Retiring in Mexico: The Benefits of Becoming an Expat

I am going to begin this post by defining the word “expat” for those readers who are unfamiliar with the term:

An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing, as an immigrant, in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”). – Wikipedia

My wife and I became expats in August of 2015. We sold, donated or gave away the majority of our possessions and moved to Mexico with only four suitcases. If you want to know why, you can check out my previous post Starting Over From Scratch in Mexico.

When we originally moved to Mexico, the deal that we made with each other was to try it for a year. If after one year we decided it was not right for us, we would move back to the United States. It will be one year in less than a month and we are not going anywhere. Our new life in Mexico has exceeded our expectations and we both agree 100% that it was the right decision to move here.

Over coffee this morning, I started to think about all the benefits of moving to Mexico. I decided to do a quick blog post listing just a few of them.

1. Improved quality of life

This is always the first one that comes to mind when someone asks me why I would move to Mexico.

Every single day we feel lucky to be living in a beautiful resort community located five minutes from a Caribbean beach. We take mini-vacations to other breathtaking locations in the Riviera Maya and eat out at amazing restaurants six days a week. On the seventh day we usually cook something just to make sure the stove still works.

We would never be able to live like this in the Unites States unless we were fortunate enough to win the lottery or continue to both work. The thing to point out is that we live like this on 1/3 of the income that we had in the United States.

2. Lower healthcare and insurance costs

The cost of health and dental care in Mexico is far lower and it is possible to pay for most procedures out of pocket without insurance. I listed some prices in A Look at the Costs of Medical and Dental Treatment.

As far as insurance premiums are concerned, they are much lower. My wife’s expat health insurance costs 86% less than the price I was quoted to keep her on health insurance in the United States.

In case you are worried about the quality of care, don’t be. I talk about this topic in my post entitled What Impressed Me About Doctors in Mexico.

3. Improved safety and security

As a retired law enforcement officer, crime and safety are very important to me. I keep up with crime trends and important news stories in my area of Mexico. I can honestly say that I feel safer here in Akumal than I did living in Central Florida.

Don’t get me wrong – there are dangerous parts of Mexico, this just isn’t one of them. Of course, crime can touch us anywhere and it is still a good idea not to leave belongings on the front seat of your car while you go shopping. Some things are just common sense.

4. New challenges and adventures

Moving to a new country is a good way to keep your mind sharp and avoid the boredom commonly associated with retirement. You will be learning a new culture, language, and monetary system. Even going to the grocery store can be a new experience as you look through products that you have never seen before.

5. Improved social life

Our social life is far more active than it was in the United States. The expat community in this area is full of outgoing, friendly people who are eager to live life to the fullest. We have already made a lot of great friends.

One of the reasons that we have been able to meet people so quickly is because where we live. We have a condo inside a community that fosters positive interactions between the residents. There are yoga classes, Spanish classes, drink making classes (my favorite), social events, volunteer events, and even group trips to cool locations both in Mexico and abroad.

UpdateSince publishing this article, several readers have requested to know where I live. I do not want to make that information public; however, I will share the information on an individual basis. You can contact me via the Contact Page and I will email you back

6. Far from the politics and problems of the “old country”

This has been an unexpected plus of living in Mexico — especially in recent months. If I avoid Facebook posts and American tourists, I rarely know what is going on in the United States. This helps me preserve my peace of mind.

7. Laid back lifestyle

A stress free, laid back lifestyle spent on Caribbean beaches has done wonders for my overall health. We are both happier, healthier and more relaxed than we have ever been in our lives.

8. Close proximity to the U.S. (just in case)

Just in case we have to go back to the United States for a family emergency — or just to get really good hot wings, we can get there quickly. The flight from Cancun to Orlando averages about 1 hour and 25 minutes.

9. Mexican culture and its people

Linda and I have both fallen in love with the Mexican culture and we feel very at home here. The Mexican people that we have met over the last year have all been hardworking, positive, patient, caring, appreciative, helpful and most of all — friendly. We are making friendships that will last a lifetime.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Becoming an expat does not mean giving up your citizenship or your allegiance to your birth country –It only means that you have chosen to live in another country. You can even have the best of both worlds by dividing your time between paradise and your previous home.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) is a former lieutenant from the Polk County Sheriff's Office in Florida. During his 25-year career, he received numerous commendations to include two of the agency's top honors: a Meritorious Service Medal and a Medal of Valor. In 2015, Paul retired and moved to Mexico with his wife. He now spends his days enjoying the Riviera Maya and blogging from from the beach.

29 Comments on "Retiring in Mexico: The Benefits of Becoming an Expat"

  1. Thank you for this blog I will be moving there probably in the next year or so and your posts are very helpful….. Do you happen to know if there is a need for a Lic Acupuncturist? Thank YOU

    • Thank you for taking the time to read it. As for your question, I don’t know have any information on that…sorry.

  2. Great information makes me feel even more excited about my retirement dream. I have a home within a resort community and so far love it. I have really enjoyed your posts. Thanks for the info.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. We live in a resort community too and we love it.

  3. My wife and I have been visting the Yucatan area for over 25 years. About 5 years ago we rented a small casita for our trips. Overall cost was about the same as motels/hotels and we were able to leave clothes and dive gear, avoiding the hassle of carrying it back and forth. We have found the cost of living is just as you say. Our daughter lives there and teaches at a private school. She went for an eye exam and paid $185.00 for the exam and two boxes of contacts. The exam alone in the states would have been $175.00. We plan to be fully retired in three years and will moving there at least part time. Thank you for the post.

    • Thanks for sharing that. We visited some optometrists but I did not have enough data to add that to my post about medical costs. Which part of Mexico are you looking at for retirement?

  4. More great information for us still here in the US!

  5. Joyce Emrick de Linas | July 11, 2016 at 9:14 am | Reply

    What medical insurance company does you wife have?

  6. Thank you for your blog. We visited Mahaual area last February. We went down to Xcalac and loved every moment of our trip. I’m originally from D.F. but now I’ve been in US for more than 20 years. My husband loved the Rivera Maya (first time for us both) and he immediately said: “I want to live here!” LOL. At times, we said, let’s sell it all and go to Mexico!; I think we will, in the near future. We love and appreciate your research and experiences.

    • Thank you reading the blog and taking time to comment. It is so easy to fall in love with the Riviera Maya. People thought we were crazy to sell it all and move but we could not be happier. Speaking of Mahaual, we have a trip planned there next week. It is lobster season and we love eating them 🙂

  7. Annette OBrien | July 11, 2016 at 10:35 pm | Reply

    Thank you so much for this information. I will be sharing with my husband. We first traveled to the Yucatan in 1981 and it has always remained our favorite of all places. We went again for our honeymoon and many times since. My dream is to someday move there!!

    • Thank you for reading the blog. I imagine the Yucatan has changed quite a bit since 1981 but it is still a great place. What area would be your dream destination?

  8. Great article! My husband and I have been visiting Cozumel, Mexico for 17 years now and have fallen in love with the water, the island, the food, and the people. We’ve bandied around moving there for years but, since we’re not retired, we’ll have to find a way to earn a living. I’ve been doing my research and I’m thrilled to be adding your blog to my reading list.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Working remotely online is the usually the best option for the most money without all the hassle of getting permission to work in the country.

  9. Niederegger Maria | July 16, 2016 at 11:52 am | Reply

    We went in TAO Mexico and we loved it there.Soon we will be there for a longer time.we are in the 70 this, could we get a health insurance?

    • A lot of insurance companies have age caps. You would have to check around.

    • It is possible to have Mexican health insurance. Seguro Popular is one of the programmes available. There are no restrictions on age or health conditions and friends who use it tell me it is very good.
      I have IMSS. It is very good but you will not be able to sign up with pre existing conditions.and it costs over 6000 pesos per annum. You do have all doctor’s visits and hospital stays as well as all your meds free as well as all tests. Seguro Popular is similar.
      Hope this information helps

  10. Fully enjoy your blogs. My dream is to retire in Mexico. I love the areas south of Tulum. I have traveled all over Mexico but this area calls my name.
    Hopefully soon!

  11. Gina Casadora | August 5, 2016 at 6:35 am | Reply

    We have “wintered” in Mazatlan for the past 7 years and can attest to the fact that everything you have described is so true. The Mexican people and their culture have a lot to teach the northamericanos about how to live a joyful life. Viva la Mexico!

  12. Boris Boresoff | August 10, 2016 at 11:39 am | Reply

    Love your blog! I recently retired from law enforcement as well and my wife and I moved to Merida in May. We sold just about everything we had and started fresh! We are in a lease until January, but plan to move to Q-Roo area as soon we finish our stay here. What part of Colombia is your wife from, I am from Cali.


    • Thanks for reading the blog. Your story sounds a lot like ours…haha. To answer your question, my wife is from Bogotá. You will love living in QRoo….it is amazing.

  13. Love the blog! Lots of very useful info. My partner and I have been full time residents in Puerto Vallarta for the past 2 years. Love all of the options available here. Prior to living in Vallarta we spent 5 years in Punta de Mita (about an hour North) living in a home we purchased 20 years ago.
    The best part of living here is the variety of options in restaurants, shopping, entertainment etc etc. You can live any level of lifestyle you wish or a combination of all offered. Your blogs are pretty much right on the money and invaluable for people who have just recently moved to the area and also people like us that have been here for the past 7 years.
    Keep up the good work and investigative reporting.You have a couple of new fans here in Puerto Vallarta.

  14. Your information is so helpful! We are going to Cabo next week and start looking at neighborhoods for a possible move in a year. Here’s my question, and it may not be one you can answer. My biggest concern is leaving our grandchildren behind in the US. I know my husband has said I can fly home once a month and see them, but it’s not the same as them just dropping by. How do ex-pats handle this matter of the heart?

    • I hear this one a lot from expats. This is probably one of the hardest things you will have to deal with. You can always have them visit you too during the year — that will help a little.

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