Are you thinking about spending your retirement or a few months as a digital nomad in Mexico? Well, if you’re coming from the U.S. then you are not alone. There are already around 1 million U.S. and Canadian citizens calling Mexico home. In fact, Mexico is considered to be the most popular destination in the world for expats from North America. Whether you are moving for work, taking a break or retiring, living in Mexico is an excellent option.
At a glance, moving and living in Mexico is attractive because of the close proximity to the U.S. You can easily drive to Mexico or fly from almost anywhere in the States in a couple of hours. Mexico provides retirees with all the amenities and conveniences you get back home, with the advantage of a lower cost of living.
There’s no escaping Mexico’s alluring nature spots, they are plentiful. Mexico has rainforests, canyons, beaches, natural parks and is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. Whether you are exploring Playa del Carmen or the Cancun Underwater Museum, sweating in Tulum Jungle Gym or observing the stunning natural sinkhole that is Cenote, you will be in awe of Mexico’s diversity and beauty.
Mexico’s seductive charm doesn’t stop at its natural landscapes, it’s a country of rich and fascinating culture as well. Mexico’s cultural history is grounded in the traditions of the indigenous Mayan and Aztecs with the later addition of the European’s. Of Mexico’s 130 million population around 62% of people are mestizo, that is people of Central American and European descent.
Perhaps it’s the nation’s diverse history and culture that has resulted in such a welcoming and friendly population today. Many expatriates living in Mexico regularly cite locals’ friendly and welcoming nature as one of the most attractive features of a move to the country. If you are just starting out in Mexico and trying to get to grips with Spanish, then as a whole you’ll find that the locals are encouraging and patient. This can make a world of difference when navigating a new city and language.
Mexico is bordered to the US in the north and by Belize and Guatemala to the south.
It would be hard to encourage you to retire in Mexico without mentioning one of the country’s most enticing aspects. The sun! Mexico’s climate varies from tropical to arid, but the sun is nearly always shining. If you like hot and sunny days, there are so many beach areas you can move to.
Not sure how to retire in Mexico? There are a ton of elements that need to be considered, from visas to health care, and real estate and where to live. This guide aims to help you discover all that Mexico has to offer as a retirement destination.
One of the biggest reasons many move to Mexico is the climate. Mexico is defined by its fresh tropical climate. There are two seasons, dry season between November and May and rainy season between June and October. Across the country temperatures are usually between 50°F and 90°F, with average annual humidity being around 70%. During the rainy season the country on average receives 40 inches of rain. And yes…there is also Snow in Mexico?
Mexico’s lifestyle is defined by sunshine, cultural traditions, heritage and a relaxed slow pace of life. Expats may initially be attracted to Mexico by the cost of living and endless sunshine but it’s the people and community that makes people stay. Embrace your new expatriate and local communities and you will thrive in Mexico.
The Mexican lifestyle is one of music, fiesta, food, fun, friendliness and it’s completely infectious. There are an array of festivals throughout the year, making life in Mexico feel like a constant celebration. Embrace Mexican culture and never turn down an invite to a Mexican party. The Day of the Dead, Three Holy Kings Day, and the Epiphany are just some of the amazing festivals celebrated throughout the year.
Safety and Security
Mexico often gets a bad reputation as a nation of drug cartels and illegal border crossings. It’s important to note that the majority of crime that happens in Mexico is as a result of gang rivalry and drug cartels. Tourists or expats are usually not at the center or even targets of these crimes. Most crimes reported in statistics happen in border towns where drug trafficking is rife.
The Global Peace Index ranked Mexico as 137 out of 163 countries in terms of safety so you need to choose your location wisely. Don’t worry though we have some suggestions for you in this article.
Some of the best places to retire in Mexico that are considered safe include Puerto Vallarta, Lake Chapala, Merida, Oaxaca, and San Miguel de Allende. In many of these popular Mexico destinations the only real issues are petty crimes, so it’s just important to have your wits about you.
Safety doesn’t just refer to crime! Mexico is in one of the most seismologically active regions in the world. In 2017 the Chiapas Earthquake caused disruption to an estimated 1.5 million people, with around 40,000 homes being damaged. Being aware of the measures that you need to take when an earthquake strikes should become a normal part of living in Mexico.
Cost of Living
One of the best things about Mexico is the increased quality of life you can experience as a result of the cost of living being cheaper.
Everything from rent to groceries, electricity to maid and gardening services is cheaper in Mexico. Of course, as is always the case, it depends how much you spend and what sort of products you buy. Shopping locally is always a good idea because it’s more affordable. Brand name items regularly found back home are more expensive than in the U.S. In terms of housing you can rent a two bedroom house for around $750. Most expats find that they can live comfortably on $22,500 a year.
Understanding the tax situation in any country you are moving to is an important necessity. U.S. citizens are still expected to pay taxes when retiring abroad. If you choose to retire in Mexico, you will still need to file your tax return and report any income back home
Income tax is expected in Mexico if you have a job there, run a business, are renting out a property that you own, or if you have an interest-based bank account in the country. The tax rate itself varies considerably depending on your earnings, deductions and a number of other criteria. The individual income tax rates in Mexico are between 1.92% and 35% and non-residents (i.e., those on permits /work visas) pay 15% to 30%.
If you are purchasing property in Mexico, you should also consider what real estate taxes you may have to pay. There is always a 2% acquisition tax when you first buy the property, annual property taxes, and capital gains taxes when you sell the property.
It’s also important to note that value-added tax will be added to most goods and services. This is usually 16%, however some areas along the border are lower at 11%.
Visas and Residency
If you are wondering how to retire in Mexico, then checking out your visa and residency requirements is a good place to start. If you’re looking to move permanently to Mexico you will need to see if you are eligible for the Mexican Permanent Resident Card. The criteria to obtain this card includes being retired in your home country, being financially stable enough to live comfortably in Mexico, having a plan to live permanently in Mexico and not be a beneficiary of income from within the country.
Generally speaking, healthcare in Mexico is good. Mexico’s Healthcare systems ranks at no61 on the global healthcare country list of the World Health Organization. If you are going to retire in Mexico this will no doubt be one of your top concerns. In all medium or large Mexican cities there is at least one top-rated hospital. Another perk of healthcare in Mexico is that the cost is around half (or less) than the cost of that in the U.S. The same can also be said for prescription drugs, particularly those drugs that are manufactured in Mexico.
If you are working in the country, you will contribute to national healthcare through the IMSS system. If you have a temporary or permanent residency status in the country, you can also be entitled for the same IMSS scheme. The only challenge you may face during the healthcare system is the language barrier. Particularly when applying for the IMSS, if you can’t understand Spanish you may want to seek assistance with the paperwork.
Real estate prices and options vary depending on where you are in Mexico. Firstly, foreigners are allowed to own real estate in Mexico, but there are different ways to hold titles. Property purchases are usually cash deals, so don’t be surprised if your deal doesn’t go through a bank.
Most of Mexico doesn’t have a Multiple Listing Service like in the U.S., however Puerto Vallarta has provided a listing of more than 2,000 properties. This has almost certainly cropped up because of the large expatriate population in the area. In the popular expat locations, there are usually a lot of English speaking real estate agents so there’s no need to worry about potential miscommunications.
In general housing in Mexico is less expensive than the U.S. This being said, properties on the Pacific coast and in the Riviera Maya are more expensive than average prices back home.
Best Places to Live in Mexico
Are you searching for the best places to retire in Mexico on a budget? Or are you wanting to prioritize an area that has a large expatriate population? No matter your priorities there are some amazing places to settle down in Mexico.
Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular expat destinations. People are attracted to this seaside resort area because of the sun, sand and international community. The tourism infrastructure in the city means that retirees will have a comfortable life with all the amenities they need.
For culture and baroque Spanish architecture one of the best places to retire to is San Miguel de Allende. San Miguel is a small town, but it’s packed with charm and attractive pastel colored buildings. This small town-like city is also home to thousands of expatriates from all over the world. Warm days and cooler nights make for a pleasant year round climate.
For something away from the tourist crowds why not head to Huatulco? Located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, Huatulco is a beautiful Pacific coast, white sandy paradise. There are waterfalls, coffee plantations and the opportunity to swim with turtles.
Proximity to the United States
So, why retire in Mexico? As you will know Mexico shares a border with the United States, so the country’s close proximity is one of its most attractive features for retirees. From New York to Mexico City, flight times are around five hours. From Miami you can be in Mexico City in just over three hours.
There are a vast amount of things to do and places to see in Mexico. The bigger cities in Mexico provide an array of cultural activities to enjoy. Head to the opera, enjoy world-class museums, art galleries and excellent restaurants. Sports are also popular in the larger cities with soccer and boxing being two of the country’s most popular sports. The country is home to some amazing ecolodges where you can enjoy the fascinating nature of Mexico.
It’s not just the big cities where you can enjoy recreational fun. Even Mexico’s towns and villages offer variety of events. Local fiestas, street music and festivals are a common occurrence in many communities. Head to Mexico’s coast and you’ll fill your days with diving, snorkeling, fishing and sunbathing.
There’s a reason Mexico is the most popular retirement destination among U.S. citizens. It’s not just the close proximity to the United States that people love. Mexico is bursting full of atmosphere, culture, music and festivities, oh, and near perfect year round weather is a massive perk too. So, what’s stopping you making the move to this well-renowned destination?
Here is a list of the Pros and Cons of traveling, living, moving and retiring in Mexico
Cheaper cost of living than the U.S.
Friendly people and awesome culture
Close proximity to the U.S.
Safety issues and violent crime especially in larger city
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