Why Retire To Mexico?
Many baby boomers from the United States and Canada make the decision to retire to Mexico, as it is the most convenient and accessible country from their home countries, via car or airplane. In fact, Mexico houses the largest number of expatriates of any country in the world. The U.S. Department of State estimates that there are 6.3 million American expatriates living around the world, with about one million thought to be living in Mexico at various times throughout the year. Of course, some expats simply leave their cold homes in the North American wintertime for the warmth of sunny Mexico. Others, however, such as many baby boomer retirees, are making a clean break, picking up stakes, and moving to Mexico.
Mexico’s Diverse (and Affordable) Landscape
Mexico is the fifth largest country in the Americas, covering 770,000 square miles and bordering the United States, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, Guatemala and Belize. A country this large is naturally diverse geographically, giving those who choose to move there a wide range of places in which to settle. Desert, beaches, volcanoes, canyons, forests and tropical jungles can all be found within Mexico. The country is filled with small fishing villages, historic colonial towns, beach resort areas, and more. Of course, some areas are preferable to others when baby boomer retirees are deciding where to live.
For retirees who prefer living at the beach, Mexico offers some enticing options. Baby boomers who watched the television program “The Love Boat” in the 1970s and 1980s might remember the cruise ship’s popular port of call, Puerto Vallarta. Today, this resort beach town offers gorgeous ocean views, abundant recreation and dining, shopping, and the reliable technology to which baby boomers have become accustomed. Some say it’s a bit too much like home, however, with familiar corporate staples like Starbucks and Walmart ready and waiting to offer consumable goods. It has been estimated that a retired couple can live comfortably in Puerto Vallarta for $1600 per month.
Another beach area in Mexico that is popular with retirees is the Riviera Maya. This area houses the Atlantic Ocean’s largest coral reef (the Great Mayan Reef) and is the perfect choice for outdoor enthusiasts who wish to dive and explore. It is also home to many ancient Mayan sites which are available to tour, as well as some of the best golf courses in the world. The town of Tulum is located on the Riviera Maya and about two hours south of the popular touristy resort town of Cancun. For these reasons, Tulum has become a retirement destination for baby boomers moving to Mexico. Estimates are that a retired couple can live comfortably in Tulum for about $1400 per month.
For retirees who are looking for a Mexican paradise that is not on the beach, the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende beckons. This historic town offers some of the finest dining and shopping in all of Mexico and is one of the best examples of a colonial town in the country. Retired couples can live here comfortably for about $1500 per month.
One of the other colonial towns in Mexico that showcases a natural beauty is Guanajuato. This town houses fewer expats than San Miguel de Allende, and therefore retains much of its “Mexican” feel. Historic, beautiful architecture abounds throughout Guanajuato.
Retirees who are connoisseurs of the arts may wish to settle in Alamos, a small colonial town of just 25,000 inhabitants. Long considered a bohemian town designed to house poets, musicians, writers and artists, Alamos is a safe, charming, small-town alternative to the colonial towns of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. The cost of living for a retired couple in Alamos matches that of the other colonial towns.
Housing Prices in Mexico
Rent prices vary depending upon where a retiree plans to settle in Mexico. Larger homes in Puerto Vallarta, for example, rent for $2000 per month, but this cost also includes utilities and maintenance. Smaller homes in other parts of Mexico can rent from $1200 and up. Some baby boomer retirees may wish to purchase a house in Mexico, attracted by the low property taxes and maintenance costs. Foreigners may purchase homes within Mexico’s interior, and they usually average $105 per square foot.
Sun worshippers will fall in love with Mexico. No matter where one goes in the country, the sun usually follows, making Mexico the ideal destination for baby boomer retirees wishing to live out their golden years in a sunny paradise. The country experiences a tropical climate, with warmer, humid air on the coast and cooler temperatures within the interior higher elevations. High temperatures range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the tropical areas, and 50s and 60s in the interior elevations. Humidity averages 70 percent year-round, countrywide. Mexico’s dry season runs from November to May, and its rainy season from June to October, with the country experiencing an average of 40 inches of rain annually.
Health Care in Mexico
Many baby boomer retirees who move to Mexico are pleasantly surprised to discover that the country’s health care system is not only affordable, but of the highest quality when compared with health care in other countries. In fact, many come to Mexico from other countries just to seek health and dental care, which averages about one-third to one-half of the cost of health care in the United States. The cost of a doctor’s visit in Mexico, for example, is often the same or less of what the cost of a copay for an office visit would be in the United States. Moreover, medical professionals in Mexico are well-trained and typically speak fluent English as they are used to dealing with medical and dental tourists, vacationers and expats who have moved to the country to take advantage of its superior health care.
Senior citizens from other countries are eligible to apply for insurance offered by the Mexican Institute of Social Security to assist in medical costs. Other significant discounts are available for foreign senior citizens in Mexico on things including lodging and movie tickets.
Crime in Mexico
Much has been written about the crime levels in Mexico, particularly within the areas controlled by organized crime and drug cartels. These stories might deter some baby boomer retirees from making the move to Mexico. The reality is, however, that crime rates in Mexico are on par with those in the United States. There are still areas within the country, such as the regions named earlier, to which retirees can safely move. According to statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, murder rates in many U.S. cities are higher than they are across the entire country of Mexico. Baltimore, Maryland, for example, has a murder rate double that of the whole country of Mexico, as do St. Louis, Missouri and Detroit, Michigan. Retirees who decide to settle in Mexico can feel secure in knowing that they are moving to a country in which there might be a lot of crime, but where crime is more “targeted” surrounding the organized criminal activity such as drug cartels. In Mexico, there are far fewer (if any) of the mass shooting incidents that have unfortunately become rampant in the United States.
Quality of Life in Mexico
Although Spanish is the official language of Mexico, English is widely spoken across the country. This helps to make new baby boomer retirees from the United States and Canada feel instantly at home when they move to Mexico.
Retirees who have become used to communications technology in their lives will feel welcomed in Mexico. Broadband Internet service is fast and available countrywide. Telecommunications services are reliable and impressive as well.
Regardless of the ever-present technology, retirees who move to Mexico will enjoy the laid back, slower, relaxed pace of life there. New expats in Mexico must beware, however, that, while the country’s major highways are well-maintained, back roads can be treacherous with potholes as well as sites of livestock crossings. Part of the slower pace of live one must get used to in sunny Mexico is waiting for cattle to cross the road you’re driving on, as farmers in Mexico tend not to keep livestock fenced in.
Many retirees also enjoy the rich culture and historical heritage surrounding them in Mexico. New foods to try, arts to view, music to enjoy, languages to learn, clothing and goods to buy and ruins to explore are just a few of the pastimes expats can look forward to partaking of in Mexico. Outdoor sports enthusiasts will have much to keep them busy, from water sports to hiking to golfing. Other baby boomer retirees may enjoy settling in Mexico for the simple reason that they can easily keep in touch with friends and family back home. The United States is just a short drive or cheap flight away (from one of Mexico’s 2000 airports).
Tourists traveling to Mexico from the United States do not need to have a visa but must have a tourist card. This is easily available at border crossings and allow the holder to stay in Mexico for up to 180 days. For those who wish to live in Mexico from six months to four years, a Temporary Resident Visa must be obtained. It is renewable and gives the holder temporary residency status in Mexico. If one chooses to become a Mexican citizen, this may be done after living in Mexico on a Temporary Resident Visa for five years.
Whether one decides to visit Mexico for a short time or make it one’s new home, baby boomer retirees will find much to keep them busy in the sunny paradise of this country that has come to be known as “a world of its own.”