides universal healthcare through both public and private systems.
Mexico City is one of the best places in the world for a night out with endless, diverse entertainment ranging from high-end clubs to live music dens, hole-in-the-wall establishments and street food. The city is full of cantinas, which are typical Mexican bars below ground level, replete with alcohol and botanas (appetizers). Located within the historic Plaza Garibaldi is the traditional cantina El Salón Tenampa, a sought-after destination where diners sip on tequila whilst enjoying live performances of the mariachi, a national folk genre. Visiting the cinema and theatre are popular evening activities in Mexico, where even VIP luxury tickets are very affordable. International rock and pop stars can be viewed in concert at the award-winning Auditorio Nacional, located at the heart of the city. A trip to the Arena México or Arena Coliseo to view one of the nation’s favorite sports, wrestling, also cannot go amiss.
Mexico City maintains a rich culture with a historical background that dates back to the Middle Ages. The barrio Xochimilco has been named the “Venice of Mexico” due to its floating gardens, among which include The Island of the Dolls, a homage to a young girl who died. The Historical Center used to be the center of the ancient Aztec Empire and has been named a “world heritage site” by UNESCO. At the heart of this area lies the Zócalo, the largest square in Latin America with a capacity of nearly 100,000 people. Mexico City contains more museums than any other city in the world with over 150, including La Casa Azul, a historic house and art museum dedicated to the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Mexicans passionately celebrate their religious holiday Día de Muertos, where they pray for and remember deceased friends and family members.