How to Move to Mexico: 5 Steps

If there was ever a time to have a plan B to move to Mexico, it is now! Thousands of foreigners relocate to Mexico every year mainly because of the increasing cost of living in the U.S., Canada, and beyond.

But moving to Mexico is not as easy as packing your bags, showing up, and starting a new life sipping a margarita by the beach. The Mexican immigration and bureaucracy are challenging, especially with limited Spanish. And you can get scammed by hiring the wrong people.

The good news is that you can avoid costly mistakes by following a few steps. And if I was moving to Mexico in 2022, these are the steps I would take.

Starting with living in Mexico legally.

1. Do You Qualify For Residency?

The time when expats in Mexico could be perpetual tourists doing border runs every six months is coming to an end. Mexican Immigration is no longer handing out 180-day entries to every qualifying visitor.

And you need residency to open a bank account, get a driver’s license, get certain private health insurance policies, work in Mexico, and for many other activities.

While there are several ways to get residency, the most common option is through financial solvency. Mexican authorities use a formula based on the current daily minimum wage of MXN172.87 to determine financial solvency.

For example,

For temporary residency, you need a monthly income of 300 x MXN $172.87 = approx. MXN $51,861 or USD $2,593.

For permanent residency, it is 500 x MXN $172.87 = approx. MXN $86,435 or USD $4,321 a month.

But the financial requirements are NOT the same between consulates. So, check the requirements of the Mexican consulate in your city or country. If you’re on the cusp of qualifying, I urge you to get your residency sooner rather than later because the income requirements tend to increase yearly.

Get The List of Income Requirements for Residency in Mexico By City Here

While it may seem very simple to qualify for residency, unfortunately, the process isn’t. Mexican bureaucracy can be complicated and very inconsistent. Because of this, we recommend hiring an immigration facilitator familiar with local customs, laws, and requirements.

2. Can You Afford a Move to Mexico?

Mexico is famous for its affordable living. But the cost of living in Mexico can vary depending on your lifestyle. Make a budget to understand how much you will need to live comfortably. Here are some cost of living comparisons from real people to help you.

Consider the following items:

Cost of moving your family, pets, and belongings

The type and number of items like furniture will significantly add to your moving costs. For an average person, moving to Mexico from the U.S. can cost between $5,000-$10,000. If you’re using moving companies, shop around for the best quote.

Housing

Rent and house prices differ between regions. And don’t forget to consider the transaction fees when looking to buy a property in Mexico.

I urge you to rent for six to twelve months before buying to make sure it’s where you want to live for a while. Because selling houses in Mexico isn’t easy.

house in Mexico
Health insurance

Mexico offers excellent healthcare at affordable rates. But paying out of pocket can bankrupt you during a catastrophic event. So, it’s a good idea to get private health insurance.

Compare two-three quotes from different insurance agents before selecting a policy.

Getting private health insurance in Mexico is difficult after age 65-70. Residents can enroll with public healthcare programs called IMSS and INSABI. But their facilities and services are inferior to private healthcare.

hospital bed in mexico

Certain pre-existing conditions will disqualify you from health insurance. If you have any health conditions, make a telemedicine appointment with an English-speaking specialist in Mexico through a website like Doctoralia. That way, you can understand the costs of medication and ongoing treatment. Especially if you plan to pay out of pocket.

If you’re an expat from the U.S., you may have access to Medicare in Mexico for emergencies.

Schools

Mexico has both private and public schools with varying costs. And some private schools have special accreditation with schools in the U.S., Canada, and the UK.

Vehicle

You can buy a car in Mexico or import a foreign plated car.

Importing a foreign plated car can cost about $8,000-$15,000. So, look into the costs vs. benefits of both options.

What will you do for money?

Do you have enough income from social security or savings and investments? Or will you need a new income stream?

Temporary residency visas based on financial solvency don’t come with work rights. So, you’ll need to get a work permit to work in Mexico. But remember, Mexico’s wages are nowhere near U.S. wages. The average wage for a family in Mexico is around MXN $20,000 a month (about $1,000 USD a month.)

Remote working on jobs and businesses is popular among expats. And they get the geographic arbitrage benefit of earning in stronger currencies while paying their living costs in MXN.

If you’re from the U.S., you can take advantage of the foreign earned income exclusion, which is a large tax benefit.

3. Visit At Least Once

It’s not uncommon for people to pack their bags and move to Mexico without having ever visited before. But it’s clear that many of the people who moved without a plan end up moving back. Mostly because they realize living in Mexico is not for them.

I recommend planning a relocation tour covering different areas. There’s more to Mexico than vacation destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Cancún and other expat hotspots.

Visiting will help you get a sense of the vibe, facilities, and weather. You can also see if you feel safe in each place. Avoid focusing only on the cheapest places to live and find where you’d be comfortable.

To plan the scouting trip:

  • Make a list of your needs and select the areas that match them.
  • See how you’ll get around the country.
    You can fly between some cities, drive (rent a car), or even take luxury buses like ADO, ETN, or Omnibus de Mexico. Within cities, there are taxis and rideshare options like Uber and Didi.
  • Line up some rentals to visit.
    It’s easier to find hidden gems in person.
  • Visit schools, healthcare facilities, restaurants, and other places of interest.
  • Join Facebook groups. Like the expat groups of different cities. That way, you can get to know others in the area and pick up some tips.
  • And if you want to learn more about what it’s really like to live in certain areas, without having to rent a car or plan where to go- we offer Relocation Tours. We won’t sell you anything. So, you can enjoy your visit without stress.

4. Plan Your Move

You’re almost there!

Now let’s look at a few things to tick off ahead of your moving trip:

Moving to Mexico with Pets

Mexico’s National Service for Health, Safety and Agri-food Quality, SENASICA, says pets (dogs and cats) coming from the U.S. and Canada don’t need a health certificate. Check their guidelines about how to transport pets and the food allowance.

If you’re flying, the airline may have its own rules and may require a health certificate. This is completely normal. To price out what you will need to pay, from getting a health certificate, to buying a new kennel, to paying your dog’s flight cargo fee, check the airline’s pet transport rules.

Speak to moving companies and pet transport companies if needed.

Some people don’t want to fly their pets in cargo. And understandably so. It’s very stressful on your furry friend. Not to mention that some airlines have strict restrictions on the breeds of animals they allow in cargo.

For this we recommend hiring a pet transport company. But the prices can vary so much that you really need to get a few quotes.

If you need a recommendation, we have a directory of private drivers that make regular trips between Mexico, the USA, and Canada. Check out our COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide.

Will you drive or fly?

Consider the distance, the luggage, the number of persons and pets, and the costs before deciding.

5. Hire The Right People To Help You- And Make It Easier For You

It’s tempting to do it yourself and save money. But it increases your risk of making costly mistakes. The right service providers can help you make a stress-free move to Mexico.

Here’s our Complete Mexico Relocation Guide to learn everything you should know about moving to Mexico. You will also get my directory of recommended contacts for immigration services, rentals, real estate, relocation tour guides, health insurance, moving companies, pet import, and much much more.

Mariana Lange

Mariana Lima-Lange was born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. when she was a child. She spent every summer visiting family throughout Mexico and is very knowledgeable about Mexican culture, lifestyle, and traditions. She is fluent in both Spanish and English.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Pedro Rivera says

    Mariana thank you for so valuable information.I have a question recently I applied for the visa at my consulate will they use the same income that was reported at my consulate or once you get to Mexico the income is completely different to what I got approved.
    Thank you

    • Mariana Lange says

      You only need to prove the financial solvency once – if you’ve already been approved at your consular appointment then you won’t have to qualify again. But just to be in the safe side, don’t go spending all your money until you have your card in hand

  2. Jane says

    Hi Mariana! I am in the process of making a “list” of things I need to do and what obstacles I might encounter in accomplishing these items.
    A few concerns I have currently are regarding residency and meeting with the Mexican Consulate. The consulate closest to me is in Raleigh, NC. Do you know anything about it, what kind of documentation I need to provide and where I can get the forms? Their website does not appear to be up to date.
    Next is about applying residency. As of right now, I will qualify for TR, based on net monthly income. I am an ESL teacher and I’m going to retire with 20 years, which means reduced benefits. I know to apply for TR asap. Now, if I am asked about future earnings and retirement, how would I respond? My bank statements will indicate for a school system. I actually would like to seek employment as an ESL teacher in Mexico.
    I am going to need to sell all of my personal beliefs before moving to Mexico. I cannot move forward until I have information regarding these issues. Once I get that far, I can purchase the Relocation Guide and move forward. Thank you so much!

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi Jane
      thanks for writing in
      Regarding Raleigh – you can email them and ask them about their current requirements
      [email protected]
      This address Edith attends

      If you qualify now, I would not mention anything about the possibility of not having an income later. The main thing they will want to know is if you qualify now. If they ask you about future employment, just mention you will have a full retirement and a pension. But I wouldn’t mention working in Mexico as a teacher- this could seem as though you won’t have enough to sustain yourself in the future and could also look as though you will need to work in Mexico to be able to survive

      Hope they give you some answers via email

  3. Jason Floyd says

    Hi Marianna and thank you for the reminder and details. So many things to have in order and to research before the move. Your insight and awesome information is very much appreciated and definitely needed to do this move the right way. Your content and answers are always super positive, genuine, well said and inspires. Getting the added inspiration is such a big deal so thank you for the bonus inspiration!

    Saludos

  4. ETTA STRICKLAND says

    Hi Mariana, I have a few questions. Once I am approved for TR and finish the process in Mexico, how soon would I have to move? I ask because I would need to go back to U.S. and liquidate most of my belongings to prepare for the move. Also how much does it cost to hire a facilitator to assist me with the finalization of TR visa in Mexico?

    • Mariana Lange says

      Once you’re approved for residency you have up to 180 days to fginisg the pricess in Mexico. But you don’t have to move to Mexico, you just have to travel to Mexico to finish the process. Although moving might be the only time you plan to travel to Mexico after getting residency. It’s really up to you.

      The cost of a facilitator varies because each one of them is an independent business owner and they set their own prices. But you can expect about $200-$500 USD depending on what they are doing for you, how many people in your family, etc. Plus immigration fees.

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