By now, you’ve probably heard that living or retiring in Mexico is attractive for many reasons:
- A lower cost of living
- great weather
- fantastic food
- warm people
- strong family values
- Affordable healthcare
- and its welcoming culture to foreigners of all ethnicities and backgrounds
And while it’s true that you can lower your cost of living by moving to Mexico- it shouldn’t be the only reason you move here.
Because Mexico isn’t for everyone!
Let me start with an important one- qualifying for residency in Mexico.
1. Residency Visas
The ease of obtaining residency in Mexico is truly one of the main reasons many expats consider moving here. When you compare Mexico to countries like Portugal, Spain, Costa Rica, or other popular retirement destinations- Mexico’s residency process is one of the easiest. But don’t mistake that with meaning that just about anyone can qualify.
After all, you have to prove an income of at least $3450 USD a month or $57,000 USD in savings/investments for the Mexican government even to consider giving you residency.
And while many people can live comfortably on USD $1,500-$2,000/Month or less in Mexico, it won’t be enough to qualify you for residency.
But the good news is you can be a tourist for quite some time before you have to decide if living in Mexico is the right move for you! If your passport is from the U.S., Canada, Japan, or one of the Schengen Countries, you can come to Mexico and stay as a tourist for up to 180 days. But you should know the risks of being denied entry.
Also, many other countries require a clean background check to qualify you for residency. However, Mexico does not.
Another topic to consider before you move to Mexico is healthcare.
Many Americans and Canadians are moving to Mexico to enjoy a lower cost of medical care. But it’s also important that you know a few things that others don’t talk about.
Let me explain.
The cost of health care in Mexico is generally less expensive than in other parts of the world.
For example, going to a “doc in a box” as expats in Mexico know them- because they have a small practice generally next to a chain pharmacy- is very affordable and can even write you a prescription on the spot.
So you can expect to pay around $40-60 pesos for a consult, including your prescription.
And if you’re going to see a specialist like a dermatologist, you’ll pay around $800-1,000 pesos a consult WITHOUT insurance. Another example is the cost of something like an MRI without insurance. In Mexico, the price for this procedure is about $3,000-6,000 pesos (about $160-$320 USD). If you compare that to the cost of an MRI in the U.S. without insurance, you can quickly understand why so many move to Mexico in search of better healthcare.
Especially when you consider that you can go to any doctor, any specialist, or any lab in Mexico without a referral from a primary care physician. And in most cases, you can be seen on the same day!
So, many expats move to Mexico and decide to self-pay for their medical needs because their out-of-pocket expenses tend to be lower than the cost of paying for regular health insurance. And when you see the prices I mention, you’d probably agree that paying out of pocket makes a lot of sense.
What you never really hear about are the risks of not having private health insurance in Mexico.
For starters, the healthcare system in Mexico is very different than what you’re used to. For example, let’s say you were diagnosed with something like cancer; you can expect to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket per treatment if you don’t have insurance. Which adds up quickly. Add to that the fact that most hospitals in Mexico will not treat you if you cannot pay your bill upfront. And if you don’t have thousands of dollars in your bank account or a credit card with a high spending limit, then you could be caught without medical care.
And that leads to a lot of new expats who didn’t realize this when they first moved to Mexico. And when they can’t get the medical care they need they turn to things like GoFundMe campaigns, Facebook posts, or ask friends and neighbors to help them pay for their hospital bills.
Can You Get Your Medications?
Another thing worth asking yourself is “what medications do I need?” Before you move to Mexico, and if you’re on specific prescriptions for life, then it’ll be important for you to determine a few things:
- Can I get this medication in Mexico?
- Will I need a prescription to get this medication?
- What will my out-of-pocket cost be?
- If I can’t get the exact same medication, could I get an alternative?
To help you determine those things, I would suggest consulting with a doctor in Mexico BEFORE moving. This is important because importing medications to Mexico from other countries isn’t legal and you could be forced to throw them away at a customs point of entry if you’re caught with them. Most of the time, if it looks like your medication is obviously for personal consumption you’ll be fine. But if they wanted to give you a hard time, they could.
Luckily, there are doctors that offer telemedicine and you can find the best one for you through sites like Doctoralia.com.mx.
Through this site, you can find a specialist, read their reviews, filter by English-speaking professionals, and see if they offer telemedicine. Your Mexican doctor can give you some insight into your prescriptions and their equivalents in Mexico. That way you can determine if you’ll be able to easily get your medications in Mexico and compare costs.
The good news is, that doctors in Mexico treat you as a whole person. And because they aren’t pressured to push you into certain prescriptions, you may very well end up being told you can eliminate half of the prescriptions you’re on. Or better yet, many expats have even gotten off their prescriptions altogether! Simply because they have more personalized medical care, or because they’ve changed their lifestyle, or BOTH!
I recently wrote an article about the 50 most common prescriptions in the U.S. and their alternatives in Mexico. I include prices in that article to help you determine your out-of-pocket costs if you move to Mexico.
Are You Ready to Live Abroad?
Now, moving on to another topic that’s worth a whole discussion “are you ready to live in a foreign country?”
Many things in Mexico are very different from what you’re used to. For starters, we speak an entirely different language. But even if you could get by with broken Spanish, many cultural differences can be shocking.
That’s where the term culture shock comes from.
For some people, this is a challenge that energizes them. They can’t wait to immerse themselves in a new culture. They want to visit different grocery stores and learn all the different words and ways to do things. They thrive when they are taken out of their comfort zone. They love being an expat!
But there’s also a large number of people who aren’t ready to be an expat. Then they move to Mexico and can’t cope with the constant change. Or they get frustrated when things aren’t easy.
It takes a lot of patience to be taken out of your comfort zone and stay motivated enough until you feel comfortable again.
So ask yourself “do I have the patience to live in Mexico?” “Will I be able to handle not knowing things right away and figuring it out one day at a time?” this doesn’t mean you won’t get frustrated from time to time. But ask yourself “ Will I embrace the Mexican way of doing things and leave some of my comforts behind?”
Luckily- in today’s world we have so much technology that it’s so much easier to slowly get comfortable in a new country. We can easily watch TV shows in English. We can easily Facetime, WhatsApp, or Skype family members back home. We can quickly buy things on Amazon and have them delivered to your home in Mexico. And there are a lot of expat groups around Mexico that get together so you don’t feel so alone.
Many grocery stores have a lot of the brands we are used to. And a lot of Mexican people are so friendly and welcoming that it’s so much easier to integrate into society here.
Being a new expat today is easier than ever before!
The Culture of Mañana
I’m not really sure where this started or why most Latin American countries all have the same culture of Mañana (meaning not today or an indefinite amount of time in the future)
But I figured it would be worth mentioning because this tends to be one of the most frustrating things that new expats experience when they move to Mexico.
Let me explain
It’s not uncommon in Mexico for people to be late for things like parties, dinners, get-togethers, events, and in some cases even jobs. It’s not unusual to agree with a contractor to have something done in a week and for it to take a month. It’s also not unusual for the same contractor to tell you he’ll be there at 10 am and not show up until 3 without any notice.
In Mexico, the culture is much more laid back than it is in the U.S.
Community, relationships, and quality of life matter also. The rush of things isn’t a thing here. And the sooner you can get comfortable around this ambiguity, the less frustrated you’ll be. And even though Mexicans are some of the hardest working people you’ll meet doesn’t mean they prefer money over relationships.
The BENEFITS of Living in Mexico FAR outweigh the frustrations!
At the end of the day, if you ask any expat who has lived in Mexico for some time the overwhelming majority will tell you how much richer their lives have become since moving here.
A lot of people are not only able to reduce their cost of living, but they might be able to retire early. Or maybe work fewer hours so they can spend more time with their kids or do the things they enjoy. High-speed internet is widely available across Mexico and with the increase in remote workers, this gives you the chance to be location-independent and have a new adventure in Mexico!
When you live in Mexico your overall quality of life will improve. You’ll get to experience the laid-back and warmth of the Mexican people. You’ll get to enjoy a variety of different foods you’ve probably never had before. You might be able to finally afford some household help like a house cleaner, a gardener, or even someone to help facilitate your life – like a home nurse or private driver.
You may be tired of the weather in your home country- whether it’s cold most of the year or too hot. In Mexico, you can find your ideal weather and the best part is it’s pretty constant all year round. If you want 70-degree weather year-round you can move to the central highlands of Mexico. If you want 90-degree weather year-round you can move to one of the many beaches in Mexico. And there are a lot of variances in between.
Plus, if you aren’t sure where in Mexico you want to live, you can always try out a few places for a few months before deciding. Renting a place in Mexico is significantly cheaper than any place in the U.S. and you won’t have a problem finding a furnished place – that way you don’t even have to worry about furniture.
You’ll have a chance to finally have a doctor who treats you like a human being and not just a number on a chart. A doctor that takes his/her time talking with you and understanding your medical history. Check out some of the interviews on this channel and hear other expats stories. A lot of them have been cured of chronic diseases just from having a better medical evaluation in Mexico.
One of the expats didn’t have much hope for her life, and a doctor in Mexico was able to diagnose a disease that no other doctor in the US was able to detect! Now she is 100% better and is thriving. Another expat in San Miguel de Allende had several tests done in the US and they never found cancer he had in his neck. Until he went to a Mexican doctor who found this and was able to save his life!
And for those of you who are overwhelmed with the amount of information you get online- because either it’s connected to something you read or maybe it hasn’t been updated recently or maybe because they don’t talk about the important things about moving to Mexico, then I recommend our FREE living in Mexico Guide.
Over the years I have continuously found the most pressing questions that new expats have before moving to Mexico and I’ve put it into a quick guide you can read for free!