Locations in Mexico
I have been to every state in Mexico – and I’ve been to most of them numerous times. The person considering moving to Mexico needs to learn about the various climates, town characteristics, and amenities available. I will share everything I know with you – knowledge I have gained through living and traveling in Mexico. The country has every climate from searing dry deserts to lush rain forest to 19,000-foot mountain peaks. Mexico has the largest city on earth and rural villages where centuries-old native dialects are still spoken. You need to decide what is best for you – where you will find the most comfort.
There are three options for the type of Visa you should have. They are the
FM-T (tourist visa),
Visitante Rentista (FM-3),
Immigrante Rentista (FM-2).
It is important for you to know the distinctions and advantages of each. After five years of residency you will be eligible for permanent residency as an Immigrado. The process for obtaining any of these types of visa is uncomplicated, but doing it correctly is essential.
Health care is much better in most of Mexico than many people realize, especially in the expat communities. Many doctors are U.S. trained and speak fluent English – and they have excellent facilities. U.S. Medicare services are not available in Mexico. However, there are several options available to ensure that you have excellent care should you need it. Most expats living in Mexico are very satisfied with their health care.
Transportation Requirements in Mexico
You have three choices with regard to your personal transportation.
You can take your car into Mexico, but you have to adhere to the requirements of the Mexican government.
You can buy a car in Mexico, although new cars are not cheap. Some good deals can be found for a used car.
Or if you live in an area with many amenities close to your home, you may not want a car at all – you may rely exclusively on public transportation.
I find that having my own wheels enhances my time spent in Mexico, especially in exploring all of the fascinating, less-traveled areas.
Adapting to Living in Mexico
Moving to Mexico, or anywhere abroad, is certainly not the best idea for everyone. All modesty aside, I can usually determine if someone has the right attitude to make this life change based on a short conversation. Feelings of racial and ethnic superiority are hard to hide. If your view of the Mexican people is totally framed by the guy who does your yard or the lady who cleans your house back home, you may be disillusioned once you are in their country. Mexico is a proud country with a long history and diverse culture. They do many things differently, and I would say better, than we do in the U.S. You need to learn these things and then decide if you can adjust to life as a foreigner – a humbling experience for many.
Safety Issues When Visiting or Living in Mexico
With a few exceptions, Mexico is as safe, or safer, than most cities in the U.S. In rural Mexico crime of any type is rare. The larger cities have some robberies and burglaries, as they do anywhere, but violent crime is nowhere near the level we see in major U.S. cities. I have been burglarized one time in 35 years, and that was the theft of camera during Spring Break in Baja in the 1970’s. I’m pretty sure that the culprit was a fellow gringo who was staying in the same campground. The bottom line is that you use common sense. Don’t flaunt your possessions and don’t give anyone a reason to want to harm you.
Cost of Living
For many current or soon-to-be expats, a major reason for moving to Mexico is to enjoy a lifestyle that they can no longer afford in the U.S. The dream of a home by the sea in the U.S. has become a bad joke as real estate prices have spiraled exponentially and the pensions that were promised have been slashed or have disappeared altogether. Middle-class America has not fared well for the past thirty years and the golden years are turning into a cruel reality of diminished expectations for many. So how cheaply can you live in Mexico? Well, there is no standard answer, but it is considerably less than back home. I can give you some good estimates regarding various goods and housing costs. I know couples who live in small villages on the beach, near major towns, who go for morning swims every day and watch the sunset every night. They live well, with domestic help, for around $1,500 per month. Some people spend much more, and some much less.
Working In Mexico
You can own a business in Mexico, but there are limitations regarding what you can do to run your business or work for someone else. Generally, if a Mexican can do the job, you can’t do that work. But there are exceptions, and since the signing of NAFTA, U.S. corporations that have Mexico locations can procure work permits for U.S. employees. If you have an internet-based or an owner-operated business (writer, consultant, mail-order with U.S. fulfillment, etc.), you can work from anywhere, including Mexico. That said, I have met gringos working in Mexico under the radar. Eventually, they will get caught.
One of the most significant differences I have seen in the past thirty years is access to the internet almost everywhere in Mexico. Either from your home, or at the corner internet café, you can stay in touch with family and friends back home like never before. And cell phone coverage is vast throughout the country, particularly in the popular retirement communities.
Food and Culture Differences
The regional foods of Mexico provide an amazing array of dishes and flavors that the rest of the world has now discovered. Mexican food and recipes have become an international staple, far beyond the ubiquitous combination plate found at every family-run store in your neighborhood. There are some restaurants in every town that aren’t as careful with the purity of their food as others. The locals know the best places to eat – they don’t want to get sick either. I enjoy eating at the street stands, especially the ones with longest lines. But it isn’t for everyone. All in all, the food is safe in Mexico as long as you take proper care with your choices.
And – Anything Else You Care to Discuss
I don’t know everything about Mexico, and I know this is so because I learn new things all the time. So don’t hesitate to ask me whatever comes to mind. If I don’t know the answer, most likely someone I know will. And I have no problem using my vast network of contacts, associates, and friends I have made over a lifetime of Mexico travel. The key to every major decision in life is to be as fully informed as is possible. Paying for good advice is much cheaper than just one costly mistake.