Why We Chose to Retire in Mexico Instead of the U.S.

Source: Q-Roo Paul

One of the most important aspects of retirement is financial planning. You want to make sure that you’ll have enough income to maintain your current standard of living, as well as have some disposable income so you can do fun things, like travel.

The general rule of thumb for middle and high-income earners is to have a retirement income of at least 70% of their former household income. Keep that number in mind as you read on.

I suppose that my wife and I would be considered mid-level earners. We had been in our respective careers for many years and had worked our way up to management positions. I was a lieutenant with a sheriff’s office in Florida and Linda was a director for a children’s advocacy center that assisted with child abuse investigations.

After 25 years on the job, I was eligible to retire and I looked forward to having more free time to spend with Linda. The problem was that Linda was still too young to retire and we determined that if she did stop working, we would only have about 33% of our former income.

That’s a long way from the 70% recommended target income. In fact, the amount barely left us enough to eat regularly after we paid our all monthly expenses — which included a sizable mortgage and car payment.

If You Can’t Win the Game You’re Playing, Find a New Game

For over 15 years, Mexico was our favorite vacation destination and we would go there as often as we could. We loved everything about the Riviera Maya and we would often talk about moving there someday.

We started thinking that maybe someday was now.

I started researching everything I could about living south of the border — especially the cost of living. On paper, it looked like we could make it work, but only if we could eliminate all of our debt in the U.S. and reduce our spending.

We decided to give it a try and we then sold, donated or discarded 99% of our belongings in the U.S. We didn’t even want the expense of having to rent a storage shed.

We applied for and were granted resident visas at the Mexican Consulate, packed our belongings into four large suitcases, and flew to Cancun with the intention of trying it for a year.

So, How’s It Going?

We’ve been in Mexico for over three years now and we absolutely love it.

We ended up using the money we had left over from the sale of everything we previously owned to buy a condo in a gated resort community and a car. We now live 100% debt free for the first time in our adult lives.

The lack of debt combined with the low cost of living in Mexico, has made it easy for us to live very well here. We enjoy a higher quality of life than we did in the U.S. and we have plenty of disposable income to enjoy our retirement to the fullest.

If you would like to see a breakdown of our living expenses, check out How Much Does It Cost to Live in the Riviera Maya?

Let’s Wrap This Up

This article may make it sound like we moved to Mexico on a whim and we were just lucky it worked out — but that’s not the case at all. We conducted countless hours of research and carefully planned our move to increase our odds of success.

I’m sure that if I ended the article right here, we would be inundated with emails from readers asking for more information about the type of research that we did and the results etc. If you’re one of those folks, my advice is to subscribe to the blog and I’ll answer those questions one article at a time.

Well, that’s enough blogging for today. It’s another beautiful day in the Riviera Maya and there’s a beach chair with my name on it. Hasta luego.

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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 to maximize their retirement income. They later started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) to share their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border.

23 Comments on "Why We Chose to Retire in Mexico Instead of the U.S."

  1. Great article Paul.retirement is about prioritizing your wants and needs.
    Heading to lake Chapala for 3 mths this yr and cozumel for 3 mths next yr with some traveling in between to see where we would like to stay.
    Thanks and keep up the good work.

    • That’s a good idea. Three months in each location should give you a pretty good idea which one fits your lifestyle goals better.

  2. Hi Paul,

    I think I’m going to enjoy this re-boot of the blog. We’ll get to start at the beginning, so to speak.
    I envy the beach chair! It’s cold up here in the north. I think about Mexico every day.

    Hope to see you and Linda soon!
    Henry

  3. Paul greetings.
    I just signed up for your blog and am enjoying it. Almost a lot in common. We were living in AZ, Lake Havasu City to be exact for 25 years. Visited MX as often as possible. Five years ago went back to AZ owning a fixer upper in MX. Another long convoluted story. Rocky Point, Sonora to be exact. As of the day before yesterday (we celebrated our anniversary) we’re full time in MX for three years. I’ve always been in business and sales, white collar stuff but am handy and love wood working. I’ve put in a little wood working shop and keep myself so busy I don’t have a lot of time for that beach chair. Our retiring to MX was very similar to yours. We were getting by in AZ and had a little more, but here we have a lot more. Above I said our situation was “Almost” the same as yours. The difference is you said no regrets. I do have one. I regret we didn’t do it sooner. Keep up the good work

    Bob the “Gringo Turner”

    • Congratulations on making three years in Mexico and thanks for following the blog. It’s turned out to be a good hobby to keep me busy on rainy days and while I’m waiting for my wife to wake up.

      I’m glad to hear that that is your only regret 😉

  4. Love your blog and am trying to retire in Isla de Mujeres.
    One question, why are you not tanner spending all the time in the beach chair? lol

    • Hahaha, this is actually tan for me. I worked night shift for about 15 years and back then, I was whiter than a piece of notebook paper. 😉

  5. Howdy, we really thought Mexico Riviera would be the place to live when my husband retires in 1 year and 7 months. So booked a trip this summer to Akumal beach….which was covered with sea weed (too bad). Did see a mummy turtle digging to lay her eggs 😉 which was amazing. We were a bit shocked by the police carrying bad armour weapons inspecting people driving the one main road along the coast. Maybe it is different if you live in a gated community and have your own house/condo but some how we prolly have to adjust our plans and just visit this beautiful area for vacation purpose only. Love ur blog, has great info about all you need to know before moving to Mexico! Marga

    • Sorry to hear you came during a bad sargassum period.

      As far as the police are concerned, the use of police checkpoints is a popular tactic all through Latin America. I’ve driven through hundreds of various police checkpoints (some fixed and some mobile) since moving to Mexico. They’re generally looking for local criminals and we’ve never been bothered.

      Have a great week and I hope you get to see this area when there’s no sargassum. 🙂

  6. Thank you for your informative blogs. The more I read the ,pre I believe my someday is also today.

  7. Hi Paul, Hoping to do the same pretty soon (about 1.5 yrs). As it’s been planned for over 5 years. As it draws nearer sometimes I feel cold feet – what if we’re one of those many that flame out after 2 or 3 years and miss “home” too much? My plan would be the same as yours – to have liquidated everything; not sure we’d have the financial chops to re-buy everything back at Canadian prices if it were to fail for us. Did you ever have those thoughts after selling everything or what was your “Plan B”?

  8. New to your blog and find it both enlightening and practical, thank you. I’m planning to retire to Mexico in the coming year following your lead, everything here goes before leaving. My only dilemma is that I can’t decide between the coast or the mountains!! Both are beautiful in Mexico. Do you know of other significant expat communities other than San Miguel, Chapala and Riviera Maya? Not being a fluent Spanish speaker yet (working on it), the language is my only apprehension about the pending move and will need to be someplace with an expat community.

  9. You have the best ‘moving to/living in Mexico’ blog. I recommend it whenever a Mexico discussion arises. Hopefully I’ll be jumping in soon (maybe real soon, as I watch the first snowfall of Chicago’s winter). Thanks for sharing. Greg

  10. Thanks Paul, my wife Ginny and I have traveled to Akumal several years now and love it. We have discussed making Akumal our snowbird destination. Our research led us to your blog. Thanks for the info. We are due back at the end of January, 2019. Drinks on me at buena vida.

  11. Would like to retire to Mexico and it isn’t the money part that worries me but the inability to own guns.

    • You actually can own a gun once you get your permanent resident visa. I am in the process of updating an article on the topic and it should be out within the next 60 days.

  12. Can you share pictures of your condo and gated community?
    thanks!

  13. Jerry De La Garza | November 9, 2018 at 6:35 pm | Reply

    My wife and I are retiring in Tequisquiapan, in the state of Queretaro, nice quaint little place, population about 30K, looking fwd it. Your dollar goes a long way, believe me, been there several times…

  14. Suzanne Knowlton | November 9, 2018 at 7:02 pm | Reply

    Paul, Thank you for all your blogs. I traveled to Mexico many many times over the past 30 years. I have finally made Merida my home. Sold some things, shipped others. I think I made such a good decision. The Yucatan people are lovely and the city is busy growing in a good way. Let’s hope! i find being debt free and not stretching every dollar in the US such a relief. Learning the language and want to be as fluent as possible in a few years. I am looking forward to travel throughout Latin and South America and then anywhere that suits me. Life is good.
    Once again, I read all your words and relay on you for good, accurate information. Many thanks

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