MEXICO

MEXICO

Mexico offers lots of options and opportunity for the expat. This is a big, extraordinarily diverse country that offers two long coasts, mountains, and colonial cities… not to mention Mayan ruins, jungle, rain forest, rivers, and lakes.

Mexico is the most accessible country in the region from the United States and Canada. Being in North America, Mexico is home to many American franchises, from McDonalds to Pet Depot and Walmart to Starbucks. Almost anything you buy in the States is also available in Mexico, though ease of availability would depend on your location (rural and remote areas would offer fewer franchises and order fewer imports).

For all these reasons Mexico is home to the biggest established population of American expats in the world. Ajijic and Chapala are two of the world’s biggest established communities of North American retirees overseas (though these aren’t our top recommendations in the country).

Puerto Vallarta is of the most affordable turn-key retirement on the Pacific Ocean, here, you could enjoy all the comforts of home at a fraction of the cost (despite the well-established expat community).

The silver mines in Mexico’s central highlands provided the incredible wealth that impelled Spain to world prominence in the 16th century and created Guanajuato, the crown jewel of Mexico’s colonial cities. Along with Guanajuato and Puerto Vallarta and we recommend the Bahia de Navidad and San Miguel de Allende.

Mexico is, perhaps, your best choice if you seek an adventure overseas with all the comforts of home.

Cost of Living in Mexico

Live and Invest Overseas offers monthly cost of living budgets for some of our favorite destinations in Mexico:

Monthly Budget For Bahia de Navidad, Mexico

Monthly Budget For Guanajuato, Mexico

Monthly Budget For Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Monthly Budget For San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Infrastructure in Mexico

Mexico’s infrastructure is good and constantly improving. Incumbent president Enrique Peña Nieto has made national infrastructure improvement a focus for his term. In April 2014 he announced a major four-year plan to invest US$590 billion on national infrastructure across energy, land development, transport, communication, health, and tourism industries.

Communications in Mexico are excellent. Broadband Internet is available throughout the country and offers excellent connectivity. Most visitors notice no difference from the American to Mexican internet quality. Mexico very likely offers the best internet connection south of the border. Already impressively good and far-reaching, the telecommunications systems will be enhanced soon by a new fiber optic cable, giving Internet access to about 70% of the population (42% in 2012).

Mexico hosts Latin America’s largest jet fleet and nearly 2,000 airports (the third highest number per nation in the world). Air transport here is excellent, abundantly available, and usually very cheap.

Mexico’s rail system is good, but in need of some renovation. Initiatives have been made to modernize, connect, and bridge various lines around the country. A part of the four-year plan includes upgrading to high-speed rail systems to and from Mexico City. Likewise, the trans-peninsular train that runs across the Yucatán from Cancun to Merida will be completely upgraded.

Driving in Mexico is not as dangerous as you may have been led to believe, but it can be more challenging. There are plenty of well-maintained four-lane toll roads that (for a price) can make you feel as comfortable as if you were back home. The two-lane roads vary in width and conditions—some of them are in great shape and others are full of potholes. Traffic is a problem in major cities and suburbs.

One thing new drivers should be aware of is the livestock factor in Mexico. Livestock isn’t fenced in nearly as much as it is in the States. In fact, many farmers neglect to put fencing of any sort around the fields, even near highways. With no fencing the livestock is free to move about the roadways and because of this, nearly 40% of all Mexican accidents involve livestock in some way.

Climate in Mexico

Mexico has a tropical climate with a rainy and dry season and little temperature fluctuation from season to season.

The temperature in all areas of Mexico typically ranges between 50°F and 90°F throughout the year. Average annual humidity is around 70%. Mountainous regions and any area above sea level may experience cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Mexico receives the most annual rainfall during rainy season, most regions receive about 40 inches of rain per year.

Within Mexico City the weather is dry and mild. Mornings and nights are usually fresh, unlike the afternoons, which are usually warmer. The average temperature between December and March is around 70°F, while during the warmer months of March and April thermometers can go up to 90°F.

Weather conditions can utterly vary within the mountainous areas of northern Mexico, where winter seasons are very cold and usually freezing during the night. On the Pacific coastline, summer temperatures reach 95°F around the southern areas of Mazatlán or Puerto Vallarta.

As in any country, weather depends on your region, but generally Mexico enjoys a warm, tropical climate, with little temperature fluctuation from season to season.

Mexican Dry Season: November to May

Mexican Rainy Season: June to October

Residency in Mexico

 

Mexico does require a visa for visitors. The standard tourist visa, called an FM-T, is valid (or extendable) for six months without further possible extensions and is free. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you need to seek permission to remain in the country.

Mexican visas and immigration procedures vary. The first step is to find a good immigration attorney who speaks English. Interview at least two and do your due diligence. It’s a good idea to talk with expats that have been through the bureaucracy before you. On the whole, though, Mexico makes it easy for expats to move.

The rules for residency visas changed substantially in November 2012. Beginning at that time, all existing expats with FM2 (immigrant) or FM3 (nonimmigrant) visas were converted to the new temporary and permanent-resident visas. The process was simplified and easy, except for the usual bureaucratic glitches, and current holders of temporary-resident visas still have a simplified process to permanent-resident visas with the right to generate an income in Mexico.

For folks with tourist visas and newcomers to Mexico, the process became more difficult and complicated. Applications for residency must now originate in a Mexican consulate in your country of citizenship. Residency visas are granted if you have sufficient monthly income from outside Mexico (US$2,600 from investments or US$1,500 from employment or pension).

Once you have the provisional visa issued by the Mexican consulate in your country, you can finalize the process in an immigration office within Mexico and receive your residency ID card.

Residency in Mexico can lead to a second passport and dual citizenship in this country once you’ve held a visa for a minimum of five years.

Health Care in Mexico

Mexico offers affordable, international-standard health care and medical tourism in this country is a booming industry. Mexico is one of the 10 most visited countries in the world for medical treatments.

Mexico’s health-care system provides both public and private options. The treatment and care are high-quality and affordable. You can find at least one hospital in every mid-sized and large city. Many Mexican doctors are trained in the United States, Europe, or Canada and speak English fluently and most medical workers at all levels speak basic-to-good English. Any town we direct you to in Mexico would have adequate local facilities to treat basic ailments, be it a clinic or a hospital.

The doctors here will spend time with you and often provide their home and cellphone numbers so you can contact them directly. Many doctors make house calls. Several expats commented that the cost of a routine office visit was the same or less than their copays back in the United States, around US$30. Specialists are available in town in private practice or in Querétaro. Fees are in the range of 500−800 pesos (click here for currency conversion) per visit. Expats report high levels of satisfaction with quality and cost both with doctors and dentists in Mexico.

Like many countries in Latin America, Mexico has developed a broad-based health system that comprises complex institutional structures. Following several health-care reforms, the resulting system is a segmented delivery structure with three separate components: a Social Security system that covers workers in the formal sector (and also accepts voluntary applications, see below), a public-services system that provides services to a portion of the lower and middle classes, and a diverse private sector that covers Mexican citizens from various economic backgrounds.

Foreigners usually apply for the insurance offered by the Mexican Institute of Social Security as a major medical fallback because the health care provided is sometimes deficient. Once you are a resident, you can apply to IMSS, and, if accepted, you will renew the contract each year and pay the annual fee.

Real Estate In Mexico

There is a lot of misinformation about whether foreigners can own property in Mexico. The simple answer is yes, but there are different ways to hold title, depending upon the property location, type of use, and whether financing is involved.

While foreigners may hold fee-simple title in their own name, fideicomisos (trusts) are also commonly used when there is financing involved or for purchasing using your IRA or 401k. Foreigners may also establish a Mexican corporation, which can own property. However, this is only to be used for business and commercial applications and is not allowed for holding title to a personal residence.

Real estate purchases by foreigners are almost always cash deals, although we’re seeing the first offering of financing for foreigners—the lender is an American bank in collaboration with a Mexican bank. Loans can be made in U.S. dollars, euros, or pesos, although the peso loans are only available for foreigners with the FM2 or FM3 visas and income in Mexico. For loans in U.S. dollars, the minimum amount is US$100,000, at 20- to 30-year terms, and the interest rate, depending on your credit score and documentation, could be as low as 5.25%; a rate of 6–7% is more common. No extra collateral is required since the property you are purchasing is the collateral. The minimum down payment is 30% of the larger of the purchase or appraised price.

Unlike most of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta has a Multiple Listing Service, called MultiList Vallarta. It provides over 2,000 property listings for the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit area. There are plenty of English-speaking real estate agencies and agents in Puerto Vallarta, including Prudential California Realty-Vallarta Division and Tropicasa Realty, among others, so language is not a problem. In addition, property prices in Puerto Vallarta are usually listed in U.S. dollars. (In fact, you are unlikely to see properties here with prices listed in Mexican pesos unless you get well off the beaten track.)

The Mexican government, through its FONATUR tourism development agency, has a seriously sound track record developing little stretches of this country’s coast. All interested investors have to do is to pay attention to where FONATUR is moving next to cash in.

Foreigners cannot own within 100 kilometers of international borders or within 50 kilometers of the coastline, except through a fideicomiso.

Population

120,286,655 million (July 2014 est.)

Gross Domestic Product  PPP (GDP)

US$1.845 trillion (2013 est.)

GDP Per Capita

US$15,600 (2013 est.)

Inflation Rate

4% (2013 est.)

Currency

Mexican Peso (MXN)

Exchange Rate Versus U.S. Dollar

14.84 pesos per U.S. dollar (Feb. 10, 2015)

Languages

Spanish, Indigenous languages

Capital

Mexico City

Population of Capital City

21.2 million (metropolitan area)

Time Zone

GMT - 6

Seasons

Coasts: hot and humid. Inland: dry and warm year-round.

International Dialing Code

52

Electricity

127V / 60 Hz. Plug Type: A, B (US style)

System of Government

Federal Republic

Current Leader

President Enrique Pena Nieto (since Dec. 1, 2012)

Income Tax Rate for Residents

Progressive up to 35%

Property Tax

1% to 5%

Capital Gains Tax

0 to 10%

Inheritance Tax

0%

Rental Income Tax

Taxed as regular income

Transfer Tax

2% to 5%

Sales Tax

0 to 16%

Restrictions on Foreign 
Ownership of Property

For property 50 km from ocean or 100 km international border, foreigners must own through a bank trust.

Local Chamber of Commerce

www.ccmexico.com.mx 
Paseo de la Reforma 42
06048 MEXICO, D.F.
Tel: 52-5-3685-2269

American Chamber of Commerce

www.amcham.com.mx
Mexico City 
Blas Pascal 205, 3.er piso 
Col. Los Morales 
11510 Mexico City 
Tel: 52-55-5141-3800 

Primary Exports

Manufactured goods, oil and oil products, silver, fruits, cotton, vegetables, coffee.

Residency and Visa Requirements

Tourist Visa: If you’re visiting Mexico as a tourist you don’t need a visa, but you do need a tourist card, which you can get on arrival by completing an immigration form available at border crossings or on-board flights to Mexico. Tourists and business visitors can stay in Mexico for up to 180 days.

Residency: Mexico operates what is known as a Temporary Resident Visa, intended for people who wish to live in Mexico for more than six months and not longer than four years. The Temporary Resident Visa is a renewable long term (more than six months) permit which gives non-immigrant temporary residency status to the holder.

Citizenship: After residency of a continual five years with an immigrant visa.

Special Benefits for Foreign Residents or Retirees

Valid foreign residents are eligible for Mexican senior citizen benefits that amount to discounts of up to 50% on a variety of goods and services, from health care to movie tickets to hotel rooms.

National Airline

Aeromexico - www.aeromexico.com
Mexicana - www.mexicana.com

Country Retirement Report

In many ways, La Bahía de Navidad, on Mexico's Costa Alegre ("Christmas Bay on the Happy Coast"), is an inexpensive, small-town version of up-scale Puerto Vallarta four hours to the north. With a Mexican population of just a few thousand friendly folks, the 500 or so full-year expats integrate easily into Barra de Navidad and Melaque, the two towns on the bay. Melaque is a typical ocean-side Mexican village where fishing, agriculture, and tourism provide a relaxed lifestyle for the locals. Barra de Navidad is chic and picturesque, with good restaurants and jumping nightspots, anchored by the elegant Grand Bay Hotel on the south-east side.

Both of these towns receive thousands of winter visitors each year, primarily Canadian snowbirds celebrating their escape from the freezing weather back home by sunbathing and drinking frosty margaritas.

Learn More Here

Overseas Retirement Letter

Top 2015 Retire Overseas Options Revealed In Full

Cheapest, safest, friendliest...best weather, best infrastructure, best health care...most tax-advantaged and most foreign resident-friendly...
Plus most beautiful, romantic, exotic, historic, and adventure-filled.

Subscribers of Overseas Retirement Letter will be introduced to each and every one of the world's 2015 top retirement havens, in complete and current detail.
Each month brings complete and in-depth reports on the world's top overseas havens, including full details on residency, visa options, health care, taxes, and itemized monthly budgets for all of the world's top retirement havens.

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Our 2015 Complete Guide To Healthcare And Health Insurance Options Overseas is your detailed, comprehensive, and current guide to your best choices right now for health insurance and healthcare as an expat or retiree abroad. Spanning the globe... from Ecuador to France... from Belize to Thailand... and from Panama to Spain... this new guide is the most complete resource available on this important topic. This is the retire overseas resource you can't afford not to have.

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Mexico offers lots of options and opportunity for the expat. This is a big, extraordinarily diverse country that offers two long coasts, mountains, and colonial cities… not to mention Mayan ruins, jungle, rain forest, rivers, and lakes.

Mexico is the most accessible country in the region from the United States and Canada. Being in North America, Mexico is home to many American franchises, from McDonalds to Pet Depot and Walmart to Starbucks. Almost anything you buy in the States is also available in Mexico, though ease of availability would depend on your location (rural and remote areas would offer fewer franchises and order fewer imports).

For all these reasons Mexico is home to the biggest established population of American expats in the world. Ajijic and Chapala are two of the world’s biggest established communities of North American retirees overseas (though these aren’t our top recommendations in the country).

Puerto Vallarta is of the most affordable turn-key retirement on the Pacific Ocean, here, you could enjoy all the comforts of home at a fraction of the cost (despite the well-established expat community).

The silver mines in Mexico’s central highlands provided the incredible wealth that impelled Spain to world prominence in the 16th century and created Guanajuato, the crown jewel of Mexico’s colonial cities. Along with Guanajuato and Puerto Vallarta and we recommend the Bahia de Navidad and San Miguel de Allende.

Mexico is, perhaps, your best choice if you seek an adventure overseas with all the comforts of home.

Cost of Living in Mexico

Live and Invest Overseas offers monthly cost of living budgets for some of our favorite destinations in Mexico:

Monthly Budget For Bahia de Navidad, Mexico

Monthly Budget For Guanajuato, Mexico

Monthly Budget For Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Monthly Budget For San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Infrastructure in Mexico

Mexico’s infrastructure is good and constantly improving. Incumbent president Enrique Peña Nieto has made national infrastructure improvement a focus for his term. In April 2014 he announced a major four-year plan to invest US$590 billion on national infrastructure across energy, land development, transport, communication, health, and tourism industries.

Communications in Mexico are excellent. Broadband Internet is available throughout the country and offers excellent connectivity. Most visitors notice no difference from the American to Mexican internet quality. Mexico very likely offers the best internet connection south of the border. Already impressively good and far-reaching, the telecommunications systems will be enhanced soon by a new fiber optic cable, giving Internet access to about 70% of the population (42% in 2012).

Mexico hosts Latin America’s largest jet fleet and nearly 2,000 airports (the third highest number per nation in the world). Air transport here is excellent, abundantly available, and usually very cheap.

Mexico’s rail system is good, but in need of some renovation. Initiatives have been made to modernize, connect, and bridge various lines around the country. A part of the four-year plan includes upgrading to high-speed rail systems to and from Mexico City. Likewise, the trans-peninsular train that runs across the Yucatán from Cancun to Merida will be completely upgraded.

Driving in Mexico is not as dangerous as you may have been led to believe, but it can be more challenging. There are plenty of well-maintained four-lane toll roads that (for a price) can make you feel as comfortable as if you were back home. The two-lane roads vary in width and conditions—some of them are in great shape and others are full of potholes. Traffic is a problem in major cities and suburbs.

One thing new drivers should be aware of is the livestock factor in Mexico. Livestock isn’t fenced in nearly as much as it is in the States. In fact, many farmers neglect to put fencing of any sort around the fields, even near highways. With no fencing the livestock is free to move about the roadways and because of this, nearly 40% of all Mexican accidents involve livestock in some way.

Climate in Mexico

Mexico has a tropical climate with a rainy and dry season and little temperature fluctuation from season to season.

The temperature in all areas of Mexico typically ranges between 50°F and 90°F throughout the year. Average annual humidity is around 70%. Mountainous regions and any area above sea level may experience cooler temperatures and lower humidity. Mexico receives the most annual rainfall during rainy season, most regions receive about 40 inches of rain per year.

Within Mexico City the weather is dry and mild. Mornings and nights are usually fresh, unlike the afternoons, which are usually warmer. The average temperature between December and March is around 70°F, while during the warmer months of March and April thermometers can go up to 90°F.

Weather conditions can utterly vary within the mountainous areas of northern Mexico, where winter seasons are very cold and usually freezing during the night. On the Pacific coastline, summer temperatures reach 95°F around the southern areas of Mazatlán or Puerto Vallarta.

As in any country, weather depends on your region, but generally Mexico enjoys a warm, tropical climate, with little temperature fluctuation from season to season.

Mexican Dry Season: November to May

Mexican Rainy Season: June to October

Residency in Mexico

 

Mexico does require a visa for visitors. The standard tourist visa, called an FM-T, is valid (or extendable) for six months without further possible extensions and is free. If you wish to stay longer than 90 days, you need to seek permission to remain in the country.

Mexican visas and immigration procedures vary. The first step is to find a good immigration attorney who speaks English. Interview at least two and do your due diligence. It’s a good idea to talk with expats that have been through the bureaucracy before you. On the whole, though, Mexico makes it easy for expats to move.

The rules for residency visas changed substantially in November 2012. Beginning at that time, all existing expats with FM2 (immigrant) or FM3 (nonimmigrant) visas were converted to the new temporary and permanent-resident visas. The process was simplified and easy, except for the usual bureaucratic glitches, and current holders of temporary-resident visas still have a simplified process to permanent-resident visas with the right to generate an income in Mexico.

For folks with tourist visas and newcomers to Mexico, the process became more difficult and complicated. Applications for residency must now originate in a Mexican consulate in your country of citizenship. Residency visas are granted if you have sufficient monthly income from outside Mexico (US$2,600 from investments or US$1,500 from employment or pension).

Once you have the provisional visa issued by the Mexican consulate in your country, you can finalize the process in an immigration office within Mexico and receive your residency ID card.

Residency in Mexico can lead to a second passport and dual citizenship in this country once you’ve held a visa for a minimum of five years.

Health Care in Mexico

Mexico offers affordable, international-standard health care and medical tourism in this country is a booming industry. Mexico is one of the 10 most visited countries in the world for medical treatments.

Mexico’s health-care system provides both public and private options. The treatment and care are high-quality and affordable. You can find at least one hospital in every mid-sized and large city. Many Mexican doctors are trained in the United States, Europe, or Canada and speak English fluently and most medical workers at all levels speak basic-to-good English. Any town we direct you to in Mexico would have adequate local facilities to treat basic ailments, be it a clinic or a hospital.

The doctors here will spend time with you and often provide their home and cellphone numbers so you can contact them directly. Many doctors make house calls. Several expats commented that the cost of a routine office visit was the same or less than their copays back in the United States, around US$30. Specialists are available in town in private practice or in Querétaro. Fees are in the range of 500−800 pesos (click here for currency conversion) per visit. Expats report high levels of satisfaction with quality and cost both with doctors and dentists in Mexico.

Like many countries in Latin America, Mexico has developed a broad-based health system that comprises complex institutional structures. Following several health-care reforms, the resulting system is a segmented delivery structure with three separate components: a Social Security system that covers workers in the formal sector (and also accepts voluntary applications, see below), a public-services system that provides services to a portion of the lower and middle classes, and a diverse private sector that covers Mexican citizens from various economic backgrounds.

Foreigners usually apply for the insurance offered by the Mexican Institute of Social Security as a major medical fallback because the health care provided is sometimes deficient. Once you are a resident, you can apply to IMSS, and, if accepted, you will renew the contract each year and pay the annual fee.

Real Estate In Mexico

There is a lot of misinformation about whether foreigners can own property in Mexico. The simple answer is yes, but there are different ways to hold title, depending upon the property location, type of use, and whether financing is involved.

While foreigners may hold fee-simple title in their own name, fideicomisos (trusts) are also commonly used when there is financing involved or for purchasing using your IRA or 401k. Foreigners may also establish a Mexican corporation, which can own property. However, this is only to be used for business and commercial applications and is not allowed for holding title to a personal residence.

Real estate purchases by foreigners are almost always cash deals, although we’re seeing the first offering of financing for foreigners—the lender is an American bank in collaboration with a Mexican bank. Loans can be made in U.S. dollars, euros, or pesos, although the peso loans are only available for foreigners with the FM2 or FM3 visas and income in Mexico. For loans in U.S. dollars, the minimum amount is US$100,000, at 20- to 30-year terms, and the interest rate, depending on your credit score and documentation, could be as low as 5.25%; a rate of 6–7% is more common. No extra collateral is required since the property you are purchasing is the collateral. The minimum down payment is 30% of the larger of the purchase or appraised price.

Unlike most of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta has a Multiple Listing Service, called MultiList Vallarta. It provides over 2,000 property listings for the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit area. There are plenty of English-speaking real estate agencies and agents in Puerto Vallarta, including Prudential California Realty-Vallarta Division and Tropicasa Realty, among others, so language is not a problem. In addition, property prices in Puerto Vallarta are usually listed in U.S. dollars. (In fact, you are unlikely to see properties here with prices listed in Mexican pesos unless you get well off the beaten track.)

The Mexican government, through its FONATUR tourism development agency, has a seriously sound track record developing little stretches of this country’s coast. All interested investors have to do is to pay attention to where FONATUR is moving next to cash in.

Foreigners cannot own within 100 kilometers of international borders or within 50 kilometers of the coastline, except through a fideicomiso.