When we think about Mexico, we usually imagine white sand beaches, margaritas and a fun-filled vacation in the sun. But what if you are done with imagining yourself in Mexico on vacation that always ends too soon, and decide to make it your permanent reality – your home?
It is estimated that around 1 million American citizens live in Mexico, and the number keeps increasing every year. The Riviera Maya, a region on the Mexican Caribbean coast, has been especially popular among retirees and families. Each family has different reasons to move to Mexico, but those who move to the Riviera Maya, and especially Tulum, often do so to run away from their daily stress and to immerse themselves in the relaxing, easy-going atmosphere of the Caribbean. Many also choose Tulum because it offers the fastest-growing real estate market in the world.
Here is some basic advice to everyone who is planning to relocate to Mexico.
- Buying property in Mexico as a foreigner
There are simple procedures that all foreigners have to follow when they buy property in Mexico, especially in the coastal regions. A foreigner buying land in Mexico within 32 miles (50 km) from the coastline has to use a bank trust (fideicomiso) or establish a Mexican corporation to complete the purchase. You can choose your bank – HSBC, Scotia bank, Banamex (Citigroup), etc – that will act as your trustee, with you maintaining full control over the trust: you will be able to lease, sell or pass the property on to your heirs. Make sure you choose a trustworthy local real estate agency that will take care of all the steps of buying your property.
- Becoming a resident in Mexico
If you are coming to Mexico as a tourist, you don¹t need any visa – you will simply get entry permit as a visitor at the border, usually for 180 days, with no permission to work. In order to apply for Mexican residency, you must do so before going to Mexico at the Mexican embassy or consulate.
Temporary resident visa is issued for up to 4 years, and is meant for those who wish to spend more than 180 days in Mexico per year – it¹s perfect if you own a second home in Mexico. You would need to show monthly income of at least $1,553 per person and at least $520 per month per dependent. You can also get temporary resident¹s visa by showing a bank statement with a balance of about $25,880. There is also a way to get your temporary status by proving you own property in Mexico that has the value of $207,046 or more. When temporary residence card expires, you have to either leave the country or apply for permanent residency.
If you decide you are moving to Mexico permanently, you can apply for permanent residency immediately. The process will be similar as applying for temporary status, but you will have to show higher levels of income: investments with approximate monthly balance of around $103,523 over 12 months or monthly income of $2,588 per person over 6 months.
- Cost of living
The cost of living in Tulum and the Riviera Maya depends strictly on your lifestyle. For example, the cost of renting a property on the beach can be a few times higher than a few blocks inland, while still being a few minutes away from the beach. Also, Tulum is full of expensive gourmet restaurants – but also has plentiful local markets that are very affordable. So it¹s completely a choice of each family how to spend their budget. Similarly, you can spend $2,000 for a fancy penthouse condo in Playa del Carmen or $500 for a lovely one-bedroom in Tulum. Utilities – not cheap in Mexico – would come down to about $300 per month, groceries would cost around $400, and a maid would come down to about $60 (once per week). Thus it¹s safe to say that $2,000 budget per couple per month would be sufficient to lead a comfortable life in Tulum
Is Mexico safe? That¹s a thought that often crosses the mind of many would-be retirees in Mexico. Mexico, in fact, is considered to be one of the best countries for expats in the world. InterNations, which is a popular expat website, named Mexico as a top place to move to because of quality of life, ease of settling in, work opportunities, family life, personal finance and general satisfaction with life. Certainly, every foreigner in Mexico should exercise common sense and caution, as anywhere in the world. Touristy regions as the Riviera Maya are completely safe, but such violent states as Guerrero, that includes Acapulco, the once-glamorous beach town, are not recommended at all.
Mexico offers great and affordable universal healthcare, and its private healthcare is amongst the most affordable in the Western hemisphere. Locally, there are a few smaller hospitals in Tulum and modern healthcare centers in Playa del Carmen and Cancun.