Life in Mexico


The Ultimate Cell Phone and Internet Data Guide for Digital Nomads to Get a SIM Card in Mexico

If traveling to Mexico is something you’d like to cross off your bucket list and wonder if you need to get a Mexican SIM card, the answer is yes! Getting one while visiting will ensure that you have cell phone data and phone reception in Mexico at all times.

In this ultimate guide, you’ll discover the best Mexican phone carrier, where to get a SIM card, and other helpful information for travelers and digital nomads. 

The Best Mobile Carrier in Mexico

If you want to have good reception and cell phone data in Mexico, Telcel is the phone company you’ll want to use. Telcel is the largest cell phone provider in Mexico, so getting a SIM card from them will allow you to have the most coverage all over the country.

What Are Other Mobile Carrier Options?

AT&T and Movistar are the other cell phone companies available in Mexico. However, the terrible customer service of Movistar and the poor reception of both make them unattractive options.

NOTE: You may already have international cell phone service in Mexico. We recommend calling your current phone company to consult this before traveling and/or buying a local SIM card.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a SIM Card in Mexico? 

SIM cards in Mexico range from $1 to $10 USD; this is only for the card without data, though you’ll need to fill the card with credit to have cell phone data in Mexico. Without credit, it’ll be obsolete.

How to Get a SIM Card in Mexico

TelCel SIM Card, Mexico

If you decide to follow our recommendation and buy a Telcel SIM card, you can quickly get it at multiple sales points: Oxxo, Walmart, corner shops, tech kiosks, Telcel customer service centers, or verified Telcel resale centers, and at some airports. You’ll also be able to top-up your SIM card at most of these locations. SIM cards from other companies can also be purchased at these sales points (except Telcel centers). 

Telcel SIM cards come in 4 and 8 GB sizes; this is the amount of data included with the card that you can use until it runs out. Once this happens, you’ll have to refill it at one of the sales points mentioned before or online on Telcel’s website. 

Telcel also offers prepaid cell phone plans in Mexico that you can purchase online or at the sales points; these plans range from $1 to $25 USD. These plans provide unlimited SMS and phone calls in Mexico. Also, it has options for the USA and Canada, data, and endless social media browsing depending on the plan you purchase. 

Before buying a local SIM Card in Mexico: 

  1. Check if your current phone carrier has free international phone service. 
  2. Make sure your phone is unlocked (If your phone is tied to a specific carrier or contract, it is considered locked).

Pro Tip: Download Whatsapp

Planning to be in Mexico for a long time? We recommend downloading WhatsApp on your phone. WhatsApp is the king of instant messaging in Mexico; therefore, it’ll be a great tool to communicate with everyone you meet on the road, and reach out to restaurants or entertainment centers.

It is the best means of contacting anyone, no matter the location or people using other service providers. It’s a free app for both Android and iPhone phones. Telcel often includes unlimited Whatsapp use with its prepaid plans. 

Final Words

We hope that this ultimate Mexico cell phone guide provides all the information you need. Thanks for reading! 

Travelling further south to Central America? Check out The Ultimate Central America Phone Guide here

A round up of our costs for living in Sayulita for the last month.

Our takeout bill is on the rise but with so many good restaurants in Sayulita offering delivery it would have bee rude not to, right? Restaurants can open as of today (June 1st) but have to maintain a maximum 30% occupancy so we are looking forward to getting out and actually eating inside a restaurant again.

Even with the increase in takeout, we managed to spend slightly less than in May by figuring out the best places to get our groceries cutting our Netflix subscription and reducing our accommodation cost slightly by renting directly to save on the Airbnb fees and the peso weakening against the USD

We are expecting in June our food and accommodation bill will increase as we’ll be moving house and maybe even the city halfway through the month so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

We are also working on a new business/social enterprise (more on that later) so have included business expenses in this month’s report.

A full breakdown of income and expenses is below.

Eating Out$193.00
Toiletries & Medication $34.00
Subscriptions (Spotify, Gym, Apple)$40.00
Laptop Repayments$91.00
Courier Tax Return$33.00
Business Expenses (Domain Fees, GSuite, Hosting etc.)$72.78
Total expenses $1,207.06
Income $4,019.00

Our income comes from teaching English online, freelance Shopify development work, and Zahn’s remote job in New Zealand.

1. Hablas español?

While you don’t need to be a fluent Spanish speaker it is a good idea to pick up some key phrases and make an effort to speak the language.

A few phrases we recommend learning are:

  • “hola” (hello),
  • “por favor”(please)
  • “buenos dias” (good morning),
  • “buenas tardes” (good afternoon) and
  • “adios” (good-bye) or
  • “hasta luego” (see you later)
  • “habla despacio” (speak lowly) or
  • “otra vez por favor” (once again please}

2. Be Polite

Mexicans are some of the politest and friendliest people you will ever meet and you should match that by using niceties, so at the risk of sounding like your Mother remember to mind your Ps and Qs.

Always greet people when you enter and use “Desculpe” (excuse me) before asking a question of or directions. It also pays to ask if they speak English before assuming they do and launching into a request.

Mexican communication is more subtle than a lot of tourists are used to and being too direct can come across rude or even aggressive. This is especially true of American communication and Kiwi’s probably lay somewhere in the middle with our direct-ness.

A good example of this is if a street vendor approaches you or offers you something, you should say “Buena Suerte” (good luck) or “Muchos Gracias Ahorito No” (thanks very much. not now) not ‘no gracias’ (No thank you).  It is kind of like the Kiwi ‘yeah, nah’, let them down gently.

3. Take it easy

In Mexico everything moves at a slower pace so you’re better off relaxing and accepting that before you arrive than getting your knickers in a twist. Getting frustrated is only going to get you labelled as rude and then you’ll never get anything done.

  1. Music is life here, you can always hear something playing off in the distance and it’s awesome.
  2. There’s a technique to drinking tequila, hint: you don’t just neck it.
  3. Inanimate objects are masculine or feminine and it can be rather confusing. Meat and bananas are feminine 
  4. Pharmacies are everywhere, like literally on every corner!
  5. The people are really friendly and helpful. We’ve been blown away with how willing everyone has been to offer help, whether they speak English or not.
  6. Lizards on the walls, floors, inside and out are common and some of them make a chirping sound that you would think is a bird.
  7. There are 150 types of chilies and they are NOT all spicy 
  8. Everything from homes to the food is colourful.
  9. Police trucks drive around with officers standing in the back holding machine guns and it’s completely normal.
  10. Limes are cheap, plentiful and there’s more than one kind.

The concludes the 10 things we’ve learned in Mexico this month, can’t wait to see what we learn month when we get more of a chance to explore this beautiful country.

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