Where to Retire: Mexico

Retiring in Mexico could be an ideal lifestyle choice. (Flickr/Creative Commons)Retiring in Mexico is a particularly popular option for US and Canadian citizens. The weather is great, living standards are relatively high, crime is low outside of big cities and the cost of living is low. And unlike countries such as Australia, it doesn't take a lot of money or paperwork to qualify for a Mexican retirement. In this guide we'll cover off some of the basic considerations for retiring in Mexico.

Retirement Visa to Mexico

It's not difficult to meet the requirements of a Mexican retirement visa. You must be at least 50 years old, and you'll need to show the embassy that you have a fixed income of about US$15,000 per month, with an additional $500 per month for any dependents.  This amount can and does change from time to time, so check in with your local consulate. Depending on the exact type of visa that you get, you may also be able to work, although you'll pay tax on that income.

Before moving permanently to Mexico, it's probably a good idea to spend a significant amount of time in the country on a tourist visa. Mexican tourist permits allow you to stay in the country for a generous 180 days, which is a good amount of time to become accustomed to the lifestyle and work out if it's for you.

Health Care in Mexico

Mexico has a good standard of health care and it's not hard to find an excellent doctor. But Mexico does not have reciprocal agreements with other countries for health care, so you'll need to have private health insurance to cover you in case of a medical problem. You can take out insurance with a Mexican health care provider, or possibly take out a US policy that allows you to extend your coverage to Mexico for a fee.

Tax and Finance Issues

Mexico has double taxation treaties with many countries, including the US, Canada and the UK. This means you won't be taxed twice on your income.

Mexico's banks tend to charge higher fees than at comparative institutions in the US. Mexicans also tend to do their banking in person, which means you face the prospect of enormous lines if you need to go to the bank during pay weeks. You're better off using internet banking.

Buying and Renting Property

If you're only planning on living in Mexico during winter, it may make sense for you to rent property. You can offset your costs in Mexico by renting out your place back home. But if you want to live in Mexico permanently, you should probably look at buying property. Of course, you need to do your research carefully and take care to get a good deal.

House prices in Mexico are generally much lower than you'd find in the US or the UK, although some areas have become quite expensive. You'll want to make sure that the area you're planning on buying in has good infrastructure and can provide the kind of lifestyle that you want.

In the past, the vast majority of real estate deals in Mexico were settled in cash, and that's still often the case. But Mexican banks are now lending money to finance property purchases, although they require large deposits and have higher interest rates than comparative banks in the US. Some specialist US mortgage brokers will also lend money to buy property in Mexico.

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