10 Tips for Anyone Thinking of Retiring in Mexico

Source: Linda Kurtzweil

Since starting this blog almost two years ago, my wife and I have literally received thousands of emails from readers asking for our advice about retiring in Mexico. I lost count somewhere around the 10,000 mark.

Whenever a reader asks me for tips or general advice, I share the following 10 tips with them. I figured I would post them here in the hopes that it will cut down on the number of emails we receive.

1. Downsize

By the time you’re ready to retire, chances are that you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff. Well, it’s time to start getting rid of it in preparation for your new life south of the border. Holding on to all those things will only complicate the process of moving and cost you more money in the long run (e.g. moving costs, storage fees).

To learn how we downsized, click HERE.

2. Get a temporary or permanent resident card

Life is just much easier when you have a temporary or permanent resident card. You can open bank accounts, register a vehicle, participate in the public healthcare system and the list goes on and on.

To learn more about visa options, click HERE.

3. Leave your car behind 

This applies to anyone thinking of permanently moving to Mexico and who doesn’t live 25 km from the U.S. border, designated parts of Sonora or in the Baja Peninsula. The requirements to import a vehicle are far more lax in those areas.

To learn more about importing a vehicle to Mexico, check out the following articles:

Moving to Mexico: The One Thing that Many People Wish They Had Done Differently

8 Things to Consider Before Taking Your Car to Mexico

How to Permanently Import a Used Car to Mexico

4. Leave your furniture behind

They sell furniture in Mexico and it’s actually quite affordable to have custom pieces made. International moving and shipping services are expensive and sometimes things end up missing or damaged along the way.

5. Start learning Spanish now

Learning a language takes time and effort. It’s not going to magically happen overnight, so you might as well start working on it now. The more you know when you arrive, the easier it will be for you to communicate and get things done in Mexico.

There are several free resources available online to help you learn Spanish. We even have free video lessons on our site complete with practice exercises. To learn more, click HERE.

6. Get a Mexican cell phone number

This will make it much easier to get things done and get callbacks from businesses (they won’t call your foreign number). Also, many banks require a Mexican cell phone number in order to do online banking due to certain security protocols.

7. Download Whatsapp

This is a the free app that is used by almost everyone in Mexico to call and text.

To learn more, click HERE.

8. Open a Mexican bank account

There are numerous benefits to opening a bank account in your new country.

To learn more, click HERE.

9. Get healthcare coverage 

Mexico has both a private and a public healthcare system. It’s important to research your options before moving down and to get some type of health coverage as soon as possible.

To learn all about your healthcare options, we recommend buying Monica Rix Paxson’s ebook on the subject. To learn more, click here.

10. Hire people (when necessary) to get things done

There is a huge learning curve involved when you move to another country and you will find that even the simplest of tasks (like getting the electric bill put in your name) can turn out to be more complicated than you anticipated.

If you move to a large, friendly expat community like the one where we live, then it’s not a problem because everyone helps each other.

If not, you might want to consider hiring people to assist with tasks such as: registering your car, completing the second part of the resident card process, and putting utilities in your name. People who offer these types of services are often referred to as gestores.

Let’s Wrap This Up

This isn’t everything you need to know before moving to Mexico, but it’s a good start. The ultimate goal is to make your transition to your new life in Mexico as smooth and hassle-free as possible.

Well, that’s your goal anyway. Our goal is to reduce the number of emails we receive daily and to spend more time at the beach.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking for to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

21 Comments on "10 Tips for Anyone Thinking of Retiring in Mexico"

  1. Valuable info and great links; Thanks so much!

  2. Daniel Chernault | April 10, 2018 at 8:32 am | Reply

    And for everything else there’s Google Translate.

  3. Thank you so much! Quite helpful 🙂 Paul, in applying for the 6-month visa, it would still be okay to bounce back and forth between the US and Mexico if need be, correct? TY

    • You don’t have to apply for the tourist card. You just have to make sure that you leave within 180 days. You can turn around and come right back in,

  4. Good information! Everything is there! Thank you for doing these GREAT blogs!

  5. Thanks again, Paul. As usual, GREAT INFO!

  6. Timely Blog! We went to Ci Banco in Tulum yesterday to apply to open an account. They permit Visitors to open accounts too. Re: “2) Proof of address in Mexico (utility bill, property tax receipt).” Ci Banco required two (2) proof of address Receipts from MX Government entities only from: Electric, Water, Property Tax or TelMex (NOT Izzi or Cablemas) Bills. This confused us because TelMex does not provide service where we live, and the water and property tax receipts are in our out-of-town landlord’s name. But a friendly neighbor assisted us. So we will return today to finish the process and make our 1st deposit ($5.000 pesos minimum). Thanks!

  7. You are right. Moving your stuff is expensive. I’m taking very little with me to Mexico, but since it is more than what would fit in a truck, it will cost me $7,400, unless I find somebody to share the big 48 ft truck with me; then it will be $4,550 ea. I still have to find somebody moving to Mazatlán this summer to share the big truck.

  8. Norman Peter Lareau | April 10, 2018 at 10:08 am | Reply

    Could not have done better myself; in fact, it’s much better than any list I would have put together.

  9. Mark in Merida | April 10, 2018 at 11:04 am | Reply

    Amen Brother… Here are some of the lessons I’ve leaned in the past eight months:
    1. Don’t expect this to be the US or Canada, things are different, and every day will be a new adventure – and isn’t that why we are here!
    2. Do your homework before buying property – looking is fun, but know the law before you spend money
    3. Hire a Notario Publico to help advice before you start on any property purchase
    4. Decided if you are going to need to maintain a US / CDN address if your going to be a full time residents and realize it will take 3 months for most mail to reach you – DHL and UPS works well
    5. Once you arrive; register with the nearest consulate or embassy – let them know you are in the country.
    6. Expecting things to always to cost less is not always the case. If you are moving here for purely economic reasons

  10. Marilyn Mathieu | April 10, 2018 at 11:25 am | Reply

    Your tips are spot-on! I see many hellacious moves to Mx being made by those who make hasty and uninformed decisions. What seems unimagined is that living full time in Mx is not the same as spending a month or a season here. I believe the residency card process is somewhat to blame for hast and hurry, causing decisions about home ownership and shipping of goods to be made from from a ‘US state of mind’. Those who are delaying their life here due to their “stuff” in the US might consider doing the ‘downscale’ step, then putting their remaining treasures in storage while spending a year here on a visitor visa living in a furnished rental home. What they will learn through direct experience, and how they see things from a ‘Mx state of mind’ will fuel very clear decisions which they will then be very easy to execute.

  11. As always, high quality information, succinctly written. Thank you!

  12. Patryka Chaves | April 10, 2018 at 12:26 pm | Reply

    Excellent advice and very timely as I am this day packing my belongings for storage and Mexico. I am doing the downscale step for my first year in Mexico. 90% of my furniture and goodies come from Mexico and I am fortunate that I can sell all of that in my estate sale…….take money…..move to Mexico…..buy more goodies and love life.

  13. Debbie Charleville | April 10, 2018 at 2:42 pm | Reply

    We are going to Akumal on the 28th and interested in living options. Any suggestions as to expat communities

  14. Your tips are right on! We brought down 2 trailer loads of furniture and personal stuff only to give half of it away. We realized that most everyone who sells a home here leaves everything but their toothbrush. We bought our home thinking we would replace with our own stuff but people leave most homes fully furnished and really nice stuff here. And your right its so much fun to start fresh….simplify your life! We are so over it now and it feels so freeing.
    One other point…we have 2 vehicles down here and a golf cart. We barely drive the vehicles maybe to go to a bigger town next to us but that is 1 x month or so. We did not import our cars. We continue to pay our licenses and fees/insurance because we like to travel back to California for the summer. We will be looking to downsize from 2 vehicles to 1 soon. So, you don’t have to import your vehicle if you don’t want to.

    Enjoy your blog!
    Julie from San Carlos Sonora Mexico

  15. Regina Hager | May 1, 2018 at 11:17 pm | Reply

    how would a realtor continue career in Mexico if relocated?

    • Q-Roo Paul | May 2, 2018 at 6:56 am | Reply

      If you have a work visa or permanent resident card you can work in Mexico. The requirements to be a realtor vary greatly throughout the country and in many areas no special licensing is required.

      Where we live in Quintana Roo, realtors must be licensed.

  16. John Moreno | May 12, 2018 at 9:27 am | Reply

    Paul and Linda, we really enjoy your posts and follow you religiously. I am having problems retrieving
    your post from 3/26/18 regarding sharing posts. It shows as error 404. I am considering sharing our experiences in Los Cabos as a recent ex-pat. Also, we are planning to visit San Miguel Allende this summer and I can’t find my email from you regarding an introduction to the condo you suggested there.
    Sorry for the long message
    Look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi John. Thanks for following the blog. We regularly purge and update old posts. If you’re referring to the one about sharing expat stories, we received so many emails that we took the post down so we would have time to go through them all. 🙂

      The condo in San Miguel de Allende is still on hold but we anticipate something around election time (July).

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