Mexico is the most popular choice among Americans who have decided to retire abroad. What’s not to like? It offers good weather, a slower pace of life and affordable living. Ready to retire to our neighbor to the south? Or are you planning to do it in 10 to 15 years? Here’s how to make it happen.
Cost to Retire in Mexico
A retired couple can live well in Mexico on about $1,900 a month. This table breaks down the costs.
|Costs per Month
|Furnished 2-bedroom apartment
Costs vary according to location. For example, the cost of living in Puerto Vallarta is 11% higher than in Ensenada due to a high concentration of middle class and professional Mexicans in Puerto Vallarta.
It costs less to retire in an area like Mexico City, but you’ll need to consider whether you want to put up with the city’s pollution and overcrowdedness. If you decide to retire in a remote location, consider the cost of travel and how much it costs to ship in goods.
The amount of savings you need to retire in Mexico depends on your lifestyle. In the U.S., the average life expectancy after age 65 is 18 years. Let’s say you spend $2,000 a month over 18 years — that equals $432,000. The average Social Security benefit is around $324,648 over 20 years and the average retirement savings balance is about $228,900. If you fit right into the average, you can retire in Mexico.
Requirements to Retire in Mexico
There are 5 ways you can qualify to retire in Mexico. The Mexican government requires you to get a permanent resident visa. You must meet at least one of the following conditions:
- Show family ties in Mexico.
- Live 4 straight years of regular status as a temporary resident.
- Be a spouse of a Mexican national or a foreign permanent resident with 2 straight years of temporary residency.
- Have residency because of humanitarian reasons or through political asylum.
- Apply for retirement status (Mexico retirement visa).
How to Get a Visa to Live in Mexico
You can apply for a Mexico retirement visa at your local Mexican consulate. You must show proof that you’ve maintained an average monthly investment balance of $93,000 for a year or prove you have a $2,300 monthly income. If you plan to stay for 4 years or less, you can apply for a temporary resident visa. The 12-month average investment required for the temporary visa is $23,000. The minimum net income requirement is $1,400 a month. You can also qualify if you own Mexican property worth $207,000 or more. Fees are reasoable.
Does Mexico have a Retirement Program?
Mexico has a retirement program called the Pension Program for the Elderly (PPE) administered by the Federal Ministry of Social Development (SEDOSOL). This program is a safety net plan that doesn’t require recipients to be contributors or to be Mexican nationals. The PPE also provides health care services. It benefits people with:
- No other form of pension or retirement income
- Pensions or retirement income that doesn’t exceed the SEDOSOL limit
You can qualify if you meet the following SEDOSOL requirements. You must:
- Be 65 years old or older
- Be a Mexican citizen or any American with over 25 years of Mexican residency
- Receive $1,092 Mexican pesos or less from contributive pensions or retirement income
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Places to Retire in Mexico
Where you decide to retire depends on your own personal preferences. Do you want to live among other U.S. transplants? Do you prefer living on the coasts or inland? Do you like city life or rural living? Here are some cities that can offer all of these charms — and more.
The Mexican Pacific coast town of Puerto Vallarta satisfies a lot of preferences. This expatriate favorite provides sunny beach days on 30 miles of coastline and hiking opportunities in the Sierra Madre mountains. Puerto Vallarta offers plenty of golf courses, restaurants, attractions and activities.
Do you like a more relaxed scene along the Mexican coastline? Mazatlán is an excellent choice because it feels like an original Mexican resort town. The beaches aren’t crowded. The mood is laid back. It has the allure of a far-flung destination, but it’s only 720 miles from the Arizona border. Mazatlán is a popular spot for U.S. retirees.
Do you want to experience pure Mexican culture? If so, Durango is the place to go. Few expatriates settle there. The city sits in a high mountain valley in the western Sierra Madre range. The city's set in 3 different scenic surroundings — mountains, valleys and deserts. More importantly, Durango offers a high standard of living at an affordable cost. You also won’t find too many tourists, so the cost of goods and services are low. English is rarely spoken in Durango, so take those Spanish lessons before you move!
Ensenada is a lively city just south of San Diego, California, on the coast of Baja California. Its relaxed atmosphere, near-perfect weather and cheap living offer a popular expatriate retirement location. Many locals speak English, so if you’re looking for traditional Mexican culture, skip Ensenada altogether.
How to Save for Retirement In Mexico Now
Are you in your mid-40s to late 50s and think it’s too late to save enough money to be able to retire in Mexico? Nope, it’s not. You still have 15 to 20 years left to reach your retirement goals. Start by boosting contributions to your 401(k) or IRA account.
Anyone can contribute $19,500 to a 401(k) or similar workplace retirement plan. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute a catch-up amount of $6,500. You can contribute $6,000 to an individual retirement account (IRA) and add a $1,000 catch-up amount if you’re 50 or older.
Still think you’re going to need to do more to ready yourself for your Mexican adventure? You can:
- Get a part-time job
- Refinance your home
- Reduce or eliminate debt
- Plan to work longer
- Downsize your home and other possessions
- Take staycations
You might want to look for a higher return on any holdings you may have — though you may want to think carefully about how risky you want your investments to be. You may benefit by comparing online brokers or finding a reputable financial advisor to help you. Tackle the best investments for retirees and the best retirement books so you know for sure your money is in tip-top shape for Mexico.