Move to Mexico in 5 Key Steps

Thousands of foreigners move to Mexico every year mainly because of the increasing cost of living in the US and Canada. Coupled with the rising tensions in politics that divide the common people. Many are looking for a better life in Mexico!

But a move 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 this year, these are the steps I would take.

We are 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.

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 MXN $208 to determine financial solvency.

Residency Qualifications in 2024

For temporary residency, you need a monthly income starting at USD $3,300 and up to $4,500 USD or USD $52k-74k in savings for the past 12 months. There is a disparity because the amount varies depending on which Mexican consulate you apply to.

For permanent residency, you need a monthly income starting at USD $5,500 and up to $7,800 USD or savings/investments for the past 12 months starting at $215,000 and up to $300k. Again, the requirements depend on which consulate you apply to.

We give you the most up-to-date income requirements by Mexican Consulate. 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.

And because things are changing so quickly in Mexican immigration procedures (almost daily, it seems), it’s never been more vital for you to apply for residency sooner rather than later. Just because you qualify for Mexican residency this year doesn’t mean you’ll qualify this year or the following.

Our advice: apply sooner rather than later. You are not required to live in Mexico to remain a resident. So, even if you have plans to move to Mexico years in the future, I’d recommend securing your residency visa first.

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.

Others may tell you that hiring an immigration facilitator isn’t needed.

And while that may have been the case 10 years ago, things change so rapidly today that it’s easy to make a mistake. Oftentimes, the worst mistakes are made by the employees at immigration, who may be poorly trained. So hiring the right person who is up to date on immigration requirements and will know the law better than most is almost a no-brainer.

2. Can You Afford A Move to Mexico?

Mexico is famous for its affordable living. However, 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 Obtaining Residency in Mexico

While getting residency in Mexico won’t break the bank, it can be costly if you’re not prepared. Here are some of the costs involved in getting residency in Mexico. (in USD)

  • Travel expenses to Mexico – to finish your residency (gas, flights, lodging, meals) $1,000 +
  • Apostille/ Certification of documents $20+
  • Document Translation $50+

These are only some of the top costs of getting residency in Mexico. You may also have to consider where you get your consulate appointment or finish your residency in Mexico.

Some people consulate shop- meaning they travel to a consulate that may have sooner appointments or lower income requirements.

Some people also travel to a different INM (immigration) office in Mexico to process their residency faster, which may incur an additional travel expense—another important reason to hire a reputable and recommended immigration facilitator in Mexico.

Cost of Moving Your Belongings and Pets

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.

And because many of us have furry companions, we need to also calculate the cost of bringing them to Mexico.

If they are flying with you, the airlines will likely charge you $300+ per pet if they are in cargo. However, not all pets can fly. And many of our customers decide to hire a private driver from our directory of recommended contacts to bring their pets to Mexico. This can cost $3,000k+ depending on the distance traveled.

Housing

Rent and house prices differ between regions. And don’t forget to consider the transaction fees when buying a property in Mexico. Also, most of our customers rent an Airbnb for a month or two while they look for their long term rental. Keep in mind renting on Airbnb will cost 30-50% more than your long term rental. A cost that can add up.

We also recommend you to rent for six to twelve months before buying to ensure it’s where you want to live for a while because selling your home in Mexico is not as easy as just leaving a rental.

house in Mexico

Additional Reading: How to Find the Best Rentals 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 to three quotes from different insurance agents before selecting a policy.

Getting private health insurance in Mexico is difficult after age 70 through a Mexican Carrier. And even though residents can enroll in Mexico’s affordable healthcare program IMSS, this social security medical system can be very limited.

Not only are their facilities and services are inferior to private healthcare, sometimes they run out of essential medications. Also, if you are not suffering from a life threatening emergency, you will have to wait to be treated.

When you move to Mexico, you will quickly realize that many foreigners end up paying out of pocket and having some cash reserves for medical expenses. Or, if they are from the U.S., they have Medicare when they become eligible as a plan B.

hospital bed in mexico

Certain pre-existing conditions will disqualify you from health insurance through a lot of Mexican providers. For this reason, you will have to shop around for health insurance companies that cover you in Mexico with pre-existing conditions.

If you have any health conditions, we highly recommend scheduling 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.

Schools

Mexico has both private and public schools with varying costs. 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.

An Overview of Moving Costs:

  • Residency Visas-$370 For Temporary Residency Per Applicant and Without Hiring An Immigration Facilitator
  • Travel expenses to Mexico – to finish your residency (gas, flights, lodging, meals) $1,000 +
  • Cost of Moving Your Household Goods. The average cost of moving your household goods with a moving company is upwards of $5k.
  • Cost of Moving Pets- If you fly your pets to Mexico, the airline will charge you a cargo fee. Depending on the airline, this costs $300+
  • Cost of Moving Your Family
  • Temporary Housing Costs- If you rent an Airbnb while you find your long-term rental in Mexico, expect to pay 30-50% more than your forever home.
  • Long-Term Housing—In Mexico, it is common to pay a security deposit and the first month’s rent upfront. In some cases, landlords may want you to purchase a “poliza juridica.”

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 $30,000 a month (about $2,000 USD a month, depending on the exchange rate)

Remote working on jobs and businesses is popular among expats. 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. and still working, you can take advantage of the foreign-earned income exclusion while living in Mexico, an enormous tax benefit.

3. Visit At Least Once

It’s not uncommon for people to pack their bags and move to Mexico without visiting. 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 Mexico relocation tour covering different areas. There’s more to Mexico than vacation destinations like Puerto Vallarta, 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. Just be careful of asking for legal advice here- it’s often WRONG!
  • 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:

Move 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 must 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 for 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 who 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 the most important basics 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

      • sandra kerrigan says

        I am planning a move to LaPaz I March, 2023 – I need advice on EVERYTHING- Can you help??? I’m 75, very healthy, retired, US Citizen, no financial issues, want to rent near beach, single, HELP???

        • Mariana Lange says

          Hi Sandra!
          I think you would really benefit from a private relocation tour in La Paz.
          Our recommended tour guides do a really good job of showing you around La Paz, different neighborhoods,shopping options for daily groceries, local tips, and advice on how to find the best rentals and such.
          The best part is you don’t have to worry about knowing how to get around, driving, parking, or any of that. You can sit back and learn.
          To book a tour, you first have to purchase the Mexico relocation guide. mexicorelocationguide.com/guide

          You’ll get instant access to our information on moving to Mexico, and our directory of contacts including our recommended private tour guides. You can then contact the ones we recommend in La Paz and decide which tour guide is best for your needs.
          Check out what’s included in the COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide
          mexicorelocationguide.com/guide

          Saludos!
          Mariana

  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.

  5. IRMA FRIES says

    Thanks Mariana, so If I buy the Mexico Relocation Guide now, But don’t move yet, will it still be good for the Year 2024? I Won’t have to Buy again then?
    It will only be me and I’m a Senior Citizen with a Fixed Income/ Retired.
    Also, Is a Facilitator “Included” in the Mexico Relocation Guide? Or, is it separate?
    I’m not ready yet, but considering it for next year or the next.
    All your Advice will be Welcome. I have learned so much –
    I’m watching All your Videos, very Informative! Thank You so much!

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hi there!
      It’s a lifetime account when you buy the guide. You only pay once and have lifetime access 😀

  6. Mike Willey says

    We do have our permanent residency and are completing a Casita at Rancho La Puerta just across the border in Tecate MX . Our interest now is in the requirements for taking some incidental goods across the border by car, including our cat, when the Casita is complete and how to best access our local consulate when it is difficult to make reservations. (Non available right now). I am sure we will have some interest in other items you cover once we get there, but would like to know if the guide covers these things …

    • Mariana Lange says

      Hello Mike
      Yes our online guide covers the steps to getting an appointment at your consulate, and what things you can and cannot bring to Mexico.
      But because we also know Mexican bureaucracy can be hard to navigate on your won we give you our list of recommended immigration facilitators and also international moving companies as well as private drivers who can drive you to Mexico from the U.S.
      Check out what’s included here mexicorelocationguide.com/guide

  7. Maria says

    Hi Mariana, Thank you so much for your informative videos.
    We are from Canada… and are wondering if there anything different we need to do to get started from here.
    I am 50 and my daughter is 30 we are planning on travelling to Mexico to discover where we would like to potentially buy a property but feel a little lost and also wondering, can we schedule a tour in both sides of the country at the same time? And roughly what would that cost?
    We are in very different times in our lives, my daughter would be working remotely.
    We do plan on purchasing your relocating guide.
    What should be our first main steps to get the ball rolling, and any advise on the best places that are safe and affordable, close to the beach and in a busy enough city without being too busy.
    Any help would be truly appreciated.
    Thank you so much, Maria

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