Mexico is one of the most popular and cheapest countries to retire. Thousands of Americans and Canadians move south every year for a better quality of life.
Before moving to Mexico, you’ll likely research the best places to retire, residency visas, whether Mexico is safe, and if they can retire on social security. That’s already a lot of info. So, it’s easy to miss the lesser-known topics that can improve your life in Mexico.
Here’s a list of things many expats wish they knew ahead of time:
IMSS Public Healthcare Program
For instance, if you’re in your 60s, your IMSS annual premium will be approx. USD760 or MXN15,300. Private healthcare can cost you a minimum of around USD1,000-1,800 per year IF you don’t have any pre-existing conditions.
While private healthcare is the ideal option, the premiums can increase depending on your health and age. And it’s difficult to get coverage after age 70.
Many expats pay out of pocket for healthcare because it’s affordable. But the costs can leave you broke during an emergency. So, if you can’t get private healthcare or access a U.S. Medicare plan, IMSS is the next best alternative.
Further reading:Do You Really Need Healthcare Insurance in Mexico?
But keep in mind that IMSS is public healthcare. You’ll have to wait in line to get treated, and their facilities are subpar compared to private hospitals. Some pre-existing conditions will disqualify you from IMSS, and there are waiting periods for others.
INAPAM retirees discount card
If you’re an over 60 legal resident in Mexico, some great discounts await you! All you need is the free INAPAM (Instituto Nacional de las Personas Adultas Mayores) discount card.
You can save on air tickets, medical visits, medicines, utilities, movie tickets, and much more. You will even get a massive 50% off your property taxes. See the complete list of discounts here.
To get your INAPAM card, go to a DIF (El Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de las Familias) office. Check the directory of INAPAM service centers to choose the nearest location. Sometimes sellers might overlook the discounts. So, always ask for it when buying goods and services where the discount should be applied.
To learn more, read our article about the INAPAM card.
Rent for 6-12 months before buying
Many expats rush to buy their dream house in Mexico, only to realize shortly after that their dreams have changed. But selling houses in Mexico is not easy, making things more complicated.
Rent for six-12 months and take your time exploring properties and different areas. Make sure you can see yourself living there for a long while before deciding to buy.
Mexico has no shortage of rentals for all budgets. To help your renting process, see my short video with the top questions you should ask before renting in Mexico.
You’ll have more time on your hands
If you’ve been dreaming of free time and a stress-free lifestyle, you’ve found the right place. But you may also end up with too much time on your hands.
Here are a few ideas to stay occupied:
Many expats in Mexico don’t try to make friends. Sometimes it’s due to reasons like limited Spanish or moving as a family and having each other.
But it’s important to build a circle of people who’s got your back. You don’t want to find out during an emergency that there’s no one to help you. Good friends will also improve your quality of life.
- Start a business
There are many business opportunities to cater to both expats and Mexicans. So, keep your eyes open. I know many new foreigners in Mexico that start businesses based on a need that the community doesn’t have access to. Mexico is a developing country, and there is sooo much room for new business ideas.
Online businesses are also becoming popular because of the lower admin work and geographic freedom.
There are many programs to help children and adults. You’ll also find animal welfare activities and initiatives like beach cleanups and recycling projects.
- Look out for a new hobby
I love seeing so many of my customers become more active and healthier than ever before because they found new hobbies that helped them get off the couch. Some of our customers favorites are: beach hopping, pickleball, traveling, cooking, and dancing!
Expect cultural differences
Mexican culture is different from that of the U.S. or Canada. Having realistic expectations will help you avoid some frustrations.
Let’s look at a few differences:
Life in Mexico is laid back. It’s called the mañana culture, meaning things happen sometime in the future (no one knows when). You’ll notice people showing up late for events, local mail running way behind schedule, and work taking longer than expected. At the same time, Mexicans are also some of the most hardworking people.
Mexican society is family-oriented, and it’s not uncommon for multiple generations to live together. The culture is vibrant and loud. So, don’t get alarmed by loud music late into the night.
The Mexican bureaucracy is very real. You need to develop some patience and hire the right service providers to help you with things like residency visas. Check our Complete Mexico Relocation Guide for a comprehensive list of service providers.
Mexico is diverse
Moving from the heart of Mexico City to a beach town is almost like moving countries. The cost of living, safety levels, culture, and food vary between regions.
This is also why it’s important to check out different areas before choosing the best place to retire in Mexico. Many people don’t realize how big and diverse Mexico really is. There is everything from small towns to big cities. From forests to beaches. There are mountains and deserts. And everything in between.
You must learn some Spanish
Foreigners move to Mexico with almost no Spanish only to face many frustrations. English is widely used in tourist areas. But Spanish will make your day-to-day life easier like communicating with government organizations, landlords, and doctors.
The good news is that Mexicans are patient with foreigners learning the language and love to help.
It’s easy to miss out on the real Mexico
Mexico has a large expat population. So, it’s easy to stay within your comfort zone. But there’s more to Mexico than what you see in areas like Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta or Lake Chapala.
To experience Mexican culture beyond the surface, get to know Mexicans. If you get an invite to a Mexican party or wedding, you’re well on your way to integrating into society.
Retiring in Mexico comes with some challenges. But most expats will agree that the benefits are worth overcoming the challenges.
Our Complete Mexico Relocation Guide will help you avoid newcomer mistakes and take advantage of the wonderful things Mexico offers.
Moving to Mexico doesn’t have to be full of surprises though. As long as you have a plan, get the right information to help you prepare, and most importantly keeping an open mind about your new adventure!
And in return, you’ll have a richer life full of new possibilities, new friendships, new adventures, and new perspectives. You could even say it’s a chance to start a new life! Let us show you how YOU the way.