Retiring in Mexico: a complete guide
Mexico attracts Americans for retirement with its warmer weather and lower cost of living, with nearly two million already residing there.
If you see yourself enjoying your retirement in Mexico, you’re not the only one. With nearly two million Americans having made the move already, the draw of Mexico ranges from warmer weather to a lower cost of living.
Choosing where to spend your retirement is a big decision, and Mexico has many attractive positives for retirees.
In many ways, Mexico is a home away from home. Sharing a border with the US means it retains many stores and brands you’ll know and love. Plus, there are plenty of retirees and expats from the States across the country, making the move a little bit easier.
If you decide to make the move, there are other important factors you need to consider, including choosing the right location, the cost of healthcare, and visa considerations.
To ensure you’ve got the full picture before deciding where to spend your retirement, we’ve compiled a handy guide to retiring in Mexico.
What is the average cost to retire in Mexico?
The big question for many people considering retiring in Mexico surrounds the cost.
The good news is it’s estimated that $2,500 per month for one couple would afford a very comfortable lifestyle, covering your home, transport, and private health insurance.
Of course, costs will vary significantly depending on where you settle down. For example, one of Mexico’s vibrant cities may be more expensive than a rural location.
Choosing a rural setting will cost you far less, but it will mean you have less access to the culture and amenities that the country’s urban hotspots can offer. However, this might be what you’re looking for in your retirement.
The age at which you retire will naturally impact how much money you have to support your lifestyle. Our guides on retirement age and withdrawing your retirement savings early will better indicate the amount of money you’ll have at your disposal, depending on when you retire.
What visa do I need to retire in Mexico?
If you’re serious about settling down in Mexico, you must ensure you have the right visa.
If you’re heading to the country for less than six months to check out the lay of the land, then a tourist visa will suffice. But if you have more concrete plans to stay in Mexico long-term, you must apply for a resident visa.
A temporary resident visa will last up to four years in Mexico. At the beginning of this process, you must visit your local Mexican consulate and provide them with key application information.
You will only be granted this visa if you can provide evidence that you can support yourself financially as a retiree with money you have made outside of Mexico. At a minimum, your net income will need to be around $1,620 per month, or your bank statements for the previous 12 months must show an average balance of $27,000 or more.
Suppose you want to remain in Mexico after the four years your temporary resident visa has granted you. In that case, you’ll need to reapply for a permanent resident visa, which will alter your residential status. Your monthly balance over the previous 12 months should be at least $107,000 – or show a monthly net income of $1,620 for the last six months.
Where are the best locations in Mexico to retire?
The best place to retire in Mexico depends on what you’re looking for from your post-work life.
Kicking back on the beach? Roaming the mountains? Or drinking in the culture among the hustle and bustle of big city life? The options are plenty, and each holds its charm.
Safety should be a priority, and there are certainly places in Mexico that are considered safer than others. A handy place to check this out is the US State Department website, which gets updated regularly with areas that are deemed unsafe. However, the below locations are widely considered to be some of the safest in the country and are popular with both retirees and expats:
Lake Chapala and Ajijic
San Miguel de Allende
Santiago de Querétaro
What are my healthcare options in Mexico?
Mexico has a first-rate healthcare system that is also reasonably priced. This makes it a premium destination for healthcare, making up more than 40 percent of all medical and dental tourism trips worldwide.
So, what can you expect from Mexican healthcare? Well-qualified and experienced doctors, advanced technology, and well-maintained hospitals in most cities and towns.
Of course, this comes at a price since the Mexican healthcare system is privatized. But if you’re paying, it’s worth noting that Mexican healthcare is approximately 50 percent cheaper than in the US.
The IMSS system (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social) is generally offered to Mexican employees as part of the country’s national Social Security program, but retirees can apply for this, too. However, participation cost rises with age. You may also be able to use your own private healthcare insurance, but this may be limited if your cover policy is not based in Mexico.
Understanding the housing market in Mexico
Like anywhere, the cost of housing in Mexico varies depending on where you live. However, the strength of the US dollar against the peso creates great opportunities for US citizens that want to retire to Mexico.
Renting in a city can cost as little as $400 per month while buying a home would start at around $200,000. This cost may be even lower if you opt to live in a more rural area.
Buying a home in Mexico can be undertaken with a direct deed involving a local bank trust or corporation. This is a safe way to purchase a home and ensures you are granted the necessary homeownership rights.
What happens to my retirement benefits if I retire in Mexico?
Your retirement savings and benefits will be necessary to finance your retired lifestyle in Mexico.
The good news is that you’ll be eligible to receive your Social Security payments from the US government as long as you would have been eligible while living in the US. However, it’s also important to be aware that US citizens and permanent residents are taxed on their worldwide income—so you’ll still need to file tax returns as you would if you were retired in the US.
What type of lifestyle can I expect in Mexico?
The two important things you need to consider when choosing where you retire are the kind of lifestyle you want to lead as a retiree and how you will afford that lifestyle.
As well as being a place offering home comforts, Mexico offers a broad range of lifestyles for retirees. Whether you want to live an urban lifestyle in one of its bustling cities or enjoy the seclusion of small-town life, there’s no shortage of options.
There are also plenty of places for adventure, from jungles to deserts to snorkeling hotspots, and those looking for culture will find Spanish colonial cities and vibrant cityscapes rife for exploration.
Other pluses include the country’s warm climate, a low cost of living, and the nation’s famously delicious cuisine.
There’s a reason why so many American citizens move to Mexico. There are many financial and lifestyle benefits, from the low cost of living to the warm weather, great food, and beautiful locations. As long as you do your research and ensure you can fund the retirement you want in Mexico, then it’s certainly a viable option.
It’s always worth consulting a financial expert when making significant life decisions like moving abroad – so why not speak to a financial advisor and get their take? A financial advisor can help you plan and realize your dream retirement.
Senior Content Writer
Rachel is a Senior Content Writer at Unbiased. She has nearly a decade of experience writing and producing content across a range of different sectors.