Frequently Asked Questions

Since starting the blog, we have received hundreds of questions from readers around the world. Here are the answers to the most common questions that we receive:

What’s an expat?

Surprisingly, this is the most common question we are asked. I think Wikipedia does a nice job of defining it:

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”). 

How much does it cost to live in Mexico?

It is important to point out that Mexico is a large country and the cost of living can vary significantly from one area to the next. We live in a popular tourist destination along the coast of the Riviera Maya, so the cost of living is significantly higher here than many other parts of Mexico.

For a breakdown of our monthly expenses, check out A Breakdown of our Monthly Living Expenses.

Do I need a special visa to live there?

It really depends what you want to do here and what country you are from. Since most of the readers are from either the United States or Canada, the information that we provide is best suited for them.

So far, we have only discussed the visa options for those people who want to retire in Mexico but will not be working here: Retiring in Mexico: Which Visa Option is Best for You.

How is the health care system?

We have been quite impressed with both the cost and the quality of the health care here in Mexico. To learn why, check out What Impressed me About Doctors in Mexico.

If you are curious at the out-of-pocket costs of health care without insurance, check out Mexico: A Look at the Costs of Medical and Dental Treatment.

Why did you move to Mexico?

There were several reasons and I listed them in Retiring in Mexico: The Benefits of Becoming an Expat.

What do you do all day?

We actually stay so busy that sometimes I struggle to find time to work on the blog. I went through several of the things we do in Retired in Mexico: A Glimpse at our Daily Life.

Do you feel isolated and alone in Mexico?

Absolutely not. Even if you do not speak Spanish, the expat community, at least in my area, is very large and finding fellow English-speakers with a similar background is not difficult. Regardless of their age, the majority of the people are outgoing, gregarious and make the most of every day. We have trouble keeping up with some of our friends who are 20+ years older than we are.

Between the expats and local friends we now have, our social lives are far more active in Mexico than they were in the U.S.

Where do you live?

We live in Akumal, which is about 25 minutes south of Playa del Carmen. We absolutely love where we live and it has definitely exceeded the expectations that we had prior to moving here. To read more about that, check out Moving to Mexico: Expectations vs. Reality (Housing).

Why did you choose that specific area?

A lot of planning and research went into our decision to move to this part of Mexico. I discussed the criteria that we used in Why We Live Where we Do in Mexico.

Can I own a gun in Mexico?

The gun laws are very strict in Mexico; however, it is possible for a foreigner to own a firearm here. To learn more, check out Answers to Common Questions About Gun Ownership in Mexico.

Did you ship your cars and furniture to Mexico?

No. We sold, gave away, or donated 99% of our belongings before we moved to Mexico. When we arrived at the Cancun airport, we had all of our belongings with us in four suitcases. You can read more at Starting Over from Scratch in Mexico. 

Do I have to be able to speak Spanish to live there?

You don’t have to, but is very helpful to have at least some basic Spanish under your belt. The vast majority of our neighbors don’t speak Spanish at all and they get along very well in this part of Mexico. If they encounter a situation where translation is required, such as dealing with a business that sold them a defective product, then they will often ask a bilingual neighbor to assist them.

I have heard that foreigners can’t own property in Mexico, is that true?

Foreigners can own property in Mexico; however, they cannot acquire direct title to land that is located within 100 kilometers of any national border or 50 kilometers of the coast. All that means is that the title will be held by a Mexican bank (fideicomiso) or you can create a Mexican corporation. We chose the first option, as did most of the expats that we know.

With the fideicomiso, you have the same property rights that you are accustomed to in the United States. You can sell the property, lease it to a third party or leave it to someone after your death.

Aren’t you afraid to live in Mexico with all of the crime and drug violence?

It is important to recognize that Mexico is a very large country and crime rates vary quite a bit by region. I live in Akumal and I feel safer here than I did living in Central Florida. This is a beautiful area where strangers will still stop to help you with a flat tire and you can safely go to the store without looking over your shoulder every two seconds.

Don’t get me wrong – there are dangerous parts of Mexico, this just is not 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.

When a friend tells me that they will not come visit me because of drug violence in another part of Mexico, I usually respond by asking them, “Are you telling me that you would not go to Disney in Orlando because murder rates are high in Chicago?”  I think this helps put it all in perspective.

I want to live in Mexico, but I am not retired yet. Would it be difficult for me to find a job?

That is not an easy question to answer it depends on the education, experience, and skill set of the individual.

It is important to note that the salaries in Mexico are much lower than those of comparable positions in the United States and Canada. For that reason, I usually recommend that people find a “remote job” that allows them to earn a good salary while being able to physically be anywhere in the world.

For more on remote jobs, check out Remote Jobs: The Key to Funding a New Life in Paradise.

Let’s Wrap This Up

If you still have a question that wasn’t answered here — or you just want to get together for a beer the next time you are around Akumal — feel free to contact us.

Author: Qroo Paul