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Dear Caroline,

My husband and I live in Ohio. We fell in love with Mexico during a vacation and have decided to retire there. Can you recommend some locations in that country where we won’t need to speak Spanish?

…Proud Americans Soon to Live Abroad

Dear Proud Americans,

The short answer is: No.

Though Mexico has many locations that cater to tourists, and therefore burgeon with bilingual services and amenities, I cannot, and will not, aid and abet the misconception that monetary currency replaces social currency in any context.

As a U.S. expat myself, I’ve been privy to far too many conversations in which other “proud Americans” were critical, discriminatory and rude to Mexicans who arrived in the United States without being able to speak English. What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.

The minute you set foot on foreign soil, you become ambassadors representing the United States. You have a duty to embody the ideal Thomas Jefferson penned in 1776: “All men are created equal.”

One way to do this is to give Mexicans the same respect, dignity and grace U.S. citizens at home sometimes demand from them. Staying in your expat bubble and throwing dollar bills in their direction won’t cut it.

Please plan to learn Spanish. 

The Mexican people are among the most gracious God put on this earth. As long as they know you’re making an effort, they’ll help you.

Take a class, hire a tutor or download an app. Each day you’re in Mexico, go out and speak a little Spanish, even if you’re just buying oranges at the market, even if you fumble and have to pantomime. Little-by-little, your language skills will improve.

Not only will you be proud of your emerging bilingualism, but you’ll also feel a special connection in your new homeland.

Here’s to representing the United States with flying colors!


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  1. It isn’t a difficult language to learn. My company sent me on a six day course before I went to Mexico to build and run an engineering factory. In six days we learned 450 words, all in the present tense, and that was enough to get started. Find a TV station in Spanish and watch it as often as you can. Find a Spanish radio station to listen to in your car. Immerse yourself! You will soon get there.

  2. “We fell in love with Mexico but don’t want to live in it.
    Is there someplace we can live that doesn’t have Mexicans?”

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