5 Tips for Retiring in Mexico

Source: Q-Roo Paul

Moving to a foreign country is far more complex than simply moving to another city or state back home. There are so many other things that you will have to deal with – like immigration and customs laws.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all formula for a successful transition to a new life in Mexico, I do have some tips for those of you who would like to make the transition as simple and cost effective as possible.

These tips come not only from our experience moving to Mexico, but also from other expats that we have met along the way.

1. Simplify your Life and Downsize

Your move to Mexico will be far more complicated if you insist on keeping every knick-knack that you’ve ever collected in your lifetime.

I highly recommend that you start downsizing by selling or donating the vast majority of the “stuff” that you’ve accumulated. This will give you some extra money for the move and you won’t have to worry about how to ship it all down to Mexico.

For those of you who have trouble letting go, I suppose you could store it all in a big, expensive storage shed back home until you build up the courage to let it go someday.

I was too thrifty to pay for a storage shed and we reduced all of our belongings to what we could fit in four suitcases. That might sound extreme, but it was a very easy move — logistically speaking.

2. Get a Temporary or Permanent Resident Visa

You can live in Mexico on a tourist visa for up to six months at a time; however, I don’t recommend this option unless you don’t qualify for a temporary or permanent resident visa.

There are several things that you will not be able to do with only a tourist visa. To learn more about that and to review qualifications for the various visa options, check out Deciding Which Visa Option Is Right for You.

Besides, who wants to have to take time out of their fun-filled retirement to cross a border every six months? Not me.

3. Don’t Bring your Furniture

Just to be clear – they sell furniture in Mexico and it’s even relatively inexpensive. In fact, you can even have furniture custom built in Mexico for a lot less than you think.

It is possible to import your furniture from the U.S. or Canada – but it can be expensive and some items may mysteriously disappear along the way.

I have met several expats that shipped furniture and most had something vanish. The majority told me that looking back, they wished that they had sold the furniture and bought new items when they arrived.

Another thing you have to consider is that the architecture and design of the buildings is different here. Do you think that 1995 BarcaLounger is going to look cool in your contemporary condo located in a Mexican beach town?

For those who don’t know what a BarcaLounger is, here’s a picture:


BarcaLounger that should not be imported to Mexico

4. Buy a Car in Mexico

If you plan on living here, I highly recommend that you get rid of your car back home and buy one in Mexico. There are hassles and expenses associated with importing and nationalizing your foreign plated vehicle here.

I really cannot stress the importance of this one enough. To learn more, check out 8 Things to Consider Before Taking Your Car to Mexico.

If you are planning on living in Mexico on a tourist visa, then you might have to consider bringing your foreign plated vehicle from home. Just keep in mind that the vehicle will have to be taken back to a border every six months or it could be subject to seizure by the Mexican government.

5. Start Learning Spanish

When I say that you should start learning Spanish, I mean before you move to Mexico. It will be much easier to live here if you have at least a working knowledge of the language.

I give this advice a lot; however, the common response is that they will pick it up once they arrive.

You can “pick up” a parasite or even a cold, but a language is going to take a little more effort on your part if you hope to be conversational some day.

If you are learning on your own, I recommend buying the following e-book to help you: Ventanas Mexico: A Complete Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online.

There are also free Spanish video lessons on this site that are all less than 9 minutes in length.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Mexico is a wonderful destination for retirees on a fixed income. By following these tips, you can ensure that your move to Mexico is as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years and retired at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He moved to Mexico with his wife six days later to enjoy a laid-back, Caribbean lifestyle on a tight budget. In 2016, Paul started a blog to share information with other people who may be thinking of making the move to Mexico. The blog, Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us), has been viewed over a million times.

16 Comments on "5 Tips for Retiring in Mexico"

  1. Hi Paul – Barb from Merida here! And I am so so guilty of all of these! Good thing we have another year left to get our sh*t together (or get rid of it really!).

  2. I very much enjoy reading your blog and resourceful tips and information. Three and one half years to retirement and I’m on my way to Mexico. Thank you so much

  3. I look forward to reading your blog posts. We honeymooned in Playa Del Carmen in ’95. We returned two years later and looked at real estate but couldn’t afford anything at the time. Now, 20 years later, we have the means but have too many anchors in the ground. Teenagers, elderly parents, pets.. When I first visited Mexico on my honeymoon in ’95, my wife had to tell me how to say even basic Spanish words from her limited high school Spanish. Now 20 years later I speak Espanol with fluency, but roughly. (Tarzan Spanish, “Me Chuck, you Jose”) I work daily with and have worked with Spanish speaking people in my business for over 20 years. I’m still hoping we can make the move in the next few years. I love the Akumal area. Last visit was just a few years ago.

    • Thanks for reading the blog. There is something special about Mexico that makes people want to come back again and again. That is what we did until we finally just decided to make it our permanent home.

      Congrats on learning Spanish on your own. That will definitely come in handy if you ever decide to move down here.

  4. Thanks for your continued good tips and interesting outlook about Mexico! I so look forward to reading your blog posts.

  5. Excellent advise, our plan is retire from Canada to Puerto Vallarta, and sooo much stuff to get rid of.
    Thanks for the wisdom.

  6. I’m looking to retire to Playa del Carmen next year this time. Haven’t been there yet but am going soon. Can you fly into Playa and where is a good place to stay?

    • You can fly into Cancun and then head down to Playa. There are numerous hotels, condos and resorts. It just depends what type of experience that you’re looking for (e.g. all-inclusive, boutique hotel).

  7. Thanks for the blog. Please, You must continue all your good works until I get to Mexico. Your blog is so informative, entertaining and I feel like I have a real connection to Mexico through you.

  8. Your blog has been extremely helpful. I AM moving to Cozumel. I am getting ready to purchase a lot and to build a house. I know that it is going to be quite an adventure, already is. Just got my Temp Residency card here in Atlanta and will be closing on the land as soon as I am allowed to. The big challenge will be building a house. Looking forward to reading more of your blog as time permits. Thanks for your efforts.

  9. As always thanks for your advice. I have been planning on making thr move for 10 yrs and yup I started getting rid of stuff years ago. The information you give on the visa process has really been most helpful for me. Thanks again.

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