Living in Mexico City: Three things I would do differently

My first three-month stay in Mexico City has concluded. I love this city and I can’t wait to come back in May. To wrap up my time here, I want to offer three simple things I would do differently if I could start my visit all over again.

RELATED POST: A daily journal of my life in Mexico City

1. Find an actual apartment for all 3 months.

I ended up staying in something like 10 Airbnb apartments during my three months here. That’s ten times having to pack up everything, find an Uber, move into a new place, unpack everything again and get settled in.

airbnb apartment

The reason I did that was because I wanted to experience life in as many different neighborhoods as possible, and I accomplished that. It was cool to get to know Condesa, Coyoacan, Roma Norte, and Juarez. The downside is I spent too much time packing and moving, which cut into my work time and social opportunities.

Also, Airbnb is much more expensive than just finding an apartment and a roommate. Next time, I’ll opt for the latter arrangement if possible.

2. Live like a tourist more often.

On my first taxi ride into the city from the airport, I tried chatting with the driver in Spanish and took pictures in every neighborhood we drove through. I was so excited to see the city.

But just a couple weeks later, I was mostly taking the subway, and when I did get into an Uber or a Metrobus, I was glued to my phone and didn’t even pay attention to what was outside the window as we sped through the streets.

cdmx subway

Somehow I lost that feeling of wonder that comes from being a visitor in a new place. Most people try to live like locals when they travel, but in my case, I needed to live more like a tourist. I needed to embrace that feeling of awe from seeing everything for the first time.

I should have done more people-watching, taken more time to sit in the park, and stopped to fully appreciate my surroundings instead of being in a such a hurry or caught up in social media.

And I should have made it to more museums.

3. Find a Spanish study group.

My Spanish definitely improved while I was here, but only marginally. I can hold a basic conversation with people, but I can’t understand a television program or a chat between people at a bar. On a scale of 1 to 100 in terms of Spanish fluency, maybe I advanced from a 17 to a 21, but that’s not good enough.

I briefly tried meeting with a Spanish tutor, but those sessions weren’t especially useful and started to get expensive. I spoke in Spanish with locals when I had the chance, but chatting with convenience store cashiers isn’t going to get you very far. When I did hang out in groups of Spanish speakers, I sometimes tuned out since I wasn’t able to follow the dialogue.

cdmx lunch

I should have also found one of the many tutor/conversation groups for foreigners trying to learn intermediate Spanish. I’m going to spend the next six weeks focusing on improving my Spanish so that when I return in May, puedo hablar espanol sin problemas.

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend Booking.com where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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8 Comments

  1. Yea, I was definitely surprised/impressed at how many times you ended up moving places! A long-term rental definitely sounds like a good future option. Y espero que puedas amejorar tu español para tu próxima visita!

  2. I got some good advice from reading about your Mexico trip. If I ever get the chance to travel anywhere, I’ll be a little bit ahead of the game! Am looking forward to reading your daily journal.

  3. These are good reminders for any place, Scott. Don’t move around too much, remember to be a tourist, and speak the language. Sage advice that makes any trip more memorable.

  4. Can’t wait to catch up with you again when we are both back in Mexico City! And yes, improving my Spanish is on my list of things to do too. I’m probably still at an 8 out of 100 despite living here for 4 months!

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