How to Move to Mexico (A Complete Guide)
There’s a popular idea that Mexico is full of gringo hipsters partying it up in Cancun. They’re drinking Dos Equis with beautiful people, having a wild time and living la vida loca with no cares or worries about all their problems back home. That pretty much sums up the stereotypical Mexican expat: a young, rich gringo who lives it up and has nothing but fun in Mexico.
This is what most people think about when they consider expats living in Mexico; that everyone lives like kings and queens down here.
And while it’s true that you can live a comfortable lifestyle in Mexico for a fraction of the cost one would pay living in most parts of North America or Europe, the lifestyle here can come in all forms. Mexico is not just for the party animals.
There are many types of expats in Mexico and each type has different requirements for living here. These requirements can vary from a very modest lifestyle to one that is almost extravagant. Expats come here to retire, start a business, learn Spanish or just get away from the noise and chaos of life “back home.”
What’s your next step to move to Mexico?
Moving to Mexico is a big step. We have all heard the horror stories of people being unprepared or getting ripped off by offshore companies they paid to handle their relocation for them.
But what if there was a way you could learn from other’s mistakes and successes? What if you had one place where you could get professional advice on every aspect of moving to Mexico and adapt it to your needs?
You must prepare yourself as if you were an immigrant, not a tourist. For expats coming here, their situation is usually permanent. You wouldn’t buy a plane ticket intending to live somewhere for just a short time and then be on your way, would you?
The lifestyle you choose to live in Mexico will depend on several factors including your intentions for coming here, the amount of money you have to spend and family or friends that are already here. Just like anywhere else in the world, it costs more to be a “higher class” citizen and one should expect certain luxuries while living in Mexico.
Everyone’s financial situation is different, but there are many ways you can cut down on your cost of living without feeling like you’ve settle for a lot less than what you’re accustomed to at home. And even though it seems like “bad news” dominates the expat headlines these days, I’m here to tell you that it’s still possible to live the kind of lifestyle you’re used to at home in Mexico.
How can I prepare myself financially?
The first thing most people think about when moving to Mexico is their money, or rather how much they are going to spend here. Many people are surprised to learn the average salary for the average Mexican is just as much as it would be for them to live in the States.
You can expect to pay no more than 20 percent of your salary on rent and utilities, which by US standards is still quite low. And since we’re talking about Mexico, you must know how to bargain and ask for discounts whenever possible and always negotiate the price of anything before you agree to buy it.
Mexicans are very friendly people and will almost always help you if they can, so don’t be shy about asking for discounts off supermarket items or taxis etc. It’s just the way it is here, so get used to it!
But what if I’m on a limited budget?
If you’re thinking of moving to Mexico but your funds are limited, there is good news for you. Many expats come here on a shoestring budget and while it’s definitely not going to be the same as living in the States or Canada, it’s still possible to live quite comfortably with very little money.
There are many full-time expats living in Mexico on $1,000 or less per month. While it may not be possible to live like a king on that amount of money, it would certainly go a long way in supporting you and your family while enjoying the same lifestyle you’re used to at home.
There are many people who come here and spend up to $10,000 or more per month. If that’s the kind of lifestyle you’re looking for, then you will find it here.
So whether your budget is $1,000 a month or $10,000 a month (or anything in between), there are plenty of options for everyone.
Do you need to learn Spanish?
You don’t need to learn Spanish to live in Mexico. Most expats who come here know very little about the language and manage just fine, but it’s still nice to know some key phrases.
Remember that you’re coming to a Latin America, Spanish is predominant here so the locals should expect you to try and at least learn a few basic phrases before you arrive.
It’s true that the more you speak Spanish, the better your experience will be here and the easier it will be to settle in. But it’s not absolutely necessary for everyone to become fluent before moving to Mexico. You will find most Mexicans are happy enough just knowing a little English if they see you making an effort with their language.
Opening a Bank Account in Mexico
Mexico City is probably the best place to get your affairs in order. It’s easier to find resources to become a permanent resident, visa requirements, and ways to open a local bank account.
Because moving abroad to a new country usually means a different language, you may have to find a translator or a lawyer to help you figure out your move out of your home country.
Opening a bank account should be a smooth process when you arrive in Mexico. All you need your passport and proof of address (an official document with your name, address, and phone number).
After you’ve opened an account, it’s easy to pay for rent or other things related to housing using online banking.
You can also use international transfers if you need to move some money between accounts quickly.
Moving to Mexico from the USA
When you thinking about how to move to Mexico, you’ll have to answer one of the most important questions: where exactly in Mexico?
Do you want to experience a traditional Mexican Culture as an expat? Or do you want to have the amenities you’re used to finding in your home country?
Some popular places people consider are:
- San Miguel de Allende
- Puerto Vallarta
- Playa del Carmen
- Baja California
- Ciudad de México
Or you may just choose to move with fellow expats like other American expats you may already know.
Moving from USA to Latin America will require a certain amount of preparation. Make sure you have the following information in order:
- Permanent Residency Visa – Here is the form
- Health Insurance
- How much tax you have to pay
- Temporary Residency Process – Here is the form
If you have questions you can ask the local Mexican Consulate or local immigration office. They can help answer specific questions about your move to your new country.
It’s also important to have a local address lined up before you arrive. This will help with registration for utilities, police, and other documents that may be required by immigration or your landlord. Finding an apartment in Mexico City that is serviced by all the utilities you would expect to find at home can be tricky if you don’t know where to start.
Relocation services can be helpful in finding out exactly what is available and how much it costs, but you will need proof of employment for this service.
How to find a Relocation Service in Mexico City
You may find it easier hiring a turnkey solution to help you relocate to Mexico. A relocation company will know the exact steps to help you get your new home up-and-running in no time, including visas and rent guarantees.
If you want to relocate by yourself, prepare for each step of your move beforehand so you know what to expect.
Your new home will require electricity, water, Internet and cable services just like in any other city. You can start this process of finding internet providers and a list of telephone companies complete with price ranges which can help you decide if it’s more cost-effective to bundle these services together.
If you want, you can choose a house with a sauna or a jacuzzi for your new home in Mexico. There are lots of options if you want to buy rather than rent so it’s easy to find exactly what you need and settle into your new place as quickly as possible.
- Crown Relo
- International Relocation Services
- Mestre Relocation
Moving your Things
Once you’ve spoken to the Mexican consulate and are able to line your legal affairs for living in Mexico, it’s time to move your actual things.
First option is the most obvious. You can carry your most valuables with you on an airplane. Of course this limits you too smaller items.
If you want to move larger things you’ll have to arrange for shipping or a freight service. You can hire companies that will ship your things to Mexico relatively cheaply.
You may want to consider buying some furniture in Mexico City, though this depends on your new home and how much you’re able to bring with you. Mexico has lots of unique pieces, but it’s always best to do your research before settling on a good deal.
If you want, you can also hire moving companies here in Mexico who will help you make sure your things arrive safely at your new home, no matter the distance.
It’s always best if you have boxes to pack with, but if that is not an option then you can use old newspapers to pack your things in. Make sure you label them clearly if stacking them up on each other for storage or shipping.
Boxes are available at any supermarket, usually located near the cashier area where you can get cheap tape and markers too.
Shipping services for other smaller items:
For larger items shipping services
- Freight Forwarders – https://clutch.co/mx/logistics/freight-forwarders
Your new home in Mexico will have a variety of interesting things to offer. Getting the utilities up-and-running as quickly as possible is important so you can start enjoying your new environment.
Hiring professional help from relocation services or moving companies will help ensure that everything goes smoothly without any stress on your part.
Once you get all your legal affairs in order, start packing and setting up your utilities. It’s important that you have everything in place for when you arrive so you can begin enjoying life in Mexico that much sooner.
Rent vs. Buy – Mexican Property Options
If you plan on living in Mexico and buying a home in Mexico, make sure to invest wisely. Whether you want to live in the city or close to tropical beaches, you can find areas with appreciating prices.
You can run a search for homes in Mexico with a pre-approval letter from a Mexican lender since this type of document will be required of you before making an offer to purchase real estate.
Renting can be better than buying especially in the beginning of your life in Mexico.
You may want to start by renting and then purchasing property later on, but be sure you’re making a wise investment when you finally do decide to buy that home in Mexico.
When renting be sure to check out the section on rental scams and how to avoid them
Renting in Mexico can be quite different than what you might be used to back home. You’ll want to make sure you know all the rules before signing any contracts for housing, because once you do it’s usually a done deal.
Also, make sure your lease states if pets are allowed, because some landlords do have rules against them.
If you are planning on bringing pets with you when living in Mexico, make sure to check their vaccination documentation is up-to-date. More information on the pet relocation process here
Mexico Visa and Residence Permits
Living in Mexico requires a visa for foreigners to live there legally, so you’ll need to check with your local Mexican consulate or embassy about what type of visa is right for you.
Once you know the type of Visa that fits your life in Mexico, getting it can be one of the most challenging parts of moving to Mexico. There are immigration rules and documentation requirements that you have to be aware of.
Documents Needed For Mexican Residency
The Mexican visa application process starts with setting up your appointments at the local consulate well in advance, so start looking for one near you right now if you need help. There are different types of visas you can apply for depending on your life situation, so take the time to determine which one is right for you.
If you want to just dip your toes with so many expats who are doing the same in other countries, then consider becoming a temporary resident first.
Once you’re ready to join a a permanent expat population, then be sure you have the following in order:
- Mexican Visa Application Form
- Passport Sized Photos
- Visa Fee
The cost if done in Mexico maybe cheaper and can be paid in Mexican Pesos. After you complete this process, you’ll be well on your way to become a permanent resident. And perhaps one day become a Mexican Citizen.
Health Insurance in Mexico
When living in Mexico, ensure you have Mexican health insurance coverage because it can be expensive when an emergency happens. Services are not free like back home and hospitals may require payment up-front if you don’t present proper Mexican health insurance coverage when admitted to a Mexican hospital.
By taking the time to know your options and what you will need for health care and emergencies, it can help ease stress and speed up your relocation process.
As opposed to healthcare in the U.S., everyone living in Mexico is required to have Mexican medical insurance coverage or be able to pay for services upfront before receiving them. The Mexican healthcare system is not like the U.S., so be sure you know what to expect before arriving in Mexico.
Top 7 Reasons to Move to Mexico
- Mexico unlike other countries is a popular place for expats to relocate to because there are many things about life in Mexico that make it such an attractive option. There’s no need to worry about visas and immigration hassles, you can get by with very little Spanish knowledge, and the cost of living is much less than living abroad in Europe or Asia.
- Mexico has a vibrant culture. There holidays are celebrated with incredible gesture. For instance Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead in English and Fiestas Patrias in Spanish, is a celebration every November to commemorate Mexicans independence from Spain. The interesting part is that it’s celebrated all over Mexico at different times throughout the country.
- Mexico has beautiful beaches with white sand beaches. Whether you like warm or cool weather, something can always be found in Mexico to suit your taste.
- Mexico has a vast natural resources from beaches, lakes, mountains and desert where you can go on vacations or weekend trips. With climbing mountains and exploring caves to surfing in the ocean and sunbathing by the pool. There are many activities for everyone to enjoy with family and friends.
- Mexico is a place to arbitrage by paying in Mexican pesos. Some items can be purchased for about half the price in the USA. Maybe it’s not quite as much with property taxes, but it will still be cheaper. Rest assured, living expenses will be lower than USA.
- Mexico has great amenities. Finding high speed internet is really easy. There’s also ordering services where you can get food and anything else you might like delivered to your door in the matter of an hour.
- You can get by without much Spanish language ability since most people speak English either very well or fluent, because of that it’s easy to make new friends once you move to Mexico.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can US citizen move to Mexico?
US citizens must have a Mexican visa or Tourist Card to enter Mexico.
What are the requirements for obtaining a visa? US citizen can make an appointment with their nearest Mexican consulate. You will need your passport, one passport size photo, completed application form and fees in cash or credit card.
What are the documents I need to move to Mexico?
You will need a Passport or some other identification with photo, your birth certificate and your children’s birth certificates too if you have any.
How long does it take for visa appointment?
After completing the required forms and paying fees at the consulate it takes about 10 business days
Can I move to Mexico permanently?
Permanent residents must have gone through the visa process to move to Mexico. There are a varied group of other expats who have been able to move permanently using retirement visas or a work visa.
Is moving to Mexico a good idea?
Mexico is a large country that offers a low cost of living, lower income tax, pristine beaches, very friendly people and culture. This is why more people are moving to Mexico each year.
How much money do you need to move to Mexico?
More money is always better. But a move from the USA to this beautiful country is a move to a lower cost of living. You can get medical care, purchase beers at local bars, and buy direct flights for a fraction of the cost. Some people can budget an expat lifestyle in Mexico for as little as $1000 per month.