Jonathan Breeze, CEO of AardvarkCompare.com, a travel insurance comparison site for seniors.
With its close proximity to the U.S. and gorgeous year-round weather, Mexico is a premier location for those looking to retire. Mexico is currently home to over a million Americans and half a million Canadians, many of whom are retirees. With the baby boomer generation soon reaching the point of retirement, it makes sense to look at their neighbor down south for a place to hang up their hats and enjoy a less stressful lifestyle.
In Western media, Mexico is typically in the news for all the wrong reasons: from drug violence to border control. However, this has not deterred retirees from choosing Mexico as their final destination. With its gorgeous landscape, rich culture, and deep history, retiring in Mexico is a dream destination for many approaching retirement. But there are a few things that you should consider before you head south of the border.
Keep Your Wits About You
Let’s begin with the elephant in the room: How safe is Mexico? Unfortunately, 2018 marked the most violent year in Mexican history, with an astonishing 33 percent increase from 2017 (the previous record). With most of the established cartels disbanding in recent years, violent turf wars between the fractured crews has been a root cause in the increase in violence. To add further insult to injury, most of the crime remains unpunished as killers regularly face impunity from the law.
Of course, much of this violence is directed towards other rival gangs, but innocent people regularly find themselves in the crosshairs of violence – including foreigners. Astonishingly, more Americans are killed in Mexico than in every other foreign country combined. Of course, the caveat is that 31 million Americans choose Mexico as their holiday destination each year (compared to 49 million visiting the rest of the world), but regardless, the number is striking.
Fortunately, there is some good news for those wanting to move to Mexico. Most of the violence is concentrated in five states: Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero and Tamaulipas, with the US State Department advising citizens not to travel to those areas under any circumstances. Fortunately for potential retirees, many of the most desirable sites in Mexico are located outside these dangerous states. Puerto Vallarta, Tulum, Mexico City, and the entire Southern region are considered safe.
In fact, many American cities are even more dangerous than their Mexican counterparts. For example, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Baltimore each have a higher crime rate than Mexico City. The fact of the matter is that if you keep your wits about you and don’t travel to dangerous areas, you probably won’t experience the slightest whiff of violence. The most important thing is to be wary and stay out of known bad areas – which is similar advice I would give to travelers in almost any city around the globe.
Live a Comfortable Life at a Comfortable Price
So now that we got that ugliness out of the way, let’s talk about your wallet. How much is it going to set you back to pack up and move to Mexico?
Fortunately, it's very cheap to retire in Mexico compared to other countries around the world. For example, a couple can expect to live comfortably in Mexico for less than $3,000 a month. This cost includes amenities such as health-care, a two bedroom house, utilities, and groceries. For those looking to buy a house, excellent options are available for under $150,000. Of course this price can vary dramatically according to each individual person’s preferences, but compared to the United States it’s a world apart.
Of course, when traveling to a new country, obtainment of the proper visa can be a hassle. Fortunately, in Mexico it's fairly easy to get a short-term residency visa. All you need to do is prove that you can sustain yourself in Mexico. You can do this a variety of ways: 1) show that you have at least $1,553 monthly income for 6 months; 2) show an annual bank balance of $25,880; or 3) show that you own a property in Mexico valuing at least $207,046.
Providing Whatever Retirement You Desire
Of course, before you establish yourself in Mexico, you have to consider how your daily life is going to be once you are there. Do you like to experience culture? Would you simply enjoy isolating yourself on a secluded beach? And how important are Western amenities to you?
Fortunately, Mexican life allows for flexibility to attune to your tastes. For those looking to experience rich Mexican culture, tours of the ancient Aztec and Mayan ruins or salsa lessons await you. If you want to relax on a beach, Mexico has some of the finest in the world. And if you want hometown comfort, Mexico has a massive expat community with all of your favorite restaurants and brands available throughout the country.
Unfortunately, it is sometimes a challenge to access all of what Mexico has to offer. While the main highways remain top of the line, in rural areas they can be very run-down and mismanaged. Plus, sometimes people forget: Mexico is a huge country. It can take some time to get from place to place. But if you’re willing to be patient or simply book a flight, it can be a lot more accessible.
Mexico can be a great place to kickstart the next phase of your life. When you take into account the benefits, they greatly outweigh the negatives. If keep your wits about you and don’t get into any sticky situations, Mexico can make your retirement a dream.