Living in Mexico. EVERYTHING you need to know (and then some)
heads up to avoiding the longest lines of the month in Mexico
July 14, 2020
If you’ve made an effort to get out and do some local paperwork yourself such as pay bills or hook up a service in your name, there is no doubt you’ve stood in line. A long, long line. While this may be tedious and frustrating to you, it’s a common way of life here in Mexico.
Yes, standing in line is a normal part of everyday life and if you look around, you’ll notice that the Mexican people are really good at it. They’re a lot better at it than, well, I used to be. I’ve lived here for a long time now and have just accepted that sometimes, standing in a long line is part of a day.
In saying that, I do not enjoy standing in line, any line, so I have made an effort to learn how to avoid it when I can. There are two cycles per month, consistent around the country, that I have learned to work around. This has saved me endless hours of standing on my feet needlessly.
The two dates you need to remember are the 15th and 30th. If you can remember those, you’ll golden. In Mexico, people don’t get paid every two weeks, they get paid on the 15th and the 30th of every month. If one of those dates should fall on a Sunday, then they would be paid the day before.
Since wages are super-low and a majority of people live pay cheque-to-pay cheque, line ups start early on pay days. They tend to begin first at bank teller windows and ATMs, but don’t be fooled. These super long lines extend to grocery stores, gas stations and utility services.
If you need ATM service, do it around these dates. If you have a bill to pay, pay it around these dates. If you need gas, clothes or food, again, do your shopping outside these dates.
On paydays, police detail are sent to stand guard outside banks since personal robberies can also be an issue. A lot of people pay their living expenses in cash (rather than online transactions) and many of the bad guys know this. Following someone with a pocket full of cash is common, another reason to stay away from the busy ATMs and banks during these times.
From the banks, people will make their way to pay bills (water, electric, phone/internet) in person and usually in cash before heading to the grocery store. It is here where the worst lineups are found.
It is common practice in Mexico for employees to be paid in “credit” rather than a bank deposit. They will have a card, like a debit card, that their employer puts their pay on in the way of credit. Many people do not check these cards for a balance before spending an hour or so stocking up on two weeks worth of groceries.
After standing in line themselves then waiting for the cashier to ring through all their groceries, often times the cards have not been “topped up”, which means no money to pay. This will create another stint of waiting while a manager comes to verify the problem, pulling the heaping cart aside for a manual deletion.
So, to avoid all this standing around and waiting, just remember to stay home on the 15th and 30th of each month!