Why Not Retire in Mexico?

The weather, low cost of living, friendly and welcoming locals, and fantastic food are the top reasons people retire in Mexico. However, it isn’t without its challenges. Cultural differences can be difficult to navigate, and life in Mexico moves at a different pace that is too slow for some folks. Being far away from their family and friends back home can also make people feel lonely. 

a Mexico Relocation Guide customer picking up the keys to her new home!
a Mexico Relocation Guide customer is picking up the keys to her new home!

To help overcome any reservations, the Mexican government heavily promotes its country as a desirable retirement destination. Residency programs for retirees are available to help alleviate the bureaucracy related to visa runs and paperwork. 

Here are some other difficulties retirees and expats sometimes face when living in new lands:

Culture Shock–and Reverse Culture Shock

Visiting a dream destination for two weeks is not the same as living there. New arrivals often go through a honeymoon period, and then the novelty wears off after a few months. Once the glitter fades, cultural differences can become glaringly apparent.

Lady making quesadillas in the market in Mexico City
Lady making quesadillas in the market in Mexico City

One example is the Mexican concept of ‘mañana.’ This laid-back attitude can mean that time is more fluid and passes differently in many areas of daily life. Appointments are often made for o’clock-ish; small shops open when the owner arrives rather than at a set time. This can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations for those not used to this type of lifestyle. 

Even once you adapt to not wearing a watch and embrace the slow life, returning home can feel strange. Many expats experience reverse culture shock when going home. It isn’t that home has changed–you have changed!

Potential Loneliness

Don’t expect family or friends to follow you to a new country. Living in Mexico will mean being away from those you love and have known your whole life. Zoom calls and messaging apps can help retirees stay in touch, but there is no substitute for a local community of peers. 

Missing family and friends is one of the main reasons people leave Mexico
Missing family and friends is one of the main reasons people leave Mexico

Finding this local community can happen in two ways. Expats can make friends with other foreigners who speak English, or they can learn Spanish and become part of the local community. Culturally, you’ll have much more in common with other foreigners, but they can come and go with the seasons. With so many foreigners rotating through, constantly finding new foreign friends can be exhausting.

Mexicans are friendly people and are very welcoming–doubly so if you can speak Spanish. Regardless, as a foreigner, you’re rarely going to be seen as a local. This isn’t to say you won’t get invitations to parties, but you can expect to be left out of certain events and ceremonies that are considered to be more for locals. 

Homework and Managing Expectations are Key

Life in Mexico–or anywhere else–is never perfect. Moving to a foreign country won’t solve all of your problems, but it can improve your situation as long as you have realistic expectations. That said, hundreds of thousands of American retirees and expats live contently in areas throughout Mexico. 

Understanding what to expect goes a long way toward finding your happy place. Similarly, not holding everyone to the same cultural expectations of your home country can help alleviate some of the frustration.

To make the most of your potential move to Mexico, check out our COMPLETE Mexico Relocation Guide​. Our online guide has helped thousands move to Mexico. And it covers the most important basics of everything you need to know to make the transition as smooth as possible! Plus, it also gives you a wide variety of contacts in various cities across Mexico that will help you get situated. One less thing you need to worry about.

The Value Of A Scouting Trip

Now, before you pack your bags and move somewhere, we think it’s a good idea to have a list of 2-3 cities in Mexico that appeal to you most. Before you decide on any one of those cities, we also recommend checking each one out.

Spend an extended amount of time in each city and come with an open mind. How does it fell to be here? Do you feel safe? Do you like the food? The vibe? Are you okay with the weather?

We can help connect you with a variety of local guides in various cities across Mexico, so all you have to do is show up and be ready to learn what living in any specific city/town is like. Check out our private Mexico Relocation Tours.

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.

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