Spanish for Expats Vocabulary

SPANISH FOR EXPATS: All the Vocabulary You Need

Entonces piensas mudarte a México u otro país hispanohablante (So you’re thinking about moving to Mexico or another Spanish-speaking country)? 

Perfect! In this video I, María Fernanda from Spring Spanish, am going to guide you through some of the most important expat conversations you’re inevitably going to have in Spanish. You’ll feel much better prepared to settle down and blend in with the locals after this video.

Finding a home

I have decided to move to the beautiful city of Mexico City and I have to make sure to find the appropriate home or apartment to settle in. Muy probablemente, tendrás que reunirte con agentes de bienes raíces (Most likely, you will have to meet with real estate agents). So, here is an example of a conversation you could have with them.

¿Me puede compartir que está buscando en una casa?
(Can you share with me what you are looking for in a house?)

Gracias. Me gustaría tener un departamento con dos habitaciones y dos baños, también preferentemente cerca del centro de la ciudad.
(Thank you. I would like an apartment with 2 rooms and 2 bathrooms, also preferably close to downtown.)

Claro que sí, si está libre, podemos ahora hacer algunas visitas.
(Of course, if you’re free now, we can do some viewing.)

Me parece bien. ¡Vamos!
(Sounds good. Let’s go!)

This is just an example, but if you want to know about more house features, I did a lesson on how to talk about furniture. Check it out here. 

Exploring the city

The most amazing feeling when you’re settled in your future home. ¿A poco no? (Isn’t it?) Estoy segura que una vez que ya tienes casa, ahora es hora de ir a explorar la ciudad y sus alrededores (I am sure that once you have a house, now is the time to go explore the city and its surroundings).

First advice: No tengas miedo en preguntar (Do not be afraid to ask).

If you’re living in an apartment, you might have the chance to speak to a receptionist, concierge or a doorman. In that case, use your Spanish and ask things like:

  • Disculpe señor/señorita, ¿qué hay cerca de aquí? (Excuse me Sir/Miss, what is nearby?)
  • ¿Es seguro caminar por aquí a cualquier hora del día? (Is it safe to walk around here at any time of the day?)
  • ¿Dónde está el súper o la farmacia más cercana? (Where is the closest supermarket or pharmacy?)

Chunk Alert

¿Dónde está? (Where is…) is a super useful chunk in Spanish that you should learn by heart as a whole. You’ll be able to use it in many different sentences, like ¿Dónde está la farmacia? (Where is the pharmacy?), or, very important: ¿Dónde está el mejor puesto de tacos? (Where is the best taco stand?)

You’re still learning how to ask for directions? Check out my lesson for  specific chunks you need when asking for directions in any Spanish-speaking country.

Speaking with locals

Alright, you don’t have a concierge, because you live in a private or rented house, but you have something called: los vecinos (the neighbors) y, sinceramente, los vecinos pueden ser de gran ayuda (and honestly, neighbors can be very helpful). Unless, they are the noisy kind. Solo es una broma (Just kidding). So how can you approach them?

Hola vecina, ¿cómo está? Yo soy María y acabo de mudarme a la ciudad.
(Hi neighbor, how are you? I am Maria and just moved to the city.)

Hola vecina, ¿qué tal? Mucho gusto. ¿De dónde es usted?
(Hi neighbor, what’s up? Nice to meet you. Where are you from?)

Yo soy de los Estados Unidos, pero siempre me gustó México. Pero no me hable de ‘usted’, puedes hablarme de ‘tú’.
(I am from the United States, but I always fancied Mexico. But, don’t call me ‘usted’” you can refer to me as ‘tú’.)

If you say this to a local, then you’re giving them permission to approach you in a friendly and informal manner.

Pues, bienvenido entonces. Si necesitas ayuda, solo échame un grito para que con gusto te apoye.
(Well, welcome then. If you need help, just give me a shout, so I can help you with pleasure.)

Doing the first move

That wasn’t that hard, right? But what about if it’s a stranger from the restaurant, pub or even on the street. How would you approach a local without being too creepy or rude? Let’s see the following conversation.

Hola, disculpa, ¿me puede ayudar?
(Hi, excuse me, can you help me?)

Sí claro, ¿que necesitaba?
(Of course, what do you need?)

Lo que pasa es que recién me mudé a la ciudad y no conozco mucho los alrededores. Quisiera saber si pudiese darme unos tips.
(What happens is that I recently moved to the city and I don’t know much of the surroundings. I would like to know if you could give me some tips.)

Claro que sí. ¿De comida? ¿De vivienda? ¿De seguridad?
(Of course. About food? About living? About safety?)

Tal vez un poco de todo…
(Maybe a little about everything…)


¡La neta! ¡Qué buena onda son los mexicanos! Muchas gracias por todo. 
(The truth! How cool are Mexicans! Thanks a lot for everything.)

Sí, y ya tienes mi número por cualquier cosa. Me escribes o me llamas.
(Yes, and you have my number if you need anything. You can write me or call me.)

If you approach people in the correct and polite manner, they will definitely help you and if you’re lucky enough like this girl, probably you will end up making some friends.

Asking for advice

The most important, is to know the chunks that you need to request information, advice or just help. By the way, I have made a video about how to ask for help in Spanish, too, that you can go and watch right after this lesson. 

But before that, to end this lesson, do you know the chunks to ask for advice? At this moment, you should be writing down all the new vocabulary and phrases you have learned so far. Here are an extra 5…

  1. ¿Me recomendarías este restaurante? (Would you recommend this restaurant?)
  2. ¿Podrías sugerirme algo para hacer esta noche? (Can you suggest me to do something tonight?)
  3. ¿Dónde puedo tomar clases de piano? (Where can I take piano lessons?)
  4. ¿Cómo le hago para rentar un carro? (How do I rent a car?)
  5. ¿Te molestaría darme un tour por la ciudad? (Would you mind giving me a tour of the city?)

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